(These perspective and recommendations have been reported to
Taking stock of Internet governance and the way forward main session, during the closing of the 5th Internet Governance Forum, in Vilnius, Lithuania, on September 17, 2010. The note has been drafted collaboratively and simultaneously online, based on 2010 Southeast Asia Civil Society Statement on Internet Governance.)
I’m Blogie Robillo and I represent a group of civil society representatives from our Southeast Asian countries, namely Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. As first-time participants, we offer the following perspectives and recommendations for future IGF meetings.
Firstly, openness is key to a democratic and open society. Restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online, such as state censorship and physical measures which block and threaten Internet intermediaries, are ones of the threats to open societies. Intimidation and state censorship facilitate self-censorship, as is happening in countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, stunting the growth of democracy and openness.
Secondly, on the matter of access. A higher priority must be placed on addressing not only the global digital divide, but also regional and national ones. Countries like Burma and Cambodia rank the lowest of 200 countries in a World Bank study. Various factors contribute to this, from politics, economic and social development, poverty levels, and technological infrastructure. Thus, coordinated international efforts must be made to address domestic policies that contribute to the digital divide in Southeast Asia and find solutions to bridge the gap. The digital divide is such that remote participation is not even a possibility, such as for the people of Burma, where Internet access and freedom is crucial to their freedoms.
Thirdly, on cyber security. The definition must include elements that address right to privacy and civil and political freedom, recognizing that levels of democracy and rule of law differ in many states.
An individual’s right over his/her own privacy, including personal data and information, must not be sacrificed. Information technology when used without transparent and accountable oversight, could pose threats to individual rights.
In this regard, any national security policy must not deviate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international human rights covenants to which states are a party.
Recommendations to the IGF
- Immediately address as an urgent global internet governance issue the increasing implementation of laws that suppress and restrict freedom of expression and access to information, especially within developing countries;
- Fully integrate the universal human rights agenda into IGF program and engage systematically and regularly with the UN human rights bodies;
- Ensure that the IGF policy proposals and recommendations are in line with international human rights principles and standards;
- Extend the mandate of IGF for another five years in its present form;
- Conduct wider outreach to civil society actors from the Global South, in particular Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific and allocate financial resources to encourage and support their participations;
- Ensure the participations from remote are really integrated into the session discussions on-site;
- Guarantee that technical discussions during IGFs fully accommodates new constituents and stakeholders and incorporate an assessment of policy implications on the rights of Internet users and society; and
- Develop a plan of action in order to facilitate follow-up and monitoring of IGF outcomes.
We would like to thank our Lithuanian hosts for welcoming us to their beautiful city of Vilnius, and for making our first visit here a wonderful and eye-opening one. We hope that we will be able to reciprocate this in the not too distant future. Achoo, Lietuva! Terima Kasih! Khob Kun Krap! Maraming Salamat po!
Southeast Asian Center for e-Media (SEACeM)
E-mail: sean [at] seacem.com
Mobile (Kuala Lumpur): +60.166.533.533
Prachatai Online Newspaper
E-mail: chiranuch [at] prachatai.com
Mobile (Bangkok): +66.81.6207707
Mindanao Bloggers Community
E-mail: blogie [at] dabawenyo.com
Mobile (Davao): +63.918.540.0878
Chuah Siew Eng
Centre for Independent Journalism
Email: sieweng.cij [at] gmail.com
Phone (Kuala Lumpur): +60.340.230.772
Thai Netizen Network
E-mail: contact [at] thainetizen.org
Phone (Bangkok): +66.875.042.221