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    Global Internet Governance: From Multistakeholder To Autopilot

    Published on 27 April 2012 @ 1:19 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    In recent decades, far-reaching international cooperation has led to the development of global multistakeholder governance of the internet. While efforts to further enhance cooperative mechanisms are ongoing, one business leader with an inside track suggests that in a couple of decades, the internet will be governing itself.

    The 2012 Global INET Forum, organised in Geneva by the Internet Society, convened some of the key actors involved in internet governance today to discuss the progress of multistakeholder cooperation in a roundtable held on 23 April. As these leaders work to improve the process, Burt Kaliski Jr., senior vice president and chief technology officer at Verisign, suggests that the internet itself will have a much bigger role in its own governance in the future. Verisign is a US internet security company that manages the .com and .net domains.

    Markus Kummer, vice president of public policy at the Internet Society, moderated the opening roundtable entitled, “Governance in an Internetworked World.” Involved in much of the progress that has been made in the way of multistakeholder internet governance, Kummer highlighted some of the key milestones in recent years.

    In 2005, the United Nations-led World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) validated the notion of multistakeholder involvement in internet governance and established a platform for dialogue, Internet Government Forum (IGF). It also recognised a need to go further in enhancing multistakeholder cooperation.

    It’s a theme that continues to occupy the policy debate on internet governance. In fact, the UN’s Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) will devote its next session to enhanced cooperation on public policy issues pertaining to the internet on 18 May in Geneva.

    In this context, Kummer opened the session asking panellists to, among other questions, assess multistakeholder cooperation in global internet governance today. Video of this conference is available here.

    State-of-Play

    Raúl Echeberría, executive director of LACNIC, the Latin American regional registry, and board chair of the Internet Society, participated in building the multistakeholder governance system. As a panellist, he said, “Some people sometimes think that the intergovernmental mechanism is static because we have not created new intergovernmental organisations to control the intergovernmental arrangements. But we have experienced a lot of changes.”

    “We have IGF, which is very participative and open space for dialogue among all stakeholders. We have built IGFs at the regional level. Organisations like LACNIC have opened the participation to all stakeholders. And we are proactively engaging governments, the private sector, and civil society in the life of the organisation,” Echeberría said.

    Several other panellists, such as Lesley Cowley, chief executive of Nominet, which runs the UK registry, agreed that great progress has been made in multistakeholder cooperation. However, Avri Doria, an internet research consultant who also participated in WSIS, cautioned that the fight for participatory internet governance is not over.

    “With every new grouping or organisation that comes along, the fight has to happen again. We have to try to get civil society and the private sector included,” Doria said. “We have to find ways to actually enable the civil society participation because even sometimes when the door is open, civil society can’t actually get there.”

    Heather Dryden, chair of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Government Advisory Committee (GAC), provided the viewpoint of an intergovernmental governance organisation. Dryden emphasised that the committee continues to grow and called the GAC a “success.” California-based ICANN is the multistakeholder group with technical oversight of the internet domain name system.

    “There are more than 100 members or governments and that number is growing. All regions are represented. We also have intergovernmental organisations that are able to represent regional perspectives that are able to participate in the committee and provide expertise,” Dryden said.

    In terms of multistakeholder engagement in India, Virat Bhatia, chairman of the industry group FICCI Communications & Digital Economy Committee and president, IEA, South Asia, AT&T, participated on the panel. Although the multistakeholder approach is important, the role of government in the continued development of the internet in developing countries is key.

    “The role of governments to get us to the next stage must not be underestimated. I think there is a massive burden on the governments to get us going by way of investment in infrastructure, access policies, regulations, laws, all of this stuff will have to come to bear,” Bhatia said.

    Other roundtable participants included Carlos Raúl Gutiérrez, president of Consejo and chairman of SUTEL, Costa Rica’s independent Telecom Regulatory Board; Nii Quaynor, chairman, Ghana National Information Technology Agency (NITA); and Jianping Wu, professor at Tsingua University in China.

    And if the Internet Governed Itself…

    But perhaps in 20 years, enhancing multistakeholder governance of the internet will be a moot point. Verisign’s Kaliski participated in the closing roundtable entitled, “Game Changers: Where will they take us by 2032?”

    “I predict that, by the year 2032, the internet will be self-governing,” Kaliski said, “The internet, the collections of interconnected computer systems will be sufficiently capable, for many parts, to handle its own governance, to steer itself in accordance with its stakeholders.” As much as his vision of the future of internet governance sounds like science fiction, given the speed of digital progress, its plausibility may be scary for some. Video of Kaliski’s prediction is available here.

    In an interview with Intellectual Property Watch, Kaliski explained why a self-governing internet would be useful for service providers. “So when I look at a long-term technology strategy and internet governance, I’ve tried to understand how to better facilitate the objectives of multiple stakeholders that are sometimes in conflict with each other, changing over time. Laws change, policies and expectations, and economic value shifts from one place to another.”

    “And in such a changing environment you need some parts that you can rely on, that are able to adapt to those interactions,” Kaliski told Intellectual Property Watch. “If the internet can develop more sophisticated governance mechanisms that are predictable and programmable, then they are more adaptable to the changing interest and more accountable.”

    William New contributed to this report.

    Related Intellectual Property Watch articles here, here, and here.

    Rachel Marusak Hermann may be reached at info@ip-watch.org.

     


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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