Google Submission for NET mundial Conference

Abstract

Google welcomes the opportunity to submit a contribution to the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NET mundial). Our company’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, and without a secure, stable, interoperable, resilient, and open Internet, there would be no Google. The Internet’s effects on economic growth, commerce, innovation and creativity are unprecedented. However, despite the significant positive impact of the Internet, its further development stands at a crossroads. The entire Internet community -- including governments, businesses, civil society, academic and technical experts, and individual users -- must continue working together if we want the Internet to remain an open, vibrant platform for innovation, growth, and the free exchange of ideas, and if we want to expand the reach of this technology to those who remain unconnected.

Document

Introduction

 

Google welcomes the opportunity to submit a contribution to the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NET mundial). Our company’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, and without a secure, stable, interoperable, resilient, and open Internet, there would be no Google.

 

The Internet’s effects on economic growth, commerce, innovation and creativity are unprecedented. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the Internet accounts for 21 percent of GDP growth in the last five years in developed countries, as well as in 30 surveyed developing countries. [1]

 

However, despite the significant positive impact of the Internet, its further development stands at a crossroads.  The entire Internet community -- including governments, businesses, civil society, academic and technical experts, and individual users -- must continue working together if we want the Internet to remain an open, vibrant platform for innovation, growth, and the free exchange of ideas, and if we want to expand the reach of this technology to those who remain unconnected.

 

Section 1: Internet Governance Principles

 

We believe that preserving and advancing open and consultative decision-making is essential to ensuring that global citizens are able to take advantage of this transformative platform both now and in the future. As such, we support the following principles:

 

* Policies should ensure a safe, secure, open, interoperable, and resilient Internet.

 

* Policies should support opening and maintaining international markets in a way that allows for the seamless flow of digital services, applications, products, and information, particularly across national borders.

 

* Policies should foster innovation.

 

* Policies should support capacity building and implementation of best practices in relation to network security.

 

* Policies should recognize that individual human rights apply online just as they do offline.

 

* Policies should promote expanding access to the Internet so that it reaches all citizens across the globe.

 

A governance structure that honors the substantive principles above should also include certain procedural characteristics:

 

* Governance structures should be open, transparent, and accountable to all stakeholders. All members of the Internet community -- whether individual users, governments, civil society, businesses, and members of the academic and technical community -- have an interest in preserving the Internet as a critical platform for communication and information exchange, and therefore all stakeholders should be included in governance discussions. Moreover, all of these stakeholders have contributed to the development of the Internet to date, and working together, they have driven unprecedented growth in access to, uses of, and innovation on the Internet. They must continue to be involved in any future model of Internet governance.

 

At Google, we see these principles as a natural extension of our company’s philosophy, in which we recognize the need to focus on Internet users first, the need for information that crosses all borders, and the power of the web to empower global citizens.

 

We believe that there is broad agreement on the high level principles we have articulated here, and we support additional work on and discussion of universal principles.  The work on establishing Internet principles should continue as an ongoing process, and NETmundial should not measure its success or failure by agreement -- or lack thereof -- on a new, universal set of principles. Indeed, there may never be a “constitutional moment” for the Internet, but our goal should be ensuring alignment on principles by all stakeholders. [2]

 

Section 2. Roadmap for the Further Evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem

 

The Current System

 

Because Internet governance is multifaceted -- spanning technical, political, and policy issues -- there is no single organization that manages or has jurisdiction over all Internet policy questions; instead, the Internet’s policies and protocols have rapidly evolved through a set of diverse organizations.  Together, a robust set of multistakeholder Internet institutions, each with different core functions and strengths, address nearly all Internet policy and technical issues.

 

A few such examples include:

 

* The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which develops global standards and protocols;

 

* The Internet Corporation for Assigned of Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the global system for Internet naming, numbering, and addressing;

 

* The Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which brings together academia, governments, civil society, and industry as a means of fostering the discussion of critical Internet issues; and

 

* The Internet Society (ISOC), a technical organization, which seeks to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.

 

While these organizations each address a significant number of issues, the Internet governance framework’s inherent flexibility also enables issue-specific organizations to play useful roles in addressing critical questions. A few of these specialized groups include:

 

* The Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group and Stop Badware, both global member-driven organization that works collaboratively to address various forms of messaging abuse (such as spam, viruses, denial-of-service attacks and other messaging exploitations) through industry collaboration, technology, and public policy initiatives;

 

* The Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), which brings together a variety of computer security incident response teams from government, commercial, and educational organizations and aims to foster cooperation and coordination in incident prevention and incident response and to promote information sharing among members and the community at-large;

 

* Global Computer Incident Response Teams (CIRTs), multistakeholder organizations responsible for leading efforts to improve cybersecurity online, coordinate cyber information sharing, and proactively manage cyber risks; and

 

* The Alliance for Affordable Internet, which brings together governments, civil society, and the private sector to promote policy changes that enable affordable Internet access.

 

Today, we face two significant challenges.  First, we must make the organizations that address Internet governance questions -- whether they are technical or policy-oriented -- more inclusive and transparent while at the same time ensuring their continued effectiveness in solving new challenges in an ever changing world.  Second, we must tackle the challenge of connecting the rest of the globe to the Internet.  

 

Increasing Inclusivity, Transparency, and Accountability in Existing Organizations

 

Google has pursued a number of initiatives to improve existing Internet governance organizations. Below we include just a few examples of such work:

 

* Internet Governance Forum: Google believes that the UN-chartered Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is the premier forum for robust and inclusive debate of key Internet governance and global Internet policy issues.  It is the only forum that brings together all stakeholders to discuss these issues.  However, the IGF is at a critical stage: it is in desperate need of consistent funding in order to continue operating, and it could be strengthened by further improving transparency regarding its operations and broadening its efforts to reach new stakeholders.  We support efforts to ensure the IGF’s sustainability and to improve its inclusivity, transparency, and accountability.

 

* Facilitating discussions between policymakers and the technical community: Google supports meetings of regional operators groups (e.g., AfNOG, MENOG), regional Internet registries (e.g., AfriNIC) and regional peering and interconnection fora (AfPIF).  We have also worked with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to make it easier for regulators from across the globe to participate in IETF meetings and better understand the bottom up, multi-stakeholder process of Internet standards development.

 

Expanding Internet Access

 

Google is committed to working with all stakeholders on the technology, policy, and business solutions for improving Internet access. We have made significant investments in a number of areas.

 

* Innovative solutions for increasing broadband access and decreasing its cost: There is no single technology or platform that will achieve global connectivity, and we are working on several different projects.  Project Loon, our early-stage effort to deliver broadband via high-altitude balloons, is one of many exploratory initiatives aimed at connecting remote and hard-to-reach localities.  We have also invested in Project Link, a fiber network in Kampala, Uganda, that aims to improve Internet access by connecting existing, local networks to the undersea cables that, in turn, connect the Internet between continents.  Similarly, Google has long advocated that unused channels in the television broadcast spectrum -- called “white spaces” -- be used to deliver low-cost broadband in unserved and underserved areas.  To that end, we have developed a database to make this spectrum available for the transmission of broadband. 

 

* The African School on Internet Governance: Last July, Google sponsored the first African School on Internet Governance in Durban, South Africa.  The School brought together government officials, technical experts, academics and business leaders, and highlighted the inherent power of the multi-stakeholder model by incorporating all these views in the development of strategies for using the Internet as a platform for economic, social, political, and cultural development.

 

* Driving demand for locally relevant content: Online content drives Internet adoption.  To that end, we have worked with local businesses across the globe to help them establish an online presence. Not only does this effort contribute to locally relevant content, it allows small businesses to grow their revenues by expanding to a broader, potentially global, audience.  We have also made significant achievements in localizing Google content for national audiences: for example, in Africa alone, we have developed localized country domains for over 30 countries and provide content in 37 languages.  In addition, we have expended considerable efforts to put the world’s cultural treasures online with such initiatives as the Google Cultural Institute, which has put the collections of over 400 leading museums online to date.

 

We offer these illustrative examples as ways that we are tackling two critical challenges facing the Internet community. Of course, it will take more work in the coming months and years from a variety of stakeholders to order to meet these challenges.

 

The Path Forward

 

There has never been a single road, no single “one stop shop” for Internet governance; instead, there are are multiple organizations and actors that all contribute to Internet governance development. The Internet’s rules have rapidly evolved in diverse organizations like the IETF, which cooperates on the development of open standards, or ICANN, which manages naming and addressing. Of course, governments are heavily involved in regulating the Internet through regulations addressing privacy, fair use, libel, competition, and other matters. The technology community is spread across many sectors and its work creates implicit and sometimes explicit bounds on behavior. And many individuals and civil society organizations engage to provide independent perspectives on behalf of users. These are just a few examples, and amazingly, all these groups collaborate with each other to set collective rules for the advancement of the Internet ecosystem.

 

In sum, the Internet governance ecosystem is complex in a way that reflects the social, political, and business contentions of the world in which we live. One of the early heads of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), David Clark (with others) summarized some of the governance challenges by observing that “as the Internet becomes mainstream it inevitably moves from being an engineering curiosity to being a mirror of the societies in which it operates.”  This is even more true today.

 

The Internet community does not lack for places to discuss key Internet policy and governance questions.  Rather, a critical concern voiced by some stakeholders is that the rubric of organizations and overlapping missions is confusing and difficult to navigate without considerable time and effort.  While these concerns are valid, they do not necessarily counsel in favor of directing all Internet policy discussions into one body.  Rather, we must find a way to take advantage of the richness of the ecosystem while making it easier to navigate, especially for new entrants.

 

As such, as Internet policy discussions continue to evolve, we believe stakeholders should continue to rely on the existing structures to develop global policies that benefit all users rather than relying on either the creation of another governance body or on multilateral approaches.  To make the processes easier to navigate, we believe that one way to approach to the development of a “roadmap” requires us look at the map through the lens of the Internet’s technical architecture.  In particular, the Internet’s “layered model” provides a way to understand the ecosystem.  The technical layer deals with the Internet’s infrastructure, standards, routing protocols.  On top of the technical layer are the content and social layers, within which the applications and services of the Internet are found.  Although there are different ways to think about the layered system, we believe the conceptualization of the Internet in these layers helps provide a basis for a discussion about which institutions and stakeholder groups should be involved in which Internet policy issues, and within which “layers” they operate. [3]

 

The whole Internet ecosystem is likely to benefit from mapping the existing Internet governance institutions and clarifying their roles as stewards for particular Internet governance practices and policy-making. Doing so can also help identify the areas or issues that are not yet addressed within the ecosystem and help identify areas that require further attention.

 

Conclusion

 

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss these proposals and others with representatives from governments, the private sector, civil society, and the technical community in Sao Paulo.  And, we look forward to working together with all stakeholders in moving toward a shared goal: continued, robust growth of an open Internet that enables economic development, cultural advancement, and the free exchange of ideas and information to every nation and person on the globe.

 

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Footnotes

 

[1]  Internet Matters: The net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity, available at http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/MGI/Research/Technology_and_Innovation/Internet_matters.

 

[2] SeeVinton G. Cerf (Chair) et al., “ICANN’s Role in the Internet Governance Ecosystem,” Report of the ICANN Strategy Panel, February 20, 2014, available at http://goo.gl/D60sJw.

 

[3] For further detailed on the layered model in policymaking, see Cerf/Ryan/Senges, “Internet Governance is our Shared Responsibility, available at  http://ssrn.com/abstract=2309772 and Whitt, “A Deference to Protocol,” available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2031186.



 

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