IGF 2021 WS #82
Internet regulation starts with understanding “the Internet”

Organizer 1: Konstantinos Komaitis, Internet Society
Organizer 2: Justin Sherman, The Atlantic Council

Speaker 1: Justin Sherman, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Andrei Robachevsky, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 3: Nigel Hickson, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Emmanuel Chinomso OGU, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Mwende Njiraini, Government, African Group


Konstantinos Komaitis, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Maria Farrell, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Carl Gahnberg, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Regulation, competition and innovation: How could regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks help foster more competitive Internet-related markets, a larger diversity of business models, and more innovation? How to enable equitable access to data, marketplaces or infrastructures for fostering competition and innovation on the Internet?
Data governance and trust, globally and locally: What is needed to ensure that existing and future national and international data governance frameworks are effective in mandating the responsible and trustworthy use of data, with respect for privacy and other human rights?
Additional Policy Questions Information: Regulation and Internet architecture: what are the implications of regulation for the architecture of the Internet? What are the main values that have to be preserved for the Internet to continue and evolve?

Issues include, frameworks for better regulation, role of technology norms in regulation, innovation, data governance.
Opportunities include presenting a methodology to regulation promoting the idea of an impact assessment.


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Targets: The Internet is considered critical infrastructure due to the dependencies that has created for other infrastructure (water, energy, transportation, etc.). understanding its architecture and how best to ensure that it is preserved is critical for innovation.


Similar to an ecosystem, the Internet is going through phases of change that shape the way it is governed. The first phase of change was primarily driven by technology. Networking protocols were standardized and determined the way networks interacted. Governance was mainly led by engineers. Following this inter-networking explosion, new platforms offering new services emerged. Economies of scale took precedent, and network effects translated into some companies emerging as Internet champions. The market was allowed to self-regulate given the fast pace of technological innovation. The third phase is the one we are currently in and is defined by an increased policy activity manifested so far in the form of regulation. As these phases were taking place, the Internet was becoming increasingly complex and more diverse.

One of the patterns emerging in this third phase is how differently the Internet is perceived by various actors. There is a lack of a consistent understanding regarding the Internet first as a technology, supported by certain properties, and then as a space with economic and social implications that warrant policy attention. Stakeholders have varying degrees of interconnection and interdependence and offer different propositions about what the Internet is and what sort of regulation should apply – that is, what the Internet of the future should look like.

However, these forces – technology, economics and policy – still co-exist and together shape the future of the Internet. This workshop will aim to discuss the way these drivers interact and depend on each other and why it is important for policy makers to have good understanding of these facets when they proceed to regulate online behavior. The workshop will follow and expand on the conversation the Internet Society initiated by hosting a workshop on “Frameworks for addressing emerging Internet issues in the context of cooperation in policy design” organized during last year’s IGF.

Expected Outcomes

The main outcome of the workshop will be the acknowledgement that the Internet is not one thing – a monolith – and that regulation should accordingly recognize its multi-faceted nature. An approach integrating the Internet impact assessment in the policy development process is one of the clear propositions that would be discussed during the workshop.

Participants will be asked to debate and provide critical thinking on the role the architecture of the Internet should have in regulation. There will be break out rooms and real life examples to enhance relatability with the discussion.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.