The challenges of implementing Internet policies in the MENA region

The Panel of Workshop” The challenges of implementing Internet policies in the MENA region”

“Internet is a legal right and technology is a basic human right.” -Hamza Ben Mehrez

Hamza Ben Mehrez, Tunisian civil society advocate, started Workshop 10 of AIGF 2015 by discussing the economic, political, and cultural repercussions of the fact that states are not deploying new techniques to improve Internet implementations. He also explained the problem of resource management in countries like Lebanon and Tunisia, where there are three or four operators who always try to lobby policies to their own benefit, without consulting with the civil society.

Fahd A Batayneh, ICANN community member, began by asking the following question: “Who do you think as a stakeholder group should make decisions?” He proceeded to answer by clarifying  that we as stakeholders, should try to be as involved as possible in policy making, even if we don’t have much of a background. in it.

But why aren’t we as involved and interested in policy development as we should be? Because we’re not familiar with it. However, it is vital to know that participating in the debate for digital rights does not need specific expertise. As users, we already have some insight, and are equipped to research foreign ideas. Being part of a policy development group will at the very least help us deal with small problems. 50% of Internet problems are caused by infrastructure – or lack of infrastructure. Surprisingly however, some countries in our region classified as over-achievers in Internet policy .

Finally, Jane Coffin, Director of Development Strategy at Internet Society, spoke about how youth, as future consumers, expect the newest technologies to be available to them. She then stated that there are three important ideologies to consider in order to successfully implement Internet policies, namely Connectivity, Community Building, and Capacity.

The Workshop ended with the example of the Egyptian revolution. The Internet played a major role in this movement, as people knew exactly what they wanted and how to achieve it. This does not mean there were no challenges in fulfilling their goals, but the important element is that they recognized the power of the Internet and invested a great deal of resources in utilizing it.

Report: Jessica Klat and Elena Mikail

Edited by : Sarah Yakzan


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