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Internet Governance: Challenges, Issues, and Roles

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No. 152 Internet Governance: Challenges, Issues, and Roles

Propose's Nationality: UNITED STATES

Proposer's Country of Residence: UNITED STATES

Nationality of Organisation UNITED STATES

IGF 2014 sub theme that this workshop fall under

IGF & The Future of the Internet Ecosystem


The growing complexity and significance of Internet governance necessitates addressing the difficult issues that impact, or are impacted by the continued evolution of the global Internet. Capturing these issues requires that the roles played by intergovernmental, and governmental stakeholders in collaboration with Internet technical professionals, private sector businesses and other non-governmental stakeholders be better understood. Successfully dealing with these all-important Internet governance aspects requires connecting several, sometimes-disparate areas of technology, policy, development and civil society to work on solutions and act in concert to ensure collaborative stewardship of the Internet continues.

Each panel member will provide an opening statement regarding the challenges and issues they see with the changing Internet Governance landscape as well as the roles that everyone, including governments, have in the multistakeholder process.

An open discussion will follow with the Moderator providing questions for the discussion.

Specifically, the panel will be asked to address the following questions during the open and interactive discussion:
• The Internet is expanding exponentially - Who is responsible for identifying the Internet governance knowledge gap among the different stakeholder groups?

• What can be done to bridge the Internet governance knowledge gap in terms of resourcing, scaling, and awareness building?

• How should these knowledge gap issues, and discussion be used to improve the global Internet openness and collaborative multistakeholder engagement?

• Where there are issues that may disrupt the roles of existing stakeholders, how should consensus on key principles or outcomes be reached for solutions that benefit the global Internet rather than special interests?

• How should market-specific challenges or issues that are particular to a local community be approached for the global Internet to continue its innovative contributions?

Name(s) and stakeholder and organizational affiliation(s) of institutional co-organizer(s)

Internet Society

Has the proposer, or any of the co-organizers, organized an IGF workshop before?


The link to the workshop report


Type of session


Duration of proposed session


Subject matter #tags that describe the workshop

#Governance, #Challenges, #Roles, #Issues, #Disputes

Names and affiliations (stakeholder group, organization) of speakers the proposer is planning to invite

Markus Kummer
Internet Society
Civil Society

Suzanne Woolf
Internet Technical Community

Marilia Maciel (Invited)
Researcher and coordinator, Center for Technology and Society of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (CTS/FGV)
Civil Society

George Sadowsky
Internet Technical Community

Barrack Otieno
Internet Technical Community

Ambassador Benedicto Fonseca (Invited)
Director of the Department of Scientific and Technological Affairs of the Ministry of External Relation

Towela Nyirenda-Jere (Invited)
NEPAD e-Africa Programme
African Union

William Drake
University of Zurich
Civil Society

Petko Kantchev (Invited)

Name of Moderator(s)

Markus Kummer

Name of Remote Moderator(s)

Karen Mulberry

Description of how the proposer plan to facilitate discussion amongst speakers, audience members and remote participants

It can be difficult to address emerging Internet governance issues if there is a lack of understanding about the problem, incomplete agreement about the steps required to address it, or insufficient support from all stakeholders. The growing complexity and significance of the Internet governance environment necessitates framing and then addressing these difficult governance issues. A taxonomy approach that identifies the issues, captures the various aspects and characteristics of the issue and then identifies the roles and stakeholders is what is needed for a successful engagement and discussion is important in identifying and understanding the issues that are not being addressed elsewhere.

Description of the proposer's plans for remote participation

Some panel members may participate via remote participation.

Questions from remote participants will also be sought and encouraged to add to the dynamic interaction on Internet Governance and the need to address the issues that are not being address elsewhere.

This will be an open discussion and remote participants will be encouraged to interact with the panel members and those who are attending the workshop in person.

Background paper

No background paper provided

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions

The panel focused on the growing complexity and significance of Internet governance addressing the difficult issues that impact, or are impacted by the continued evolution of the global Internet. The panel members discussed the varying means that can be used to capture the issues and map the roles played by all stakeholders (e.g. governments, Internet technical community, private sector businesses and other non-governmental stakeholders) to understand the gaps and steps needed to address those gaps in the broader Internet Governance debate.

Markus Kummer opened the panel discussion by noting that capacity building has become all the more urgent as the Internet evolves, and there are various issues that need to be addressed to ensure that the stewardship of the Internet continues using the multistakeholder model as the guide for inclusion. He also noted the need to address the knowledge gap to make sure that all participants in the debate are at the same level of knowledge and understanding.

Jovan Kurbalija, Phd – (Director of the DiploFoundation and head of Geneva Internet Platform) introduced the first result of data mining exercise that Diplo preformed on 21 statements at the IGF opening sessions that were delivered the day before the workshop. The data mining in this case is useful as it reflects the current situation of Internet governance capacity building that we have today. There's quite a high level of optimism. At least in the IGF circles that we have a chance to do something new. There are new possibilities. And sometimes low level of realism. And especially realism in the sense of understanding what's going on outside the relatively limited circle of those involved in Internet governance on a daily basis. This raises a key concern as to how other people are seeing Internet governance. Here the news is mixed. There is a general appreciation of the high relevance of Internet governance. But very often the perception is that people are left out. That they don't have enough means of awareness or capacity. Not necessarily just the capacity of understanding what's going on, but also time-wise capacity and resources to follow so many processes. The main challenge is to close the gap between possibility to participate and reality of participating. Another challenge is to provide knowledge and skills for participation, along with resource to close the gap between possibility to participate and the reality of participating.

Marília Maciel (Center for Technology & Society - FGV Law School) highlighted three pieces from NETmundial that paved the way properly for a constant evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem. First is the Internet governance framework and how the output of NetMundial makes it clear that the option is a distributed model for Internet governance. The second point is about the role of stakeholder groups. As NetMundial sets forth the understanding that the role of the stakeholder groups depends on the issue, depends on the policy under discussion and of the different roles of stakeholders. And the third element is about knowledge. There are some elements in the outcome document that would be very important for us to develop into more solid knowledge and to have a level playing field between different actors when they discuss Internet governance. The document elevates distributed Internet governance as a principle that should underpin our whole idea of how the ecosystem should develop. However the community as a whole using the multistakeholder model has made a clear distinction in NETmundial taking into account two concerns of actors when they talk about centralized models of Internet governance. There are two important concerns that underlie these proposals. One of them is the difficulty to have access to information, and the second point is the lack of resources to follow the topics. NETmundial provides a step-by-step guide to implement a distributed model from issue identification to solution mapping to solution formulation to real implementation. It would be interesting, indeed, to institutionalize something as a clearinghouse that could keep the sort of focal point for actors that are looking for information can go and find the information they need and kind of understand in this very broad and complex ecosystem where they should go when they want to discuss a certain topic. The main problem is not lack of information its ways to cross this information and to make sure that information that is crossed becomes solid knowledge, knowledge that is useful for policy development. Internet governance is a distributed model, that creates additional efforts for participation and curbing these problems is something that we should be focusing on the next year.

Myla V. Pilao Trend Micro Research and Development Center - subject matter expert on the area of security. When the company was put together, the main vision was to make sure that as we exchange our digital information, it should be safe, it should be well navigated and it should be very secured. She identified how we see security as sort of affecting how we do business, how we communicate as well as the structures and possible policy that need to be adopted given that as we mature as users and consumers of the Internet alongside that maturity we have also seen in the security industry how attackers, people behind the underground community have also mobilized themselves in terms of advancing their threat campaigns. So sort of put a little bit perspective in here coming in from that particular industry. As a global community we have crossed the chasm of communication and even the way we exchange and transfer information is hard; we have crossed the chasm and entered an area where everything seems to be seamless. The Internet has brought a lot of things to us, a lot of goodness. But sadly there's the other side of the world where they are here and they will be here to disrupt that business that we have all come to protect and secure.

Manu K. Bhardwaj, (Senior Advisor at the State Department's Office of Communications and Information Policy) noted that was his fourth IGF and partly this is an opportunity for him to reflect upon these past four years, particularly these Internet governance discussions with other participants. The first trend line in Internet governance is now a discussion that's occurring at the level of Heads of State. We have Heads of State that are talking about Internet governance. NETmundial was convened by President Rousseff; the President of Estonia has also expressed a huge interest. That's changed the landscape for diplomatic relations on these issues and in some ways it provides it a lot more momentum and support. The second trend line is the IGF is emerging as the venue for discussion of all Internet-related public policy issues. It enjoys significant support from probably most of us, if not all of us here at this year's IGF. And that support is growing with every year, every passing year. We're also finding that governments are stepping up to host the IGF - governments we wouldn't typically think are supporters of Internet freedom or Internet governance multistakeholder approaches and that is in some ways a very positive sign for the future of the IGF. The third trend line is that we're now at a point where we're looking to see how these multistakeholder organizations can grapple with real concerns that are emerging about misuse of the Internet. So the question before us now is how will multistakeholder organizations find solutions to some of these misuses of the of Internet. And during her opening remarks Department of State Undersecretary Kathy Novelli noted these various misuses of the Internet noting cybersecurity, spam, these various issues and noting also and emphasizing these multistakeholder organizations and it's technology that can allow us to find solutions to these problems. Following the successful NETmundial discussion one of the elements there is that it showed that multistakeholder organizations can yield an outcome document, they can yield something tangible going forward however there is still a lot of progress to be made to the continue the positive evolution that we have seen for the multistakeholder model and multistakeholder approaches for the IGF and for all of these different organizations and institutions. The recommendations at NETmundial were also very, very positive and it showed just how much support there is for the multistakeholder model.

Manu noted that there are really four major trend lines that we have seen now emerge in these past four years. One is the senior level participation that's occurring on Internet governance. Second is the fact that almost all parties now view the IGF as the venue for discussion of Internet related public policy issues. Third is the opportunity to demonstrate that multistakeholder organizations can develop practical tangible solutions to misuses of the Internet like cybersecurity. And finally we must not be complacent. Because we now have a sizable record and a maturity in the discussions with specific recommendations that we all must start working hard to adopt so that we ensure the continued vitality and centrality of these multistakeholder organizations in the future.

Towela Jere (Programmes Manager with the NEPAD Agency) noted that her remarks were in the context of the work that NEPAD is doing as far as strengthening some regional IGFs and also getting some national IGFs started. At the outset, they did some research just trying to get an understanding of how Africans perceive multistakeholderism in the context of Internet governance. One of the things identified is that there is recognition of the value of spaces such as the Africa IGF, the Global IGF, as places for learning and for discussion and for exchanging of ideas. It was also found that there was a bit of a concern in the sense that there wasn't a clear translation of those discussions and those learnings into tangible outcomes that would actually influence policy, be it at a continental or regional levels so that's one of the gaps that needs to be addressed. In addition some of the feedback from the stakeholders is that there's still a lot of lack of clarity around the definition and understanding of multistakeholderism and concern about the concept of equal footing. People want to know and want to understand, they want a certain level of transparency in terms of the processes and understanding you know how such things are determined. People would like to see a move away from just events to actual engagement that happens throughout and between events, which speaks to the idea of how we actually take some of the discussions and learning’s that happen at the IGF and take them back into our relative context.

Eliot Lear (Cisco) mentioned that, at Cisco, they are seeing an explosive increase in bandwidth. In 2018, the expectation is to see more than 50% of devices capable of IPv6. And this is important in terms of scaling in the network as well as scaling knowledge and scaling access. While we have 3 billion people connected or almost 3 billion people connected, that means there are a little more than 3 billion people that aren't connected. This was mentioned because a solution to access has to involve a multi-sectorial approach. The other aspect of scale is of course scaling knowledge. Before we get into governance, people have to actually be connected. In addition to that, we have to recognize that all world structures do not work in the new world. The old world structures around telephony which took almost a century for everybody to gain access to and still not everybody has access to telephony, those structures are likely not to work in the new world. And just by one example, we know of one country where if they attempted to use their old regulatory models to connect people, what they see was that their GDP received about $678 million from using that old world approach and when they gave up that old world approach they saw an increase in GDP that we correlated to about $11 billion. So one of the things that governments need to take into account is how to structure for success.

We have flexible approaches and network operators still need that flexibility so any time we try to impose national standards, we run the risk of actually harming interoperability, harming security and harming growth by ossifying. So we have to be very careful not to ossify things that may need to change. The particular risk is that policymakers will in fact standardize yesterday's technology tomorrow.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

The session addressed a number of key areas that will increase an understanding of Internet governance such as the need to coordinate knowledge and understanding as part of the multistakeholder capacity building process. The panel also identified the need to address the inclusiveness of the process so that the common understanding can be established among all parties. There are many tools that could be used to assist in the process of establishing this common ground, data mining, outreach and feedback as well as using experiences gained from the NetMundial process to look forward towards having the IGF focus on a taxonomy framework to produce collaborative outcomes and substantive results that can then be used to further address the knowledge and participation gaps that were noted. All participants agreed that active multistakeholder discussions are of utmost importance so as to break the silo effect and to create necessary agreements and polices from the trade world that support digital products.

Estimation of the overall number of participants present at the workshop


Estimation of the overall number of women present at the workshop

about half of the participants were women

Extent to that the workshop discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

it was not seen as related to the workshop’s theme and was not raised

A brief summary of the discussions in case that the workshop addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment


Reported by

Karen Mulberry

Workshop transcript


Youtube video



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