IGF 2010 Workshop Report

 
 55
 
 Successes and failures of Internet governance, 1995 - 2010, and looking forward to WSIS 2015
 
 Jeremy Malcolm and Janna Anderson
 
 

Wolfgang Kleinwächter - Academic and consultant
Tracy F. Hackshaw - National ICT Company Ltd, Trinidad and Tobago
Catherine Trautmann - European Parliament
Carlos Afonso - RITS
David Souter - ICT Development Associates Ltd
Moderator: Jeremy Malcolm - Internet Governance Caucus

 

A look at the changing institutional and procedural approaches applied to the problems of Internet governance over the past 15 years and the sharing of various perspectives about the effectiveness and legitimacy of each approach. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) criteria recommend the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations in Internet governance arrangements. The workshop looked at progress made since the initial 2003-2005 WSIS meetings and forward to a possible future meeting of WSIS in 2015.

 

Contact the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus for further information. See http://www.intgovcaucus.org/.

 

Wolfgang Kleinwachter, a professor of Internet policy and regulation at the University of Aarhus in Denmark a co-founder of the Internet Governance Caucus and longtime Internet governance scholar and civil society leader, said the dialogue among various stakeholders is key, and it took a long time to gain the right for members of civil society to participate in a full role in multistakeholder Internet governance.

Tracy Hackshaw, chief solution architect in the government of Trinidad & Tobago’s ICT Company, discussed concerns of developing nations. He shared specific details about the successes and failures in his part of the world, using his country as a primary example. He said access issues have not been solved in remote locations such as the islands around Trinidad & Tobago, but the WSIS process and other global governance efforts are raising the need for connectivity.

Carlos Afonso, a member of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee and longtime leader in IGF and ICANN, said the multistakeholder process “is a very important success even with all its imperfections.” But he noted that some countries that were active at the start of the WSIS process have not been present in the IGF in recent years, listing Bolivia and “several other countries.” He said people should question why this is happening.

David Souter, managing director at ICT Development Associates, said that as the Internet has become central to society, economics, politics and culture the Internet community and mainstream governments have struggled to find a relationship.

“The Internet is in a continual state of flux and its development is unpredictable, so its governance arrangements need to be responsive to the changes that are taking place within the Internet and its development and its impact,” he said. “We need a more thoughtful approach for accommodation between the Internet world and government. The interface between the two seems to be more crucial than the identity of either.”

Catherine Trautman, a member of the European Parliament representing European Socialists, said the work toward multistakeholder governance is a positive step of WSIS and the IGF process. She expressed concerns over the question of enhanced cooperation, noting that civil society is perhaps not getting its due recognition.

“Civilian society could show the contribution they make,” she said. “This is essential in this evolution and the decision on continuation of IGF.” She said the process is in a state of flux as the United Nations General Assembly is expected to take a vote soon about the possible extension of IGF that could be a positive or a negative influence on the processes set in motion through WSIS and IGF.

 

When the discussion turned to the possibility of a WSIS meeting in 2015, Kleinwachter said civil society organizations must begin to get more organized to participate effectively.

“What I see as the risks is that it would be a repetition of what was decided in Tunis and Geneva, and now in 2015 that means a bureaucratic summary and not a new conception of thinking for the next 10 years,” he said. “It would probably be a backward-looking summit, which would be a waste of resources and energy. It’s better to strengthen the IGF, to have another big world summit, to have a ministerial meeting, multistakeholder in 2015.”

Afonso spoke about the impact of constantly emerging innovations such as Facebook and cloud computing. He said that in light of considering 2015 people involved in IGF should be investing more effort into anticipating the governance agenda for the next five or 10 years, asking, “What are the new challenges?”

“We have to explore this territory, to come with innovative solutions,” he said.” This would be my challenge for the next five years of the IGF, to make the IGF a place where such new ideas are discussed.”

Souter agreed that any third WSIS meeting should be more than a look back. “What social networking existed in 2005?” he asked. “Where was the mobile broadband in 2005?"