IGF 2023 WS #537 Engaging Technical Operators Throughout the Internet Stack


Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Harmonising Global Digital Infrastructure
Regulatory Sandboxes for Technological Innovations

Organizer 1: Christian Dawson, Internet Infrastructure Coalition🔒
Organizer 2: Susan Chalmers, NTIA

Speaker 1: Sarmad Hussain, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Ram Mohan, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: mark svancarek, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Susan Chalmers, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Christian Dawson, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Christian Dawson, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Break-out Group Discussions - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. As policies are formulated to govern the ways in which AI can be implemented in network administration, how important is it to have technical AI experts at the table?
B. As we engage in discussions about cyberattacks and the role of the Internet operator in mitigating them, should network cybersecurity technicians be centered in those conversations?
C. While we discuss plans for broadband capacity-building projects in developing nations, how important is it to have ISP technicians with implementation-level expertise as part of those discussions?

What will participants gain from attending this session? This session will engage its participants to help create a series of outreach recommendations, which they can then use to facilitate individual outreach activities as we seek to bring more stakeholders to important Internet policy-related discussions.

Participants will walk away with a much better understanding of what goes into building the Internet's infrastructure. From there, they will map areas of conversation already part of the IGF dialogue and help to frame scenarios that incentivize those with additional technical perspectives to join the discussion.

Once those insights emerge, the actual outcome documents produced will serve as a guide for individual outreach campaigns. The final outcome document will provide detailed notes on the types of technical operators we seek to reach, why we believe they should be interested in Internet governance conversations, and how they can engage in the IGF process. These resources should make future engagement campaigns easier to implement.


The communications infrastructure of the Internet consists of its hardware components and a system of different software layers that control various aspects of the architecture, together known as the “tech stack.” As the tech stack that makes up the Internet’s core infrastructure evolves, we must constantly re-evaluate policy considerations against what is technically possible. Advancements in AI, quantum computing, and the threat of advanced cyberattacks are just a few key examples of areas requiring deep policy focus by a diverse set of technical operators working collaboratively across different parts of the Internet stack. When examining the diversity of today’s stakeholder groups in Internet governance fora, including IGF, there are several opportunities for improvement—most notably in our technical communities, which provide vital perspectives to guide the industry towards sustainable policy outcomes.
We need a mindful and concerted outreach effort to bring in technical operators who maintain systems at all tech stack levels, not only those maintaining core Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure. This collaborative workshop is designed to produce outreach materials to attract participation by technical experts—from data center operators and broadband sysadmins to automation- and AI-focused network engineers—in Internet governance discussions. We aim to kickstart a community-led outreach campaign that brings more technical operators to the table in Internet governance-related policy discussions.

Expected Outcomes

A publication output will be developed from this workshop. A proposed title for this output is “Recommendations for Engaging Internet Infrastructure Technical Operators Into Internet Governance Discussions.” Sections will include:

• Definition of Internet Infrastructure
• Types of Internet Infrastructure Technical Operators (Profiles)
• Why Is Internet Governance Important To These Individuals?
• What Are The Best Areas Of Engagement For These Individuals?
• Additional Outreach Suggestions

Hybrid Format: The short presentation before the breakout session will be broadcast to onsite and online participants. From there, groups will be tasked to handle specific questions. Some groups will be made up of onsite speakers, some online. Both will have an equal chance to report on their findings.

Multiple questions will be discussed, from how to identify the proper technical operators, to how to incentivize them to join, to how to identify the right conversations that need them. Rapporteurs for the onsite and online sessions will have equal time and weighting for their presentations. Google Jamboard will be used to collect rapporteur notes in a way that will preserve them for transparency purposes for all participants.