I was lucky enough to be selected as a Fellow in 2017 APrIGF. While pursuing my master degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science, my training and examination are more westernized and theory-oriented. I have always been seeking for opportunities to learn from practical experiences with an Asian focus. APrIGF seems a great place to have a better understanding of internet governance.
2017 APrIGF had four big themes which are
(1) Accessibility and Diversity of the Internet Access, Empowerment And Diversity (2) Internet Security and Privacy Cybersecurity, privacy and safer Internet (3) Digital Economy & Enabling Innovation (4) Online Human Rights Online. My assigned theme is Digital Economy and Enabling Innovation, which happened to my preference.
I have collected many case studies from the 2017 APrIGF workshops. These case illuminate my understanding about how nations and corporations compete and collaborate in the digital era. One of the hot topics is internet connectivity. There are 7 billion people on the earth, but less 50% of the population can access the internet. Connectivity issue has been debated across governments, civic society, and end-users. Governments may argue about whether internet access should be a human right for citizens. For private entities, increasing connectivity can create potential users and monetize opportunities. I noticed that the internet service providers converge with content providers in both Asia and the United States. However, the practical business strategy was never on my radar until GSMA representative shared their alliance with Facebook during APrIGF. His sharing has illuminated my understanding of how business implements their global ambition in a limited time frame with a strategical partnership. The sharing shed light for me to imagine and to examine the future of digital Asia.
Another rewarding workshop is about “International Trade Rules and The Economy: Asia and WTO and RCEP.” Professor Peng Hwa Ang, a from Nanyang Technological University pointed out the relevance of the internet governance and trade agreements. Nations have its developing schedules and concerns in the digital era. Their considerations can be political, economic, and cultural. In cyberspace, however, users can easily cross national borders from changing domain or VPN. Businesses can also skip the tax through relocating their operation places. The flexibility and convenience generated by the information technologies provide both opportunities and threats. Therefore, it is crucial to develop out a consensus within diverse opinions.
During the session, Ms. Duangthip Chomprang, the director of Regional Cooperation and Assistance at the International Institute for Trade and Development, pointed out that over 70% of the world trade agreements based in Asia. Trade agreements no longer divided into developing countries or developed countries, and international relations are also playing a nuanced but important role. These insights are useful for junior professions like me to understand internet governance issues. My participation in APrIGF helped me to understand the complexity of Internet Governance. The internet surely belongs to everyone. However, the differences among stakeholders make the collaborating process challenging and valuable because we are all different from each other. This is the beauty and complexity of human being.
I gained not only knowledge but also profound friendships from APrIGF. The participants are diverse in nationalities and backgrounds which had broadened my horizon. The discussion and interaction in the forum indeed show the energy of Asia Pacific region.The dialogues and the enthusiasm have continued after the forum.
I have shared the youth IGF event in my community-Woosh, a non-profit organization which increases global mobility for young people in developing countries. The information has reached 1000 view in a day. The reader retention rate is around 10%. Apart from that, I also wrote my experience about 2017 APrIGF on NetPolicy, a website runs by OK Taiwan which shares internet policy around the world. The sharing gained many young people’s attention about internet governance. The article has articulated the complexity and the necessity of internet governance. The article created more than 230 views, which is the second highest record of the website in the past 90 days. Millennials, including me, have grown up with digital technologies. Some of us even learned to use mobile devices before learned a language. Therefore, the way we communicate, the way we trust each other, and the way we control our information might be different from other generations. APrIGF is a valuable experience to learn about how does the cyberspace reshape by the market, the code/ architecture, the law, and the norm. It was a truly rewarding experiences.