Bits and Bytes from my APNIC 38 fellowship

By on 16 Oct 2014

Categories: Community Development Events

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It’s been a few weeks now since I attended the APNIC 38 Conference but the good experience lingers – meeting my co-fellows, meeting the network players in the region, relating with the friendly and helpful APNIC team, learning from network experts, and last but not least, the almost nightly social dinners and daily lunches!

If not for the fellowship grant that APNIC provides, I would have not been able to attend an APNIC conference. My organization is not an APNIC Member but our networks overlap and APC’s work cuts across similar issues from the perspective of women’s and human rights.

It was refreshing to attend a conference where network-related issues are discussed from the perspective of operational efficiency and an economics perspective. However, I missed hearing about cutting-edge network technology that is community-friendly. Transformative technology bridges digital gaps by connecting far-flung communities that would otherwise be excluded when conventional network infrastructure is laid out. Commercial network infrastructure would be to costly to build and far too expensive for the residents to afford to be connected to the Internet (if coming from their own pocket; others could be eventually connected when subsidized from a project).

My participation

I contributed to discussion about Women in ICT. It was a privilege to be able to share what my organization does in the field of ICT. It was great to know that most of the women present see how important it is for womens’ voices to be heard to fight violence against women online and for women to participate actively in the development of and debates around Internet technologies.

I also loved listening to my female co-presenters about the work they do in their organizations and the opportunities available for women in ICT in their economies. I would have loved to hear also from all the women present in the forum. It would be great to have an ICT “Birds of a Feather” session on a “Feminist Internet” to be featured prominently in the program and not sidelined to a luncheon – even though the ambience of the relaxation room of the APNIC office was a really alluring venue! 🙂

Topics that interested me

The topic of Domain Name Security Extensions (DNSSEC) particularly interests me. Geoff Huston talked about “what if everyone did it”?

At the end of the presentation, I must say, I was conflicted. Should we really do or not do DNSSEC? Perhaps that’s the point – to critically examine it and not simply implement it because someone said so? My interest led me to watch another session on a DNSSEC tutorial, which to me makes the topic clearer and read about it some more.

The security benefits like eliminating website posers (man in the middle attacks) are all good, but is that all there is to it? I’m interested to know if DNSSEC implementation presents any human rights issues.

The session on post-Heartbleed was enlightening.

My heart bleeds from knowing that the well-known strengths of open source (like easy-to-discover bugs, because there are a lot of eyes and users of the code) are challenged by these revelations (Heartbleed and Shellshock). I, however, don’t think that this should be blamed on a lack of quality assessment of the codes. OSS developers need to have a life too, and now more than ever, we should find ways to support them, especially when our organizations use these codes in our operations.

It is critical for there to be more users, to ensure that bugs are reported and addressed, instead of ignoring them and hoping they will be rectified in later versions.

Sarah Escandor-Tomas is Technical & Systems Coordinator, Communications & Promotions, at the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

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