Internet Society Official On Internet Governance Challenges, Role In Solving Issues 20/12/2017 by Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments 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 views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. The Internet Society has participated in the Internet Governance Forum since its inception. Since then, the forum has been able to build trusted relationships with the different groups of stakeholders, but it should be able to attract more participants from all those groups of stakeholders, such as ministers and CEOs, according to Constance Bommalaer, senior director of Global Policy of the Internet Society. Bommalaer sat down with Intellectual Property Watch’s Catherine Saez in the margins of this week’s Internet Governance Forum in Geneva to explain the pressing issues of internet governance, such as the trust issue, and the internet of things, and the work of the Internet Society to bring tangible answers. Intellectual Property Watch (IPW): Can you describe the Internet Society? Constance Bommelaer de Leusse (CB): Internet Society was founded 25 years ago by Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet, initially to be the home of the IETF [the Internet Engineering Task Force], which produces standards for the internet. ISOC [Internet Society] then evolved to a broader mandate and we lead today on internet-related technology, policy, and development. We have been involved in the Internet Governance Forum since its inception and also in the broader internet governance discussion that led to the creation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Constance Bommelaer de Leusse IPW: Who are the ISOC members? CB: We have a broad and multi-stakeholder membership with over 100,000 individual members from all countries and all continents, and then we have what we call chapters. Chapters are associations, and we have about 120 chapters, one of which is in Switzerland. Then we have what we call organisational members who can be for profit or not, and it is what makes ISOC so special, this worldwide multi-stakeholder community. IPW: How is ISOC governed? CB: Each of those stakeholder groups which I just talked about is represented on the Board and then of course we also have Board members who act as liaisons to some of the technical bodies, including the IETF. IPW: What would you say are the most pressing issues of internet governance? CB: The agenda of the Internet Governance Forum really reflects what are the critical issues for us today. There is first of all a trust issue, trust in the technology. At the beginning of the year, the Internet Society published an important report on the future of the internet and it was a good time for us to reflect on the evolution on how the internet technology is perceived. We did hundreds of interviews and several surveys with hundreds of participants. In comparison to twenty years ago when we were engaging with our community where it was all about access for development, people were eager to get online, to be able to accelerate their economic growth, to join an online community, and experience some sort of social progress, we are seeing that there are a number of critical issues that are worrying people. There is an interesting survey on this issue by the NTIA [United States Commerce Department National Telecommunications & Information Administration], shortly after the Snowden story, which shows that people, even in developed countries, which are used to the technology, who need the technology, are now hesitant to fully use it because of some concerns: Am I being surveilled? What is the security of my devices? Who are companies sharing my data with? All sort of issues which show that people are much more cautious today. At the same time, the data shows that economic growth is more and more linked to internet access. If you look at the digital dividends report of the World Bank, it tells you that not only the ICT [information and communication technology) is growing, but the impact of internet technology on all industries, the role of the digital component in accelerating the economic growth is growing year after year. The encouraging part also is that in developing countries the link with ICTs between economic growth and internet technology is more important than in other parts of the world. We have this interesting balance between fears and hopes. IPW: This week, Kathy Brown, the CEO of ISOC, said that although internet governance is a multi-stakeholder effort, not all stakeholders go in the same direction. CB: One of the issues is to know who is in charge. The feeling from some stakeholders is that perhaps no one is holding the steering wheel, which is creating anxiety and confusion in some cases. Despite reaching critical milestones in internet governance, we see that the appetite from some governments to reassert what they call cyber sovereignty could also be a temptation to walk away from some of the benefits of the multi-stakeholder approach. I think this is what Kathy was saying. IPW: Does ISOC have a position on possible solutions to the challenges of internet governance? CB: ISOC is extremely active in this field. First of all, the way we can help with those discussions is methodology. We have a framework [pdf] that is called “Why the multi-stakeholder approach works” that explains the principles on which we think that any conversation on the internet should be based. There are questions of openness, transparency, and accessibility. Beyond the methodology, we have policy papers on the most pressing burning issues in the internet field and we have for example a paper on the internet of things, the fact that now the internet is not just reaching your mobile, devices, and your PC at home, but perhaps tomorrow your clothes will be connected, your ring, your watch, and who is controlling the privacy of the data that is circulating? What happens if there is a data breach? There are huge governance issues around the internet of things, as well as artificial intelligence, and the growing role of big data. Our role is to engage stakeholders, including governments, and to provide tangible solutions. IPW: In the 12 years since the first edition of the IGF, what changes have you seen? CB: Twelve years ago, the concept of “multi-stakeholder” brought a lot of questions. One of the positive evolutions is that the IGF has been able to build trusted relationships with the different stakeholder groups. People are comfortable coming here, they don’t fear what may happen, they don’t feel uncomfortable with the format of the conversation, which is quite exceptional. It is under the UN banner, but at the same time everybody has an equal say in how to organise the conversation. At the national/regional level, the conversation is very dynamic, but at the global level, some participants are looking for more cutting-edge issues, and we are seeing that despite efforts, you don’t have many CEOs here, and not many ministers. You have a lot of civil society and the technical community but we feel that in the coming years, one of the challenges will be to make sure we have the right level of participation in all the different stakeholder groups. IPW: What do you expect in manner of outcomes from this IGF, in the short and longer term? CB: In the short term, and this is something that we have been extremely involved in, helping the IGF deliver tangible outputs, such as documentation and policy tips that governments and industry leaders can take back home. A few years ago, we did not have anything coming out of the IGF, it was just a talk shop. The medium and long-term outcomes ideally for me would be that we continue having those multi-stakeholder bottom-up processes delivering non-binding best practices but with much more participation. The value of these outputs is in the fact that people use them. Think about the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], the OECD produces only recommendations, but their authority and the quality of their work is such that even countries outside of the OECD follow those recommendations. ISOC also has published a policy paper on artificial intelligence. IPW: Thank you. 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