(No.191) The influence of politics over internet users' access and diversity

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Status: 
Accepted
Workshop Theme: 
Access and Diversity
Concise Description of Workshop: 

Today we are facing several issues on the access of people to several antent and services over the Internet, causing from the direct affects (and side-effects) of political actions and decisions made by politicians.
While politics is mainly a tool for governments to argue against each other, people are harming these arguments as a result of being victims of the decisions made by the government bodies, because of their authority and control on communication resources and internet as well.
Control over the content over the internet has always been an idea broadly talked about. Forbidden content has always been a place of arguments among internet rulers. While some type of content such as child pornography, violation of intellectual property rights and other cybercriminal activities are known as an illegal online activities worldwide, some countries’ governments consider internet as a dangerous multipurpose media which is not enough under their control, trying to use different high tech methods and tools to control the access of their own internet users to such contents.
On the other hand, some countries do the same access blocking activity for other countries’ internet users based on political sanctions and inter-governmental arguments. Despite of the logics behind each of these blocking type activities, there are common characteristics on both types:

  1. Both type of blocking activities are a result of political thoughts,
  2. The result would be the same in both: affecting the users’ access to the internet (as a right for everyone), resulting in a significant negative impact on the diversity of internet.

In this workshop the panelists would like to discuss more about this issue, its affects and possible solutions.

Organiser(s) Name: 

Dr. Shahram Soboutipour, Independent IT Consultant, Iran, Civil Society

Previous Workshop(s): 

No

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

1. Mr. Pedro Less Andrade, Private Sector, Director Government Affairs & Public Policy – Latin America, Google Inc., US (Confirmed)
Pedro is a Lawyer from University of Buenos Aires, holds a Master's degree (LL.M) from University of Georgia with a thesis on international regulation of electronic commerce; and pursued postgraduate studies in the Legal Framework of the Multilateral Trading System of the WTO.

In 2007 he joined Google to lead the public policy and government affairs work for Latin America and has been actively involved since then in with the IGF. He is also Vice President of Public Policy of the Latin American & Caribbean Federation for Internet & E-commerce (eCom-Lac); Board Member and head of the regulatory commission of Argentina’s Internet Industry Chamber (CABASE); and member of legislative commission of the Argentinean E-commerce Chamber (CACE).

Pedro is also a law professor of the University of Buenos Aires specialized in Internet and e-commerce law, invited professor at several Latin American universities and faculty of the South School on Internet Governance.
2. Ms. Olga Cavalli , Advisor Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Argentina, Government (Confirmed)
Olga Cavalli is an ICT and Internet specialist with large experience in project management, market research, competitive analysis, public policy and regulations. 
Since 2007 Ms. Cavalli is a member of the United Nations Secretary General´s Advisory group for the Internet Governance Forum and the Argentina Representative in the GAC (Governmental Adivisor Committee) of ICANN. She was GNSO Council Member in ICANN and GNSO Vice chair.
As an advisor of the Ministry of Foreing Affairs of Argentina, she has represented Argentina in the WSIS Second Phase held in Tunis. 
She was the argentine focal point for the eLAC 2015 Latinamerican Regional Information Society Plan of Action, and coordinator of the Internet Governance Group in eLAC 2010 and was former coordinator of the Financing eLAC 2007 working group. 
Ms. Cavalli was a member of the Special Commission appointed by the Government of Argentina to develop the basis for the Cybercrime Law in Argentina and she was also a leading member of the commission that developed the National Digital Agenda of Argentina.
Since 2007 she is the Director and main leader of the South School on Internet Governance, pioneering program that grants fellowships to students in Latin America and the Caribbean to recieve an intensive face to face training in Internet Governance. (www.gobernanzadeinternet.com.ar)
Ms. Cavalli is the President of the Commission "Women Engineeers for Development" in the Argentine Center of Engineers. She is the secretary of the ISOC Argentina Chapter.
Ms Cavalli is a Teacher at Universidad de Buenos Aires and at the Diplomacy career in the Ministry of Foreing Affairs.
Ms. Cavalli is a PHD in Business Direction, MBA, Master in Telecommunication Regulation and Electronic and Electric Engineer. She is fluent in Spanish, English, Portuguese and German. She lives in Buenos Aires and is the mother of Juana and Federico.
 
3. Ms. Fayez Mariam , AFS Egypt, Civil society (Confirmed)
Fayez has been an active volunteer in AFS Egypt, a nonprofit organization that promotes international/ intercultural exchanges, and currently serves on its Board of Directors.
She has teaching and training experience in the fields of crisis management and social media in multicultural contexts, intercultural learning and online communications. Her interests include volunteerism and exploring emerging issues related to the development the Internet and its impact on members of the younger generation.
Fayez holds an LLM in intellectual property rights from the University of Turin, Italy and the WIPO Worldwide Academy; and a BA in journalism and mass communications from the American University in Cairo.
Fayez has a 12 year experience in media relations for government in Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
4. Ms. Hong Xue, Civil Society , Asia Pacific (confirmed)
Dr. Hong Xue is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Institute of the Internet Policy & Law at Beijing Normal University (BNU). Prof. Xue specializes in intellectual property law, information technology law and the Internet governance.
Prof. Xue is an elected Top Ten Nationally Distinguished Young Jurists by the China Law Society. Prof. Xue is a Fellow of Yale Information Society Project and the Chinese Leader for Global Academy on Access to Knowledge. She had taught in Yale Law School, Law Faculty of University of Hong Kong and Murdoch University of Australia. She is the Faculty Chair of Asia Pacific Internet Leadership Project (APILP). She is an invited professor to teach at Torino Law School-WIPO Master of Laws in Intellectual Property and works with the World Intellectual Property Academy to provide training for Intellectual Property officers from developing countries.
She works in many governmental and non-governmental organizations. She is on the Editorial Board of World Intellectual Property Journal, the Expert Advisory Board of Diplo Foundation and the Advisory Panel of the Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law. She is appointed in the United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT). She is an Arbitrator at China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) Neutral appointed by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Asia Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre (ADNDRC).
She was the Chair of ICANN Asia Pacific Regional At-Large Organization (APRALO), a founding member and then the founding Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) Liaison of At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and had served on the Board
Director Candidate Evaluation Committee. She had served on the ICANN Nomination Committee and President’s Advisory Committee on IDNs. She is a member of ccNSO Council, ICANN Fellowship Committee, the Chair of Council of Chinese Domain Name Users Alliance (CDNUA) and founding Member of Chinese Domain Names Consortium (CDNC).
She authored many books, papers and other publications. Her latest book is “International Intellectual Property Law @ Crossroad”, published in March 2012. Her blog is at www.iipl.org.cn
5. Mr. Juan Fernández, Government , Cuba (Confirmed) (Remote Panelist)

Juan Fernández is a Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Informatics and Communications of Cuba and an Assistant Professor in the University of Informatics Sciences (UCI). Previously he was Advisor for the National Directorate of Informatics of Cuba, Coordinator of the Cuban Commission for Electronic Commerce and Director of informatization of the Ministry of the Steel, Mechanic and Electronic Industry (SIME).

Before that he was CIO of the Corporation of Information Technologies and Automation (CITA), Technical Director and Project Manager in the Robotic and Software Center (EICISOFT), and a Senior Researcher and Professor in the Microelectronics Research Center of the Havana Polytechnic Institute (ISPJAE). He was a member of the Strategy Council of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development and a founding member of the United Nations ICT Task Force and of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). He participated actively in the negotiating process for the outcome documents of both phases of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

He has given lectures and published articles in Cuba and abroad in various topics that includes the Management of Big Software Projects, Electronic Commerce and the economic sustainability of internet.

His current interests are the strategies and models of the use of ICTs for development, the organization of the software industry in developing countries and the economic sustainability of internet.

He has a Physics Degree from Havana University and the degree of Senior Researcher of the National Academy of Sciences of Cuba. He has received various technical and scientific awards, and has a Patent in Image Processing. He is also a FIDE International Chess Master.

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Mr. Alireza Saleh
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised
Report
Reported by: 
Shahram Soboutipour
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

The workshop started with about 20 minutes of delay and lasted about 1:30 hours. The reason was that it was schedules to be the first set of workshop taking place in IGF2012, after the lunch (with a long queue).
The combination of our panelists was good including Private Sector (Mr. Pedro Less Andrade, Director Government Affairs & Public Policy – Latin America, Google Inc.,), Governmental Sector (Ms. Olga Cavalli, Advisor Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina), Civil Society (Ms. Mariam Fayez, AFS Egypt) and Legal Experts/Academia (Ms. Hong Xue, Director of Institute for the Internet Policy and Law at Beijing Normal University)
The workshop started with some samples of the influences of political actions and decisions which could bring limitations in user’s access to internet, including:

  1. Local regulations and policies which forced giant internet companies to limit data and service providing to specific areas.
  2. Controversy between similar cases which in some countries force internet companies to restrict user’s access to specific data/services but the same situation does not bring the same result in other cases. (specially this cased was raised that “why Google did not shut down the YouTube video which made many Muslims angry, but at the same time had easily limited access to a specific data in response to a local court decision for a lower sensitive case)
  3. Some of the attendees asked their questions about similar cases of limitation of access forced to internet users even through governments or through the major internet companies, some of them responded by the relevant panelists.
Conclusions and further comments: 

Continuing the workshop, the panelist shared their ideas about the reasons of these influences, including:

  1. Sometimes political decisions are made based on wrong data or lack of enough data, since the politicians and decision makers are not necessarily experts in the field.
  2. Another reason which was raised is the opposite effect of lack of access to internet on political decisions. Meaning in places with better access to internet, there are better exchange of knowledge providing better infrastructural data and share of knowledge between stakeholders for decision makers to use.
  3. Another interesting point which was raised during the workshop was the controversy and conflict between the international laws vs. local laws in terms of internet usage which creates a confusing area for the decision makers. There is still no solution for this problem and it is one of the most important discussions between internet stakeholders in IGF and other related areas.

As a conclusion all the panelists agreed on the importance of this topic to be continued to discuss in the future. A major outcome of this workshop was the approval of a need to raise the awareness of all internet stakeholders (both decision makers and those affected by the decisions) about the cross affect of their acts on each other.
A stress on need for finding the appropriate solution on demarcation of local laws vs. international laws for a worldwide resource like internet was also clearly mentioned by the panelists.