Session notes for main meeting: 31 October 2006, 10-13 Hours

Theme: Openness

Sub-themes: freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge

Moderator: Nik Gowing, Main Presenter, BBC World


  • Carlos Afonso, Technical Director of RIT (services and capacity-building network of ICTs)
  • Anriette Esterhuysen, Executive Director, APC
  • Hanne Sophie Greve, former judge at the European Court of Human Rights
  • Joichi Ito, Creative Commons
  • Jamie Love, Director, CPTech
  • Senator Paschal Mooney, Government Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs (Ireland), broadcaster/ journalist
  • Sisoule Fredrick Musungu, South Centre
  • Andrew Puddephatt, OBE, various human rights organizations
  • Art Reilly, Senior Director, Strategic Technology Policy, Cisco Systems
  • Richard Sambrook, Director BBC Global News
  • Fred Tipson, Senior Policy Counsel , Microsoft,
  • Catherine Trautmann, Member of the European Parliament


  • Free flow of information
  • Freedom of expression
  • Empowerment and access to knowledge

Description of the theme

Openness is one of the key founding principles and characteristics of the Internet. The open nature of the Internet is part of its uniqueness, and its importance as a tool to advance human development. Internet users trade ideas and information and build on both, thus increasing the wealth of knowledge for everyone.. Never have so many people been able to communicate and therefore to express themselves (i.e. to hold, receive and impart information and ideas regardless of frontiers) as richly and as clearly at such a low cost as they can today using the Internet. The communications possibilities of the Internet are enhanced over any previous medium as they allow for rapid communication by voice, printed text, picture and video across the same network.  Access to knowledge and empowering people with information and knowledge that is available on the Internet is a critical objective of an inclusive Information Society and to continued economic and social development.  This session will focus on freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge in the online context and the enabling environment that is best suited to promote these principles.

What is the relevance of this theme to the IGF?

The Geneva Declaration of Principles and the Tunis Commitment refer to and underline the importance of freedom of expression and the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge as essential building blocks for the Information Society which relies and depends on these for its continued development.

What are the objectives of this session?

This session will aim to identify the appropriate enabling legal, policy and regulatory frameworks that preserve openness as one of the key founding principles of the Internet.