March 2019
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“Internet is borderless and there will be no borders in internet governance”

Dr. Ali Abbasov, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, Republic of Azerbaijan

Dr. Ali Abbasov, Former Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, Republic of Azerbaijan

By Dr. Ali Abbasov 

We all, humanity as a whole, pay great attention to the internet and related issues because the global network has become a real environment in which people live and work. Governments function, companies do business and nations interact without borders. We have to find answers to the questions of how to improve the quality of internet governance, make it democratic, effective and reliable, ensuring all rights of nations to participate in this process.

In order to be part of the global network, first of all, every country has to provide its people with quality access to the internet, with a wide range of local content and high speed international activity.

In Azerbaijan, the government attach great importance to the development of ICT and the Internet. State programmes brought us to Internet penetration of 65% and 30% broadband by the end of 2011. With the implementation of 3G and 4G LD technologies mobile broadband is speeding up and covering the whole country. To breach the digital gap in the provinces and especially in the rural areas the has to realise a broadband strategy . At a total cost of more than 100 million USD the project will expand ICT markets giving you opportunities for private business. Demand is growing due to the government projects on e‑government, e‑health, education, expanded in private sector online activity such as e‑commerce and trade and eBay business and banking et cetera.

On the other hand, civil society is taking up internet radio and TV broadcasting e‑newspapers and magazines, online conferencing and group discussions and social networks worth spread.

The number of Facebook users alone in Azerbaijan is operating in 1 million and in terms of activity rate, for this indicator, Azerbaijan is in one of the leading countries in Asia. There are more than 20 internet television broadcasters and tens of thousands of bloggers. No authorisation or licence is required for any activity conducted over the internet, be it media or business activity et cetera. The internet in Azerbaijan is not controlled and regulated by government.

The digital divide is, from our point of view, one of the important problems requiring our attention, especially in developing countries. To breach the digital gap in EurAsia, Azerbaijan has initiated the project, Transnational Eurasian Information superhighway, connecting Europe with the Asia Pacific and bringing them to the bridging and connectivity. The project has been supported by the UN General Assembly. A second project on connecting Europe with the Middle East via Russia, Azerbaijan is the Europe Persia Express Gateway is under construction.

A second problem for consideration is global cyber security, internet cyber crime is covered by countries’ domestic criminal codes, including Azerbaijan, but more frequent and dangerous are cases of cross border cyber crime, when hackers from one country attack the digital resources of another. It is especially dangerous when threats are the results of internationally organised crime, unfortunately sometimes supported by governments. Therefore, we really need to work on the International Cyber Crime Treaty authorised by the UN. Also the condition of the Council of Europe on cyber crime now has 46 signatories. We need a document committing all countries to respect all people the norms of cyber security. Another important aspect of the internet are the online rights of people. We all have to make sure that online rights are respected in every country but online rights to freedom of expression are very sensitive with regard to privacy and information security and the right balance between these three concept must be ensured.

Finally, concerning technological control and governance of the internet. We have all been working on the new principles of internet governance CWSSIS helped Indonesia in the 2005.

How to modernise and internationalise internet governance but, first of all, we have to thank the US because they brought the Internet to the world. We have to thank ICANN for its long‑term efforts on internet governance and very effective democratic governance. But the internet is borderless and there will be no borders in internet governance. However, the presence of internationalisation of internet governance needs to continue without any side effects which could lead to the technological falls and organisation of violation of the work of the Internet.

From my point of view this process should be gradual and considered and working group should work closely with ICANN.