Caribbean Must Engage in Internet Governance


Russell Williams

On the 1st of October, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) took over stewardship of the Internet from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

We were able to discuss the ramifications of this transfer and the wider issue of Internet Governance as it relates to the Caribbean with Albert Daniels, Senior Manager; Stakeholder Engagement with responsibility for the Caribbean at ICANN.

We asked whether Internet Governance is a matter that should be of concern to the Caribbean?

Daniels responded by posing another more simple set of questions namely, “is the Internet important to economic and social development? Is the Internet important to conducting everyday commercial transactions in the Caribbean? I think the undoubted answer would be of course.”

He went on to point out that the value of commercial activity on the Internet globally, was estimated at seven trillion US dollars annually.

Daniels continued “the Internet has become a critical part of infrastructure necessary for the success of businesses and a host of social development and economic activities from academic study to other forms of social engagement. So in the Caribbean we should really be paying attention to anything that is important to the governance of the Internet, including this Transfer of Stewardship to ICANN.”

We asked how the different stakeholder groups can participate and engage in the functioning of ICANN. Daniels was keen to point out that the barriers to entry were deliberately low to encourage engagement. For governments to participate there are no membership fees, and indeed there was often assistance with travel expenses for Government officials to participate in the Government Advisory Committee meetings.

Daniels did lament however, “the Caribbean is fairly well represented, but there are still a handful of countries who are yet to take up their seat.” Those interested can see whether their country is represented here https://gacweb.icann.org/display/gacweb/GAC+Representatives#GACRepresentatives-S.

We asked what were the benefits for governments, corporations and individuals to getting involved in ICANN. “There are a number of online training sessions and webinars individuals can take to learn about the Internet Governance and the Technical Working groups offer a wealth of information and educational opportunities to develop personal skills.”, Daniels reported.

However, from a national development stand point he pointed out that ICANN had substantial resources which could be bought to bear on development projects for individual countries or potentially a group of countries, however without being fully engaged countries can’t possibly tap into those resources.

We asked what could be the worst thing that could happen to the region if we didn’t fully participate in the workings of ICANN?

Daniels cited a couple of instances which should be of particular interest to the private sector. “Recently, there some new Top Level Domains (TLDs) released, like .FILM, .BANK, .CARS and .MUSIC to name a few. “The price of the .HOTEL domains, were so high that take up by Caribbean hotel businesses has been negligible.”.

This was because input from the region wasn’t sufficient to influence the decision making process as it related to pricing.

There may well be other opportunities for Caribbean states and the private sector to secure the use of crucial and potentially, lucrative online “assets” but at this point we are largely oblivious to the opportunities and the danger is, that by the time we do come around others who have no affiliation to the region or interest in developing those assets might have already secured them.

Daniels was keen to point out that Internet Governance is of great importance to the region in order to ensure that we are able to conduct business and improve our social and economic well being.

ICANN participation is within reach of everyone with access to the Internet and quite often the costs are limited to the investment of time, however the impact can be far greater than with the individual or company – the potential impact for national and regional development are immense.

Individuals and companies interested in the workings of ICANN and participating in the various stakeholder groups should visit www.icann.org.

Writer Profile

An IT Professional for more than 20 years and an entrepreneur for more than a decade, Russell Williams is the founder of,The IT Facility and has extensive experience as a Consultant, IT Trainer and facilitator and is happy to answer your questions. E-mail them to solutions@theitfacility.com or follow him on Twitter @RwilliamsKN, G+ google.com/+RussellWilliamsKN  and on facebook.com/Ru`ssellWilliamsKN

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