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  5. Understanding Internet governance and regulations


There are many important considerations regarding online rules and regulations for an organization to examine when establishing its online presence and decides on its online activities. The references in this section give indicators of where to find information on issues such as:

  • Local rules
  • Government regulations and ethics
  • Regional and local governance
  • Jurisdictional issues
  • Liabilities

Internet: Its governance and management


From the introduction:

“DW Akademie is an international media development organization active around the globe in promoting the right to freedom of expression—in the digital as well as in the physical world. The Internet has become a global tool for freedom of expression. From a filmmaker uploading a banned documentary on YouTube to a journalist using Whatsapp to file reports from a rural area, or a migrant worker rating their experience of their recruiter online, the Internet allows people to exchange, and engage with, ideas and information in ways they never could before.

And this online freedom of expression, in turn, supports informed public participation in democratic processes as well as social, cultural and economic development. In fact, the Internet is now considered so fundamental to development that the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals pledge to increase affordable access to the Internet in the least developed countries.

“Capturing the potential of the Internet for development requires certain conditions though, such as the free flow of information. Citizens must be aware of their digital rights and know how to use, understand and create digital content.

“They must also have access to all of the Internet.

“A free and open Internet, however, is increasingly under attack. In 2015, Internet freedom decreased for the fifth year in a row, according to the US advocacy group Freedom House. In many developing countries, governments are pushing to control the Internet. Censoring content is a growth industry, and Internet and social network shutdowns in response to civil unrest are on the rise. Online surveillance is exploding and people are being increasingly intimidated or detained because of their online activities.

“At the same time on an international level, there is disagreement about how the Internet should be governed. Many nations are lobbying for states to have a stronger role in managing the Internet, a move that could give governments new mechanisms for controlling the Internet of the future. Pressure from commercial interests to monetize or prioritize parts of the web pose an additional threat to Internet freedom. When state or commercial entities unduly determine what people can and cannot view and do online, this curtails people’s fundamental human rights to express themselves and to seek and share information.

“Therefore, it is vital for all of us, and in particular civil society and the media, to work together to shape the Internet of the future and ensure it remains in the service of democracy. Civil society has a crucial role in advocating a human rights-based understanding of the Internet, opposing threats to Internet freedom, and representing Internet users in relevant forums, such as the Internet Governance Forum. Journalists are needed to report on digital rights and the effects of proposed Internet regulation. And informed citizens can play an active role in pushing for Internet freedom.

“The publication of this Guidebook Internet Governance seeks to give these actors a greater understanding of Internet governance from the perspective of the Global South.”

How to engage in cyber policy

There are several video modules available on this topic via YouTube.

From the introduction:

“This series aims to help human rights defenders develop the tools, skills and knowledge they need to engage effectively in cyber policy debates.

“The series is structured around five modules. The first four each focus on a different aspect of cyber policy – human rights, cybersecurity, regulatory frameworks and cyber capacity building – with a final regional module highlighting how these apply in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“Each module consists of several videos, which take participants through a key cyber issue or concept – explaining how it relates to human rights, who the key actors are, and how and where to engage.”

Find more resources to accompany the series here.