Bernadette Lewis “Net neutrality will be a critical issue”

31/07/2017

Bernadette Lewis is synonymous with effort and dedication towards Internet development in the countries of the Caribbean. Her work and advocacy have led her to obtain notable awards and recognition both at regional and global level, and she has become one of the leading women in Information Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Passionate about ensuring that all citizens of the region have affordable access to, and are able to benefit from effective use of ICT, Lewis notes that a “strong Internet governance in the Caribbean” is a critical element needed to make this a reality.

A strong proponent and advocate for ICT-enabled Caribbean development, she values the role of LACNIC as an organization that not only manages Internet numbering resources but has also supported initiatives designed to see how the Internet may be effectively employed to enhance every aspect of life in the twelve countries of the Caribbean.

15 years ago, what was your relationship with the world of ICT?

My experiences as the then Technical Manager of CANTO enabled me to understand the tremendous impact of ICT, how it was erasing geographical borders, compressing time, revolutionizing the way many of us live and fostering new forms of collaboration. I recognised the potential of ICT to foster new types of development but also understood that levering ICT’s potential required innovation and process reengineering.

I was also intimately aware that benefiting from ICT may require a departure from the beaten paths and in some cases, would demand discarding models that may have served well in the past but which were now anachronistic, given the capabilities of 21st century ICT.

When did your relationship with LACNIC begin and how?

I met the former Executive Director of LACNIC, Mr. Raul Echeberria at the 27th Meeting of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers in São Paulo, Brazil in December 2006. Recognising the mutual benefits that could be derived from collaboration between our respective organisations, we agreed to work together in advancing Internet issues in the Region. On 16th August 2007, the CTU and LACNIC, along with American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN), signed a Declaration of Cooperation. Since that time, the CTU has and continues to collaborate with LACNIC on many important issues.

Over the years, LACNIC has participated in many of the CTU’s Caribbean Internet Governance Fora, Caribbean ICT Roadshows, Ministerial Seminars and the CTU has participated in many of LACNIC’s activities. In 2011, LACNIC and the CTU were collaborators in convening a Latin American and Caribbean Convention on Internet Governance in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, which featured the 7th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum and the 4th Preparatory Meeting for the Global Internet Governance.

What roles have you exercised in the LACNIC community? Did it meet your expectations?

I, and many of my colleagues at the CTU have presented and actively participated at LACNIC events. Our expectations have always been met and we are very pleased to be associated with such a vibrant, forward-looking regional organization.

What role has the LACNIC community played in the management of numerical resources over the last 15 years?

While LACNIC has faithfully served 12 Caribbean countries in providing number resources, they have reached out to provide training and other capacity building services to the wider Caribbean.

What aspects identify the LACNIC community?

The willingness of LACNIC’s principals to collaborate is a hallmark of its operations. We are greatly impressed with the breadth of technical acumen resident in the community and that the fact that their expertise is shared so willingly.

How do you imagine Internet governance in 15 years?

We live in an exciting era and evolution of the Internet has precipitated phenomenal changes in our lives. The prospect of the Internet of Things will force us to delve deeper into issues that challenge us now, such as privacy, security, inequality and indeed how the Internet should be governed, the current raging debate on Net Neutrality being one critical issue. I believe that Governments will play a more significant role in the evolution of the Internet and its resources. I also believe however that through collaborative engagements, we must find the solutions that will enable us in this technological age to maintain our humanity, survive as a race and to be at peace with our fellowmen.

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