Transcriptions of the Local Sound Bites in East Asia 2023

Episode 1: Local Sound Bites at the Internet Governance Forum 2023

In this first episode, we talked to Ogura Toshimaru, professor at Toyama University and board member of JCA-NET, Japan-based organisation supporting social movements that seek social, environmental and economic justice and the overcoming of gender-based discrimination through the use of information and communications technology. 

"In Japan, not many people or organizations are interested in Internet privacy and human rights issues. Therefore, I think even fewer people can answer what Internet governance means. Internet governance seems to be understood only as an issue for the government and the IT industry. So, first of all, we need to increase understanding and interest in the relationship between governance and the communication rights of individual users. The Internet is the basis for implementing the communication rights of each and every one of us. Therefore, each of us should be a subject of governance and should be able to participate in the governance of the Internet with equal rights. However, the Internet has no governance mechanism that allows all users around the world to be involved with equal rights. On the other hand, there is a serious struggle for control over governance between governments and multinational corporations. The desire of governments to reflect their national interests in the governance of the Internet is very prominent. Moreover, governments are eager to gain more control over the data on the Internet. This is evidenced by the constant attempts by governments to control data within their own borders. On the other hand, multinational corporations and the countries in which they are headquartered insist on the free flow of data in order to gain enormous profits from the cross-border flow of data. But this is merely putting the interests of capital before people as subjects of data. In both cases, the rights to data and communication that should belong to each and every individual are put behind. There are many vulnerable people on the globe who do not have state protection, such as refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers, as well as regions that do not have representation in the UN. As users, they are also rights holders of governance. In this sense, neither the UN, state-centered approach to Internet governance, nor the private sector-centered approach, nor any mixture of the two, excludes vulnerable populations and is not based on the rights of individual users. The foundations of Internet governance should be conceptualized separately from these existing mechanisms. Civil society should be independent of government and capital and serve as the basis for solidarity among people across borders. On the other hand, both governments and corporations are trying to use civil society for their own interests. As a result, there seems to be a tendency to divide the movements of policy advocacy organizations and other diverse groups of people who seek regime change. It is urgent that we make literal global democracy a reality in the governance of the Internet. It is imperative that we design a democracy at a level never before experienced by humankind, based on a strong imagination, cross-border diversity, and social equality. These are my honest opinions based on my involvement in the Internet rights movement in Japan. What do those of you who are active in other regions and countries think? Please let me know your opinions. Thank you very much."

Episode 3: Local Sound Bites at the Internet Governance Forum 2023

In this third episode, we interviewed Rosa Kuo, who spoke on behalf of our member in Taiwan, Open Culture Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by several members of Taiwan’s open source community to support local communities to advocate the use of open technologies in broader sectors, including open source software, open hardware and open data. 

"Thank you for gathering here today. I stand before you as a representative of the Open Culture Foundation from Taiwan. We OCF are a passionate collective dedicated to open source, open data, open government, digital rights, and internet freedom. We were founded by tech enthusiasts and have since welcomed people from diverse backgrounds onto our team. In Taiwan, we are proud to be part of the thriving global digital economy. Our nation has a vibrant civil society dedicated to defend human rights and promote democratic participation in this digital age. The Open Culture Foundation has supported more than 30 external open source communities, including connecting cybersecurity experts with NGOs to enhance digital resilience, and developing fact-checking robots to combat misinformation. International engagement is fundamental to our endeavor. We have actively participated in events such as RightsCon in Costa Rica, Digital Rights Asia-Pacific Assembly in Thailand, the Open Government Summit in Estonia, and the Internet Freedom Forum in Portugal. However, amidst these global endeavors, there remains a significant void. Despite our efforts and proximity, we have been excluded from the Internet Governance Forum due to Taiwan's unrecognized sovereign status. Imagine being just a three-hour flight away from Kyoto, the venue of IGF, yet unable to enter with our Taiwanese passports. This exclusion is not just a setback for us; it's a hindrance to the broader cause of digital governance and democratic resilience in Asia. In Taiwan, we acknowledge imperfections in our digital democracy and recognize the need for significant improvements. We need to update our data protection laws, prioritize human rights in digital policies, and expand civic tech in the public sector. Meanwhile, it is exactly through global participation that we can connect with democratic allies and regional partners. We believe in shared experiences, civil society solidarity, and collaborative efforts for democracy and good governance, resisting global digital authoritarianism and internet fragmentation together. Therefore, we are here today to advocate for IGF to change. The Internet and its governance should be open, interconnected, and transnational. Taiwan should not be an exception. We urge the IGF to reconsider its long-standing policy of excluding Taiwanese participants. We call upon this esteemed gathering to realize the true essence of multi-stakeholder participation. In closing, we express our hope to meet you in person at the next IGF. We believe in the power of collaboration, the strength of unity, and the potential of an inclusive internet. Together, let's build a future where all voices are heard and all nations, regardless of their political status, are welcomed into the global digital community. Thank you."

Episode 4: Local Sound Bites at the Internet Governance Forum 2023

In this fourth episode we spoke to Hamada Tadahisa (Taratta), researcher on civil society and global governance and director of Japan Computer Access for Empowerment (JCAFE), an organisation providing assistance in the use of information strategies and internet technology since its inception in 1993.

"I am currently the Chair for Japan Computer Access for Empowerment, or JCAFE as many know it, and I also serve on the board of JCA-NET, both of them are members of APC in Japan. Our commitment to assisting civil society groups and activists with internet use can be traced back to the early 1990s. As the number of internet users surged by the 2000s, the societal implications of online issues became undeniable and impossible to overlook. In today's Japan, I think some of the most pressing issues related to internet governance are surveillance and information manipulation. For context, in 2020, as the world grappled with the spread of COVID-19, surveillance measures increased globally. Japan was no exception. While our Constitution and the Telecommunications Business Law do provide some level of privacy, the recent trajectory towards increased surveillance and centralized control over a myriad of personal data is alarming. Often, surveillance is seen as a protective measure. An example of this duality is the technology of microchip implants. Initially designed for tracking pets, there's now contemplation of using them for children and the elderly's safety. Such measures might soon become the norm for the general population. It's crucial for us to deeply consider what we might be giving up in the name of convenience. Moreover, the challenge of information manipulation cannot be understated. The instances we know of might just be the tip of the iceberg. There are countless articles on platforms like social media attempting to steer people towards specific narratives. The emergence of AI-driven public opinion manipulation and concealment on contamination data further complicates the landscape. As online information becomes more tailored to one's profile and browsing habits, the chance to encounter diverse viewpoints diminishes. All these challenges endanger our right to communicate. Although there's no direct solution, it's essential to learn from history and global practices. At the IGF, I seek to foster discussions and engage with individuals from various backgrounds to address these issues collectively. Thank you."


« Go back