This was the key message delivered today at the opening of IGF Kenya by Subramanian Ramadorai, Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative and Vice-Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
Addressing over 1,700 business leaders, government officials, technical experts, academics and civil society representatives, Mr Ramadorai said: “The explosion of social media, adoption of cloud services and proliferation of mobile devices and smartphones has transformed the Internet governance landscape and created a fresh set of policy challenges that threaten to counteract the benefits delivered by these exciting new technologies. It is vital we continue to work together to make the right governance choices that help to develop the Internet in a way that doesn’t diminish its open spirit.”
Mr Ramadorai also spoke about the importance of creating regulatory environments where better access to information is encouraged, the free flow of information is protected, and innovation and entrepreneurship are enabled, stressing that regulation for regulation’s sake is not the answer. He gave two examples from his home country of India where the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs) have transformed the lives and the future of thousands of rural poor.
“We’ve seen how Internet access can transform economies and industries, human societies and individual lives. From improving literacy rates across under-served communities, to reaching doctors in remote countries with critical healthcare information; it has the potential to empower and improve the lives of billions of people. The IGF is a critical meeting to ensure we make the right governance choices that will help bring the next billion people online and deliver the benefits of the Internet to all,” he said.
Every year at the IGF, BASIS serves as the voice of global business in the international dialogue on how the Internet and ICTs can better serve as engines of economic growth and social development. In Kenya this year, BASIS members from organizations including AT&T, Cisco, Verisign, Telefonica, Oracle, Alcatel-Lucent, Royal Dutch Shell, Google and associations such as GIIC, WITSA, TechAmerica and ACT, will join discussions and workshops to provide private sector perspectives on a range of different policy topics including Internet access and diversity, critical Internet resources, openness, and privacy and security.
To delve deeper into the new and emerging policy challenges created by mobile and cloud applications, BASIS will host a workshop with the host country, Kenya, on day three of the IGF to discuss the recommended legal frameworks for enabling mobile and cloud services for development, such as cross-border data flows and legacy regulation and new online services. The future of mobile and cloud services will also be on the agenda, including application-centric platforms and opportunities for youth in developing countries.
BASIS will also continue discussions around the format of future IGFs, with a second workshop on day two co-organized with Internet technical community organizations, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society, Netnod and the National Information Technology Agency, IGF delegates will be invited to exchange ideas and perspectives on how the IGF can continue to be improved, and build on the evolution of the past five years. It is the longstanding belief of BASIS that the IGF’s unique format and founding principles should be protected to prevent ill-informed decision making and ensure that genuine progress is made towards addressing some of the most important global economic and social Internet issues.