Thursday, June 10, 2010

An invitation to the first Asia Pacific Regional IGF

Since the advent of the World-Wide Web less than twenty years ago, the Internet has become an integral part of the lives of billions in the world. The advantages of the information superhighway are obvious in ways of communications, education, business and social applications, but increasingly the public and media are putting attention on its misuses and abuses -- digital divide, Net addiction, security concerns and privacy abuses, just to name a few. These issues have no national borders, making it more difficult for governments to act effectively.

For the last four years, the Internet Governance Forum has been the annual gathering organized by the United Nations. It acts as a global platform for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on prevailing and emerging issues on Internet governance to foster the security, stability and development of the Internet. This is important because the Internet does not belong to any government, nor governed by any intra-governmental organization but by community-based, multi-stakeholders organizations such as ICANN, in a bottom-up fashion.

Besides the annual global IGF, various regions such as Africa, Europe and Latin Americas and a number of countries have established their regional or national IGFs, to educate and consolidate views to reflect back to the global forum. The Asia Pacific region, despite having the largest online population, estimated at over 780 million, however, has seen no parallel forum for discussing Internet governance issues until now.

After some of us in the Hong Kong Internet community (including Jeremy Godfrey and Stephen Lau) attended the last IGF in Egypt, we decided this should change, and initiated an effort to collaborate with a wide spectrum of Internet, IT and social organizations to organize the first Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) in Hong Kong this June. We intend to raise awareness and encourage participation from relevant stakeholders around the region, and to foster multi-lateral discussions about issues pertinent to the Internet in Asia.

APrIGF will consist of three parts. The APrIGF Roundtable will bring together experts and advocates in the region and around the world from civil society, private and public sectors -- including Marcus Kummer, Executive Coordinator of the IGF, representatives from ICANN, the Internet Society, and the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) -- for an intensive discussion to explore how we may shape the future of the IGF and Internet development in Asia. The local Hong Kong IGF Conference aims to introduce the various stakeholders in Hong Kong, in particular NGOs and civil society, to the status of Internet governance and how they can get involved. Finally, the Youth IGF Camp will be organized by young leaders to encourage more undertanding and participation from our next generation.

The full and developing agenda of the events can be found on http://www.rigf.asia .

From ComputerWorld Hong Kong, June 10, 2010

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