Raul Echeberría, vice president of global engagement at the Internet Society, described T&T as “very active” in high-level international debates on issues related to the governance of the global Internet.
“ISOC has a long history of working in the Caribbean, and the Trinidad and Tobago community is vibrant in the international community. There are people here who are very active in international organisations that work to promote the open development and evolution of the Internet for the benefit of everyone around the world,” he said.
Echeberría was speaking with the T&T Guardian at the opening day of the organisation’s INET TT Forum, held at the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) office in Barataria on October 8 and 9.
The wide range of meeting participants bore out the ISOC executive’s words. Represented at the event were Packet Clearing House (PCH), the Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC), and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), which is headquartered in Port of Spain.
Echeberría also identified the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) multi-stakeholder fora and the International Telecommunications Union’s Internet Governance Forum as examples of the far-reaching involvement of T&T nationals in the international debate.
INET TT was ISOC's first INET Forum in the Caribbean. The local and regional technical fraternity's high level of participation in international debates must continue, Echeberría said, to ensure that Caribbean users of the Internet continue to enjoy open access to the Internet and freedom of online expression.
He warned that in T&T and other countries, political interests could threaten the basic principles of freedom of information and freedom of expression.
“There are some challenges from the political side. There are some governments that think that they should have more control of the Internet, even motivated by very understandable objectives like to fight cybercrime. But we continue pushing for an Internet that is free for everybody so that access to information is not restricted and freedom of expression is not repressed,” he said.
“We think that the Internet should be a tool for improving the way that people exercise human rights.”
Sebastián Bellagamba, ISOC regional bureau director for Latin America and The Caribbean, also highlighted the importance of keeping the evolution of the Internet open.
“ISOC is not pursuing technology for the sake of technology. We strongly believe in the capability of the Internet to improve people’s quality of life,” Bellagamba said.
“When we have national INETs, like this one in Trinidad and Tobago, our goal is to bring some expertise from ISOC and the international technical community but also to learn from the local community, to enrich the global debate on relevant issues such as Internet governance. That’s the way that we believe in moving things forward. It’s the Internet model,” he said.
About 50 stakeholders from different sectors gathered for the two-day event. Beyond the technical community, the event brought together government officials, academic researchers, non-governmental organisations and private sector companies.
Participants used the forum to find out more about important technology-related issues such as Internet governance, online identity and privacy, cyber security, mobile broadband connectivity, and the deployment of the new Internet Protocol (IPv6).