Internet Governance Takeaways from APrIGF

What is APrIGF?

This July, I was honored as a Fellow to attend the first time in the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance (APrIGF) held in Vladivostok, Russia. The APrIGF is a platform where various stakeholders of the internet in the Asia Pacific discuss emerging internet governance issues. It is a multi-stakeholder platform including stakeholders from the government, public sector, tech community, and civil society.

The theme for Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2019 is, “One World, One Net, One Vision”. At APrIGF, the discussion focused on the six sub-themes: (1) Safer Internet, Cybersecurity and Regulation; (2) Access & Universality; (3) Emerging Technologies and Society; (4) Human Rights Online; (5) Evolving Role of Internet Governance & Multi-Stakeholder Participation; and (6) Digital Economy.

Here are my key takeaways

  1. The balance between internet infrastructure and open internet at a policy level

Nowadays, we are confronted with various debates relating to data privacy and ownership vs. public goods, preserving the freedom of speech online vs. misinformation, hate speech and harassment, universal accessibility vs censorship to protect national security, centralization of digital ID vs. data privacy and data breach. Faced with these dilemmas, there are many things to take into considerations in formulation policies and governance models to achieve a safer internet and maintain cyber hygiene. A lot of legislative discussions must be done to strike a balance between government interference on internet governance and the open internet.

  1. My views on the future of the internet

The future of the internet is quite difficult to predict. On one hand, we’re passionate about fighting for a free and open internet. On the other hand, we increasingly see a small number of big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, have increasing control of what we see online. The other trend is that these big companies acquiring small tech companies, narrowing the competition down to market monopoly.

The big question is, what if big techs fail? Would it hit us hard? Think about its impact on our access to the internet, to businesses, to individuals that highly depend on their convenience online to these big companies.

I won’t have an exact answer to this. The big tech companies got the advantage of getting our trust that they have more secured infrastructure over small tech companies. Yet, how about the trust in what they do with our data?

What can we do to help shape the future of the internet?

As a tech startups community builder, I encourage you to support other options. Let’s keep supporting our local tech startups. The more options we have, the more competition. And these companies will just thrive to keep their services better and better. There’s already a story where a new social media developed by a startup company is already more popular than Facebook in that country.

Therefore, this starts among ourselves, as a regular citizen, as a regular internet user. Let us make ourselves aware of our digital rights. Join policy discussions and debates. Attend events relating to digital literacy and join a community of digital entrepreneurs.

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