Category: Innovation

EuroDIG 2017: ISOC Speaks on Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Human Rights, IoT, Internet Shutdowns and more

How do we create a more secure and trusted Internet within the multistakeholder model of Internet governance? That will be among the many questions addressed this week at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) in Tallinn, Estonia. From June 5-7, we will have an Internet Society team on site participating in many sessions. Our EuroDIG 2017 page has all the details – including links to live video streams – but at a high level here are some of the workshops we are participating in:

  • Plenary panel on cybersecurity
  • New business models and the Internet
  • Blockchain technology and internet governance
  • Community connectivity: empowering the unconnected
  • Criminal justice on the Internet – identifying common solutions
  • Workshop on human rights and IoT
  • Internet content blocking: from collateral damages to better solutions
  • Stress testing the multistakeholder model in cybersecurity
  • Drowning in data – digital pollution, green IT, and sustainable access
  • Forced data localization and barriers to cross-border data flows: toward a multistakeholder approach

Again, view our EuroDIG 2017 event page to see exact times and live stream links.

To stay up on our activities, you can follow us on social media – and follow the hashtags #eurodig17 and #eurodig on Twitter.

Please do say hello to our staff in the sessions – and tell us how you think we need to work together to build a stronger Internet and #ShapeTomorrow.

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Connecting The Unconnected: The Story of a Visit to a School in Agua Azul, Mexico

How do you bring the “Internet” to a remote village in Mexico that doesn’t even have phone service? On June 20, 2016, we set out to understand that question. It was the day before the start of the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy in Cancun,and our ISOC Mexico Chapter arranged for this visit.

Our group was small: Internet Society President & CEO Kathy Brown, Regional Bureau Director for Latin America Sebastián Bellagamba, Alejandro Pisanty of the ISOC Mexico Chapter and myself.

In a parking lot on the outskirt of Cancun we met Camilo Olea (pictured above on the right) and Pedro González. They are the founders of Kaanbal, a nonprofit organisation seeking to bring the Internet to remote regions of Mexico. They are also the recipients of an Internet Society “Beyond The Net” grant.

From there we drove about 60 kilometres west of Cancun to reach the small community of Agua Azul in the municipality of Lázaro Cardenas, Quintana Roo. It is about 450-500 people out in the jungle area of the Yucatan Peninsula.

After parking and visiting a local community centre, we walked down the road to the school. Two of the three classrooms were in session, and we visited both. There are about 120 students between the middle school and high school. The students come not only from Agua Azul but also at least five other nearby communities.

Despite the satellite dish shown on the roof of the school, there was no Internet access available. In fact, residents have to drive a good distance to a highway just to be able to send a text message.

The first step was for Pedro González to install a Raspberry Pi server configured with the RACHEL software distribution. The Pi connected to a WiFi access point. Instantly we were able to browse locally using the teacher’s laptop computer and the iPads we had brought with us.

This, then, was the answer to that first question – how do you bring the “Internet” to a place where there is no phone service?

In truth, we were bringing “Internet resources” to the community. The content of Wikipedia, a set of Khan Academy courses, books, medical and health guides, videos about how to play instruments, and so much more. RACHEL, short for Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning, is a project of World Possible to bring educational content out to communities such as Agua Azul.

On a technical level, a RACHEL server is essentially a cached copy of a variety of websites. With storage space now being so cheap, a significant amount of web content can be shared. Obviously, you don’t have the real-time updates, but for educational material, this can be fine.

The RACHEL website lists the range of available content. Pedro and Camilo went through and identified the resources that they thought would be most helpful to the community. All of it is available in Spanish. They loaded those modules on the Pi server and brought it to the village.

It was powerful to watch the students as they interacted with sites such as Wikipedia that many of us simply take for granted.

As an example, Kathy asked a few students to find information in Wikipedia about Virginia, where she lives and talked about where she was from. Next, she asked them to find and share with the rest of the class information about where they live in Mexico. Seeing their interest and enthusiasm made the trip worthwhile to me.

We didn’t stay too long. After all,  school was in session! But we did get a good glimpse into the power of bringing resources from the Internet out to communities such as this.

Beyond the resources, I saw that this is preparing people for full Internet access. As these students tapped on the links and searched the available content, they were learning the skills that we use every day in the online world.

There was good news on that topic, too. It seems that a previous project to bring Internet access a few years earlier by a different group had left behind an installed radio tower at the school. Our team members from Kaanbal and ISOC Mexico recorded the necessary information about the tower location and height.

Their goal now is to find someone who can connect Agua Azul to the Internet using this tower. When they do, the students in the school will be ready!

Walking back to the cars, Pedro explained more about their efforts in Mexico. Already they’ve had interest from other communities. They are also working to tailor the software to the specific interests of the communities. For instance, Pedro and Camilo can collect feedback from teachers about what resources they need for upcoming lessons – and then bring updated software when they next visit.

As we drove back to Cancun for the start of the OECD Ministerial Meeting, I could only think of the subtitle of the event: “Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity”.

Efforts like this are how we can bring about that growth and social prosperity. Material and content developed through the collaboration of many people across the open Internet. Software (RACHEL) and hardware (Raspberry Pi) created and developed by communities on the Internet. And then groups on the ground bringing that global information into local communities. Innovation and growth fueled by the remarkable creativity of collaboration.

THIS is how we bring the “Internet of Opportunity” to everyone!

More information:

UPDATE: Camilo Olea provided a Spanish translation of this blog post.

UPDATE: Pedro González provided this video that gives another view into the visit:

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ISOC@OECD, Day 3: Walid Al-Saqaf on Blockchain; IETF Chair Jari Arkko on Network Convergence

It’s the final day of the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy here in Cancun, Mexico, and there are just two more sessions blocks followed by the Closing Ceremony. Here below is where our attention will be focused today – and to understand the broader questions around why we are here, please read our OECD Ministerial Background Paper (All times are local to Cancun – UTC-5.)

You can also view the OECD Ministerial Agenda for a full list of sessions and participants.

9:00-10:45 – Improving Networks and Services through Convergence

In the first session on “Improving Networks and Services through Convergence“, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Chair Jari Arkko is one of the speakers in a session about the convergence of telecommunications and Internet services. The panel is moderated by U.S. Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda and includes communications ministers, regulators, the CEO of AT&T Mexico and a VP from Facebook.  It should be an interesting session given this tension between the older world of telecom and the newer world of the Internet.

Simultaneously, the other active session will be “New Markets and New Jobs in the Digital Economy” and it includes another ITAC organization, the IEEE, represented by their Managing Director, Konstantinos Karachalios.

11:15-13:00 – Skills for a Digital World

In the final session block, Internet Society Board of Trustee Member Walid Al-Saqaf will be a “key intervener” in the panel “Skills for a Digital World“. As Walid notes in a blog post published today, he intends to ask the panel about what policy makers are doing to stay up-to-date on blockchain technology. (Process note: a “key intervener” is a participant who is designated before the event to ask a question of the panel.)

At the same time, the session in the room next door will be on “Tomorrow’s Internet of Things” and includes a wide range of ministers, executives and others. (We would naturally hope that people there will have read our Internet of Things Overview document that outlines some of the key challenges and opportunities we see with the IoT.)

After that, there will be lunch, the Closing Ceremony and the final press conference… and we’re done!

For more information about what we have been doing here at the OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy, please visit our event page. We will be adding links there to our articles, videos and more.

Throughout the day you can follow our @InternetSociety Twitter account where we will be providing updates using the #OECDdigitalMX hashtag.

Watch this blog, too, for a wrap-up post coming from Constance Bommelaer tomorrow.

Image credit: a photo I took of the “Official Photo of Ministers and Heads of Delegations”. Our Constance Bommelaer is standing at the front left edge. 

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ISOC@OECD, Day 2: Kathy Brown’s speech about trust, Hiroshi Esaki speaking about innovation

Today is the first day of the “Ministerial Conference” section of the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy.  Yesterday was for the very successful “Stakeholder Forums” and my colleague Nicolas Seidler wrote about the ITAC Forum that discussed Internet policies, IPv6, IoT, open standards and Collaborative Security.  I also encourage you to read our OECD Ministerial Background Paper to understand why this meeting is so important for Internet Governance.

11:40 am – OECD Stakeholders Armchair Discussion

Our big event today will be the “OECD Stakeholders’ Armchair Discussion”  where our President and CEO Kathy Brown will speak as a member of the Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC) about what was discussed in the ITAC Forum yesterday and also about the view from within the technical community about the need to increase trust in the Internet.

The overall session she is in starts at 11:40 am local time (UTC-5, similar to US Central time) although we are told the armchair discussion should start closer to 12:20 pm.  Each of the four stakeholder advisory committees will provide a statement, and Kathy will be speaking on behalf of ITAC.

16:45 – Stimulating Digital Innovation across the Economy

After Kathy’s session there will be a 1.5 hour lunch break and then the parallel track sessions begin.  The OECD Ministerial Agenda outlines the sessions, including:

  • Economic and Social Benefits of Internet Openness
  • Consumer Trust and Market Growth
  •  Stimulating Digital Innovation across the Economy
  • Managing Digital Security and Privacy Risk for Economic and Social Prosperity

While all of the sessions are of interest, our attention will be on the session about “Stimulating Digital Innovation” at 16:45 as ISOC Board of Trustees member Hiroshi Esaki will be one of the speakers on the panel.

We understand that the sessions should be live streamed, but we are uncertain of the exact URL.  We would advise you to visit the OECD live stream page to see what streams are available.

You can also follow our @InternetSociety Twitter account where we will be providing updates using the #OECDdigitalMX hashtag.

Watch this blog, too, as we will be posting several more articles throughout the day!

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