Geneva Conference Looks At Internet Governance ‘At A Crossroads’ 20/11/2014 by Elena Bourtchouladze for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)“Internet Governance at a Crossroads” was the title of the Geneva Internet Conference, which took place in Geneva this week for the first time. The event was held from 17-19 November under the auspices of the Geneva Internet Platform launched earlier this year. Prominent speakers, including two of the original ‘fathers of the internet’, Louis Pouzin and Robert Kahn, were to address critical issues, gaps, and future developments in internet governance and digital politics. Geneva Internet Platform reporting from the event is available here. The closing press release is available here. The conference reflected on the recent developments in 2014, including announcement of the transition away from the US government of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) oversight of internet functions, NETmundial and the Internet Governance Forum. It aimed at providing concrete proposals for the future internet governance arrangements, articulating the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, including governments, companies, and civil society, and ensuring cross-fertilisation between internet governance and other policy processes. In his opening speech, Fadi Chehadé, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees technical aspects of the domain name system, pleaded for ‘ample, rapid, and effective mechanisms’ to improve the governance of the internet. For him, “ICANN is not and shall not be an island disconnected from other stakeholders.” For Swiss Ambassador Jürg Lauber, inclusiveness is one of the core values of the internet governance debate along with transparency, democratic participation and accountability. “Having all interested stakeholders on board no matter their geographical origin or other affiliation is crucial for the development of sustainable, respected solutions that are underpinned by a wide array of interests and carried by all actors affected,” Lauber said. “One Internet – many policy angles” was the first session of the conference, which hosted senior officials from the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Intellectual Property Organization, World Trade Organization, and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to discuss potential synergies among their activities of the relevance for the internet. According to Christian Wichard, deputy director general, Global Issues Sector at WIPO, one of the main challenges is the fact that most of the content on the internet is still easier to get from illegal rather than legal sources. Another challenge is the need to adjust territorial systems to reflect the global nature. This is a task, he said, that goes far beyond normative issues and the solution to the problem is only possible through dialogue among multiple stakeholders. In his introductory remarks, Yi Xiaozhun, deputy director general of the WTO, pointed out that at the WTO, discussions on the internet today not only appear in the e-commerce sector, but have become daily business in the regular work of all bodies within the WTO. In the closing session of the event, the complexity of internet governance was highlighted. Concerns, such as information overload, policy questions, and neutrality, both from a technological and political perspective, need to be addressed in the future, speakers said. Philipp Metzger, director-general of the Swiss Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), mentioned that Geneva is a hub for internet governance, but it is also a “building under construction” on these matters, and still taking shape. It was noted during the week that more than 50 percent of discussions and decisions about global internet policy take place in Geneva. For Jovan Kurbalija, head of the Geneva Internet Platform, the complexity is not necessarily a bad thing, but rather a reflection of reality. He also pointed out that avoiding unrealistic harmonisation of internet governance processes is important, but it is also crucial to ensure that decentralisation does not occur, as a result. The agenda of the conference included diverse topics, such as the “Mapping the Internet governance landscape”; “Legal framework, jurisdiction, and enforcement in Internet governance”; “Evidence in Internet governance”; and “Funding, accountability and trust in Internet governance.” William New contributed to this report. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Elena Bourtchouladze may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Geneva Conference Looks At Internet Governance ‘At A Crossroads’" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.