[Read more session reports and live updates from the 12th Internet Governance Forum]
The session started with opening remarks by Mr Miguel Ignacio Estrada, General Manager of LACTLD, on the purpose of the IGF LAC space. As an outcome of LACIGF 2017, Estrada reiterated the need to enhance dialogue among coordinators of national IGF initiatives on the one hand, and strengthen their relationship with LACIGF and global IGF on the other. He proposed streamlining information from organisations that support national IGF initiatives. He highlighted two activities that the region could work on in the coming year: a regional information point on initiatives across Latin America and the Caribbean; and an updated, customised toolkit for communities within the region that intend to establish national initiatives. Similarly, Mr Julian Casabuenas, Director of Colnodo, reminded participants that at LACIGF it was suggested that mature IGF initiatives could mentor new ones by sharing advice and lessons learned.
Ms Raquel Gatto, Regional Policy Advisor at the Internet Society, explained how Internet Society chapters support the development of national IGF initiatives. Gatto said that funds were available for chapters to carry out bottom-up, multistakeholder discussion of Internet issues. In 2017, she conducted webinars to explain how IGF session proposals are developed, and encourage potential proposers to share information, and possibly collaborate on joint proposals. At the MAG level, Gatto advocated for the greater use of Spanish in content development and processes related to the IGF.
Mr Israel Rosas, Internet Policy Analyst in the National Digital Strategy Coordination Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Mexico, spoke about local efforts to promote Internet Governance awareness among Mexican universities as part of an outreach programme. Relating his experience as a designated representative to the MAG, Rosas recommended that a Dynamic Coalition on Outreach and Engagement be established to explain processes to specific audiences such as university students. Rosas emphasised the need to coordinate resources as a service to communities wishing to develop IGF initiatives.
Mr Kevon Swift, Head of Strategic Relations and Integration at LACNIC, discussed ‘Líderes’ – a LACNIC initiative that supports the establishment of national IGF initiatives and strengthens their relationship with LACIGF. Swift backed the idea of a centralised information point on national IGF initiatives in the region, and recommended that this point serves as a barometer for prominent policy issues faced by each national community.
Focusing on themes, Mr Gonzalo Navarro, Executive Director of the Latin American Internet Association (ALAI), affirmed the increase of trade-related topics within Internet discussions, and vice versa. Navarro shared ALAI’s observations on the recently concluded WTO Ministerial Conference, and posited that the digital economy and e-commerce will intensify in trade talks. He stated that more countries were addressing Internet and trade issues in their legal frameworks, which included increased focus on intermediary liability and data protection. He identified the Pacific Alliance, NAFTA, and Mercosur and EU negotiations as the most relevant spaces for Internet and trade talks that might affect the region.
Estrada highlighted that his organisation was championing two initiatives to develop the DNS in the region, namely an anycast project to promote the robustness and resilience of the Internet in the region, and a diagnostic of problems that small ccTLDs (Country Code Top-Level Domains) face. He stated that LACTLD intended to work on skills development across the region in 2018.
In reference to her organisation’s 2017 report on the global Internet, Gatto spoke about the new character of the digital divide, i.e. new challenges in connecting the next three billion Internet users. She said that the divide evolved from the debate of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ to participation and opportunity in the burgeoning digital economy. She also reiterated the importance of the multistakeholder model in the issue of cybersecurity, where some governments seemed inclined to assert unilateral control in the response to cybercrime.
Ms Carolina Aguerre, Lecturer at the University of San Andrés (UdeSA) in Buenos Aires, reported that her organisation was collaborating with NIC.br (the Brazilian Network Information Center) to develop a map of all Internet Governance initiatives across the region. The map will include the key features of each initiative, lessons learned, visualisations and regional best practices. She mentioned that the map would be ready by April or May 2018.
In the question and answer segment, participants emphasised the need to take stock of various activities and encourage more collaboration to ensure that activities in the region are comprehensive and sustainable.
By Kevon Swift