A quick look: the Internet Society
Recently, two Caribbean countries launched Internet Society Chapters. However, many of us have never heard of that organisation. Here we provide an overview.
In the news roundup published last week, one of the items featured was that an Internet Society Chapters recently have been launched in Guyana and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Source: Stabroek News). Designated contact person for the Guyana Chapter, Lance Hinds, emphasised the importance of having such a unit to help the country navigate the numerous Internet issues that must be addressed:
“The creation of the Internet Society Guyana Chapter comes at a critical time in Guyana where international issues, such as the .amazon TLD, net neutrality, internet governance, connecting the next billion users and Guyanese issues, such as liberalization of the telecommunication sector becomes paramount in national and international dialogues”
(Source: Stabroek News)
However, what is the Internet Society? Many may not be familiar with the organisation, but with a name like that, it is easy to assume that it is some kind of an exclusive club that only a select few can join. That is not the case.
What is the Internet Society
Established in 1992 and headquartered in the United States of America, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organisation that seeks to provide leadership in Internet-related issues, such as access, policy, standards and education. With a vision of “The Internet is for everyone”, the organization seeks to “promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world” (Source: ISOC). To that end, some of the issues the organisation has been focussing on include,
- Connecting the Unconnected
- Building Trust in the Internet
- Internet Governance
- Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security
- Open Internet Standards, and
In order to foster global participation in its work, ISOC has been structured in a manner that allows it to have members and chapters. In becoming a Global Member of ISOC, which is free, individuals have a direct channel to learn about, engage and connect with others on the key Internet issues that are being grappled with worldwide.
Chapters support the work of ISOC by establishing communities and national focal points that can identify priorities and coordinate efforts within a particular country or region. Additionally, and as umbrella organisations for its members, Chapters can facilitate participation, and ensure that its members’ view are represented in the global conversation. According to ISOC, several benefits can be realised by joining a Chapter:
- the opportunity to network and meet like-minded people
- helping your local community through grants and schemes designed to help further our mission of a free and open Internet for all
- honing your skills and increasing your visibility among prospective employers and customers, and through the broad range of programmes and events organized by ISOC
- making a difference in people’s lives.
How much of a presence does ISOC have in the Caribbean?
Within the Caribbean/CARICOM (Caribbean Community) region, and in addition to Guyana and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, only six other countries have established Chapters: Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago (Source: ISOC). Although other countries, such as Jamaica, had begun the process to establish a Chapter years ago, it does require organisation and commitment to not only get it the Chapter registered and off the ground, but also to maintain it and have it thrive.
Although it is not essential for an ISOC Chapter to be established for a country, or more specifically its citizens, to participate in the global Internet discussions, it is always useful to have a formally established and recognised group through which to do so – which ISOC offers. Hopefully, in the coming months (and years), more Caribbean countries will make a greater effort to organise presence on the global Internet stage, to ensure their voices are heard.
Image credit: ISOC