ETNO, a leading European trade association representing forty of the largest electronic communications operators, welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the NetMundial meeting. The Brazil gathering is an excellent occasion to bring together all actors in the Internet governance space to discuss how best we can evolve the global governance model for the benefit of all, by building on its existing foundations and without endangering its growth, resilience and stability. We find it extremely encouraging that this debate will be based on a multi-stakeholder approach and will be held in an open and transparent manner, and we applaud the Brazilian Government for its leadership in organizing this meeting. Having been actively involved in the Internet governance debate across many different fora for many years, ETNO looks forward to contributing to this particular discussion.
Internet Governance Principles
ETNO fully supports the move towards a universal set of principles on Internet governance and for the NetMundial conference to address such an initiative. The process to conclude such a framework will undoubtedly be complex, as such principles may reflect values and values across different cultures tend to vary, however we see the process of developing a global set of principles as being an important step towards understanding the various stakeholderneeds and issues that we see emerging today. Although many argue that there can be no one global framework for the Internet nor one defined set of rules/norms, it is also the case that this lack of a normative reference architecture also significantly weakens any arguments against certain behaviours and can frustrate any debate around how to move forward with improvements. As constituents in different parts of the world grapple with current policy issues, different answers may emerge depending on different reference frameworks. One of the goals of the Brazil meeting should be recognition that these principles should be shared and considered as common principles by all stakeholders of the meeting.
ETNO believes that NetMundial should build on work that has been carried out by organisations such as the OECD and the European Commissionbut that the primary focus in Brazil should be on establishing Principles for the Governance of the Internet as opposed to General Internet Principles. This is an important difference that we wish to underline. Moreover, ‘few rather than many’ principles should be the guideline, if NetMundial wishes to see success and acknowledging the complexity of the task that we have before us. Global consensus on Internet Governance principles will be critically important for the restoration of trust and confidence of Internet users and to allow for the continued growth of the Internet.
Against this background, ETNO suggests the following as guiding Internet governance principles:
Further Evolution of the Internet Governance Model: Roadmap
ETNO believes that the roles and responsibilities of each participating Internet governance organisation and process should be made clear and, to the greatest extent possible, not be over-lapping. No one governance body should be seen as competing with another and all parts can be equal in contributing to the global Internet governance debate. We should have the ambition to have a system that clarifies which organisation has the authority to act on which subject matter, or which organisations collaborate with each other, and we believe this to be an important step in the roadmapping process. We also draw attention to the the European Commission’s plans to launch the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), which will serve as a valuable resource on Internet policy/regulation, actors and and technology, and better enable emerging economies in particular to engage on Internet governance and policy matters.
Democratically-elected governments are the representatives of the people and therefore their role in the development of public policy must be recognised. When it comes to high impact public policy issues such as the protection of privacy and the security of Internet users, Governments arguably have a leading role to play in navigating the debate with their citizens. However, in other areas such as standards setting and the development of technical protocols, the private sector should continue to take the lead. The checks and balances for such a governance model should come from a multi-stakeholder accountability mechanism for all actors involved in any decision making process.
Whilst the US Government’s oversight of the IANA functions has been a suitable model to date, ETNO believes that the ever increasing globalization of the Internet needs to be reflected in appropriate governance mechanism and institutions. A central part of that debate between all relevant stakeholders needs to be the question around whether the IANA functions should continue to be subject to an US Government procurement contract. ETNO very much welcomed the Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation which calls for “accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.” As such, we believe this to be an important topic for discussion in Brazil. Notwithstanding the need to consider a new model, ETNO also recognises the importance of continuing to ensure the stability and security of the Internet and the need for any alternative options to guarantee same.
Finally, and as business representatives, our primary interest is be to ensure that no new barriers to the growth of the Internet as a global platform for economic and social development are introduced as a result of the NetMundial discussions. Any outcomes of the Brazil meeting should seek to foster the continued development of the Internet and recognise its dynamic nature.