Florencio Utreras: Good after­noon. I feel deeply hon­ored to receive this recog­ni­tion from the Internet Society, an orga­ni­za­tion that has done so much for the bet­ter­ment of the Internet in the last twenty-five years. A peri­od of time that has tak­en the net from an aca­d­e­m­ic curios­i­ty to the net­work every­thing depends on today.

During all this time, many of you have been involved in devel­op­ing the Internet and mak­ing it the tool of many phas­es. From aca­d­e­m­ic col­lab­o­ra­tion, to busi­ness and shop­ping. From social inter­ac­tion, to democ­ra­cy pro­mo­tion. In short, to all feats of human activ­i­ty. We have gone from the pro­mo­tion of con­nec­tiv­i­ty to a connectivity-dependent soci­ety, and many could feel that the job is done. That’s it. We cre­at­ed a glob­al tool.

But, being too that we haven’t done great progress, our job is far from being com­plet­ed. In terms of con­nec­tiv­i­ty, we have huge dif­fer­ences between dif­fer­ent regions of the world, with house­hold broad­band speeds rang­ing from 28.7 megabits per sec­ond in South Korea, to 1.4 megabits per sec­ond in Paraguay, a twenty-fold dif­fer­ence.

Moreover, the price for a 10-gigabit whole­sale con­nec­tion between Latin America and Europe or the US is twen­ty times the price of the same con­nec­tion between Europe and the US or Asia and the US. These fac­tors have remained con­stant a long time. If we add to this the dif­fer­ence in pur­chas­ing pow­er between the dif­fer­ent regions and coun­tries of the world, we can see that the band­width chal­lenge is far from being solved. It’s clear that the mar­ket by itself will not solve these dif­fer­ences. Governments and inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions are need­ed to pro­mote new invest­ments that dri­ve telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions infra­struc­ture to a more robust and diver­si­fied topol­o­gy cov­er­ing the world.

We must go beyond the actu­al sta­tus, where con­ti­nents depend on pass­ing through one sin­gle coun­try to com­mu­ni­cate between them and where some regions of the world monop­o­lize the sub­ma­rine cables con­nect­ing all of us. A great exam­ple of col­lab­o­ra­tion in this sense is the BELLA project, where the European Commission, the aca­d­e­m­ic net­works of both Europe and Latin America, and the pri­vate sec­tor are work­ing togeth­er to build a new cable sys­tem to con­nect both con­ti­nents by a direct path, and improv­ing this way the reli­a­bil­i­ty and robust­ness of those aca­d­e­m­ic and Internet con­nec­tions.

Also, as the Internet has become an inte­gral part of our lives, we face new chal­lenges in terms of secu­ri­ty and pri­va­cy. As many devices become more and more con­nect­ed, new oppor­tu­ni­ties arise, but also new dan­gers we must be aware of. We must fos­ter a bet­ter coor­di­na­tion of our tech­ni­cal teams as well as our gov­ern­ments, and the poli­cies that make the Internet a safe place.

And we must do this impos­ing cen­sor­ship or con­trols that dete­ri­o­rate the great pos­si­bil­i­ties that these tools have pro­vid­ed to demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment move­ments around the word. But at the same time, these tools have cre­at­ed the dan­ger of mak­ing Orwell’s 1984 a real­i­ty, as peo­ple trust their per­son­al infor­ma­tion to glob­al com­pa­nies that are not sub­ject to the rules of the coun­tries we lives in. We love to be glob­al, but we must be aware that the inter­na­tion­al legal sys­tem is too weak to pro­tect indi­vid­u­als from the abuse of com­pa­nies who know too much of the per­son­al behav­ior of peo­ple.

Organizations such as the Internet Society must speak loud to make sure that these com­pa­nies are not above the law, and also to avoid that any par­tic­u­lar coun­try impos­es its law over the cit­i­zens of the entire world. Let us make the cloud a place respect­ing pri­va­cy and the laws of the coun­tries we live in.

It has been a priv­i­lege to be able to work with so many of you all of these years and con­tribute from Latin America to this glob­al endeav­or. Thank you very much for allow­ing me to be part of it, and for this recog­ni­tion that I deeply cher­ish. Be sure that that I will con­tin­ue work­ing with you to build a bet­ter Internet for a bet­ter world. Thank you very much.

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