Leading up to the last Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, LIRNEasia and the Association for Progressive Communication collaborated on preparing participants from multiple countries for effective engagement in that multi-stakeholder event. Nalaka Gunawardene was one of the participants from Sri Lanka supported by that activity. Here are his reflections in Internet governance in Echelon.
Why does Internet governance matter for Sri Lanka? Since we have enough governance challenges in the physical world, should we leave cyber governance for others to resolve?
That would be ill-advised. With around 30% of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people using the Internet in 2016, it is no longer the elite or urban medium it once was. We need to confront issues arising from our increasingly Internet-connected society and economy.
Sadly, public discussions on the Internet’s impacts are often lopsided. There is a small but vocal anti-Internet lobby demanding ‘strict regulations’, including the blocking of websites and even entire platforms. Public discussions about the web and digital media easily get polarised between those who uncritically embrace and others who habitually demonise anything modern. Social media has become the favourite whipping boy of self-appointed guardians of culture. Calls for ‘regulating’ social media often come from those who have no firsthand experience using Facebook, Twitter or any other such platform.