Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Internet Governance 2009: IP blocking unacceptable to Nigeria – Stakeholders


Nigeria Internet community would canvass for the appropriate security regulation and application, mostly on Internet Protocol (IP) blocking at the on-going Internet Governance Forum (IGF) holding in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Participants at the recently concluded one-day Nigeria Digital Sense forum in a communiqué made available to ITRealms Online by the organizers, Digital Sense Africa (DSA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the theme: “Internet Governance:
Creating Opportunities for All Nigerians” agreed that issues of Internet Protocol (IP) blocking on Nigeria IP addresses is not acceptable.

Thus, there is need to revisit the issue so as to avoid blocking of every IP address with link to Nigeria.

This is coming as the Swiss delegates have concluded strategies to advocate for online human rights and freedom of expression.

The Nigeria Digital Sense forum communiqué dated November 10, according to the DSA Executive Director, Operations, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, was in preparation of every Nigerian Internet stakeholder who may be participating at the five-day event on Internet Governance, insisting that all Nigerians are not criminally minded.

She pointed that a harmonized voice within the Nigerian Internet community has become critical to the development of Internet in the country and the sub-region as well as the African continent in its entirety.

As stated in the communiqué, stakeholders called to mind that harmonized voice among Nigerian Internet community will provide the opportunity to have a united front before confronting the world at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

The Nigeria Digital Sense forum, therefore, identified security as a major issue of concern for the Nigerian Internet community to adequately canvass at the global assembly, thereby affording the nation to come together with other communities from around the world to ensure optimization of access, openness, security, diversity and internet governance.

“Equally, we call to mind that the release recently by the United States Affirmation of Commitment to the global internet community via the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); is a welcome development that could endear the trust of those hitherto not comfortable with the arrangement which began with the US Department of Commerce (DoC),” part of the communiqué read.

Stressing that stakeholders at DSA forum 2009, aligned themselves with the outcome of the West African Internet Governance forum, held in Accra-Ghana recently, especially in the areas of encouraging African countries to take the issues of Internet Governance more seriously by ensuring engagement of stakeholders at IGF level.

Therefore, stakeholders urged for increased participation of Nigeria Internet community at the on-going IGF, which has been reportedly stalled by the Egyptian government over the demand and insistence that visitors to the country must have, at least, $3,000 cash before entry visa could be granted.

However, participants were urged to make pronouncements in respect to the security of the Internet and discrimination thereof, especially meted out on honest and God-fearing Nigerians who are more interested in engaging positively with the world on the Internet.

The discrimination against Nigerian-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, they said, should stop because it is negatively affecting the majority of Nigerians who are honestly engaged on the Internet.

“Both the government of Nigeria and Internet community in the country should strive in enlightening the populace and the world over on the keenness of the majority of Nigerians in deploying Internet for ICT for Development (ICT4D) growth,” part of the communiqué also read.

Equally, Nigeria’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs), especially members of the ISP Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), should connect without further delay with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), so as to encourage local internet to remain local, which has multiplier effect, including saving money for both the ISPs and customers – the end-users.

“Nigeria should canvass for a root server to be located in the country to further push and retain local traffic locally,” it read, even as ISPAN member in addition to ALTON, ATCON to name a few to should comply by ensuring registration of their domains within the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD), .ng system.

“This will make the .ng commercially viable and eventually give the ccTLD the popularity it needed to be feasible among equals,” the communique further read, maintaining that Nigerians participating at the IGF 2009 must ensure that alienation of Nigeria’s IP addresses (IP blocking) is stopped and that Nigeria has the population to push its desire and voice to be heard in Egypt and at all conferences in relation to Internet and its governance even beyond IGF.

“There is need to refocus Nigerian youths engaged in online fraud (cybercrime) otherwise known as ‘Yahoo, Yahoo’ by way of granting them amnesty followed with skilled training and adoption into the mainstream, in order to positively utilize their talents.

While urging a strengthened partnership of the forum in the future through collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agency of government, mostly at the federal level including the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) among other public private partnership, DSA was supported by Galaxy Backbone Plc, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, iWayAfrica Nigeria, New Horizons Ltd, Teledom Group, Omatek Plc, Telecom Answers Associates (TAA) and endorsed by Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to name a few.

Meanwhile, the forum may have witnessed low attendance from African countries despite being held on the continent among other Least Developing Countries (LDCs) due to stakeholders inability to get visa with ease following insistence by Egyptian embassy officials that participants must have, at least, $3000 cash about N450,000, in their custody before they could be allowed entry into Egypt.

ITRealms Online also gathered that in some instances, the condition was between $3000 and $5000, depending on whether the applicant is of business delegates or mere stakeholders.

IGF was initiative in 2005 as the outcome of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which held in Tunisia in 2005 after the first phase in Geneva was held in 2003, with mandate to convening a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

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