IGF 2016 - Day 1 - Room 6 - WS266: The Right to Access the Internet in Latin America

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 











>> MODERATOR:  Good morning.  I'm the defender of the defense network.  We're glad to be hosting this workshop, which is entitled the right to access the Internet in Latin America.  We will speak in English as a courtesy to everyone, although I would really like to have the discussion in Spanish.  This is just to facilitate everyone's participation in this.  And first, I want to make sure to give a little bit of pointers of why we want to have this discussion today.  In other places in IGF we have discussed whether access to the Internet should be a right or whether it is a right.  The truth of the matter is that countries have ‑‑ are starting to recognize access to the Internet is a right.  It's even in the constitution so wept to ask the question of what does it mean to have a right to access the Internet?  What does it mean with which obligations it has?  There's a few questions that I have shared with the participants which I will introduce very soon that will guide the discussion.  The first one is what is the important of the access to the Internet for the individual and for society.  What is the relationship between the right to access the Internet with other rights?  And the next ones are the ones we want to see if we can get a discussion on, which are the elements to the right to access the Internet, which are the positive and negative obligations that states have with regard to the right to access the Internet.  What are the role of the states, private sector and other Civil Society and actors to achieve access to the Internet?  Why would it constitute the right to access the Internet, and which principles should we consider when restricting the right to access the Internet?  Naturally, we are producing and working on a document that wants to give a proposal on how we should understand this right, and we ‑‑ this is a work in progress, and we want to share a little bit of the things that we have thought that should include the right to access the Internet.  For example, we go back to the elements to the right to access the Internet.  Availability, equality, accessibility, and what do we mean by this?  For example, there should be infrastructure, equipment and installations necessary to offer connectivity to the Internet to all persons inside a state and in a continuous manner.  Quality, which means that connectivity to Internet should have the sufficient quality to access in an effective way to the main characteristics for providers of services and content provided and that based on the demand of the users.  And that the quality of service, of course, is an element that will vary through time and advance in technology.  Accessibility in three ways.  Physical, access to an infrastructure, equipment, installations.  They should be in geographical locations that are accessible.  Economical accessibility, which means the access to the Internet should be through all that costs and expenditures direct and indirect associated with accessing the Internet should be acceptable and available economically.  And accessing the Internet and spending and accessing the Internet shouldn't mean diminishing the access to other rights. 

Accessibility about the skills and knowledge.  People should have the opportunities to learn the skills necessary to experience the Internet in its full potential.  Also, the element of nondiscrimination in three ways in access, which means in general that people shouldn't be discriminated on any basis to access the Internet.  On traffic management, which is probably more controversial, and in using the Internet as well.  Other elements are privacy and open and interoperable architecture that all laws, strategies, programs, and programs and measures taken to guarantee the access to the Internet rights to access the Internet should be mindful of preserving the basic architecture principles of the Internet of openness being interoperable and neutral and global and decentralized as much as possible.  Finally, acceptability and all the policies should respect the right to access information and participation, and this participation should be moved to a stakeholder and adopt the principles of the governance of the Internet.  Also just to share a little bit about what we're thinking of, we're thinking about this right and trying to develop it mainly as a social right.  If you look at the economic and social rights U.N. committee, which is the interpretive authority of the economic session and cultural rights pact, you see similar things with how we are understanding this right.  We also are exploring how to develop the state obligations for this right, which are the obligation to respect, to protect, and to promote or to facilitate and to fulfill the guarantee and just to explain a little bit.  In relation to the respect means the negative obligations of the state.  The obligation to protect means what does the state have to do?  What the state has to do to stop private actors from interfering with the right to access the Internet.  To promote and celebrate should be the positive things the state should take to create the conditions necessary for the realization for the right to access the Internet to an autonomous way.  It means what the state has to do to provide access to the Internet in certain circumstances with certain vulnerable and marginalized populations.  This is just a few input that we want to give to the start of the discussion, and now I want to give the floor to our participants, and I will introduce them all. 

First, to my left I have Elaine and she's the pub policy chief at Google Mexico.  She worked in the public sector for 12 years.  Nine in the transparency section of Mexico.  She's a lawyer with a masters in international legal cooperation at the university of Brussels.  To the left she's the telecommunications regulator of Mexico.  She's a lawyer for and has a masters from the University of Columbia in New York.  She special lied in law and public policy and telecommunications and information technologies.  She was also the director and founder of an NGO that was pioneered in the rights of consumers here in Mexico.  To my right I have Erick Huerta, he's the general coordinator.  He's a member of the council ‑‑ consultive council of the telecommunications for Mexico.  He's a lawyer.  He has a master in social sciences by the University of Queensland and a doctorate Canada at the university.  We also have ( indiscernible ) and he's a lawyer by the university and a master in Latin‑American economic.  Finally Claudio Ruiz is the executive director of the main organization digital organization in Latin America.  He's the organization that as has an Latin‑American region reach.  It's a nonprofit founded in 2005.  It's an organization that has the main purpose for the development and defense of human rights in the digital environment.  Without further adieu, I will just leave the questions here just in case you need to guide the discussion.  I will give the floor first to Lena, please. 

>> SPEAKER:  Thank you very much for the invitation.  I would like to talk a little bit about the first two questions you mentioned today about the importance and what is the importance access to Internet.  And also, it's related what the relationship with this right and our rights are. 

I would like to say that once I heard Alenjandra, he said there's water and Internet right?  Everyone needs water and it must be clean and available and with quality as well.  There's no discussion about the need in the world for everyone to have access to Internet, to have access to the world information and the things that happen on the Internet.  What is the relationship with other human rights?  I must say I consider the Internet is an enabler.  An enabler of other human rights, so without it, you can cannot have freedom of expression and access to information and you cannot have a better democracy, better services from governments, and everything.  So I think it's, in a way, instrumental.  It's like data protection.  You perfect data to protect persons or people, not data itself.  It's not the heart of the right. 

Since this table has to talk about Latin America and how is this an access to Internet as a human right, if it's already there or not, I think, of course, we have different velocities and all governments and Civil Society and industry are working towards giving all the population these human rights and these possibilities to access to clean and quality water for everyone to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, between those that don't know anything and they cannot use all the power that the Internet brings.  I think we have a very, very huge opportunity to think about that we are 400 million of Spanish speakers, and that from those 400 million, we have 280 already connected to the Internet.  So we have to spread all this to the region, and have this for a huge market for all kind it is of content.  Of course cultural content, and we need to bring all the digital skills to people to be able to access the technologies, because you can have all the physical infrastructure and old information there, but people are able to use it and get all the possibilities of Internet.  So I think I will leave that to open up the floor.  I think people need to have all the digital skills to be able to get into this world.  For instance, it could take digital economies and the effect the Internet has on the life of people and the creation of jobs and everything, we have seen how this small and medium interfaces or companies and start‑ups, they have a huge possibility to solve the products and everything.  We call them like the micro multi‑nationals.  So you don't need to move to different countries and I have different places to work above, and then you can explode the market to Latin America.  We have a possibility to share experiences and knowledge and culture, so I think we have a lot of things to work on.  Of course, to start with, we need to bring the Internet close and have all these digital skills at the same time. 

I will leave it at that because I want there to be questions.  I don't know if you want to continue with them or we may have the possibility to add something later. 

>> MODERATOR:  We want to have the discussion to involve other people besides those that will definitely talk.  Now I would like a commissioner in Mexico to give us a few words.  I didn't mention time limits.  I would just say no more than ten minutes will be best to allow other people to participate as well and to engage in a discussion.  Thank you.  Let me see if I can ‑‑

>> SPEAKER:  Thank you to everyone so interested here.  I'm very glad to see a true multitable.  We need a bit more gender equality but we have had industries and governments and NGOs and OTTs and regulator, and competition authority which is IFT in Mexico.  I'm very happy to see Mr. Javier from the ministry of communications in charge of connectivity and universal service problems.  They're extremely important to give Internet access to everyone. 

So very interesting and important questions.  I will try to address a few.  First of all, in Mexico, yes, access to Internet is a human right under our Constitution, and only access to Internet but access to public services such as telecom and broadcasting services, Internet, and broadband are all human rights.  With certain things, they have to be available in terms of competition, free competition with quality, interconnected networks, with continuous services and not subject to arbitrary interference when it comes to Internet.  We really want to move to human rights to human reality for everyone in Mexico.  As we all know, it's a very important reform and important to have all these rights at a constitutional level, but it's not sufficient to make them true. 

We need the implementation of effective public policies, and we need investment as far as resources such as spectrum among others to make all these services available in a country where we have a very specific geographic situation.  A lot of very small villages in the mountains, some of them with 100 people, and they're in conditions of poverty.  The other very important and we've heard a lot at IGF about this very important condition is to work on horizontal policies that we need to work collaboratively with the ministry of communications, with the other ‑‑ I mean, IFT and the municipal and local governments, which to this date have actually set up barriers for the deployment for infrastructure.  So municipal regulations make it expensive or you have to deploy, that can be a major barrier against universal access.

So we need to work in horizontal, effective collaboration.  Whether we as independent agencies.  We have toll sit down also with privacy and data protection authorities, some of which I would like to see more often and I should be present at much more of these discussions.  So how do we move from right to reality?  I want to talk a bit about what IFT does regarding availability, accessibility, equality, and economic accessibility.  So we have been growing a lot whether it comes to penetration of these services in Mexico, but still we need to move forward.  Five to six subscribers of mobile broadband out of 100 people we have so far.  I mean, there's more or less 90 people for every 100 have access to a mobile phone but only 56 connected to broadband.  Also, only 12, almost 13 million homes have Internet availability, and so there's still ‑‑ it's been growing a lot, especially in the mobile, but we need to work more to make it a real, true, universal service.  And there's a number of factors dealing with that in the supply side and also in the demand side and access in preparation of these technologies.  We are working in IFT and we have made available more spectrum than in the last 15 years so that we have more mobile services, and we need to model faster whether it comes to deploy of 4G.  The highest coverage of mobile service in Mexico is 2G, and as you know, you cannot live in the information society having only 2G, which is not designed for data.  Deployment of 4G is growing, but it's very, very low still, and I would like to see at least everyone having 3G. 

So that's one.  Accessibility.  For the first time ever, IFT very, very aware and also the need to bring people with disabilities to the information society.  Just past a week ago, guidelines for accessibility to telecommunications services and access to them through online services, accessible websites, accessible promises for the telecom operators and access to phone booths, et cetera.  Also, whether it comes to economic accessibility, in only two years due to an increasing environment of competition we have been able or the market has been able to compete more aggressively and in all telecom services prices have decreased by 25% from 2014 to 2016.  Mobile services have decreased even more.  More than 30%.  Now, that is really important, and as we see prices coming down, we see more penetration, more people connected, and more traffic being exchanged, but we need to make sure that all these networks and services are secure, that privacy is protected, and that we ‑‑ that the networks are being built in a robust way.  Quality.  Quality is an issue that is still a work in progress.  We have been for over a year analyzing how the requirements for quality of service and mobile networks, to what parameters the industry is subject, and this should be completed shortly.  We need to make sure that a minimum quality for everyone, especially when it comes to ‑‑ see, this is self‑regulation.  Sometimes it needs enforcement, you know? 

So quality.  We need to work a lot on quality both for mobile.  The difference between announced speeds and actual speeds in Mexico is not acceptable.  There's differences up to 80%.  You offer 10MGs and you release less than 1.  That's not acceptable.  I think there's factors that made the speed variable, but you can't offer only 10 apples and only deliver 1.  So that we need to work a lot on.  Also, quality of content.  Today and yesterday I heard a lot about the need everywhere in the world of relevant, local content.  And that is important to increase the use of information that is relevant to the people.  This is the bottom, and the real human right, the access to information, access that you can find only 1% of all apps downloaded in Mexico are Mexican.  1%.  That was presented in a recent study that we had on competition.  I mean, with 400 million Spanish speakers, how come?  There's creativity.  There's a lot of maybe programs like purr soft should be reviewed and more accessible to start‑ups and to small enterprises, not just to the big ones. 

Finally, I would leave it there.  We're working on the spectrum of net neutrality and nondiscrimination practices, and there's a lot we ‑‑ and most of all, we're working transparently, very open to listen to the Civil Society, to the different views, and I think IFT is making a difference in how the decision‑making processes are made.  We have to work more on quality of content.  That is something our board has refused to do.  Only technical standard of quality and image.  I think we should do more on what the quality of content is, whether it's broadcasted or not, but we need to incentive to foster more local content.  So that all this access to technology really means more sustainable development.  Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR:  You talk about content in Spanish, but what about in the English language, for example?  That's even a stronger barrier for that and just on that note I would like to give the floor to Erick Huerta, who has a lot of experience in the connectivity of communities, of rural communities, of people that are not given the service by the private sector, and that they find alternatives to connect to the Internet.  Please, EricK. 

>> SPEAKER:  Thank you very much.  It's really a pleasure to be on this panel.  This have been very interesting.  I think we have just one day since I was here yesterday, and I've learned a lot and heard a lot and come to deep reflections in the discussions.  Some of them are a bit philosophical even. 

I think to try to answer all the questions, we had need a workshop for each question.  I'd like to focus on a couple of stuff that it comes through.  It has brought me to very different talks on things.  Also, I want to challenge some of the thoughts we have always learned in relation to spectrum and networks and I have to go back a bit to when I was looking at the symbol of the United Nations.  It came to my mind that this is a declaration for the information society, and how many years ago and it's 15 years ago and it's more like that.  Ten years, 12 years.  You see that.  Especially I think that's the first paragraph of that, and it takes about enabling environment.  So the old countries came out and said, we have to build an enabling environment for ‑‑ in order to bring the benefits of information society to everyone.  But I think that what it does in those days was an enabling environment.  It's quite different from the environment we have, but still the same obligation for government to build this enabling environment.  In those days we didn't have much of the infrastructure we have nowadays.  In those days a lot of countries don't even have a backbone to connect to.  Some of these countries have a cable to go out, and some of these challenges even that some of the countries that were probably looking very hard to reconnect like Cuba, and all of that going on and none connected to the island, and now it has a cable.  A lot of old countries have built backbone infrastructures, even in Africa we have some good backbone there, but still we have the same challenges.  We have 1 billion people that are unconnected.  Why is that? 

What was done and what wasn't done?  So I'd like to talk about the thing of availability.  Availability of infrastructure.  So I think that in those days of the information society, availability was a big issue in some countries.  Now probably it's not availability.  Accessibility also, I have my doubts on accessibility regarding cost.  I think the most ‑‑ one of the most profitable businesses are networks.  You use it a lot.  Motels as well.  Sometimes you can use a hotel for hours.  It's a set of the same.  You can ‑‑ it's a world that if you use is a lot, it doesn't matter.  You can ‑‑ the most people that use that good the best, the better.  So I think this main style of networks and backbone networks, and also I will say the spectrum is something I called a non(inaudible) good.  They use it, and I have a land, and we have to bring a lot of people to use the land.  Then it comes less valuable resources, so we don't have to get many people using a piece of land.  Whereas, regarding a network, the more people that use the network, the better the network is.  So it's not a thing of to discuss.  We want the people to use the networks.  If we're talking about fiberoptic fiber, the capacity of the fiber is infinity.  We can use a lot of frequencies, all the spectrum frequencies, we can use it even in a single fiberoptic system.  So this what we discuss. 

Also on the spectrum we have this.  It's not scary.  It's not.  It's not.  It was scare because of equipment, but now we have intelligent equipment that can move from band to another band, see what is used and what is not used.  So this problem of viscosity is not there anymore.  So then, yesterday we had' very nice discussion on a community network there, and at the beginning it was what is the problem to connect these communities?  Is that a physical barrier?  No.  We know that it's not mainly a physical barrier.  Is it a cultural barrier?  Was that an economic barrier?  We came to realize that the barrier is mainly a regulatory barrier.  So the experience shows us that if you eliminate those regulatory barriers, people can do the things by themselves. 

So if you allow access to backbone and spectrum, then people can do and create their own networks.  This is not new.  I mean, in Argentina a long time ago the government companies say I cannot connect you.  We don't have the budget to get to you, to these places, but you can connect to the backbone if you manage to build your own network and come and connect, and that's a way that comparatives came up and started to bring services to those areas that were not able for it.  So we have those barriers and the operators connect to the backbone now?  No.  That's a big question.  Do they have access to spectrum?  What's happening with the spectrum is really scary with the spectrum.  Only 30% of the spectrum assigned to a operator is used. 

The 70% of the spectrum is not used because those areas are not of interest of these.  But you can reduce it.  So, I mean, mainly we have to eliminate those barriers, and if we eliminate those barriers, then a number of areas that are probably related to technology, to financial resources to that, then probably we'll be thinking in allowing this part of the right to Internet is a very important part of the Internet that is accessed.  So how do you react to the backbone at the fair prices?  How do we allow the use of a spectrum that is not used and you ended up with this forecasting.  That's the question that I'd like to end with.  Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Erick.  That was very interesting.  Now you can give us your perspective.  Thank you. 

>> SPEAKER:  So thanks.  I apologize by my presentation is in Spanish, and it's too late to go in English. 

(Speaking in Spanish)

>> SPEAKER:  I would like to thank you to talk about this important topic about Internet access and human rights.  I would like to refocus basically in two or three questions you sent out.  I would like to tell you different thoughts regarding what's discussed during the last minute.  If you analyze the way that the Internet rights have been discussed over the last years, you will see that mainly that's focused into the forum of civil and political rights, and that's the most important framework where all this discussion is framed not just from the academia and the government and Civil Society.  So the question that I would like to adapt to these is what about the rights related to their development?  Definitely those sort of rights totally left out of the conversation at least at the main forum, which I think is pretty sad?  Not just because it's important to focus a little bit more into these, because what I want is I'd like to underscore the last part of my presentation, which is about what are we really talking about when we talk about Internet rights or access to Internet?  I would like to say this, because maybe the economic source and cultural rights are a different frame to understand better what the kind of questions we have are actually trying to answer here.  Of course, the impact of these and of course the role of the governments and the roll of the private sector, of course, is very old discussions in a legal and constitutional sense for at least 50 years.  Of course, we will not solve that in in conversation, but it's important to underscore this conversation at least from my perspective is not just about civil and political rights.  It's not just about freedom of expression and enhance these kind of rights we've been trying to work with during the last year, but also about other more rights that are related with economic and social and cultural rights.  So the question regarding what is a mistake when we talk about it, it's another layer of ‑‑ it's another layer of complexity to the conversation we're having here.  So to understand what is the realization of the economic and social and cultural rights basically means, I think we may take a look at different frameworks of people we've been trying to address questions in a deep way during the last years, and, of course, there's ‑‑ the important framework just to name one of those from the Mashefski, the special rapporteur that was very important for himself to fit into other frameworks related to that taken by UNESCO or UNICEF in terms of how these frames of understanding human rights is a different way of social and political rights can be understood better in terms of what it means for the overall population of societies.  So I think that taking this different framework, of again economic and social rights into this conversation is helpful in terms of defining better this cope, and the beauty of different actors and the roles of each one of them.  Not just the public or the private sector but every single actor involved in policy in our region specifically. 

I would like to address one of the most important frameworks maybe to suggest a little bit of our talk in this workshop is about the framework as well as the connection between these sorts of rights and access to Internet.  I would like to underscore this specifically understand just in the manner different sort of elements that you actually mentioned at the beginning of the conversation, but specifically in terms of what acts of civility means in these specific frames.  What inclusion will mean basically in terms of minorities, indigenous populations and so on in our regions and what adaptability means in terms of Internet access to over all.  I think that, of course, maybe adding another layer of complexity of the conversation but I'm totally aware of it.  I want to speak out more in the frame of human rights and not just in terms of civil and political rights to have a complex understanding over what is happening and what is a mistake when we talk about Internet access.  Just to finalize my remarks, I'm connecting with the framework, and I think it's important to talk a little bit more about the content as well.  If we do agree about accessibility and prepared ‑‑ sorry for that work.  It's complex for a Spanish speaker.  That's some of the most important principles behind this, we should not avoid talk about blocking of content, we should avoid talking about censorship, surveillance, data protection, of course and criminalization of online content and so on.  There's a couple of other things that we need to address.  This is not just about the role of the government.  This is not just about the incentives for the private sector in terms to invest more money into this.  It's a more complex situation.  So sorry to add more layers of complexity to this conversation, but I think it's useful to have a meaningful conversation on this.  Thank you. 

>> MODERATOR:  I totally agree with you, and actually the way we are devising our proposal, it's understanding it a social right with what you mentioned and the complexities.  We see this not as founding a conversation.  This conversation has been going on for a long time, but the human rights ‑‑ the human rights have been in the economic and cultural discussion give a good organization to the discussion and put a very clear horizon on what we want to achieve.  We have experience on that and in many other rights and the rights whether we want, the Mexican constitution says our rights and needs are universal access.  It doesn't mean it needs to give you access right now to everyone, but that is a progressive right and that understanding this and classifying the obligations of everyone and their principles allows everyone to work towards that goal and achieve it easier.  Now I would like to open the floor to questions to participants.  I would really, really ask you to be really brief.  Make a tweet question, tweet comments.  It's not like you will become a speaker in the panel.  We really want to make it flow. 

First, I would like to check on remote participation there is something that she can mention.  Is doesn't seem like it.  Can I get hands raised.  Please say your name and organization, institution that you are in.  Please make your comment here, over here. 

>> AUDIENCE:  How many people here do not speak Spanish?  How many people?  Okay. 

So let me say this one in Spanish.  (Speaking in Spanish)

>> MODERATOR:  So I want to make a comment, and it's over there.  The microphone is on the way.  We'll take this question and another question and then we'll give the panelists an opportunity to answer and then we'll make ‑‑ okay.  Okay.  There will be a second round.  To the panelists and then more questions, okay? 

>> AUDIENCE:  I'll ask in Spanish. 

>> MODERATOR:  Go ahead. 

(Speaking in Spanish)

>> (Speaking in Spanish)

>> (Speaking in Spanish). 

>> (Speaking in Spanish).  I'm sorry for the English speakers. 

>> SPEAKER:  (Speaking in Spanish). 

>> AUDIENCE:  (Speaking in Spanish).