Ayesha Hassan (AH), an experienced lawyer with a background in dispute resolution, international policy, and e-commerce issues, manages the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms. She is in charge of ICC’s initiative, Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) and has a long experience in various international initiatives, such as the IGF, UN WSIS and ICANN. We from Telefónica (TEF) met with her the other day, to learn more about the ICC and her views on ICT and the hot issues which are handled at “the world business organization” at the moment.
TEF: Hello Ayesha, thank you very much for your time. I would like to start with a very general question. What is the ICC?
AH: ICC is the world business organization, a representative body that speaks with authority on behalf of enterprises from all sectors in every part of the world. It was founded in 1919 and today it groups hundreds of thousands of member companies and associations from over 120 countries. National committees work with their members to address the concerns of business in their countries and convey to their governments the business views formulated by ICC.
The fundamental mission of ICC is to promote trade and investment across frontiers and help business corporations meet the challenges and opportunities of globalization.
ICC has three main activities: rules-setting, dispute resolution and policy. Because its member companies and associations are themselves engaged in international business, ICC has unrivalled authority in making rules that govern the conduct of business across borders.
ICC also provides essential services, foremost among them the ICC International Court of Arbitration, the world’s leading arbitral institution. Another service is the World Chambers Federation, ICC’s worldwide network of chambers of commerce, fostering interaction and exchange of chamber best practice.
TEF: What do you do for the ICT industry? How important is the ICT industry for ICC? Who are the main sectors and players in the ICT industry?
AH: ICC’s Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms provides a special forum for companies and associations across sectors and geographies to work on ICT and Internet related issues and to develop concensus policy positions and practice tools.
Business leaders and experts drawn from the ICC membership establish the key business positions, policies and practices on e-business, information technologies and telecommunications through the EBITT Commission.
With members who are users and providers of information technology and electronic services from both developed and developing countries, ICC provides the ideal platform to develop global voluntary rules and best practices for these areas. Dedicated to the expansion of cross-border trade, ICC champions liberalization of telecoms and development of infrastructures that support global online trade.
ICC has also led and coordinated the input of business around the world to the World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva 2003, Tunis 2005, and continues this effort in the activities established in the Tunis Agenda through its initiative, Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS).
TEF: What kind of issues and organisations do you cover?
AH: The EBITT Commission contributes to and is involved in a range of organizations and processes including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Council of Europe (CoE), the EU Commission, ICANN, ITU, and OECD/BIAC.
The EBITT Commission and its task forces work on issues including data protection and privacy, ICT infrastructure and Internet related matters, security and authentication. Recent policy positions and practice tools can be consulted.
TEF: What are your main objectives and projects for 2011?
AH: Well, there are quite a few topics in focus in 2011, such as
- Update existing policy positions to encourage legal, regulatory and policy environments that facilitate the use of ICTs for economic growth and social development.
- Advocate ICC positions on key international initiatives, including the removal of regulatory barriers to the deployment of new technologies, telecoms liberalization, ICTs and sustainability and information and network security.
- Convey business priorities regarding the technical management and coordination of the domain name system through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and other fora.
- Promote global business priorities and ICC tools to ensure appropriate data protection mechanisms while facilitating global data flows by advancing initiatives with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, OECD, the EU, and the Council of Europe.
- Work through ICC’s BASIS initiative to strengthen multistakeholder dialogue and contribute business expertise on internet governance and ICTs for development.
TEF: Could you explain briefly what is the BASIS initiative and what is behind it?
AH: Sure, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and a number of its member companies created Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) in 2006. This initiative serves as the voice of global business in the international dialogue that has recently emerged on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can better serve as engines of economic growth and social development.
The global business community speaks out on a wide range of critical issues, including:
- Telecoms liberalization
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- ICTs for development
- Internet governance issues, including data protection, privacy, security, communications infrastructure, and coordination and technical management of the Internet.
A major focus of BASIS activities is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). BASIS brings business expertise and priorities to the preparations of the IGF and the annual IGF event. The IGF is a unique opportunity for business, governments, civil society and the Internet technical community to exchange experience and views on Internet governance issues in a non-decision making environment with all participating on an equal footing. The IGF is very important to BASIS members and global business as it contributes to more informed policy decisions at the national, regional and global levels on Internet policy issues.
TEF: Can you tell us, what are the current challenges/hot topics concerning the future of Internet Governance?
AH: A major challenge is making sure that the IGF remains a fully multistakeholder on an equal footing forum and a non-negotiation/decision making forum. There are efforts by some to change the founding principles of the IGF. Business believes the IGF offers a rare opportunity for dialogue and exchange which benefits all stakeholders and has real impact on other forums and processes that address Internet related issues, as well as policy decisions at national, regional and international levels.
TEF: What will be the role of ICC/BASIS in the next IGF meeting in Kenya in September?
AH: As at all IGF’s, this year ICC BASIS and its members and leaders look forward to contributing actively to the main session and workshop discussions on the range of IG issues.
ICC BASIS organizes a business briefing each morning of the IGF before the official schedule starts to gather members as well as any business participants who would like to join the briefing to discuss the priorities of the day, orient business participants and to serve as an opportunity to network among business participants.
ICC BASIS is submitting a workshop proposal with the Government of Kenya which would discuss ‘ Mobile and Cloud services for development’. In addition, ICC leaders including the Chair of BASIS, Mr S. Ramadorai, Vice Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services and the Chair of ICC’s EBITT Commission, Herbert Heitmann, Executive Vice President, External Communications for Royal Dutch Shell will lead the group and contribute to sessions.
ICC BASIS members have considerable experience and expertise to share on the range of IG issues, and we will be working with other stakeholders to have business experts contribute to the other workshops and events.
We will also be working before and at the IGF to raise awareness in the media about business priorities and positions on these issues.
TEF: Are you present in Social Media? Which ones? How do these tools help you in your day-to-day work?
AH: We are working to build EBITT and BASIS use of social media tools; we have a BASIS facebook page, and used Twitter at last year’s IGF to get business messages heard.
TEF: How do you personally think will Internet Governance look like in the year 2020?
AH: It is difficult to predict, but what I hope for is that the multistakeholder approach to and models for addressing Internet governance, and Internet policy issues are fully integrated at national, regional and global levels. I hope that there will be recognition by all that it is essential to bring together the expertise and experience of all relevant stakeholders: governments, business, civil society, Internet technical community and IGOs to shape Internet policy matters.
TEF: Thank you very much Ayesha and good luck!