IGF 2023 WS #285 Positive Protective Measures for Internet Governance


Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Digital Commons as a Public Good

Organizer 1: Madeline Carr, 🔒
Organizer 2: Duncan Hollis, 🔒

Speaker 1: Akinori MAEMURA, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Yurie Ito, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Michael Karimian, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Inne Anne-Rachel, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Madeline Carr, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Duncan Hollis, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


PABLO HINOJOSA, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1) Can the ‘public core’ be protected from State interventions at the same time as being protected by the State?
2) Can States agree to:
- Legitimise private sector led operations to maintain the ‘public core’,
- Protect multistakeholder governance processes from capture by single interest groups,
- Provide legal clarity and legal protections to operate internationally or regionally, regardless of the national jurisdictions from where the ‘public core’ services are provided?
3) How will we know if and when the public core is protected?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The attendees of this session are expected to add a new dimension to the ongoing normative debate about the Internet’s ‘public core’: this is not only about preventing States from interfering with its governance model, but innovating in new ways to proactively protect it. Participants will be asked to think hard on mutually reinforcing elements of both, the multilateral and the multistakeholder governance models. They will be challenged with difficult questions that have not been asked or answered before: whether there is a proactive and positive role for the multilateral arena to protect the multistakeholder governance processes upon which the integrity of the internet depends.
This debate is timely and should be able to inform positions going into the negotiation of a Global Digital Compact.


This workshop will explore positive protective measures that can be put in place to future-proof the ‘public core’ of the Internet. Can the multilateral arena offer protective measures for the multistakeholder model to succeed? This is a new question to an old debate, and we will offer answers from different perspectives: technical, governmental, private and academic.
The notion of the ‘public core’ of the Internet is one that has taken hold over recent years. To date, both States and other stakeholders have conceived norms surrounding the public core in entirely negative terms - something states must respect by not intervening/interfering in its operation or governance model. This means that the multistakeholder governance model that underpins the organisational structures of the ‘public core’ are best to be left alone, as neutral grounds that should not be attacked or interfered with.
The IGF offers the safest way to challenge current normative agreements favouring non-intervention. Both the OEWG and GGE reports, which are the main source of agreed norms for responsible State behaviour, have echoed the GCSC call on States to abstain from activities that could interfere with the general availability and integrity of the Internet. This workshop will find out if there is more to this.
Are there positive duties that can be paired with the negative obligations, for States to protect and ensure the ‘public core’ remains global, open, stable and secure? Are there measures that could add legitimacy and legal support to the operations upon which the stability of the Internet depends? Are these protective measures feasible to implement in the current state of geopolitical disagreements? Can multilateralism help to reinforce multistakeholder governance processes? Can multistakeholder based policy decisions be legitimately and/or legally enforced under specific jurisdictions while their implementation involves extra-jurisdictional services?

Expected Outcomes

This session will attempt to produce an enhanced set of new model behaviours States could engage in to ensure the Internet’s ‘public core’ remains open, safe, stable, accessible, and peaceful.
The expected outcome of this session are new perspectives that, while not violating existing normative agreements to support the ‘public core’, could add more depth and insight into the full range of positive measures through which the multilateral and multistakeholder communities might collaborate on this important governance function.
The report of this workshop will support future negotiations, such as those leading towards a Global Digital Compact and could be useful in OEWG discussions on innovation in the global governance models of the Internet and the protection of the ‘public core’.

Hybrid Format: Our previous IGF workshops have been very interactive, prioritising dialogue over presentations. This session is planned in 3 parts, each 30 mins. long. The first part will be called “ignition” and will accelerate the process of inquiry, hearing different perspectives from government, private, technical and academic points of view. The second part will be called “thrust” and will be a fast paced facilitated discussion with a concentrated effort to pierce through the heart of the questions. The third and last part will be called “landing” where facilitators will help participants to find common ground. This stage will shift in tone from a competitive clash of ideas to a cooperative effort. This is where new model behaviours and new perspectives will be recorded as outcomes of the session.