The First Nepal School on Internet Governance
In January 2018, the Internet Society Nepal Chapter organized the first Nepal School on Internet Governance (npSIG) in collaboration with the Forum for Digital Equality. The initiative offered an intensive two-day learning course covering a wide list of topics at the Institute of Engineering Pulchowk in Kathmandu. The initiative helped participants to identify global and regional issues and facilitate the understanding of several aspects of Internet Governance, including access, diversity, security, privacy, IoT, and human rights within the Nepalese policy framework. The schedule included theoretical sessions, roleplays, and attendee engagement activities. All brilliant speakers presentations are available on sig.org.np for further consultation.
One of the major objectives of npSIG was to raise awareness among young people about Internet Governance issues and to promote their participation in the discussion. The speakers inspired analysis, critical thinking and motivated the audience to design effective questions and take action.
How can we manage the Internet’s evolution in our country?
The opening speech delivered by Baburam Aryal, Chairperson at the Forum for Digital Equality, enhanced the understanding of the Internet Governance concept, which in Nepal is in the very early stages of development. The establishment of a proper ecosystem is complex as it needs to involve many actors, procedures, and infrastructures. The Nepal Chapter deserves credit for gathering all stakeholders on one platform to address the need for common strategies and manage this complexity.
What are we losing? What can be done?
Osama Manzar, Founder of the Digital Empowerment Foundation, drew the attention to the current scenario in Nepal, where more than 40% of the rural areas are still unconnected. He suggested promoting emerging complementary and sustainable solutions, such as community networks, to ensure access to the whole population. Binaya Bohra, Managing Director of Vianet Communication, highlighted the need for an affordable broadband where no service providers monopolize access, pricing, and content. Subhash Dhakal, Director of Department of Information and Technology (DoIT) of Nepal , made a presentation on the government’s perspective. During his session, he reiterated the importance of collaboration among the major stakeholders in various international forums, including the ITU, ICANN, and Global Conferences on Cyber Security. Hempal Shrestha, a free and open source activist, went into more detail about the basic values and principles governing the Internet.
How to protect our privacy?
On the second day, the Nepal Chapter’s Senior Vice President, advocate Santosh Sigdel, made a presentation and led a discussion on privacy and data protection. Advocate Tanka Raj Aryal highlighted the importance of cybersecurity issues in the context of Internet Governance. npSIG also featured a panel discussion about the concept of blockchain and cryptocurrency considering the effect of these technologies on the economy and the Internet ecosystem.
What is digital inclusion and why is it important?
It is estimated that the Asia-Pacific region has 650 million people with disabilities and they are likely to be part of the last billion to be connected. Although studies show that the number of disabled people accessing the Internet is scarce, the results achieved by the few who are using it are very positive. During his speech, Aanand Raj Khanal, Senior Director of Nepal Telecom, explained the position of Nepal on access and usage of the Internet by disabled people in terms of national laws and policies.
What is IoT and how does it work?
Sanjeeb Panday, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Engineering, presented an overview on the challenges and limitations of the Internet of Things. How is it possible to bring together stakeholders from industry, design, civil society, and academia to address the governance problem in the IoT age? What are the prospects for security and privacy in the context of pervasive systems that range from cars and medical devices to home control systems?
npSIG has been the first school on Internet Governance in Nepal ever. The initiative was crucial to enhance people’s awareness and bring policy issues into sharper focus. This was possible thanks to the participation of actors and stakeholders – including government, academic and private institutions – and the partnering of organizations such as the Internet Society, ICANN, APASA, and APNIC, which provided their support for a successful organization.
I wish to acknowledge Santosh Sigdel who provided insight and expertise that greatly assisted to write this article.
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For an Internet to exist for the good of all people, it must be shaped by diversity, inclusion, and equality. Learn about Internet Governance and why every voice matters.