January Update: Message from Mei Lin

Mei Lin Fung

Mei Lin Fung

Co-Founder and Chair

Dear “Internauts,” (as Vint likes to say):

It is my great honor to follow in the significant footsteps of PCI’s first chairman, Vint Cerf, who joined me in 2015 to co-found People-Centered Internet. Today, our vision that people should be at the center of Internet initiatives — of an Internet of, by and for the people — faces significant challenges.

As many of you know, Vint participated in the United Nations’ High Level Panel for Digital Cooperation from September 2018 to June 2019 and the panel’s report pulls no punches in its assessment:

"A patchwork of regulatory mechanisms, increased competition, and rapidly evolving security threats are preventing digital technologies from reaching their full potential to solve global challenges. At worst, they spell our doom through advanced autonomous weapons systems or hastily deployed artificial intelligence technologies." — UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation

At the recent Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez highlighted our responsibility to ensure that emerging technologies are used for the good of humanity:

"We have a collective responsibility to give direction to these technologies so that we maximize benefits and curtail unintended consequences and malicious use. And so far, we have not kept pace. There is an absence of technical expertise among policy-makers, even in the most developed countries." — UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez

Our friend, Deputy Secretary General Fabrizio Hochschild noted:

"The Internet's very success is its biggest threat — our challenge is in upholding an open free secure Internet as it is overtaken by commercial and political agendas. There is diffusing of positive and negative information at unheard of speeds. To retain open free secure internet that upholds human rights will require conscious effort across all stakeholder groups.” — UN Deputy Secretary General Fabrizio Hochschild

We at PCI have begun working closely with DSG Hochschild and the IEEE to seize the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary as an opportunity to strengthen global digital cooperation. Seventy-five years ago, the countries of the world came together to chart a path of peace and create a framework for establishing and maintaining agreements among nations. At that time, it would have been impossible to imagine that half of the world could be connected to each other, able to share knowledge, ideas, art, and even humor. The United Nations and the Internet share a beautiful potential: to bring us closer together to help us recognize our common humanity and opportunities to improve the well being of all people. But of course, that is only if we work to make it so. 

I am excited to welcome our new PCI board member, Linton Wells II, and I hope you will read Eileen Clegg’s article on Lin’s extensive background of public service. We as a board are pleased to introduce six “Areas of Focus” for PCI’s work in 2020. This month, we also join in celebrating Tribal Digital Village Network’s announcement that fourteen Native American tribes in Southern California are now directly connected to the state-of-the-art International Internet Exchange. TDVN receives support from Google through PCI’s Project Eagle Feather and is led by EAB member, Matthew Rantanan.

The PCI board and our extended community is dedicated to “working for an Internet that works for people.” As Jewish scholar Hillel the Elder asked in the first century BC: “If not now when? If not us, who?”.

Posted in Mei Lin Fung, PCI News.

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