Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.
If man was left to their own nature it would be very chaotic hence laws are necessary to regulate human affairs and the internet is no exception to this as it was explained by Victor Kapiyo during introduction to legal issues that emanate from this space. There are no universally agreed laws in governing the internet as it is border less, has multi-stakeholder environment and needs cooperation.
Privacy of information is aligned by one’s perception of how private they regard it to be. Gathering of this information by government and businesses has become an area that has led to development of legislation around it. Individual’s information has become a commodity to trade with and hence selling customer’s data is a lucrative business.
Globally both self-regulation and regulation through authorities has become an accepted way of managing data protection. Cyber-crime has been a major threat to this as rise in heinous acts like phishing of user data.
Another new trend being implemented by governments is internet shutdown (an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable to a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information)as explained by Grace Bomu. Justification for this has been from managing national crises during general elections, national examination, insecurity issues etc.
There are various channels used to participate and contribute in this environment. During the Internet Policy engagement session facilitated by Liz Orembo, participants listed the various platforms they have used to engage in ICT policies These include: parliament, KICTANet and public institutions through their call for public participation. Organization like ICANN, ISOC, DIPLO, KICTANet facilitate training into various domains and also offer fellowships to those who apply for this. These forums have provided growth and development of policy through their open and inclusive approach .
“For one to be in the internet economy one has to start with a domain” Abdalla C.E.O of Kenic stated as delved into explaining the business case behind domain and their genesis. gTLD eg .com, .net and ccTLD .ke for Kenya .tz for Tanzania are regard as top level domains followed by third level domains e.g. .go.ke, sc.ke. A new development was introduction of 2nd level domains that go live from the 23rd July, 2017. This creates an opportunity for domain registrars to gain more revenue channels but also invite cyber squatters (buys a domain and seats on it) into the space.
As passionately put by Gbenga Sessan of Paradigm Initiative the Internet to us was once a thing of wonder – we take it lightly that we send and receive message at press of a button while international postal mail took 3months to get to its destination. We’ve moved from the wonder of access to utilization of internet in health, education, businesses, etc. The real focus of policy should be how to plug Africa’s talent gap with Internet opportunities.