Towards an open, free and robust Internet for the future

Abstract

In order to keep the Internet free, open and robust, we believe in a vision that maintains a strong multistakeholder approach that takes into account representations from diverse sectors of the world community. We believe in an approach that keeps the Internet as a network with a global mission and a global perspective without jeopardizing security and privacy of its users. Hereby, we present the points that we feel strongly about for Internet governance principles and the road-map for the future.

Document

March 5, 2014

 

1) Internet Governance Principles

 

ISOC-Yemen and ISOC-BD welcome the opportunity to participate in the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance.  As organizations concerned with expanding Internet access and promoting a strong, open and resilient Internet, we rely on an open, stable, secure, resilient, and interoperable Internet every day.  We believe that preserving the multistakeholder model of Internet governance is essential to ensuring that global citizens are able to take advantage of this transformative platform both now and in the future.

 

Below we highlight some high level principles for Internet governance going forward.  We believe that these principles will both allow the global Internet community to preserve the open Internet for the billions who currently rely on it in their daily lives, and bring its advantages to the 5 billion people who are presently unconnected.

 

Substantive Principles: Any Model of Internet Governance Should Promote the Following Principles.

 

● The world deserves the access to knowledge, services, commerce, and communication, the accompanying benefits to economic development, education, and health care, and the informed discussion that the Internet provides.  Governance should promote expanding access to broadband networks so that these benefits can reach all of the world’s citizens.          

 

● The Internet’s importance as a platform for commerce, for education, for information and knowledge sharing, for self-expression, and for organization and assembly, depends on the global free flow of information.  Any model for governance must promote this free flow of information.

 

● Governance should promote the ability to innovate, to develop technical capacity, and to create and take advantage of economic opportunities.  To achieve this end, any model of Internet governance must promote the open, distributed, interoperable, and interconnected nature of the Internet.

 

● Because the Internet is an integral part of the global economy, its security, stability, and resiliency must be preserved.

 

● Individuals should be able to exercise their human rights, both online and offline.

 

● Governments should recognize limitations on their ability to collect information on Internet users based on users’ reasonable privacy interests and the impact on trust in the Internet.

 

Governance Principles: Any Model of Internet Governance Should Have the Following Characteristics.

 

● All stakeholders -- individual users, governments, civil society, businesses, and members of the academic and technical community -- have a stake in preserving the Internet as a critical platform for communication and information exchange, and therefore all stakeholders should be included in governance decisions.  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.

 

● Any policy-making associated with the Internet must promote openness, transparency, and accountability, and must be grounded in respect for the rule of law.

 

 

2) Roadmap for the Further Evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem

 

 

Introduction

 

ISOC-Yemen and ISOC-BD thank the Brazilian government, CGI.br, and the Executive Multistakeholder Committee for the opportunity to participate in the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance.  The Internet and the World Wide Web have generated an unprecedented explosion in commerce and creativity.  According to a May 2011 study by the McKinsey Global Institute (“Internet Matters: The net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity”), nearly eight trillion dollars of online commerce occurs each year through e-commerce.  The same report states that the Internet accounts for 21 percent of gross domestic product growth in the last five years in mature countries, and that the benefits are not reserved for Internet companies – in fact, 75 percent of Internet economic impact benefits companies that are not pure Internet players.

 

A March 2012 report by the Boston Consulting Group – entitled “The Internet Economy in the G-20:  The $4.2 Trillion Growth Opportunity” – provides policy makers more data about the impact of the Internet on economic growth and job creation.  According to the report, Internet-savvy small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) across eleven of the G-20 countries have experienced 22 percent higher revenue growth over the last three years than comparable businesses with no Internet usage.  The report also found that SMEs that have an Internet presence generate more jobs.  In Germany, for example, 93 percent of companies that were heavy users of the Internet and web services increased employment over the past three years, compared with only 50 percent of their offline competitors.

 

Despite the significant positive impact of the Internet on the world’s economy, this transformative technology stands at a crossroads.  Some governments want to replace the existing multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, through which governments, civil society, industry, the engineering community, and users all recognize a shared responsibility and role in the continued advancement of the Internet.  These governments instead are advancing a regulatory approach that strengthens their role at the expense of other stakeholders -- effectively excluding those who have conceptualized, built, operated, and contributed to the Internet’s success. 

 

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.

 

Issue Statement

 

In recent years, some governments have argued that a multilateral, rather than a multistakeholder, model for Internet governance would better serve public policy objectives.   The multi-stakeholder model approach to Internet governance and technical management has allowed the Internet to grow and flourish into the critical global platform it is today, and we believe it will continue to best serve Internet users far into the future.

 

However, there are two main challenges before us.  The first challenge is ensuring the Internet governance model continues to evolve in a manner that allows all stakeholders to have a voice in critical policy discussions.  The Internet is expected to serve 90-95% of the world’s population by 2030.  Uses of the Internet continue to grow and diversify.

 

Second, all actors have a common interest in the security, stability, and interoperability of the overall infrastructure.  However, no one actor or organization has the capacity to address all of the various public policy and technical issues impacting the Internet and its users.  Further to this point, Internet technology and the ways in which people use the is advancing at such a rapid pace that any regulation imposed on the system would never be able to keep up and remaining effective over the long term. This means the rubric of organizations that currently make up the Internet governance process are both multifaceted and narrow in mission and scope and also nimble in order to meet both the demands of today and the needs of tomorrow.  Therefore, no one organization can address or should address every concern related to global Internet policy.  While this arrangement creates resiliency and brings needed expertise to any decision, it can be confusing to navigate.  Therefore, the current governance structure could do a better job in assisting stakeholders in navigating the various organizations and entities that address particular issues.

 

Existing Internet Governance Bodies or Fora Tackling These Issues

 

Because Internet governance is multifaceted -- spanning technical, political, and policy issues -- there is no single organization that manages or has jurisdiction over all Internet governance 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 the Assignment 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 or critical Internet issues; and

 

● The Internet Society (ISOC), to which we as chapters are affiliate, 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.

 

The above are a few examples of the high-level organizations whose missions cover a wide range of technical and policy issues; however, because of the Internet governance process’ inherent flexibility, it is able to adapt to the changing Internet environment.  In several situations, issue-specific organizations have developed over time to address key Internet issues.  A few examples include:

 

● The Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), which is a 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, to stimulate rapid reaction to incidents, and to promote information sharing among members and the community at-large; and

 

● Global Computer Incident Response Teams (CERTs), which are global organizations responsible for leading efforts to improve cybersecurity online, coordinate cyber information sharing, and proactively manage cyber risks.

 

When a cyber incident occurs, it often happens in real time and across borders and the response needs to be coordinated and immediate, which is why the inherent flexibility within the Internet governance process is so critical.  The attacks may be sophisticated, and require special subject-matter expertise to understand and counter.  Global cybersecurity mandates imposed through governments are not an effective response to the dynamic threats posed by cyberattacks.  Cybersecurity attacks such as the Conficker Botnet or the Stuxnet Virus required private sector actors, academic researchers, governments and NGOs to work together in close coordination to combat these attacks.

 

As Internet policy discussions become more global in nature, 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 means.

 

Areas for Improvement

 

As is demonstrated above, there are numerous organizations that manage Internet policy and technical issues.  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.

 

In that vein, we believe the definition of Internet governance that was coined in 2005 at the close of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in the Tunis Agenda is important to note:

 

Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.

 

This definition, endorsed, at the time, by more than 180 governments, set the path for how stakeholders can engage in the Internet governance process.  The cornerstones of the Tunis Agenda mirror the decentralized, open, and collaborative nature of the Internet itself:

 

● Multilateral: There is no single entity “in charge” of Internet governance. Instead, governments, industry, and civil society work together.

 

● Transparent: Policy processes should be open and clearly articulated to all.

 

● Democratic: The development of Internet governance arrangements should enable full and equal participation of all stakeholders. Unlike traditional intergovernmental processes that put strict limits on what can be on the agenda, Internet governance issues are raised from the bottom-up and solved through self-organizing, consensus-driven arrangements.

 

It is incumbent on participants within the current governance model to bring new stakeholders whose voices may not be effectively heard into the conversation.

 

Increased outreach, capacity building and training for regulators.  While many if not all of the technical meetings are inclusive of all participants, the majority of the meetings historically have taken place in the developed world and their processes can be difficult to grasp as a newcomer.  We applaud recent efforts undertaken by the IETF and ISOC at increasing the global reach of their meetings as well as offering fellowships to engineers and policymakers from the developing world.  We would support similar efforts in this space in other fora as these present important opportunities to engage thought leaders globally.

 

Increase and diversify newcomer sessions.  International organizations should make it easier for newer participants to meaningfully engage in their processes.  To do this, these organizations should offer training and newcomer sessions both at their physical meetings and remotely as a means of introducing more people to the organizations and encouraging them to participate in critical Internet governance debates.

 

Improve transparency and accountability.  Multilateral organizations whose missions touch the Internet (e.g., UNESCO, OECD, UN, and ITU) should provide better transparency and accountability in their decision-making processes and how the overall decisions impact the Internet. All Internet governance institutions should strive to make relevant governance and policy documents available to all stakeholders at no cost.Participation in board and governance meetings of Internet governance organizations should be open whenever possible.  For many participants, it is difficult and often cost-prohibitive to attend meetings in person.  For that reason, Internet governance institutions should strive to improve remote participation opportunities.

 

How These Improvements Address the Noted Concerns

 

The suggestions above would serve three principal goals:

 

● They will make the existing Internet governance institutions more accessible to new participants.

 

● They will help all stakeholders in navigating the complex interplay between the various organizations that have a role in Internet governance

 

● They will help ensure that all Internet governance institutions operate transparently and openly, facilitating meaningful participation, and accountability to all stakeholders.

 

Conclusion

 

 

We believe that the existing system of governance for the Internet is effective and inclusive, and for this reason, it should continue to be improved and reinforced. This bottom-up process dates back to the beginnings of the Internet, whose founders believed that openness would be more secure and encourage innovation. The Internet governance model allows for the representation of all stakeholders - governments, engineers, businesses, academics, and civil society – and ensures all participants to have a voice in the continued evolution and growth of the Internet. 

 

Walid Al-Saqaf of ISOC-Yemen & Jahangir Hossain of ISOC-BD

 



 

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