NetMission Insight: Access & Empowerment

Written by Ahnaf Sadat Zakaria ,Guntur Ramadhan,Stephen Arumasi

(Edited By Stephen Arumasi, Jenna Fung)

Internet Governance (IG) is the way that involves the development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. It is a globally distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks. However, it operates without a central governing body with each constituent network setting and enforcing its policies. Governance is conducted by a decentralized and international multi-stakeholder network of interconnected autonomous groups drawing from civil society, the private sector, governments, academic and research communities, and national and international organizations. They work cooperatively from their respective roles to create shared policies and standards that maintain the Internet’s global interoperability for the public good. The Internet is a versatile tool that can enable progress and advance society. How do we provide Internet access to people, and how does it empower us? This article identified two key issues regarding access and empowerment. Two case studies to solidify and elaborate on the topics. 


Access is the key factor on the Internet that means making connections to get data and information resources. All of these are becoming possible due to having different sources of information and resources like social media platforms, websites, and other application software. Through this people can get in touch with different information, insights, ideas, and understandings that help in making them aware of the changing environment, climate, politics, trade, diseases, and business across the world. This is the fundamental key in internet governance because allowing sharing of information and other resources over the internet is making more meaningful towards creating impacts for positive changes. Access is the way by which technology becomes a tool to connect people with internet resources. 

Digital Divide

There are other challenges, such as the digital divide. The digital divide is the gap between people who have access to the Internet and digital devices and those who do not have. This can be shown in both urban and rural areas because most urban areas have more access to the internet compared to rural areas. This is according to most developing countries so creating biases for people not getting information at the right time due to internet access. Other challenges faced in internet governance are including poor infrastructure, censorship by governments and corporations, and higher prices of internet bundles. Internet access is an important tool also in education matters, for example, access to the internet has become the basic need of life like The  Global Impact of E-Learning Nowadays during this pandemic, students across the world are studying online via E-learning. Due to which across the globe have taken initiatives to support e-learning. 


Empowerment is the key element of Internet governance because it is where globalization becomes broadly in terms of making the world the village. Through this, it enables the creation of different kinds of opportunities by using social challenges. By using internet access as a world we can share different challenges and opportunities through economic activities. Internet access allows technologies to solve challenges in different aspects and become opportunities in terms of international trade and investments, business conductions, and job creations. All of these are resulting in empowerment and improving the global economy as well as improving the living standard of the people in international societies.

This is the kind of empowerment that has been done through internet governance. Also, disruptive technologies which are supported by internet access help to create opportunities through solving challenges that faced the communities. This is also the kind of empowerment that is done through internet governance. For example The people with disabilities (PwD) Different Platforms and apps are helping to empower people with disabilities to access the information and new projects and improvement come day by day.

Digital devices and the Internet are empowering a certain group of people but not everyone, for example, those with disabilities. Empowerment is definitely important, but social awareness about accessibility for groups of people is also important. Some of the comments and insights about access and empowerment were given by Global Experts below during an online session held on 14 January 2021 at NetMission Academy 2021.

“Empowerment is really radical. It raises all sorts of questions, for example, it also means giving up our power if other people are going to be empowered.” 

Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D)

“The importance of society and the awareness from the community to include them.”

Gunela Astbrink (Vice President of Internet Society Accessibility Special Interest Group)

“Empowerment is about working WITH people and not just FOR them.”

Maureen Hilyard (Chair of At-Large Advisory Committee at ICANN)