Internet Governance Forum Opening: Wish List For An Open, Trustworthy, Accessible Internet 19/12/2017 by Catherine Saez, 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)The Internet Governance Forum opened yesterday at the United Nations in Geneva, coming back to its origins, and as the opening ceremony resounded with Swiss alphorn, speakers insisted on the urgency to find fresh solutions to internet-related new issues. Cyber security, digital divide, influence of private companies, lack of digital literacy, the challenges are numerous, and solutions require a multi-stakeholder collective effort, the speakers said in unison. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is taking place from 17-21 December. During the IGF opening ceremony yesterday, Swiss Confederation President Doris Leuthard wished that the discussions this week will contribute to finding common answers to multiple new issues of internet governance, including cyber security, the digital divide, and access to the internet. Michael Møller, director-general of the United Nations Office in Geneva, noted that internet had produced both wonders and “serious challenges,” including the influence of some private companies over national election outcomes. A key question, said Liu Zhenmin, UN under-secretary general for Economic and Social Affairs, is how to shape the digital future so it brings society together and does not create more divide. Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the UN International Telecommunication Union, said it is important to remember that some 3.9 billion people still are not connected to the internet. Like Møller and most other speakers, he stressed the need for cooperation and bringing all stakeholders into the conversation. For Frank La Rue, assistant director-general for Communication and Information at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the debate on internet governance has entered a new phase. Heightened complexity comes with new areas such as the internet of things, analysis of big data, artificial intelligence, all of which could bring beautiful opportunities but also tremendous challenges, he said. The higher complexity makes the relevance of discussing internet governance even more important, he said. High level Session: Governance Structure, Openness, Inclusion During a high level session following the opening ceremony, Leuthard called for a governance structure to provide both stability and predictability, and expert guidance for politicians. Liu Zhenmin, under-secretary-general of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said internet governance is lagging behind and the IGF as a multi-stakeholder platform is a good opportunity to develop ideas and rules for the future governance of the internet. Zhao called for strong infrastructure and new technologies to extend the power of the internet to the people not yet connected. Investment is needed, he said, but also innovative ways to do business. Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for Digital Economy and Society at the European Commission, said the future internet has to be an internet based on values, open and inclusive, more transparent, more resilient and more trustworthy. The future of internet should also be human-centred and must see the implementation of ideas. The digital transformation should ensure that “we keep our human faces,” she said. Kathy Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Internet Society, said society should confront internet-related issues. “We say our model” is a multi-stakeholder, multidisciplinary approach, she said, but in the real world, “we don’t see that.” She underlined worries people have about losing control over their lives and actions online, and the fact that multi-stakeholder engagement must go beyond consultations to collaborative decision-making. Hasanul Haq Inu, Bangladesh minister of information, came to the IGF with a number of initiatives in mind, including potential global agreements for the management of the internet including a global treaty for security in cyberspace, a digital economy framework, and a universal declaration on the right to access the internet, as a basic right. Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google, said by 2027 six billion people probably would be online, maybe more. If the IGF is successful, it will increase multi-stakeholder cooperation, safety, reliability, and stability, he said, adding that more attention is needed on cyber literacy, and greater accountability for technology companies. Vinton Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google Cerf also called for long-term enhancement of internet infrastructure in particular for rural populations and that there will be a successful defence against the fragmentation of the internet. Masahiko Tominaga, vice-minister for policy coordination (International Affairs) at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) in Japan, also said internet governance is falling behind the rapid changes. Anriette Esterhuysen, director of Global Policy and Strategy of the Association for Progressive Communications said that a number of things that are said about the internet are based on fantasy. The hopes and dreams of early innovators, such as the internet being a space “where you can be yourself,” gain knowledge and economic opportunities are not reflected in the reality of internet, which represents a world full of violence, disruption, and inequalities, she said. A governance framework is needed based on norms and principles, human rights, respect technical integrity, and tackle social challenges, she said. Cerf said the internet is merely the reflection of the “world we live in,” while Leuthard said civil laws are applicable in the cyber space. She said countries have to change the classical development cooperation. So far, she said, cooperation has been focused on old infrastructure but measures such as providing free wifi for all might be more efficient. Gabriel said a law cannot change human behaviour but the question remains which approach would provide the best results in matter of security, predictability, and durability. A legislative action can only serve as a catalyst, she said. Image Credits: Catherine Saez 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Internet Governance Forum Opening: Wish List For An Open, Trustworthy, Accessible Internet" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.