UN Internet Governance Forum Looks At Human Rights, New Domains, Who’s In ChargePublished on 4 November 2012 @ 9:54 pm
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
Baku, Azerbaijan – Human rights on the internet, the new generic top-level domains, how the net can be managed and ruled – these are main topics on the published agenda of the 7th United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Another hot topic at the 6-10 November IGF is expected to be the debate about the upcoming negotiations of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) on the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). On this, a first public statement on this issue was already made before the IGF “day 0” by civil society groups gathered over the weekend for a Google-sponsored BestBits pre-conference, asking for more openness and transparency of the WCIT and for a hands-off approach to internet regulation and in favour of net neutrality, universal service and competition.
Since 2006, the IGF has developed into what is now the presumably largest and most diverse platform for all things related to the larger internet governance question. The 2012 edition’s focus on human rights and freedom of expression – in addition to privacy and cross border data flows – is a change from earlier IGFs. Beside these fundamental rights, in recent years the neglected issue of the challenges for copyright and intellectual property will get their share of attention this time.
The topic of “Rethinking copyright – can we agree on a set of common principles” will be discussed by a panel including: Google Chief Internet Evangelist and internet pioneer Vinton Cerf; Free Software guru Richard Stallman; Trevor Clarke, assistant director general at the World Intellectual Property Organization; Chris March from the Motion Picture Association; and others. RIAA Senior Vice President David Hughes will discuss with Frank La Rue, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on lessons learnt from IP enforcement.
The future of the governance model, of the Internet Governance Forum, and of the overall question about who can write the rules for the cross-border online virtual space looms beyond all the discussions of singular issues. This is also illustrated by comments from the EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and the Indian Minister of Telecommunication Kapil Sibal. Kroes warned against a new international treaty for the internet, while Sibal told The Hindu that effective internet and a secured cyberspace is the collective responsibility of stakeholders. India is expected take a decisive stand at the IGF.
Kroes also announced talks to activists and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev about concerns with regard to freedom of expression globally and in the IGF host country. Human Rights Watch just published a report on actual cases in Azerbaijan of harassed, imprisoned journalists and activists and appealed to Aliyev “as a sign of commitment to the IGF’s multi-stakeholder mandate” to release these persons, amend the libel legislation and “end the effective blanket ban on freedom of assembly in Baku’s center.”
OSCE report on internet freedom available here.
Monika Ermert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.