Submission by a cross-section of African stakeholders Preamble (Excerpt from ITU website)
On 10 July 2012, the ITU Council resolved that the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) would hold online consultations for all stakeholders on certain policy issues to be decided by the Group. Council also resolved that all stakeholders could submit their responses to a reflector set up by the ITU and that all responses received from stakeholders would be posted, without edits, to the CWG-Internet website. On 4 March 2014 the Council Working Group decided that Open Consultations would be convened on the following issue:
"Recognizing the scope of work of ITU on international Internet-related public policy matters, represented by the list of topics in Council 2009 Resolution 1305 Annex 1which was established in accordance with decisions of ITU membership at the Plenipotentiary Conference, the Council Working Group on International Internet Related Public Policy invites all stakeholders to provide their position on following question :
Q1. What actions are to be undertaken by governments in relations to each of the international Internet-related public policy issues identified in Annex 1 to Resolution 1305 (adopted by Council 2009 at the seventh Plenary Meeting)?"
Recommendations, suggestions and observations on actions to be undertaken by governments
It is generally noted that for all the areas cited, the role of government is to play a facilitatory role and provide an enabling environment that promotes the use, development and growth of the Internet.
With regard to the specific areas cited for comment in the ITU’s consultation, the following recommendations, observations and suggestions are made on the role of governments:
Multi-lingualization of the Internet Including Internationalized (multilingual) Domain Names
Localization of the content of internet is the hot topic in any economy. The primary job of the government is to benefit its people by creating opportunities. Government should have an active role towards localizing the content of internet.
Governments should adhere to best practice on the IDNs and the language of domains/domain registers.
Promote the development of content in local languages e.g. for countries that are multi-lingual, government websites should have content available in at least more than 1 language, including the dominant/official language(s)
International Internet Connectivity
The government should be responsible for building reliable infrastructure that allows citizens equitable and reliable Internet access. Since Internet technology is an expensive investment, government should exert relentless efforts to insure such technology is in place and make sure it is used for the development of social, economic and political sectors of the economy.
Provision of infrastructure that enhances easy connectivity for all irrespective of your location in a country.
Provide economic incentives that allow commercial Internet service provision to flourish.
Protect investment in critical infrastructure that enhances international internet connectivity.
Recognize International internet connectivity as a national critical infrastructure.
The Government should make policies that lower cost of access to international Internet connectivity.
Government should be the biggest user and implementer of policies.
Government should subscribe to international connectivity ventures where necessary share same to other states surrounding it.
Ensure enabling environment that allows for seamless cross-border/trans-boundary connectivity
Encourage establishment and growth of Internet Exchange Points
Management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses
Government can take part by making sure domain names are traded in accordance with the law.
Participate actively by providing fiscal policies of e-Commerce and e-businesses through a bottom up, consensus driven process.
Government need to facilitate the establishment of independent multi-stakeholder institutions that can oversee these functions.
Create regulatory agencies with multi stakeholders approach.
The management of Internet is done mostly by the Internet Service Providers. Governments should allow registrars to be taxed at lower rates to enable growth and improvement of the registry
Governments should ensure that there is proper control and usage of revenues from domain names from taxes, levies or other means.
Promote usage of local domains - governments should lead by example
Promote adoption of IPv6
Engage regularly in forums and spaces where issues of management of Internet resources are discussed
Security, safety, continuity, sustainability, and robustness of the Internet
Provide conducive environment for robustness of Internet to flourish
Government should always strive to keep abreast of new developments in Internet technology and try its level best through collaboration to deploy technologies to the advantage of its people.
Government should refrain from unethical surveillance and privacy breach of online users
Government must support a secured, safe and sustainable Internet through encouraging innovation and free speech online.
Infrastructure safety and sustainability is the best way to secure the consumers and users in general of the internet.
Provide legislation that protects Internet users and punishes those that misuse/abuse the Internet
Government is the right authority to promulgate laws that apply to cyberspace.
Promote establishment of CERTs; support CERTs and CSIRTs in country to protect national Internet Infrastructure.
Government should identify Internet as critical infrastructure needs to put mechanism in place to defend users online.
National security structures should be having policy which will secure the safety of the infrastructure of the internet connectivity
Equip the security agencies with appropriate skills and equipment required to combat cyber crime.
Enlighten the public through outreaches and campaigns on the need to be careful online and encourage ethical online behavior.
Capacity building with the internet service providers and the other institutions are the way forward on how to manage the cybersecurity.
Installation of sniffers in various nodes and anti-spamming tools and intrusion detection tools being installed in various nodes and points where it can be detected early before any harm.
Security of passwords and regular use of tunneling on the internet at large.
Treat cyber-crime as a matter of national defense and coordinate national teams (with relevant stakeholder composition and participation) to deal with cyber-threats
Dealing effectively with spam
Establish incubation centres for take-off of project dealing with spam and related internet issues
Spammers should be treated as threat to the open Internet access. Hence, government should take corrective actions through the enforcement of the cyber law.
Government through appropriate laws and legislation should make spamming illegal activities.
Anti-spamming tools and configurations have to be deployed by the internet service providers and the consumers should be provided with information/manuals on how to do away with spamming.
Issues pertaining to the use and misuse of the Internet
Government is responsible to define what is legal and illegal in its cyber law. The bill in a way should state what is legal and illegal in the use of the Internet based on its statutes.
Develop policy against child pornography and abuse online.
Protecting bloggers and social media consumers
Legislation that protects users and punishes abuse/misuse
Availability, affordability, reliability, and quality of service
Government should devise a policy framework for technology and the Internet that creates enabling market, with the requisite checks and balances. For example, government should insure Internet technology vendors have an enabling environment to create and evolve the technology. If competition is determining the Internet market price, citizens will have Internet access that is affordable, accessible and available when required.
Government should ensure business are value oriented and not exploitative by ensuring that service providers are accountable to their obligations through strengthening of the Consumer Protection law.
Government should be part of the policy driven management institution where better policies are enhanced and implemented for cost effective rates to consumers and the investors at large.
The government bureau of standard should be the gauge of standardized bandwidth and quality of service.
Promote adoption of regulations and legislation that promotes universal access
Ensure that universal access and service funds collected are put to intended use
Promote legislation that protects the rights of users and consumers with regard to quality of online services
Capacity building for Internet governance
Provision of training opportunities, funding and scholarships for development of IG skills and expertise
Government is responsible for creating a conducive environment that encourages stakeholders to take part in Internet Governance.
Develop national plans for capacity and skills development to support growth of national Internet economies;
Internet has evolved over the past few decades. The bandwidth of the Internet can be enhanced by governments. This in turn allows fast Internet access, which can transmit contents in a wide variety of format and languages.
Government should ensure that the Internet is an instrument for the economic development and empowerment of the average citizen.
The government should put policies and mechanisms in place that will reduce the digital divide in the country
Government should improve equitable access to Internet Infrastructure by all members of the populace especially the vulnerable group and make an effort of facilitating the cost of laying down the infrastructure especially to rural and underserved regions. This will translate to lower cost for consumers and higher returns for the greater population.
Governments should understand how Internet bandwidth contributes to economic development; more bandwidth can lead to higher productivity.
Government should be the one on the forefront to champion the usage of bandwidth, leading in mainstreaming the use of ICTs and the Internet across all sectors
Regular monitoring of ICT4D programmes and projects
Promote local innovation and competitive environment that drives growth of the Internet
Privacy and the protection of personal information and data
Provide legislative framework to protect personal data - online and offline
According to the UHRD (Universal Human Rights Declaration) human beings are free to hold their opinion with their privacy protected. Hence government can apply such declaration into the cyber law that insures privacy.
Government should ensure no targeted unethical surveillance is carried out in their countries.
Government must create appropriate laws that protect personal information and data.
Government must be willing to catch up with the dynamic technology evolution.
Renewal of passwords and regular change of identity for different information usage and research.
Legislation that governs use of personal information/data and that provides adequate protections to users
Protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation
Provide legislative framework to protect minors - online and offline
Government must set up special programmes/units that focus on protection of children and young people from abuse and exploitation online
Revamping old laws and legislation will go a long way to help.
National campaigns to raise awareness among citizens
In addition to the areas cited by the ITU consultation, the following areas have been identified as possible roles for government:
Securing Intellectual Property Rights/Patent rights for software and technology developers through improved funding for oversight bodies.
The following challenges may impact on ability of African governments to carry out some of the roles specified:
First of all some African governments may lack the knowledge and skills necessary to take part in Internet and related discourse; limited capacity with respect to staff - myriad issues and not enough people on the ground; level of awareness or engagement with issues by government officials may be low
Some governments may not be willing to respect human rights.
Some governments do not have the necessary financial capacity for implementation; other pressing state needs that may impact commitment of the requisite resources (prioritisation sometimes leads to IG issues being over-shadowed)
Limited political will
Weak Infrastructure security structures
Non-state actors/non-governmental institutions and individuals can assist governments in the following ways:
They can contribute by bringing innovative solutions for problems.
They have to bring alternative policies for the use and implementation of Internet Technology.
Non state and non-governmental and individuals can participate through awareness campaign of vital Internet issues.
Holding government accountable for their policies on the Internet.
Engaging government and her necessary agencies on various issues concerning the Internet.
Carrying out capacity building
Advertisement in the media
Forming associations on the bloggers and social media users
Making government to be involved with participations
NSAs should work to support government in capacity-building initiatives; stimulating policy dialogues and providing policy guidance; monitoring national commitments and progress thereof; acting as an intermediary between government and the wider public
Conclusion The ITU consultation on the role of governments calls for “actions” to be undertaken by governments in dealing with several elements of Internet Public Policy. The Tunis Agenda makes direct and indirect references to the role of governments, some of which are illustrated below:
…… governments should take action, in the framework of national development policies, in order to support an enabling and competitive environment for the necessary investment in ICT infrastructure and for the development of new services. (Para 14)
….. attracting investment in ICTs has depended crucially upon an enabling environment, including good governance at all levels, and a supportive, transparent and pro-competitive policy and regulatory framework, reflecting national realities. (Para 16)
….. in addition to the public sector, financing of ICT infrastructure by the private sector has come to play an important role in many countries and that domestic financing is being augmented by North-South flows and South-South cooperation. (Para 19)
….. all governments to give appropriate priority to ICTs, including traditional ICTs such as broadcast radio and television, in their national development strategies. (Para 20)
….. public finance plays a crucial role in providing ICT access and services to rural areas and disadvantaged populations….. (Para 21)
……. the central responsibility for coordination of public financing programmes and public ICT development initiatives rests with governments …… (Para 24)
….. the use of ICTs in government as a priority and crucial target area for ICT-based development interventions. (Para 26 (f))
Policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the sovereign right of States. They have rights and responsibilities for international Internet-related public policy issues. (Para 35 (a))
….. governments in cooperation with other stakeholders to develop necessary legislation for the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, noting existing frameworks ….. (Para 40)
…..all stakeholders to adopt a multi-pronged approach to counter spam that includes, inter alia, consumer and business education; appropriate legislation, law-enforcement authorities and tools; the continued development of technical and self-regulatory measures; best practices; and international cooperation…… (Para 41)
…. governments, to reaffirm the right of individuals to access information…… (Para 46)
….governments and other stakeholders, through partnerships where appropriate, to promote ICT education and training in developing countries, by establishing national strategies for ICT integration in education and workforce development and dedicating appropriate resources…. (Para 51)
…..governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the Internet ….. the need for development of public policy by governments in consultation with all stakeholders … (Para 68)
…. governments…. to elaborate, as appropriate, comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable national e-strategies, including ICT strategies and sectoral e-strategies… (Para 85)
…. governments, with the participation of all stakeholders and bearing in mind the importance of an enabling environment, to set up a national implementation mechanism….. (Para 100)
The Tunis Agenda is quite exhaustive and comprehensive in its coverage of issues to be addressed and most of the submissions made by the contributors to this consultation document echo the sentiments of the Tunis Agenda. It would therefore be instructive perhaps for the CWG to consider the specific challenges that governments in Africa and other developing regions are facing in effectively implementing the Tunis Agenda.
Mr. Davis Onsakia, Internet Society, Kenya Chapter, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kenya
Mr. Melaku Girma, Addis Ababa University, email@example.com, Ethiopia
Mr. Benjamin Akinmoyeje, MSH IdeaLab, firstname.lastname@example.org, Nigeria