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Open Development Cambodia’s insight from The Asia Pacific School on Internet Governance (APSIG) 2023

APSIG is the edition of the capacity-building initiative of the Asia-Pacific School on Internet Governance that also serves as a regional School of Internet Governance working towards raising awareness and capacity building within the Asia Pacific region. 

APSIG 2023 was held for three days from 27-29 November 2023 at Park Inn by Radisson North EDSA Hotel, Manila, The Philippines. Open Development Cambodia’s team (ODC) partake in the full event. The APISIG originally started in 2016 intending to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to participate in Internet policy-making by developing a strong foundation in the following:

  • Promote and support Schools on Internet Governance (SIGs) in the Asia-Pacific Region
  • Provide training services to organizers and speakers at national and local SIGs

Day Zero (26 November 2023)

The program officially started with an Introduction and icebreakers. On day zero of the event, the fellows get to know each other and learn from one another about the Internet governance that happens in their home country.

Day One (27 November 2023)

The program focused on the Internet Governance’s history and evolving ecosystem, the Role of International Organizations and NRIs, Internet Technologies and Security Standards, the Flash talk from the Fellow, Bitcoin, Blockchain and Beyond, and IP Go. Back then, all participants were informed on day zero to deliver the flash talk on the topic of Internet governance in their home country. ODC team has delivered a flash talk on the AI-driven learning Revolution In Cambodian Higher Education which is the research paper conducted by Mr. Heng Soklay AI Researcher and lecturer at Cambodia Academy of Digital Technology. On top of that, the ODC team also supported the speaker in explaining IP Go which the ODC team explained the description of the activity and the role of the network operator and the way the Internet works.

Day Two (28 November 2023)

The program focused on Accessibility and Inclusivity, Digital Economy and Future of Work, Internet shutdowns and International Human Rights Law, Cybersecurity Incidents (Role-play)/ DNS Security activity, Internet Governance, and 7th Generation Warfare.

One of many interesting activities was called “Accessibility and Inclusivity” in which the Speaker presented us with the website’s accessibility. She aimed to raise awareness among the website developers to consider elements including audio, voice commands, and other available tools. The speaker also urged web developers to follow WC3 guidelines “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” and ask people with disability to test their websites to ensure that the content available on their websites is accessible. Following this section, the speaker discusses Applying International Human Rights Law to the Internet Shutdown.

In the session of Cybersecurity Incident Role-play, all participants were divided into 3 main teams including the management team, the technical team, and the legal team which were responsible for responding to the public about a case that a hacker leaked an NGO’s data. ODC team played the role of a team leader of the legal team and explained to the fellow the process and what we needed to do in the session and we also discussed the stage that we needed to follow carefully. Those activities made the participants know how to respond to such incidents that would happen in our daily lives.

At the end of day two, the ODC team also presented about the Cambodia culture to all participants and presented about ODC’s work and ODC involvement in improving Internet Governance in Cambodia including the Internet governance and ICT programs including Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum, Cambodia ICT and Digital Forum, Cambodia ICT Camp.

Day Three (29 November 2023)

The program began with the section called Emerging Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) priorities:  The next round of new Generic top-level domain (gTLD) and Universal Acceptance, Impact of Internet Fragmentation on Future of the Internet. The APISIG 2023 came to an end with the closing remark by the organizer. All participants provided their feedback to improve the program.  ODC’s staff managed to learn from and build connections with other participants necessary for future cooperation.  

After the program ends, it is expected that the ODC team can learn or apply, if possible, any relevant lessons learned from APISIG 2023 to Cambodian youth through an event called “Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum 2024 (Cambodia YIGF) which ODC plan to host in Phnom Penh in the upcoming year 2024. The insight from APISIG 2023 also provides additional input for the ODC team to make use of for experience-sharing sessions related to Internet governance. Second, it is an opportunity that ODC ‘s team have build a network and exchange ideas from others with other academic, expert, and other internet governance communities.

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Mr. Norbert. KLEIN’s keynote speech on the Youth Internet Governance Forum (yIGF) 2023

Cambodia Youth IGF! Welcome everybody!Let me clarify at the beginning of my Keynote Speech what these words \"Youth IGF\" mean what is the purpose that brought us here together.And let me also say that I am almost 90 years old - I was born in 1934, long before there was something like the Internet. I feel empowered standing now here in front of you- young people who nowadays order your purchases of food, or your haircut, or your wedding rings, with your mobile phones on the go. Really a different time!The task seems to be simple today: I just put IGF into my Google search engine, and we have the answer already:The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the InternetNow is everything clear? Maybe not so we should check word-by-word.And our meeting is special: it starts with the word \"YOUTH\". We do not have to define it, because in the original announcement for this meeting this was done already: it said \"youth\" means \"persons from 18 to 35 years of age\".But what about the next: \"IGF\"? Let’s start with the \"I\", and take the \"GF\" later. \"I\" stands for Internet.Nowadays, we all have an idea about the Internet-we use it every day, we use it on our mobile phones or on out computers to communicate.But I would like to remind us that this is a fairly recent situation. When I came to Cambodia in 1990, there was no Internet - in Cambodia not yet. Before I came to Cambodia, I was one of the fairly early users of the Internet in Germany where I came from. But after arriving (to work at the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture) I felt bad because of the inability to communicate like before- and so I started the first Internet access in Cambodia at the end of the year 1994. I was encouraged to describe the start a bit here - I think nowadays hardly anybody can imagine how difficult it was.After a visit to Europe, I had received some software. But in Phnom Penh - there was no regulate electricity: almost every day, the electricity went off for some hours. To have regular electricity for my laptop computer, bought a Japanese 24 Volt truck battery, I charged it (when there was electricity) with a Thai charger, an American friend imported an inverter - to charge the 24 Volt DC (direct current) into AC (alternate current)- but it was 110 Volts, as it was a US inverter, so I got a Vietnamese transformer to change the 110 Volts into 220 Volts.That was the hardware side. But there was also the software side; and then the use of the Khmer script.Software: first the military of the USA had developed a method for computer-based communication. Then people at different US universities became also interested - that was the beginning of the Internet. They had to develop an address system, and later there were also people in other countries involved. Jon Postel, a professor at a California university, developed an address system which everybody had to use to be able to communicate: on top two-letter country codes (like \"kh\" for Cambodia). and a hierarchy below, like \"com\" \"edu\" \"gov\" etc. I had to contact Prof. Jon Postel, and he assigned me the Cambodian country code \"kh\" and the instruction how to give addresses to people and organizations in Cambodia. Years later, I handed these things to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication.But people wanted to use also the Khmer script on computers. I found that 8 people in Cambodia and abroad, in France, Australia, the USA, Canada and Germany-had created Khmer font systems. But you could only communicate, when both the sender and the receiver used the same system. Later I found that there were actually 23 different Khmer font systems in use a big mess really hindering wide communication. Then a - friend, Prof. TAN Tin Wee at the National University of Singapore, suggested we should use Unicode. Unicode? - an international arrangement to create computer usable letters for all scripts of the world. But the Khmer script was not yet defined. With one Japanese professor and two Cambodia people living in Japan, the Khmer script started to be defined in Unicode. But some of those who had already defined their own Khmer fonds used in Cambodia, opposed the use of Unicode - with their own economic interests, partly also supported by persons with political power. Fortunately, under the Senior Minister Sok An a working group on Khmer fonts was set up, and the Khmer Unicode fonts became the official fonts for writing in Khmer.So finally, it was possible to computer communicate in and from Cambodia - but for some years only by e-mail- the World Wide Web with graphics/pictures, and quite elaborate and complex content, came only some years later.But the development of the Internet and the many new possibilities happened world wide-bringing fundamental changes in many societies, because of the availability of huge amounts of information and the possibility to share it, again worldwide.It was as if a new epoch of history had started with hopes, but also with concerns. To find some clarity in these chaotic developments, the Organization of the United Nations took the initiative to create a platform to discuss this situation.It took the form of not one, but of two large conferences: the \"World Summit on the Information Society\" meetings in 2003 in Geneva in Switzerland, and in 2005 in Tunis, in the capital city of Tunisia.These \"World Summits on the Information Society\" - abbreviated also referred to as \"WSIS\" - were, a two-phase United Nations sponsored summit on information, communication and, in broad terms, on the information society itself. One of the Summit\'s chief aims was to bridge the global digital divide, separating rich countries from economically poorer countries by increasing the accessibility to the Internet in the developing world.It was in this context - my involvement to create the first connection to the Internet from Cambodia- that the FRANCOPHONIE - the association of former French colonies and French speaking countries-sponsored me to be one of the several thousand participants invited to both meetings in Geneva and in Tunis.It is no surprise that there were sharp differences of opinion - especially about the control over the Internet - even to have the conferences ending as a failure became possible. However, finally, it was agreed to leave the control of the Internet addresses- the country names like \"kh\" for Cambodia - and the sub-structures of Internet addresses- like \"com\": \"edu\"-\"gov\" in the hands of the United States-based organization ICANN - \"Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers\", for the time being, to avoiding a major breakdown. As a compromise there was also an agreement to set up an international \"Internet Governance Forum\" - IGF with a purely consultative, not controlling, role.The summit itself was partly disturbed by criticizing the government of Tunisia for allowing attacks on journalists and human rights defenders that happened during the days leading up to the event. The Tunisian government tried to prevent one of the scheduled sessions with the heading \"Expression Under Repression\", from happening. A French reporter, Robert Ménard, the president of \"Reporters Without Border\" was refused admission to Tunisia for phase two of the Summit. A French journalist for the newspaper \"Libération\" was stabbed and beaten by unidentified men after he reported on local human rights protesters. A Belgian television crew was forced to hand over footage of Tunisian dissidents. Local human rights defenders were prevented from organizing a meeting with international civil society groups. But still WSIS Tunis came to a positive end.The establishment of the IGF was officially announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2006. It was first convened in late 2006 and then has held annual meetings.How to describe the most important concept developed in the Tunis meeting? It is the multistakeholder structure of the Internet Governance Forum.It is a \"tripartite\" model as a result of the \"World Summit on the Information Society\". It says in Paragraph 35 of the Tunis results:\"We reaffirm that the management of the Internet encompasses both technical and public policy issues and should involve all stakeholders and relevant intergovernmental and international organizations. In this respect it is recognized that:\"Policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the Sovereign right of States. They have rights and responsibilities for international Internet-related public policy issues.\"The private sector (that means here especially the technology companies) has had, and should continue to have, an important role in the development of the Internet, both in the technical and economic fields.\"Civil society has also played an important role on Internet matters, especially at community level, and should continue to play such a role.\"This official document recognizes States, the Private Sector, and Civil Society and calls it the \"stakeholder\" groups. In this tri-partite structure, here are also some additional explanations:We recognize the valuable contribution by the academic and technical communities within those stakeholder groups mentioned in Paragraph 35 to the evolution, functioning and development of the Internet.So as a result of the Tunis meeting, the IGF was created. It is a \"Forum\" - but what is a Forum?A forum is a meeting where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged. - \"we hope these pages act as a forum for debate\". A Forum does not define results it is not the solution, but it describes the way towards it where the three stakeholders present their - maybe different- interests, to regularly continue to work towards developing common next steps.So please - take your role, as the Cambodian Youth among the Internet Governance Forum.

Molika’s Journey with Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum 2023 (yIGF)

Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum (yIGF) 2023 is a remarkable program that brings me more insights into ‘internet governance’, strengthening my soft skills and precious opportunities to connect with like-minded people and my dream country. I’m Meas Molika, 22, majoring in Global Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the National University of Management International College (NUM IC) and a young female reporter at Kiripost and also a Cambodia yIGF Organizing Committee (OC). How I get into Cambodia yIGF On May 29, I got selected to join the Cambodia yIGF OC 2023 committee. It was such a surprising and exciting moment to be part of the Cambodia yIGF OC to host the very first Internet Governance Forum in Cambodia which has been celebrated around the world annually. I first met the other OC during the kick-off meeting at the Open Development Cambodia (ODC) office. The ODC team introduced us to the previous YIGF events and informed us of our goals to organize this event in Cambodia as we observed that digital and internet literacy is playing an important role in the digital age. In addition, we would like to raise awareness of internet-related knowledge and policies. I was having a lot of fun chit-chatting with the youth team to get to know one another more. Even though we had just met at that time, we are getting along so well with one another and connecting through social media. There are three main committees such as program committee, communication committee and administration committee. I am delighted and enthusiastic to be part of the communication committee with like-minded team members and grateful to work in collaboration with other teams. My role is writing blog posts about internet-related topics focusing on Cambodian aspects. I have learned many interesting things that I have never known before while doing research and reading more articles about internet usage in Cambodia. My First Debate Experience I have gone through many public speaking contests since I was in high school. The scarier it is, the more I am willing to challenge myself. I am an introverted person and most of the time I was shy to express myself, especially my own opinion in front of crowded people. By joining the Cambodia YIGF, I have challenged myself to debate about ‘Internet Governance’ with my debate teams. On July 28, the Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum (yIGF) committees initiated the first friendly debate regarding internet governance topics to engage youths in the internet discussion. On August 11, Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum (yIGF) conducted the second friendly debate. As a YIGF committee member, I am eager to join the second debate and was trained on how to debate and deliver my opinion through researching various sources with a team for the first time in my life. “This house believes that digital services should be held accountable for protecting user data and providing transparent usage policies”, is the motion for the second friendly debate. Along the way, I learned how to collect more data and information from online sources, summarize main ideas, gain new insights about internet service providers, and some examples of other countries\' data and digital services policies and how it used and how other apps connect our data in many purposes that I have never known before. In addition, debating helps me to enhance my soft skills like teamwork, active listening, and critical thinking and forcing me out of my comfort zone to express myself and my team\'s opinion about the motion. Memories & Insights With Cambodia YIGF Event On September 23 and 24, Open Development Organization Cambodia (ODC) hosted the first ever yIGF\'s in the Kingdom under the topic, ‘Digital Empowerment: Ensuring Access, Safety, And Opportunities for All\' at Cambodia Academy of Digital Technology. About 250 participants attended, alongside 36 guest speakers from Japan, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. The event presented three sub-themes: Introduction to artificial intelligence (AI) governance, Digital rights and responsibilities online, and Internet security and data privacy. During the two days, the yIGF OC and I were actively organizing and setting the tasks for each member with volunteers to ensure everything was running smoothly. We helped facilitate participants, guest speaker presentations, a Cryptocurrency game (Phum yIGF Game), stakeholders\' discussion about the internet in Cambodia, and the next step of Cambodia yIGF. It was a two-full-day of exhausting moments, but we learned to collaborate and be open to sharing our thoughts and minds during teamwork and gain more knowledge about the internet, AI, cybersecurity, and how impactful the youth voice as well as from various stakeholders to raise their concerns about the internet aspects while providing constructive feedbacks for better safety internet for all through the forum. Alongside the forum, I have the opportunity to join the international IGF in Kyoto, Japan from October 8th to 12th this year with 12 other Cambodia yIGF OC under the theme of  “The Internet We Want - Empowering All People \'\'. The 18th annual IGF program develop around the following sub-themes: AI & Emerging Technologies, Avoiding Internet Fragmentation, Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety ,Data Governance & Trust, Digital Divides & Inclusion, Global Digital Governance & Cooperation Human Rights & Freedoms, Sustainability & Environment. Those are the topics that I am curious about and would like to hear more from international experts and youths around the globe to raise their perspectives and insights following the topic above. The most impressive topics that I would love to join for deeper discussion are Cybercrime & Online Safety, Data Governance & Trust, Global Digital Governance & Cooperation, Human Rights & Freedoms and Sustainability & Environment. I can’t wait to be involved in this global forum in Japan in the forthcoming week and share with you about my journey experiment as well as my knowledge after participating in the forum.

Back in the Real World: Asia Pacific Internet Governance Academy (APISG) 2023 – From Pixels to People

Three years stuck in online land felt like forever since online virtual Asia Pacific Internet Governance Academy (APSIG) 2020! So, stepping into APISG 2023 in person was like a breath of fresh air. No more flickering screens, just real faces and the buzz of human connection. Haingkheang\'s blog already dives deep into the official stuff, but let me share some cool bits that sparked my curiosity. First, we peeked behind the internet curtain. Turns out, it\'s not just magic! We learned about protocols, servers, and even cables crossing oceans like digital highways. Seeing the hidden infrastructure that connects us all, the silent language beneath every click, made me appreciate the internet even more. Next, we tackled cyber safety. In this digital age, protecting our online selves is just as important as the real thing. Experts taught us about data privacy, online security, and even digital wellbeing. It was a timely reminder that our online lives deserve protection too. Then came the exciting world of The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. These are like special tools that can make websites better for everyone, especially for people with disabilities. We saw a live demo of how they work, making websites smoother and easier to use. This showed me that Cambodian websites can be just as awesome as any other if we use these best practices. But APISG wasn\'t all serious stuff. We had fun role-playing exercises, simulating real-life internet governance. Imagine stepping into different shoes and seeing things from other perspectives. It was a powerful reminder that collaboration and understanding are key to the internet\'s future, even when we disagree. And who can forget the social events? The infectious energy of the Filipino duck dance (yes, you read that right!), the heartwarming cultural sharing, and the delicious Filipino feast all reminded us that the internet is about connecting people and cultures. It\'s a global fiesta! APISG 2023 was more than just a conference; it was a reawakening. It showed me the power of human connection in shaping the internet\'s future. I left not just with knowledge, but with hope and optimism. This isn\'t just a screen anymore; it\'s a window to a future built on collaboration, understanding. Now, let\'s keep that momentum going and build an internet that reflects the best of us – diverse, interconnected, and ever-evolving.