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The latest edition of the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) took place on 13-16 August in Vanuatu around the motto Empowering Communities in Asia Pacific to Build an Affordable, Inclusive, Open and Secure Internet. APC participated in this event to advance internet governance development in the Asia Pacific region.
According to APC's Asia Policy Coordinator Gayatri Khandhadai, “The fact that this edition took place in the Pacific ensured a great representation from this sub-region to learn about the unique experiences of small island states and their challenges. I hope that there will be a national IGF in Vanuatu soon."
During the capacity building pre-event, APC raised issues on privacy, including the need for privacy by default, as a right and not a privilege, and the importance of diversity and multistakeholder participation in internet governance.
The session on Responsibilities of Internet Platforms for Tackling Online Abuse Against Women and Other Marginalised Groups revolved around strategies to tackle online abuse and violence against discriminated and marginalised groups. APC Executive Director Chat Garcia Ramilo emphasised, "This is crucial to ensure that freedom of expression on the internet is not just a privilege of a few, but rather reflects the fundamental principles of diversity and inclusiveness in internet governance. Responsibility of internet platforms is key to contribute to the empowerment of communities in Asia-Pacific to build an inclusive, open and secure internet for everyone."
The session on Community Networks that APC participated in explored the existing community network models as complementary access enablers and access solutions especially in rural and remote areas. Built by the community, for the community, these networks demonstrate connectivity and openness. The discussions revolved around practical community network solutions, sustainability factors, their role in community empowerment, and the importance of policy/regulatory support required for their current and future success.
The session on Privacy in the Digital Age and the Rule of Law explored the legal regulations of privacy – what is working and what is not, and how to bring legislation around privacy to people. APC's research on privacy laws in Asia, Unshackling Expression, was shared with participants.
In addition to the sessions and workshops, APC met with the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. "We raised the need to know more about how digital cooperation is defined, its composition and mandate," Khandhadai said. "There are many issues from the region that need attention, and cooperation should include the needs of individuals and not just the state."
Regarding other strategic issues on the agenda, APC was pleased to see the synthesis process chaired by an all-women panel. "The telecom and regulator bodies were women," Khandhadai said, and added: "It was also very positive to see a big youth contingent from the region take part in APrIGF. They expressed serious concerns about human rights and how to promote them online. Network shutdowns were raised as something that curtails civil and political rights, in addition to making the internet vulnerable and hampering delivery of emergency services, among other issues."