Internet Technology and Policy: Challenges and Solutions online course
Start date: 25 July 2022
The critical internet infrastructure is no longer a dry tech-geek topic.
It has drawn attention from the wider internet community through discussions on internet names and numbers (domain names such as .amazon, .wine), the internet of things (self-driving cars, drones affecting air traffic safety) and other current issues. DiploFoundation offers an interactive online course focusing on technology and core infrastructure issues in the context of public policy.
This course will be of interest to technical experts who are keen to learn more about digital policy, and to policy people who wish to learn more about internet technology. The interplay between these two communities will add value to the course interaction.
Prominent internet experts and leading policymakers will contribute to the review and development of course materials and/or join course discussions, including Avri Doria, Tracy Hackshaw, and Ian Peter.
This course can be taken as part of the Advanced Diploma in Internet Governance.
What will you learn?
- To analyse and discuss the interplay between underlying internet technology concepts and related internet policy issues
- To define and explain the overarching ICT infrastructure development issues, including wired and wireless infrastructure, and issues that account for ICT infrastructure development
- How to apply the basic concepts and importance of internet connection costs, and issues that account for differences in costs, including regulatory frameworks, discrepancies in international bandwidth costs, and costs of deployment
- How to explain the function of IP protocols, the reasons why upgrading to IPv6 is necessary, and the opportunities and challenges that accompany the new version
- How to describe and participate in the current debates on the regulatory framework and its importance to the internet infrastructure to promote a more efficient ICT sector while promoting development and innovation
- To discuss the concept of network neutrality, its importance for the internet, and the current controversies surrounding the issue
- How to explain the DNS and the associated policy development systems, including the function of ICANN, the delegation of top level domains (TLDs), and their management by TLD Registries
- To identify and compare the roles of IANA and other main actors in IP address allocation, domain name root-servers, the delegation/re-delegation process, and the complexities of some recent developments in the domain name industry
How will you learn?
In this course you will interact intensively in discussions with classmates and lecturers from around the world. You will receive guidance and personalised feedback on your classwork from the course team.
How long will you learn?
The course lasts for 10 weeks:
- 1 week of course introduction and orientation to online learning
- 8 weeks of addressing the course topics one by one (see below for more details)
- 1 week for the final assignment and completing pending tasks
Who should apply
This course will be of interest to technical experts who are keen to learn more about digital policy; and to policy people who wish to learn more about internet technology. The interplay between these two communities will add value to the course interaction.
Diplo seeks applications from the following, from both developed and developing countries:
- Officials in government ministries, departments, or institutions dealing with Information Society, internet and ICT-related policy issues (e.g. telecommunications, education, foreign affairs, justice);
- Postgraduate students, academics and researchers in the IG field (e.g. in telecommunications, electrical engineering, law, economics, development studies);
- Civil society activists in the IG and Information Society fields;
- Journalists covering IG issues; and
- Individuals in internet business-related fields (e.g. ISPs, software developers).
This course may also be of interest to:
- Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations who want to refresh or expand their knowledge of more technical issues, under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.
- Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.
Excerpt from course materials:
Technology has been the main driver of societal changes throughout history (fire, the wheel, tools, agriculture, the printing press, the telegraph) with particular acceleration over the last 200 years. Technology influences changes in the fabric, economy, and core values of our society.
Every phase in history has had a ‘defining technology’ (Bolter, 1984). Some of them, such as writing, are so integrated in our daily routines that we no longer recognise them as technologies. Other defining technologies have included, for example, the clock, the steam engine, and, more recently, electrical devices. Digital technology is the defining technology of our own era. Each new technology has reopened the question of the impact of technology on society, and this question is as relevant in the Internet era as it has been throughout the centuries. Thus, before zooming in on the digital era, let’s make a short overview of the evolution of thinking about the impact of technology on society.
Bolter JD (1984) Turing’s Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
The course consist of 8 modules:
- Introduction to internet technology and policy: this course addresses the interplay between technology and policy in the very important area of internet technology development. As we enter an era of accelerated technological development, with the internet of things (IoT) and bio-informatics on the horizon, technological developments will reinforce existing, and open new ethical, legal, and policy issues. Thus, we aim to anchor the discussion on technology in the broader social context.
- Internet protocols: this module focusses on the protocols that allow computers to communicate among themselves: the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and other related protocols known together as the ‘IP suite’. We look at the relationships between technology and policy, and analyse how the internet protocols contribute to achievement of the core internet principles.
- Domain Name System (DNS): the domain name system (DNS) translates domain names into internet protocol (IP) addresses. We tend to work with names translated to IP numbers, rather than directly with IP numbers, for a few reasons. First, human beings find it easier to remember names (such as diplomacy.edu) rather than remembering numbers (such as the IP address 188.8.131.52). This module gives an overview of how IP numbers work, why this is important, and reviews a few important current issues, such as the ongoing transition from IPv4 to IPv6.
- Telecommunication infrastructure: understanding the basis for core infrastructures fosters better policy shaping, leading to the development of policies and principles that are compatible with underlying internet architecture. Infrastructure and policy must be analysed together to enhance their functionality. Effective policy shaping requires a basic understanding of the telecommunications infrastructure as the medium through which the traffic flows: cables such as copper wires or optical fibres, or electromagnetic waves such as satellite and wireless links and mobile networks.
- Cloud computing and applications: today’s internet would not be possible without cloud computing. The cloud allows massive use and ensures the robustness of the internet. This module on cloud computing starts with a survey of definitions, core concepts, and evolution. Next, it looks at a technological explanation of how cloud computing operates, leading to discussion of policy issues.
- Encryption technology: this module examines encryption technology within the framework of internet technology and policy, including implications for privacy and other rights, and government responses and actions in this area. For our purposes, encryption refers to the scrambling of electronic documents and communications into an unreadable format which can only be accessed through the use of encryption software. This module will also touch upon some of the intrinsic relationships between encryption, trust, and security.
- Emerging technologies: digital technology is one of the most dynamic fields of innovation and development that affects the internet. Almost every day, we hear news about new hardware and software devices, applications, and tools. We examine a few major emerging technologies, or those which are still evolving significantly, such as Big Data, blockchain, and augmented and virtual reality.
- Summary: Policy challenges for infrastructure: this module echoes reflections from the course, and how to establish a balance among the different values and principles as we shape internet policy. It reflects on the ways the core internet principles apply to different technologies, keeping in mind that technology should benefit society. But history provides a mixed record of technology being a great enabler, as well as a contributor to major human tragedies, especially in the twentieth century. How can the internet infrastructure and related policies support this idealism, while enabling practical innovation?
Director at ICANN
Internet Expert and Historian
ICT and Digital Economy Strategist; Director, Trinidad and Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group
Internet Governance and E-diplomacy Programmes
Cybersecurity and E-diplomacy Programmes Director
The Internet Technology and Policy online course is based on a collaborative learning approach, involving a high level of interaction over a period of 10 weeks. Reading materials and the necessary tools for online interaction are provided in a virtual classroom.
Each week, participants study and discuss course materials and complete additional online activities. At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet to discuss the topic of the week. For successful completion, this course requires a minimum of 5 to 7 hours of study time per week.
Participants who successfully complete a certificate course receive a certificate issued by Diplo which can be printed or shared electronically via a permanent link. Participants who successfully complete an accredited course will receive 9 ECTS credits from the University of Malta.
All course applicants must have regular internet access; dial-up connections are sufficient, but broadband is preferable.
Applicants for certificate courses must have:
- Either completed the course Introduction to Internet Governance, or have knowledge of internet governance or digital policy. Familiarity with the multistakeholder approach in international affairs is an additional asset
- An undergraduate university degree OR 3 years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations
- Sufficient English language skills to undertake postgraduate-level studies
Applicants for accredited courses must meet the University of Malta prerequisites:
- Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours
- Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last 2 years (minimum requirements: TOEFL paper-based – 650; TOEFL internet-based – 95; IELTS – 6.5.; Cambridge – Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.
Fees and scholarships
Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course or a Diplo certificate:
- University of Malta accredited courses: €850
- Diplo certificate courses: €690
A limited number of partial scholarships are available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries. Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution.
You can apply for this course as:
- A certificate course, in order to obtain a certificate issued by Diplo
- An accredited course, to obtain 9 ECTS credits from the University of Malta
- As part of the Master/Postgraduate Diploma in Contemporary Diplomacy
- As a part of the Advanced Diploma in Internet Governance programme
Apply for a certificate course
Applying for financial assistance? Please indicate this on the application form, upload your CV, and a motivation statement that should include:
- Details of your relevant professional and educational background
- Reasons for your interest in the course
- Why do you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course? How will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?
Please note that financial assistance from Diplo is available only to applicants from developing countries!
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available in the course.
Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.
- Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full
- Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts
- English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by a translator
- English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL paper-based – 650; TOEFL internet-based – 95. IELTS – 6.5.; Cambridge – Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results
- Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport
- If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course (i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country). Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
- Application fee or proof of payment (€100, non-refundable – see methods of payment).
Please send the complete application package by email to email@example.com or by post to:
Anutruf, Ground Floor
Msida, MSD 1675, Malta
Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.