DevNet hosts "Future of the Internet Public Meeting

Members of the public were invited to a public meeting to discuss "The Future of the Internet" on Monday, 30 October, 2006 at 5pm, at the Georgetown Club. The main presenter was Mr Jacob Malthouse, Regional Liaison for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

What is ICANN?

ICANN is the organisation which is responsible for managing the Domain Name System (DNS) on which the Internet is based. The Domain Name System helps users find their way around the Internet. Each computer on the Internet is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addresses are strings of numbers which are usually difficult to remember, so the DNS allows a domain name e.g. www.icann.org or www.devnet.org.gy to be translated into the relevant IP address, so users can be directed to the websites of their choice. The DNS also enables e-mail to function properly. The fair and transparent operation of the DNS is critical to the expansion and use of the Internet.

ICANN is a non-profit corporation registered in the United States, and it has several mechanisms to invite participation from all stakeholders in the maintenance of the Internet. Government stakeholders are on the Government Advisory Committees, and there are other orgnasiations and committees which advise the ICANN Board through other mechanisms.

The role of general users within ICANN

For many years there has been a growing concern that ICANN has been heavily influenced by corporate interests and therefore not adequately addressing the need of general, every day internet users, who happen to be their largest continuency.. In 2002 the ICANN Board of Directors voted to establish an At-large Advisory Committee (commonly known as ALAC) This committee would be responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users (the "At-Large" community).

It is intended for the ALAC to eventually consist of ten members selected by Regional At-Large Organizations, supplemented by five members selected by ICANN's Nominating Committee. Underpinning the ALAC will be a network of self-organizing, self-supporting At-Large Structures throughout the world involving individual Internet users at the local or issue level. The At-Large Structures (either existing organizations or newly formed for this purpose) will self-organize into five Regional At-Large Organizations (one in each ICANN region – Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America). The Regional At-Large Organizations will manage outreach and public involvement and will be the main forum and coordination point in each region for public input to ICANN.

The local and Caribbean context

DevNet and a few other Caribbean ICT based organisations have accepted invitations to become an At-large structure (ALS). The task we are currently engaged in is the creation and organization of the LARALO which is the Regional At-Large Organisation that will represent the at-large internet community in Latin America and the Caribbean. Full Caribbean participation in the deliberations of ICANN is crucial since the internet represents a unique opportunity for small nation states to achieve their full economic potential. It is important therefore to understand the use and management of the internet at the policy level in order to achieve this goal.

Guyana's use of the Internet continues to grow, motivated by the increasing opportunities which are provided with the ability to communicate easily. The public meeting on Monday will provide members of the public to learn more about ICANN, give feedback on concerns related to the technical aspects of the Internet and any issues of interest within the Caribbean.

Reports of the meeting are from
Stabroek News

Friday, November 3rd 2006

With the Internet evolving at a rapid pace and expansion expected in developing countries, Guyana and others in the region need to join the global dialogues about the future of the technology.

This is according to Jacob Malthouse, Regional Liaison for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), who says that despite the changing nature of the Internet there is still a level playing field anywhere in the world, and, with motivated people and the access to technical support, any country could become a leader. He cited two countries in the Caribbean - Jamaica and Antigua - as examples, while noting that they have also created policies and other support structures to foster entrepreneurship, which he says can be cultivated at local as well as global levels.

Malthouse was speaking at a public meeting to discuss 'The Future of the Internet' on Monday at the Georgetown Club. The meet was organised by DevNet, a non-governmental organisation that is applying the use of Information and Communi-cation Technologies (ICT) for development. It took place against the background of an Internet Governance Forum in Athens this week.

Malthouse pointed out that with North America nearing Internet saturation, most of the growth will take place in areas like the Caribbean and Latin America. However, he explained that ICANN, being a reactive rather than proactive agency, needs the help of users in these countries to determine this expansion.

According to a press statement from DevNet, ICANN is the organisation responsible for managing the Domain Name System (DNS) on which the Internet is based. The DNS helps users find their way around the Internet. Each computer on the Internet is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addresses are strings of numbers which are usually difficult to remember, so the DNS allows a domain name e.g. www.icann.org or www.devnet.org.gy to be translated into the relevant IP address, allowing users to be directed to the websites of their choice. The DNS also enables e-mail to function properly.

ICANN is a non-profit corporation registered in the United States, and it has several mechanisms to invite participation from all stakeholders in the maintenance of the Internet. Government stakeholders are on the government advisory committees, and there are other organisations and committees which advise the ICANN Board through other mechanisms.

DevNet noted that for many years there has been a growing concern that ICANN has been heavily influenced by corporate interests and was therefore not adequately addressing the need of general, everyday internet users, who happen to be their largest constituency.

As a result, in 2002 the ICANN Board of Directors voted to establish an At-large Advisory Committee (commonly known as ALAC) This committee is responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of ICANN, as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users (the "At-Large" community). It is intended for the ALAC to eventually consist of ten members selected by Regional At-Large Organi-zations, supplemented by five members selected by ICANN's Nominating Com-mittee. Underpinning the ALAC will be a network of self-organizing, self-supporting At-Large Structures throughout the world involving individual Internet users at the local or issue level. The At-Large Structures (either existing organizations or newly formed for this purpose) will self-organize into five Regional At-Large Organizations (one in each ICANN region - Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America). The Regional At-Large Organizations will manage outreach and public involvement and will be the main forum and coordination point in each region for public input to ICANN.

DevNet and a few other Caribbean ICT based organisations have accepted invitations to become ALS. It says it is currently engaged in the creation and organization of the Regional At-Large Organisation that will represent the at-large internet community in Latin America and the Caribbean. In this vein, it also says full Caribbean participation in the deliberations of ICANN is crucial since the internet represents a unique opportunity for small nation states to achieve their full economic potential.

Added to this, it says it is important to understand the use and management of the internet at the policy level in order to achieve this goal. (Andre Haynes)

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