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Nnenna Nwakanma: Internet governance needs participation, infrastructure and neutrality

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The way forward for Internet Governance will need consideration of issues of participation of all stakeholders, proper resources and changes in the current process of internet governance, said Nnenna Nwakanma, the Africa Regional Coordinator of the World Wide Web Foundation in her address at the Netmundial Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 23-24, 2014.

Netmundial Sao PaoloNetmundial Sao Paolo

Following is the integral text of Nwakanma’s address, as delivered in Sao Paulo.

Your Excellencies
Colleagues, present and remote
Ladies and gentlemen

Bon dia!!

My name is Nnenna. I come from the Internet. I also come from diverse civil society teams and networks. My first is the team at the World Wide Web Foundation. At the Web Foundation, we are engaged in the Alliance for Affordable Internet, in the Web We Want Campaign, in the Web Index and in Open Government data. I work to establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely. That is what I do for a living.

I also belong to the Best Bits Civil Society platform, the Internet Governance Caucus for 12 years and the Africa Internet Governance Forum. For me, Netmundial, in convening us to take a critical look at the principles and the roadmap for the future of Internet Governance, avails us with an opportunity to bring key issues to fore

The first is Access
As much as two-thirds of the world’s population is not connected to the Internet. The penetration rates in less developed countries average around 31%. In the African continent, this figure drops to 16%. In the world’s 49 least developed countries, over 90% of people are not online. We have one billion people living with disability. 80% live in developing countries. Each one deserves access: to information, to libraries, to knowledge, to affordable Internet.

The second is Social and economic justice.
The Internet is fast becoming the dominant means for wealth creation. The “Right to Development” needs to include social justice. It is not enough to do a superficial “capacity building” for a few persons. We are looking at a mechanism that allows for the highest number of persons to be included, the largest number of voices to be heard, the widest extent of talents to access innovation, and the deepest creativity of the human minds to flourish. For these, we need to start considering the Internet as public commons.

The third is freedom and human rights
I invite you to listen to someone for whom I have great respect. She was speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, on the 24th of September 2013

Do you want to hear it?

"I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals . In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy.”

And that, was Dilma Rousseff

Excellencies, Ladies, and gentlemen, in charting a way forward for Internet Governance we must lend serious consideration to at least 3 issues:

The first is participation: We kicked off with a basic understanding that all stakeholders have a place, a role, a contribution. As we move further along, the multistakeholder approach is becoming muddled and is losing its meaning. It is time was came back to the drawing board. If we need to revisit the notion, or upgrade it, please let us do it.

We need to engage all stakeholders at the global, regional and national levels.
We need to establish respect and value for stakeholder contributions.
We need to enable meaningful participation from developing countries and under-represented groups.

The second is resources

How do we ensure that resources are mobilized and maintained for a viable Internet Governance mechanism? The question is not just at the global level, but also at regional and national levels. Whose resources are we going to commit? My leaning is that the Internet should be able to provide resources for its own governance. Maybe, part of the domain name fees could be reinvested here.

The third is change
NetMundial is offering us a chance at change. Let us seize it:
From one stakeholder hijacking the process – to an open and inclusive process
From top officials issuing orders – to a collaboration
From summary reports – to transparency
From power - to accountability
From monologues – to dialogues and debates
Change the rhetoric of cyberwar – to the notion of Internet for peace
Change from cyber threats – to digital solidarity
And these, I believe, will guide us in the IANA transition.

Ladies and gentleman, If there is one message I must leave with you today, it is the message of TRUST. We are in Brazil because we have a level of trust in the person of President Dilma Rousseff. We trust the Netmundial process. We trust the multistakeholder approach of Brazil in its IGF. We have followed the drive for Marco Civil and we congratulate the wholee of the people of Brazil.

The trust we have in Brazil is needed at all levels for the future of the Internet. This trust is being destroyed by the collection, processing and interception of our communications. Surveillance undermines Internet security and trust in all personal, business and diplomatic communications. That is why we say: “No to surveillance”.

The Web we can trust, that is the Web We Want.
The Web that contributes to global peace, that is the web we want
The web that remains open and inclusive, that is the web we want
The Internet of opportunities, of social justice, of development and of respect to privacy and human rights, that is why I am here.

Ladies and gentlemen
NetMundial is the World Cup of Internet Governance

We need a robust stadium – we need infrastructure
We need everyone to enjoy the game – we need participation
Fans should not be discriminated against: we need net neutrality
Everyone should be free to support any team. I support Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. I also support Brazil when they are not playing against Africa.
Fans will wear their costumes – let us respect diversity
We need to know the rules and play by them: That is transparency

So it is not just about power and control for governments.
Not just service and interest for the industry
Not just names and numbers for the academia and technical community
Not just “for” or “against” for us in the civil society.

We need humility. Our humility to listen to diverse voices is essential for an authentic dialogue. Let us talk to each other and not at each other. Sometimes as stakeholders, we may be so drowned with our own voices that we miss what others have to say.

Ladies and gentlemen, just before I sit down, tomorrow is the
Girls in ICT Day.
Let me say this: Girls, it is up to us to seize the Internet and rock the world. Let us get women online, let US get US online!

And a special tribute to the girls in my Web Foundation team, Alexandra Groome, Renata Avila, Sonia Jorge, Anne Jellema

And the girls across the world who work on Internet Governance issues: Deborah Brown in the US, Marianne Franklin in Europe, Anja Kovacs in India, Valeria Betancourt in Latin America, Anriette Esterhuysen in Africa, Joy Liddicot in New Zealand, Salanieta, far away in the Islands of Fiji

And our wonderful girls in Brazil: Joana Varon and Carolina Rossini

But no, it is not a women-only zone. There are men who put in energy, who spend hours of work, nergy resources.. who risk their lives, for us to have a strong, free, open and robust Internet.

To you, to all those who work... to people like Edward. Edward Snowden, thank you.

Watch the video from Netmundial Meeting in Sao Paulo.


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