INTERNET HALL of FAME
Alejandro Pisanty has contributed to the growth and improvement of the Internet in Mexico and Latin America through his position at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and in his roles at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Society (ISOC), as well as other influential networking organizations. His advocacy, lobbying, and keen understanding of the unique needs of developing countries when it comes to the Internet have significantly influenced policy and directed funding to keep millions online.
UNAM is Latin America’s largest university and one of the biggest campuses in the world. It was also one of the primary starting points for the early Internet in Mexico. Between 1991 and 2007, as coordinator of the Distance Education Program at UNAM, Pisanty presided over the expansion of the university’s networking and Internet services. He introduced new technologies and promoted the publication of content to be shared on the network. He also created the first public key infrastructure to ensure encryption and confirm identity for digital signatures, leading the way to paperless documents in Mexico.
A consummate bridge-builder, in 1997, Pisanty promoted the creation of the University Corporation for Internet Development (CUDI), a non-profit consortium to build and operate a Mexican high-performance backbone network for research and education. As its first Chair, he coordinated universities, private enterprise, and government in this joint effort, sometimes referred to as Internet-2, to serve innovation and science.
Pisanty began serving as Chair of ISOC Mexico in 1998, a position he held until 2017. In the late 1990s, ISOC Mexico struggled from a deprivation of material resources and conflicts between key players. Pisanty successfully created alliances and brought the group together to influence telecommunications policy and the national digital agendas of three successive Mexican administrations.
He also co-led groups that influenced Internet tax policy and intellectual-property laws, as well as the landmark #InternetNecesario campaign which helped establish the "don't mess with the Internet" mantra, stopping a tax on Internet access. Other successful campaigns stopped laws to tax digital devices and affected policy in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Serving in ICANN, Pisanty helped build a balanced institution sensitive to developing countries' needs. He has also played an active role as a member of the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance.
He continues to teach, write, and participate in Internet governance and related issues such as e-government, e-learning, and cybersecurity. Most recently he developed a framework to understand the relationship between online and offline issues, which helps ensure policy and legislation are compatible with the Internet.
Watch an interview on his contribution.