Involve global stakeholders in Internet Governance, say top Internet women
In February 2014, influential women in Internet governance were asked to identify the single greatest opportunity facing Internet governance today. This is what they said.
I am a member of a region where women don’t always have a voice and even when they voice their views, they rarely get heard. The multistakeholder Internet governance model has given women in my community the opportunity to voice their views and ideas. It has made them actively participate in Internet governance issues in a way that enables them to be heard and make a difference for posterity. The single greatest opportunity is to be heard and have your view considered.
The evolution of the IGF into a truly multistakeholder space where all stakeholders can participate on an equal footing and whether this is in actual fact the case (which is another conversation).
The heightened global attention to Internet governance creates a moment of opportunity to promote international cooperation to preserve a secure, free, and open Internet and to refine multistakeholder approaches that adequately reflect the operational reality of a complex, diverse, and multilayered ecosystem of Internet coordination and administration.
One of the greatest opportunities we must seize now is to restore digital trust among stakeholders and protect human rights online, such as the rights to privacy and access to the Internet.
Trust has to be restored on many levels: institutional, operational and legal. Examples include: ongoing review of judicial oversight mechanisms to restore trust following the NSA revelations; the meaning of corporate responsibility; the necessary changes on a technical and operational level such as working harder to strengthen the Internet and its protocols.
By restoring trust among the stakeholders and users we would eventually enable the cooperation and allow the Internet institutions and the Internet governance roadmap to evolve better.
The greatest opportunity is the multistakeholder model with all the opportunities and good principles it offers:
I expect 2014 to be a watershed year for the multistakeholder model for Internet policymaking. Last year, the I Stars, the leaders of the Internet technical community, came together to spearhead an international campaign to craft Internet governance principles and to propose a roadmap for the further evolution of Internet governance. In December, a High Level Panel on global Internet governance convened in London to study these issues and provide thoughts on the evolution of Internet governance. The group will be issuing a draft report in early March, which then leads into a meeting the Brazilian governments is hosting in April, which it is calling the global multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet governance.
Later in the year, Minister Ed Vaizey of the United Kingdom will host a high-level ministerial meeting in connection with the ICANN meeting in London at which these issues will be discussed. Then, in late summer, the Internet governance Forum in Istanbul, Turkey will provide an additional opportunity for global discussions.
I am somewhat hopeful that these developments will ultimately reinforce support for the multistakeholder model and contribute to its positive evolution.
The greatest opportunity is the wide stakeholder awareness of Internet governance in the wake of the WCIT. For example, within the ICANN community, more domain name registries and registrars are now interested in the wider Internet governance dialogue. The newer stakeholders entering the discussions generally haven’t yet built up a history of antagonisms with those of opposing views and don’t have preconceived notions of what the “correct” solutions to Internet governance issues should be. As stakeholders with fresh, flexible perspectives on Internet governance, these newer entrants to the discussions may help to move Internet governance discussions in more constructive directions.
Harmonisation of gTLDs and ccTLDs policies, especially in relation to policies pertaining to consumer protection or user behavior on the Internet (such as intellectual property, privacy and free speech). Through the new gTLD program, I see governments (through the GAC) trying to influence policy or policy outcome in these areas within the ICANN framework but their arguments cannot be persuasive nor could their efforts be effective if the “artificial” demarcation between gTLDs and ccTLDs is maintained because of the borderless nature of the Internet.
Some people seem to see the Internet governance debate as binary: ICANN vs ITU; multi-stakeholder model vs intergovernmental model; good vs evil. I think such view is over-simplistic. ICANN does not have a monopoly over multi-stakeholder governance model and one would even question whether ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model is in form only or in substance. We should be more open minded and closely examine pros and cons of different governance models (depending on policy issues/topics) and maybe a hybrid or new model or new entity can be developed or created.
The increased attention to Internet issues in the media could lead to more meaningful engagement and informed discussion about the future of the Internet.
Getting the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders properly understood so that appropriate participation by all is enabled.
To open a broader dialogue that includes new voices from all stakeholders, specially from developing countries, making the IG process really international.
The greatest opportunity facing Internet governance is the inclusion of more civic society forces and Internet activists in this effort. Bodies like the Global Commission on Internet Governance as well as more activist-oriented entities like Global Voice all carry a promise of more citizen inclusion rather than governments inclusion. This is aided by the sky-rocketing interest in the Internet itself in previously poorly connected areas such as the MENA region following the string of uprisings and revolutions that shook that area since 2011.
Increasing the inclusion of the small and mid sized countries from Latin America, Africa, Caribbean to bring in participation from stakeholders, including governments, in more numbers, and in more sustainable engagement to existing Internet Governance fora.
Build and strengthen the IGF itself, with resources, enhancements, and new participants — from all stakeholders. [Note I did not say ‘governments’ but countries]. Stakeholders in all these countries are building the Internet, the uses of WWW / apps, and bringing forward the concerns of their users — whether as citizens, businesses, or NGOs / Civil Society / Academia. A profound influx of stable, supported participation from these countries in the existing fora — from all stakeholder groups — will strengthen, broaden, and hopefully, increase support at a national level for such approaches. It is not enough to have international and global fora with participation from all stakeholders….
Just as all politics are local, all multistakeholder engagement has to also be local.
The billions of new users coming online! From every continent, they will bring their views, concerns, life stories, political hopes, reform ideas, scientific and technical innovations, creativity and inspiration to the Internet. If we allow them to share freely, we all will benefit and grow from their views.
The ease with which information is received and shared all over the internet cannot be ignored.
The opportunity the Internet itself creates; the chance to get inside other people’s heads and find out how they think. International site EverydaySexism serves up real-life examples every day of how even the most ‘progressive’ countries have a long way to go on equality. And Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog at The Atlantic gives an idea of what it is like to be a black man in America. Human curiosity, intellect and empathy make us hungry to live more lives than the one we have, and the Internet lets us do that. I’d like to see us applying those qualities more to how we actually govern it.
In the case of Africa, the Internet holds enormous promises for sustainable development, wealth creation and greater improvements in democracy, governance and human rights. Broadband Internet access is fundamental in content creation and unleashing the creativity, innovation and the sharing Ubuntu Spirit of Africa!
The greatest opportunities for the Internet lie in its ability to be a vehicle for innovation, knowledge and democratisation. Therein lies an enormous potential to reduce inequalities, increase communication and access to knowledge, and empower individuals around the world. If we manage to, in a responsible and wise manner, support the growth of the Internet to the parts of the world that are not connected today, we will enable a brighter future to many more million people in the world. To me, this is what makes the Internet such an exciting place!
One great opportunity could certainly be if we were able to break free of the nation state centric rhetoric, and for legislators and executives to focus on genuine cooperation around the organisations that do standardisation and other things. If that happened, we wouldn’t necessarily have many problems. Simple problem to fix in theory!
The greatest opportunity is to create global standards and equality and prepare the world for the environment in which we will all eventually manage the majority of our communication, operations and engagement.
The opportunity is to continue to ensure the UK is the safest place to trade by improving our collective action to proactively address cyber criminality
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Emily Taylor is the CEO of Oxford Information Labs. She is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House and is the Editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy and co-founder of ICANN accredited registrar, Oxford Information Labs.
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