It is important for Government and Civil Society Organizations to participate in the Internet Governance Forum of the UN that addresses Governance issues of the Internet to ensure that the Internet remains a decentralized, free and vibrant medium.
Participation of countries in the governance of the Internet is both a right and an obligation, says Dr. Katim Touray, a former Director of the Board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is the entity that is responsible for the co-ordinated allocation and use of global Internet resources such as domain names, IP addresses (both IPv4 and IPv6), root servers, new Top Level Domain (TLDs) and Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs).
Dr. Touray, a member of the council of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), and citizen of the Gambia in West Africa, was on a short visit to the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), at Technopark, Trivandrum.
Although the Internet began as a US-Government sponsored computer network in the 1970s, the last twenty years have seen its emergence as an essential public infrastructure of significant importance to business, communities, civil society and governments. In the process, the governance of the Internet has transitioned from an internal matter of the US government to a global concern involving the interests of governments and peoples around the world.
“Today, there is a clear understanding that the Internet, and in particular the critical Internet resources such as domain names, IP addresses, the root domain servers, technical standards, and multi-lingualization protocols, should be governed in partnership with national governments as well as civil society. This matter was originally raised at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and resulted in the evolution of the open, multi-stakeholder process called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). It is therefore important that there is widespread civil society participation in the IGF process. In this regard, it is good to note that ICFOSS is one of the few organizations from India which has taken participation in IGF seriously,” said Dr. Touray.
“We believe that the Internet Governance should uphold the same values of freedom, stakeholder participation and autonomy, that the FOSS movement is well-known for. Therefore, IGF is an important forum for ICFOSS, both for showcasing our experiences as well as in carrying out advocacy activities to a world audience. We organized a workshop on ‘Inclusive Development with FOSS’ at IGF 2011, and we plan to do a joint workshop with FOSSFA in IGF 2012”, said Satish Babu, Director, ICFOSS.
These and related issues were discussed at Idlelo 5 Conference held during 19-23 March at Abuja, Nigeria, organized by FOSSFA, on the theme “FOSS for achieving Millennium Development Goals”. ICFOSS was represented in this conference by its Director, Mr. Satish, Babu, who spoke there on the decade-long experiences of Kerala with FOSS.
FOSSFA was also a supporting partner for the FOSSK4 Conference organized by ICFOSS during 27-29 December 2011 at Technopark, Trivandrum. ICFOSS and FOSSFA are planning several joint activities for international advocacy, including joint workshops at the IGF 2012 and a joint international conference.