Caribbean urged to get more involved in internet corporation

Mr. Albert Daniels in discussion with CARICOM Secretariat Communications Officer, Ms. Michelle Nurse before the CANTO AGM began
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Telecommunications operators, regulators, and stakeholders across the digital spectrum gathered in Guyana late last month for the 35th CANTO Annual General Meeting which was convened at the Marriott Hotel.

The AGM, heled under the theme ‘Transitioning to a Digital Region – Opportunities and Challenges’, featured the installation of a new Board of Directors. The New Chairman is Mr. David Cox.

From 27 – 30 January, participants held discussions on a wide variety of topics including: digital transformation; the use of ICTs in disaster management with Dominica as the reference point; artificial intelligence, payments and fraud management in the digital age; and redefining leadership for a digital age.

Among the presenters was Mr. Albert Daniels, Senior Manager, Stakeholder Engagement – The Caribbean, of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN’s mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet.

“To reach another person on the Internet, you have to type an address into your computer – a name or a number. That address has to be unique, so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world,” according to its website.

In an interview with CARICOM Today, Mr. Daniels called for Caribbean countries to play a greater role and assume more prominence in the not for profit organisation which draws participation from all over the world.The Caribbean, he said, comprised small territories, but together, they were a powerful bloc that could wield more influence in the 20-year old organisation.

By way of example, Mr. Daniels said that the presence of Caribbean countries at the table and their negotiation could mean less prohibitive costs for Generic Top Level Domains (GTLD). GTLDs are internet domain name extensions with three or more characters. More common examples are ‘.org’ for organisations, ‘.com’ for commercial entities, and ‘.gov’ for governments.

Mr. Daniels highlighted the bottom-up tiers of decision-making of ICANN, noting that the stakeholders were critical to its functioning. He placed much emphasis on the multi-stakeholder community which comprises industry representatives, academia, individuals, non-commercial organisations and government.

With regard to the organisation’s support for the industry, Mr. Daniels said that the multi-stakeholder community will make the decision on how to allocate funding from a new round of GLTD auctions.

“…who do you think will decide how that money is going to be used? It definitely will not be the ICANN staff; it’s going to be you, the global multi-stakeholder community and deliberations are going on right now in that community over that framework for how that money will be spent, the structure for applying, the structure for how it would be used and you, the global multi-stakeholder community would decide how those funds will be used: so should the funds be used for developmental programmes in ICT or internet in the Caribbean or in Guyana or in any part of the Region? ICANN staff will not decide that. You, the global multi-stakeholder community will do so.

“And guess what, if nobody from the Caribbean takes part in those deliberations, you can rest assured that none of that money will be coming to the Caribbean,” he said.

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