>> ALEX WONG: Thank you all for being here. My name is Alex Wong with the World Economic Forum. It was noted as a WEF open forum session, but we're actually pleased to co‑host by the organizations that are here, mainly in the middle of the table here. We have global connection, IEEE, ITU, people centered internet, UNESCO, and the World Bank. Why these organizations? And ICANN. I apologize, Nigel. ICANN is one of our co‑organizers. Besides the commonalty of being acronyms, we have all been making an effort to help connect the 4 billion people not on the internet. So part of this conversation today is while we all sit in our offices in Geneva and New York and silicon valley, conversations like this are very extremely valuable, because we know that the only way we're going to solve this issue is to have a multi‑stakeholder, multisector approach is... what I have learned is the incredible amount of energy and ideas that are coming from the bottom‑up as well as from other players that are doing things that we're not aware of.
This is really about conversation to talk about how can we improve global and regional coordination and national level coordination to address the 3.9 billion people not on the internet. What we're going to do in this hour that we have is we have a couple distinguished opening and closing remarks, Doreen Bogdan and Vint Cerf. We will cover topics, rapid fire one, two minutes each and then we will open it up for additional views as we go through this.
The three topics will be related to data gathering, monitoring evaluation. The second is how do we mobilize the local communities and local content, and the third is how do we insure that we have sustainable and scalable country partnerships? We want people to say I don't agree and you're missing this point and you're not taking this perspective. That's been the real value of being at IGF and having this open discussion with many of you who I don't know and many of us may not know. With that, let me pass to Doreen Bogdan‑Martin. Doreen, please a few opening remarks.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN‑MARTIN: Thank you very much, Alex, and good afternoon, everyone. It's great to see so many familiar faces in the room. I think this is a demonstration of the coalition and committed of the coalition of the willing around providing universal and affordable access to all. So big thanks to you, Alex, for including us and inviting us to say a few words. The ITU Secretary General is a Stewart of the shaping the future of the digital economy and society. Did I get that right? And so he is happy to be working with us to have reinforced our relationship with WEF and many of the others that are here today. We all really do share a common goal. I think we are all united and we do share a common goal. I just wanted to throw out quickly some of the challenges that we noted in our last state of broadband report that we can make take into consideration this afternoon. Most of the offline population lives in Asia Pacific and Africa. The offline population is disproportionately female. 58% female of the 3.9 billion that remain unconnected. 60% of them live in rural areas, and 60% have a GNI per capita of less than $6,500 per year. So our analysis also shows us that if we continue doing business as usual, that by 2020, we will not reach the additional 1.5 billion. We will come up some 500 million short.
And we also need to take into consideration that the offline population, the difference between the rural and the urban populations, they have very different supply and demand considerations, and we need to take that into consideration in our discussions. And while many of these challenges may seem daunting, we really do believe that by bringing everyone together in the true spirit of multi‑stakeholders, that we can overcome this.
I will stop here with the mantra that collaboration and cooperation is the only way to go. Thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: Thank you, Doreen. Maybe before we go into the content, maybe a bit more from the World Economic Forum. Some of you may wonder why we're doing this and what we're trying to do here. When we talk about coordination collaboration, that means everybody finding their comparative advantage. And for us at the forum, I would say our advantage or our niche specialty is convening power and neutrality and ability to engage global business leaders and governments. We don't have the strengths, necessarily, or the technical expertise or on the ground level country, and that's why we have so many partners in the room. But what we have been doing since April 2015 is we did launch the internet for all project. The mission of the project is to establish an enduring physical and digital platform to enable the connecting of the 4 billion people on the internet. And we see this as a challenge that requires more innovation requires new ways of investments. The $450 billion that the broadband commission has stated which is required to connect the next 1.5 billion should be an investment opportunity if we can have the right frameworks and regulatory policies in place. We do see in our role is to help strengthen the policy and regulatory environment. One of my big learnings over the past couple of days, and I was excited to learn more about the regulation programs and some of the issues that need to be addressed if we're going to allow the grass roots networks to flourish, and that's a game that we can play by helping governments on these kinds of challenges.
And finally, how can we align better? We are aligning globally, but we are also trying to do this in country. We have taken the step to initiate some programs in the northern corridor of east Africa. Working with many of you to try to work with the governments and catalyze and accelerate internet for all. We need more of you in the room on that particular country. I was really happy to meet, in fact, Tony, from one of the community network organizations in Uganda, who I'm going to invite to come to... to get involved with Uganda as we develop that program. And we also developed a program in Argentina. And Nico came to our first meeting as an example of getting our on the ground experiences to the table.
So that's what we're trying to do. Happy to take any further questions from any of you at any time on why the forum is doing this and what we're trying to help catalyze. With that, what we're going to do here, as I've mentioned with the three topics, We have two or three what I call firestarters. They're supposed to say something for one or two minutes that would share a view. Open it up to anyone else with a comment and then go to the next topic. It's meant to be interactive. People are willing to stand up and walk around like I do. Let me call on the first category we awe as data. Data is not necessarily viewed as the most exciting, so I thought I would do that first. I say that jokingly. Let me ask Michael Kende to say a few words. Michael, maybe you can kick us off with a few comments.
>> MICHAEL KENDE: That's a great intro to the topic. I will just stay seated or I'm sure I will trip somewhere. So on the data side, you know, there's a saying if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. That as lord Calvin from the temperature measurement. And I think that's true, and part of the digital divide is a data divide. The decision makers, whether it's companies, civil society, governments, just don't have the data that is really needed to make decisions on new policies, investments, choices, new initiatives. And a lot of this data governments have data, civil society and others, a lot of them have data, so the first step is really to collaborate, pool the data, anonymize it. One example is geography. In developed countries, there is data on traffic flow, pricing, all of this data, they anonymize, and set it back for a fee. One thing would be to have a platform to gather similar data so governments can see if policies on new cables are working, company could see if they should be doing it. And then the second step is to identify gaps in the data. And just one of many gaps would be surveys of non‑users. Why are people not going online? Brazil has fantastic time series surveys going back ten or eleven years of why people are not going online. It's detailed but you can see by gender, by income, by region, whether it's a lack of availability, cost, not understanding it. Not enough digital skills. If you're trying to bring people online, it's important to know why they're not online in the first place. The second step would be to collaborate, identify these gaps. It will take some resources, but pooling together, that would be a great way to help fill this data divide and help to increase internet inclusion. Thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: So we have a couple of others to add to that and we will take any additional comments. Christopher Yoo, I think you have seen the orange shoes or gray cappuccino. If you don't, go to the expo area in the morning. Christopher is a professor of law, communications and computer and information science at university of Pennsylvania.
>> CHRISTOPHER YOO: Thank you. About the coffee, today is the last day. We are not doing it tomorrow. So don't shoot the messenger.
So, I agree with everything that Michael says: It's more about being cautious. Measurement changes the behavior regardless of whether you change the reward structure or not. If you don't measure the right things, we can actually do bad things. We have different metrics, cost and people connected are relatively easy. That's got some nuance to it. But when we turn to outcomes, we're talking about the frontiers of social science. So what is it? How do we measure good education outcome? In the workshop that Karen and Alice organized, we talked about looking at national test scores. We all know that standardized testing, like any instrument, has limitations. We have to measure something. All measurements have their limitations, but it's a question of trying to validate this and understand them.
Collection encourages us to be deductionists. It makes us want to attribute causation when it's not always possible. We have to make sure that we learn how to use the data. The other thing that happens when people who work with data realize very quickly is how difficult and how much variation there is within data sets. So in the workshop we did on day 0, someone said the EU is a shining example. I have worked with the EU data. It's government mandated data, it's collected, and it seems quite uniform until you read the notes. You have to make sure you understand so you can analyze it properly and report it properly.
Lastly, I would say there's problems not just in tea getting the data but updating it, maintaining it, and setting up longitudinal studies. They're extremely expensive because you lose people from the studies as you go. You have to make sure there's not a sample bias. It makes it very difficult.
Last thing I'll plug is emphasizing an important point by Michael. People who have data don't like sharing it. There are incentives that can encourage it under certain circumstances, though it's not a data example, but the one that always motivates my thinking. When Sony Betamax came out, the rest of the device manufacturing industry realized they were behind and agreed to stand and eventually the VHS standard won. There are moments like that where we can take advantage of the incentive structure, otherwise people with the data will only share it when they feel like there is some benefit to them when doing it.
>> ALEX WONG: Our third fire starter is Sarah Wynn‑Williams. Facebook has been a great partner in this initiative. I know you're thinking deeply about how can some of the data that you have be contributed to help with what is a great challenge? Over to you.
>> SARAH WYNN‑WILLIAMS: Sure. Facebook is very much a data‑driven company, and it was through analyzing connectivity that we realized there were four very key barriers to improving connectivity: Availability, affordability, relevance, and readiness. When we talk about data around connectivity, it means many different things to many different people. One issue that I don't hear a lot on these forums is around the data around infrastructure, connectivity infrastructure, specifically. So I was really surprised to learn that since the global financial crisis, more than half the G20 countries have cut investment in infrastructure. We're not having a conversation about that. We're not tracking that data. We're not looking at investment at the government level in infrastructure. So embracing my role, I want to throw that out as something for this room to consider.
Another issue that could be fascinating as we get more forward‑looking in the conversation around data, you gave us a challenge that it's not an exciting issue, I want to make it a little more sexy. It is how are we using artificial intelligence in relation to data gathering? At Facebook, one of the initiatives that we're progressing is around using AI to get great data on population and to map that back to connectivity. So one of the challenges is to think about how can we be using emerging technology to improve data?
>> ALEX WONG: We will have a couple minutes for comments and questions and short interventions?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: We have a huge amount of data that we use to block malicious hacking, and would love to share some of our data in a way that won't set off alarm bells among the privacy community. I know other companies have the same problem. We can look out and see which countries have state of the art encryption, which ones are using old, outdated operating systems, where the pirated software is. That leads people to say you must be snooping on everything we do, which we don't do. Our core competency is disposing of data very quickly, and we want to do that. But we have to somehow prove a negative. We have to show that we're not abusing the data that we're collecting. That's the mega issue that any company faces as we're challenged to share the data. We have two types of lawyers. Those that help us do what we want to do and those that tell us why we can't. And there's a lot of the latter type.
>> ALEX WONG: Excellent. Christopher has an offer that I'm sure he'll take offline with you. I thought data would invoke privacy issues. I don't know if anyone wants to... okay. Good. This is the pace we want. I want to keep things moving. Do feel free to jump in. I thought Sarah would get a harder question from someone, but we don't have that?
Let me go over here. Quick comment.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I have a question. My name is Sharda, and I'm a research fellow at the university of Pennsylvania law school. I have a question for Sarah. I would like to understand whether or not Facebook is trying to make their population data sets public, and if so, what are the challenges that you face in making such data public? Thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: Quick question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm from the web foundation representing affordable internet. But on this issue, I wanted to put a qualifier to it. Appropriate technology. If we're going to introduce technology in context that are going from 0 to AI, what kind of harms could be in the way if we don't consider them. Technology is great, but more importantly, appropriate technology.
>> SARAH WYNN‑WILLIAMS: I think that's a really important qualification, and I'm hopeful that these are the sorts of forums that we will think through what are the things we need to be worried about? How do we mitigate the risks? That's a conversation that we want to be having. We want to use this room and use the talent in here to further that discussion. In terms of the question that you raised, this is a real challenge, and we... you are probably aware that Facebook put out the connectivity report, which was our first step in trying to look at how we can share. I know you've got a session later on partnerships. We're looking at where we can build out partnerships to share this data. I think the clear message is this is something we're trying to figure out. It's not something we can do alone. And the more we can build out the partnerships and create the protocols, we want to be there and doing this.
>> ALEX WONG: That's why I wanted to thank Sarah. Mike got off easy. We're all working together and that's how we got to go forward. I'm optimistic that we will figure out something on that. Next category of comments are related to how do we get local communities and local content represented? We're glad that this coalition includes organizations with grass roots on the ground with people. I don't want to count how many that these organizations represent. I want to turn to Raul first.
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: I'm sorry. My voice is like the voice... okay. We know that's the ability of infrastructure is not the only driver for connectivity. One of the aspect s contents and local languages because sometimes we speak about local contents and we forget the languages. It has segue can't representations of people that are not able to speak Spanish. Everyone thinks that everyone speaks Spanish in the country, there are probably 20% or more in some countries that are not fluent in Spanish. So if we don't provide or make available contents in their languages, we are resigning that that population will not be connected, because there is nothing there for them.
This is one of the points. You have to think also in local contents in a world way. Local contents, local services. Relevant, this is a subset that is not very complicated because this is something that all the governments should be working on. And it shows that is how for the community, for the people that is important, how easy of a way that they interact with the government. And also, it was pointed to me by a colleague this week was another way of... these are ways of making money. We see that in the work that we are doing in India, for example, with community networks, that we empower the communities. We empower the community and how to use the internet for improving their lives. And they find ways by which they can double their income. We have some examples of women that use it to have single incomes per month and now they have $200, which is too much in that context, buying and selling things, providing services to the neighbors, helping neighbors interact with government services. They find ways, and this is an important motivation that we should also consider as a specific way of local contents.
We work very much, as you know, on interconnection. And this is keeping the traffic local when it is possible. It has an impact on cost and also an impact on the experience of the people. So I think that as we combine the things, my colleague, Michael Kende has worked for much on the internet society in countries like Rwanda. It impacts the development of the country, and this is a positive cycle. Because if we have more local content, we expand the market. If we expand the markets, we will have more investment and so on. So I think this is something that is very important.
>> ALEX WONG: How many chapters does ISOC have?
>> RAUL ECHEBERRIA: How many people on staff? Okay. We have 80,000 members. That's the last time I checked. Maybe we have more now, 90,000 or something like that worldwide. We have 125 chapters in 100 countries.
>> ALEX WONG: I think that is why I wanted, for those who don't know, I didn't know the countries. That's exactly the local engagement that we need. Over to you. Indrajit is at UNESCO.
>> INDRAJIT BANERJEE: Good afternoon to all of you. I will keep my comments brief. Let me begin by stating a position that I stated this morning too. All connectivity equates to access in its truest sense. What is startling is I read studies that showed that millions of people who have physical connectivity do not go online. One point is, why is that so? So plan to connect the next 1.5 or 3 billion people or whatever has to take this into consideration. You give them physical connectivity and they don't use it, it doesn't benefit anybody, really.
We must ask ourselves a very fundamental question, which is what access means in the largest sense? And really define it clearly in terms of capacity, in terms of content, in terms of accessibility for all kinds of people including persons with disabilities. These are crucial issues. And I think the central term I would like to use in our quest for providing access is the question of value. And we have seen again and again, wherever there's been a strong value proposition, uptick of innovation is rapid. I can give you the example of India, for example. Mobile phones, I think we are touching 900 million subscribers now. A staggering, but once you look at it, it's just not a figure. What are the users of the mobile phones? Take a very specific example. They use mobile phones because they go out to sea and have no means of knowing when storms are coming. And through mobile phones they get text messages, they can pack up and get back to shore. So, how what value does access provide? Especially in people's lives and livelihoods? Language seems to be a major barrier to access. And again, locally relevant content. So local language, local relevant content are extremely critical obstacles to our quest for access to information and knowledge. And just to highlight the problem of languages online, more than half of the world's 6,000 or so existing languages, official languages are likely or most certainly disappear by the end of the century. And on the other hand, 10 of the most important languages online have 84% of the content. So I think everything has been said.
Also, cost of access goes down. We did a study and the cost of access goes down significantly when availability of local content is high, and vice versa. And it also makes as Raul mentioned, our studies show, enormous business sense. It promotes entrepreneurship and builds phenomenal capacity in the digital sphere for local communities. Thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: And finally, we will go to Karen McCabe. You can clarify how many you have.
>> KAREN McCABE: We have 430,000. It's quite a broad reach. You know, on the topic, I think there's really three points, and back to how Doreen kicked us off, I don't think we can underestimate the collaboration and coordination that has to happen among all of us not only sitting at this table but at IGF and beyond, but also, you know, within the local communities when we start engaging our respective organizations in the army of folks that we might have in different regions of the world. That does take effort. We say collaboration and coordination. And it seems simple sometimes. But it does take dedicated effort. And I think it's important. Forums like this and ongoing are critical to that. From the community perspective, I think keeping the human centered focus on it as well. We share a lot of information and success stories. We can learn from those lessons learned from those. In order to build the value of the internet, so people feel or want to join and get on the internet to do good things beyond access, there needs to be an element of trust. A way to do that is keeping our human‑centered focus on what we're doing and the ethical part of it as well. Local communities are really critical to this. We can come up with a lot of ideas and concepts, but it needs to be specific to that community. Only that community really knows what's going to work, what its pain points are, what its aspirations are.
I'll end with that, but thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: Nigel, do you want to say anything? How many members are in ICANN? Great. All right. Another moment for comments and reflections on community engagement? Local communities?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you very much. I just wanted to give several comments. Last year we had a workshop on quality especially as it is linked to education. Most panelists and the audience agreed that quality should be introduced. Ranking, rating, whatever. We should somehow measure when we are talking about boosting or acceleration of local content, we should assure ourselves that we know the mechanisms and how to ensure quality controls.
And second point, several years ago we had a workshop through internet of services and mobile devices. We were talking about governmental services. We were talking about, you know, local services and problems caused by a local community. You mentioned that we should somehow again accelerate or improve, let's say, local communities and ask them, you know, to innovate. Content should be created by local communities. We should somehow introduce crowd platforms for them. Social aspect is a key aspect for local content development. They don't know how to participate right? Through mobile devices they will participate. Connecting different local communities. That's what I wanted to say. Thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: Any other comments? The last topic is why we intentionally called this country partnerships. All these things have to happen and land when we go down to the country. That's why I thought comments by IEE and internet society, getting them engaged as examples and creating platforms so you can enable entrepreneurs, I wanted to call on a couple of our colleagues who had been working closely with us and also very focused on getting country‑level action going. So first of all, Manu Bhardwaj?
>> MANU BHARDWAJ: It's great to be here with you and everyone else today. The broadband state of report has come out and said the adoption rate for last year was .3 billion. I think we have seen and heard a lot at very high levels, and it's really inspiring to hear comments and statements from heads of state, from CEOs of tech companies, from leaders like Vint about the importance of connectivity and their personal commitment to it. I think now the next step is to make sure we make the most of this opportunity to have that in country impact that you're hoping for. The worst thing would be that in five years' time, we don't see any progress. I really tried to think concretely about how we can work together, and I think I have just a few observations. I think it's very important for us to think about where are we going to be working together and how can we have the most impact together? Through the global connect initiative, it's become very apparent that there are stakeholders missing from the table and the conversation. Countries simply aren't benefitting from discussions with the multilateral development banks, finance ministers and the technical communities... the folks who actually know about fiberoptic cables, about satellites. They just don't have access to this important community. Here it's ironic. We were told how important a multi‑stakeholder approach is to solving difficult challenges on internet policy. For us to actually drive forwards, we have to strengthen this by including all the stakeholders in the conversation.
It's also, for us, it would be very useful for us to think about how we can really raise the visibility of what everybody here is doing to a higher political dimension. Almost like maybe a mapping exercise of roles and responsibilities and how people can contribute and help a government like Tunisia, Liberia, etc. They would like to work with us to help them achieve their broadband goals. This is an opportunity for us to think strategically. What can we do as thought leaders to help these countries with policy guidance or whatever it's going to take. I'm concerned that we're not seeing the level of adoption that we need to see. We have made significant progress in creating a platform that really represents the... a more representative sample of the internet community and the strength that they have. Whether it's the World Economic Forum or through global connect or through the broadband commission, we need to be very action‑oriented. The last thing we want to do is come next year and see that we really didn't make any empirical progress. Thank you.
>> ALEX WONG: Our second firestarter in this topic is... Sonia is walking around. She left already? AAI is running country programs. We wanted to hear from her to give a few ideas. I will add a little on what the forum has been doing. Let's hear your comments Sanjira?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: To really tackle high broadband prices. So maybe I'll just tie to the idea of multi‑stakeholderism that is adopted in this space. We are seeing multi‑stakeholders in many different places and not in the same room. That's one permutation. But when you try to find civil society, government or private sector, it rarely happens in those spaces. That's how the alliance for affordable internet works. Every member signs to committing to hearing about that and working with each other. We're not going ahead unless we do that. I'll reflect on what we're learning as we integrate within the web foundation. Where would be the people with disabilities?
Would they be part of that? Or is it specific enough? One of the things that I think stands out to me is we need to not just do things for people, but we have to do them with them. This is how we will gain not just sustainability, but scalability we're looking for. So what we've learned is even when we have a country‑level engagement, translating that to the global level and vice versa, leaving room who's not represented in that particular room at the time, will their voice will reflected? After this talk, whose voice will not have been reflected and why is that?
Part of what we have been doing with the alliance is baking in gender by design at every level, and making sure that they understand that they should be gender responsive. Not just telling them it should be but working with them to make sure that is the case. The other thing that has come up especially from our partners on the ground is on this issue of skill. It's interesting that you framed it as scalable country partnerships. Investment has to go beyond pilot projects. This has been very clear and specific from a summit we had on women and girls in Africa. And we said enough with the private projects. We need to stop scaling. These are some of the principles for us that are not just things we adhere to and we're talking about what we're doing and what we're hearing about from the others. And very interesting, my work is to shuttle across the global and local to make sure that those connections are not lost. I'm happy to talk about it some more, but these are some of the lessons we've learned so far.
>> ALEX WONG: Maybe for the forum, I believe in appealing to people's egos and peer pressure. I was trying to decide if I should throw a number out to be provocative. When we do something at a country we're creating a platform so people can coordinate and get engaged. Quite often the solutions are there but they don't have a platform to scale up, to get more resources, to deal with the minister or government in some cases. So A for AI platform is amazing. Mr. President or Mr. Minister, here's the forum. Here's the NGOs. So that's one piece of it. It's not going to be the answer, but it doesn't cost that much money to run a platform and have a project manager to help rally the caps and keep people accountable by having conference calls and keep people on track, bringing back people together four or five months later. I think that's what we're all talking about globally, how can we do that better so that we create the opportunities for others to be involved. Together with stakeholders and what they said they would do a year ago.
We hear that everybody nods and agrees to the commitment and a year later there's a report back. Nothing beats peer pressure and ego. Nigel?
>> NIGEL HICKSON: Thank you very much. Just three very quick points. First of all, I don't think that ICANN can compete on the numbers so I won't bother. We have lots of people that work in lots of countries and often they're the same people as I thought of having great chapters and do a fantastic job of coordinating people to take part in these initiatives. But why I wanted to speak as ICANN is that sometimes I think, you know, we constrain ourselves unnecessarily. What are we here for? What are we all here for? We're all here for a common turf. ICANN occupies a small space. We talk about a secure, single, and interoperable internet. Well, if we don't have an internet that's for everyone, then it's not interoperable. There's no point in carrying on in this game if we don't really connect those that are not connected.
The second point, clearly, is as Manu was saying, we have the opportunity at the IGF to do so much more. Where are the missing people? We sit here, we talk, and we talk intelligently. We have conversations. There are fantastic people here doing so much good work on the ground and policy‑making, but where are the people that we're talking to? And therefore, picking up this idea that Alex has talked about and others have talked about, we need to do more in this forum to really pinpoint what we need to do.
So take a sustainable development goal, take two. Put a score card up there. Say that next year, wherever we're going to have the IGF, we're going to tackle sustainable goal 15 or 14 or whatever, and we're going to put a country list up there. Ministers from all the developing countries to come along and talk about what they're doing, what's happening on the ground to make the sustainable development goals a reality. And we from the global connect, from ISOC, from ICANN, from IEE, from the fantastic work that Wesley is doing, the UNODC, others are all doing work in the regions and we can come along and talk to those ministers, officials, and stakeholders in the countries to see how we can practically help. Thanks.
>> ALEX WONG: Thank you, Nigel. Excellent. So another couple minutes for comments, interventions? Thoughts? Criticisms? Introduce yourself?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good afternoon, everybody. I am from the Gambia. I want to ask the representative from Facebook. A day before our I elections in the Gambia, our government shut down the internet basically for 24 hours. Could not have access to the internet banks. Is there any way that Facebook or any of the internet stakeholders to help in those situations? Like a back way for the government to shut down internet for everybody? Can there be a way that people can use, or maybe can there be legislations or policies that can be used to punish the government to avoid it next time? Thank you very much.
>> ALEX WONG: That's a huge question and probably more than just Sarah has a comment. Any other comments or thoughts?
>> VINT CERF: It's Vint Cerf from Google, but let me speak as an internet engineer. It's not hard to shut down the internet. You shut down all the underlying mechanisms that allow packets to move. That's what happened in Egypt during the Arab spring. We should be aware that it's possible for governments to do things like that, by shutting off the underlying transmission systems that allow people to get access to the system.
When that happens, I would guess that it can't happen for very long before there would be a reaction. In the case of an election in 24 hours, it might be hard to respond quickly, but longer than that, people are going to start using radio connections and satellite connections and there will be a number of different ways of getting access outside of the country on avenues that are not under the control of the government. I think what we should be striving for, of course, is to find ways to remove incentive for the government to do that, because it's so harmful.
Let me flip this around and point out that our American election experienced a different problem, which is a lot of disinformation that showed up in the network. We're still speculating about how much impact that has on decisions. Freedom of access to misinformation is not necessarily a good thing unless you can tell that it's misinformation.
>> ALEX WONG: We're off the topic a little. Michael and Sarah?
>> MICHAEL KENDE: I wrote a blog about what happened in the Gambia and posted on Friday, and the message I tried to convey is what probably happened there is that by cutting off the internet, it mobilized the opposition. I think people who might not have voted got mad and went to the polls. It certainly happened in Egypt when the internet was cut off. More people who had been at home complaining on Facebook and Twitter went to the streets. If we can get that message out to dictators that cutting off the net reduces the number of votes you get, maybe there's hope in those countries where they have elections.
>> SARAH WYNN‑WILLIAMS: Can I say that I think it's a really important issue that you highlighted. I know it's not central to how you structured this. I think it's great that previous speakers had such an optimistic take on it. I'm aware of countries where Facebook has been cut off for months. An island country like Niru, Facebook has not been available, I think over a year now, and there's no intention, no discussion, no mobilization, there's no alliance that we turn to. I think this is a real problem. I think if we are... if there's any group of people that should be mobilizing to stop these type of blockages, it's the people who are hear at the IGF. And if anyone wants to chat with me about it, has great ideas, if anyone is thinking of... we have been working with brookings and others to produce data about the impact of blockages. We have worked with others on the keep it on campaign. We're trying to bring attention to this. But what we're seeing is an increasing proliferation. There have been over 16 blockages of Facebook this year alone. It's a real problem. We're not talking about it enough.
>> ALEX WONG: It is relevant to this discussion. We have been discussing the positives, and it is a little politically intentional because we don't want the governments to immediately focus on all the negatives and maybe by the time they figure out the negatives it's too late. We need to get into those kind of discussions, and this is exactly part of what the IGF forum is also for. With that, let me... I can't believe we're actually on time. With that I will call on Vint to make closing remarks and reflections on this challenge. I want to say for Vint, when we talked earlier, your reminder that we got to let the bottom‑up people find the solutions and connect themselves, that resonated with me. I wanted to thank you for that comment and invite you to say a few words.
>> VINT CERF: Thank you very much. I'm going to try to make four simple points. The first one I want to make is to remind you of sort of the biological character of the internet. It is a kind of organism. It's made up of a lot of parts. It lives in an environment that keeps changing, and the way that organisms survive is that they adopt to changing conditions. And so, that's one of the things that we have to recognize is that when the internet was designed, bob and I thought that the best way to get it built was to just give everybody all the instructions for how to make a piece of internet and let them go build parts and find somebody to connect to. It's a very biological kind of model. And that works extremely well. And so, as we think about how to get more internet out there, keep in mind that trying to do stuff from the top down is less effective, generally, than making sure you have enabled and empowered people who are motivated to go build pieces of internet and find places to connect to. So that's a good model. It's a good paradigm and one we should continue to exercise.
The second thing I want to draw your attention to is this wonderful word, "readiness."
It applies almost everything. If our desire is that we want another 3 billion people to be connected to the internet, we have to ask for each of them, are you ready to be connected? Can you use it? If I install the equipment and you don't know how to use it, you don't have things in the right language, you haven't gotten electricity, do I have business models, do I have the ability to fund new start‑ups? What are the conditions for running new businesses and growing them? The key question here is making sure whatever needs to be ready is ready for the objective that we're trying to accomplish. That may vary in different places. We looked at Google at how to make 2G and 3G useful in an internet setting, even though it means we have to compress things and do a bunch of other technical tricks, to try pre‑loading and all of that. The whole point is to do as much as you can with the conditions that you are faced with. And then try to push the envelope wherever you can. So readiness in all of its dimensions, financial and educational and everything else are very important.
The third thing is that we may be overhyping the multi‑stakeholder model. I'm sure you're shocked to hear me say that. Let me explain why I would say that. Not everyone in the whole world needs to be involved in every action that we take.
[ Applause ]
Okay? It's amazing how much a few motivated people can get done. And so, what we need is for the right stakeholders to be working together wherever it is that we're trying to get something done. So it doesn't have to mean everyone. But it does mean critical mass. That's what we need is the stakeholders that form critical mass to accomplish the objective.
And my last point has to do with something we'll call people‑centered internetworking. I listened to the various metrics that we tried to form late for making progress, and I would submit to you that the most important metric we have is, did we make anyone's life better when we took the actions that we took? When we built infrastructure? When we provided people with equipment and training and everything else? New business models? Did we make anyone's life better? If we can't answer that yes, then we must not be doing the right thing. So please keep that in mind. And that's the end of my homily.
[ Applause ]
>> ALEX WONG: Maybe I'll just add the quote Margaret Mead said. Never doubt that any dedicated group of individuals can change the world. We have the resources and the organizational where with all to be here, and that's the group that has the opportunity to change the world. So I echo Vint's challenge to us on that. So thank you, everyone, and really please also thank our partners who spoke in sharing and all of you that contributed and listened. Good luck everyone, for the rest of IGF.
[ Applause ]