STAKEHOLDERS’ INVOLVEMENT AND PARTICIPATION IN THE INTERNET GOVERNANCE ECOSYSTEM: AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE
From an African perspective, internet governance requires not only an understanding of the variability in access to and use of the internet across the continent, but also an understanding of the disparities between developed and developing countries’ abilities to effectively participate in global internet governance debates. Few developing countries participate in these debates, and even fewer are active in agenda-setting for global internet governance.
How is the momentum toward multistakeholderism in Internet governance playing out in Latin America? What broader implications does this have to open democracy in the region? In this report, Internet Policy Observatory affiliate Celia Lerman, analyzes the distinct evolution of the multistakeholder model in the context of Latin America’s democracies, which traditionally have not incorporated deliberative processes and multistakeholder participation into governance structures. Lerman asserts that this evolution can be explained by the effect of external events rather than by internal driving forces, concluding that this policy evolution moved from the international to the regional and national due to the fact Internet policy issues only recently became a matter of perceived importance to citizens in the region. The study looks at Latin America as a whole, highlighting several national case studies and exploring in greater depth Brazil’s much earlier adoption of the multistakeholder model.
Interactions and Policy-Making: Civil Society Perspectives on the Multistakeholder Internet Governance Process in India
This paper examines India’s experience in developing national Internet policy by focusing on interactions among stakeholders in the Internet governance process. The paper begins by tracing the history of telecom policies in India along with the development of its IT sector as well as its civil society. It identifies the tensions, opportunities and threats that India has experienced in its Internet policy-making. It then reviews India’s legislative and policy history from the IT Act of 2000 onward, noting the intentions and limitations of India’s framework of Internet governance. A notable aspect of the paper involves a series of interviews with civil society stakeholders involved in India’s Internet governance debates. These interviews are used to identify patterns of interaction among different stakeholders, and to understand the underlying power dynamics in India’s policy-making process.
The role of the Internet as a fundamental tool for communication and empowerment is one that should not be inhibited as the limitless nature of the medium allows for a broader, unfiltered, and more democratic exchange of information. These features become increasingly important in conditions where the mainstream media are unwilling or unable to provide the public with the information necessary to function as democratic citizens and maintain political accountability. Though an open Internet tends to be valued by more democratic governments, the percentage of countries adhering to the standards of open and free media is dismally low. In a majority of countries, governments maintain a stringent level of control over many of the mainstream information outlets, making the Internet a vital source of alternative information for the people living within these environments.