Why I attended APNIC 44

By on 22 Sep 2017

Categories: Community Policy

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Last week, I attended my first APNIC conference — APNIC 44 — which was held in Taichung, Taiwan.

APNIC conferences bring together Internet and networking experts, government representatives, industry leaders, and others to learn, discuss, and make decisions about important issues facing the Asia Pacific Internet community.

Having studied science management and international trade at university, many people asked why I attended such a technical event.

I admit, my Internet experience is limited mostly to surfing the web and chatting on social media. It was not until recently, having attended an APrIGF meeting in Bangkok, that I became aware of concepts such as the RIRs, the ASO, IPv6 and IPv4.

That trip to Bangkok was a part of my new role as an Assistant Research Fellow at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, where I’m studying how digital governance and policy is developed around the world. It was also where I first got to see the multistakeholder model in practice.

As I wrote about previously, I’ve come to appreciate how this model of discussion is important in a democratic society so that policy is developed to include the opinions of everyone who uses and is impacted by technology/society. And like the APrIGF, APNIC policy discussions also employ this bottom-up model.

As part of the APNIC Policy Development Process (PDP), policy proposals are posted to a Policy Special Interest Group (SIG) mailing list several weeks before an APNIC conference, during which time anyone can subscribe, share their support, or suggest changes. When I say anyone, I mean anyone – if you have an interest in the Internet you can take part in this discussion.

The proposals are then discussed at a face-to-face Open Policy Meeting during APNIC conferences — which are held twice a year — where attendees (in person or remotely) can further discuss the merits of the proposal and share their support or opposition. At the end of the session, the Policy SIG Chairs decide if the community has reached a consensus.

This kind of decision-making process is not well known in Taiwan, which is why I’m taking every opportunity I can to see it in practice. I found that each person who stood up to share their opinion and support, organized their comments and explained their reasoning clearly.

Three of the six policies proposals discussed at APNIC 44 reached consensus and will now be sent back to the mailing list for final comment before being endorsed by the APNIC Executive Council (EC) and implemented by the APNIC Secretariat.

APNIC EC member, Kenny Huang, said the EC will apply due diligence to ratify proposals that reach consensus. Overall, the APNIC PDP is a bottom-up, multistakeholder mechanism that benefits everyone.

Human networking also key to conferences

Apart from meeting Kenny and his EC peers, the APNIC conference provided me with the opportunity to meet a whole range of APNIC staff and other members of the Internet community, including those from ICANN.

I enjoyed talking with APNIC EC member, Izumi Okutani, a brilliant woman working for JPNIC, who is also interested in Internet governance and policy development. We discussed the merits of governments using blockchain technology for voting, something we agreed was a premature use of the technology.

It was also great to again catch up with APNIC’s Adli Wahid, who facilitated the cybersecurity training workshop I attended at APrIGF 2017 — he taught me how to use keybase and PGP. We also talked about blockchain, and the recent Equifax breach.

Finally, listening to Internet pioneer Elise Gerich (ICANN) at the Women in ICT lunch, was a particular highlight for me. I asked her a question about how can we persuade women to have more confidence to express their opinions in the ICT industry. Elise answered that it is more about personality than confidence.

This was a similar sentiment shared by business and social theorist Don Tapscott — who I interviewed earlier this year — when we were discussing ways to inspire future talent. For Don, “the personality of future talent must be aggressive, full of curiosity, smart and brave, very brave.”

This has so far been a magic year where I’ve been lucky to join the Taiwan Internet Governance Forum, APrIGF and APNIC 44. I’m looking forward to continuing to follow these and other Internet governance communities, as well as attending the APrIGF and APRICOT conferences next year.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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