You are here

IGF 2019 Pre-Event #13 Open and Free and What - Visions for the Future of the Internet



1. Introduction / Background:

Today, the Internet is the central political, economical and societal medium worldwide. It permeates all subsystems of our digitalized societies and is essential for people's daily lives. The concept of a free and open Internet is decisive as a political-social idea for the order of transboundary virtual space. The free and open Internet, coupled with a multi-stakeholder approach, is seen as a guarantor of economic growth impulses and development opportunities as well as a key to the perception of fundamental political rights and the strengthening of the resilience of societies. Today's ubiquitous presence of the Internet in our digital societies also brings with it new and diverse challenges. The challenges concern areas such as social cohesion (hate speech and fake news), security (cybercrime and cyber attacks), civil rights (e.g. data protection) and fundamental regulatory issues (taxation of digital business models). In view of these challenges and already observable fragmentation tendencies, it is important to debate globally which common answers can be derived from the ideal of free and open Internet for today's challenges. For such answers to be found, a shared vision of a desirable future for the order of the Internet is essential.
All the more urgent is such a shared vision, since the idea of a free and open Internet is also challenged by an alternative, authoritarian model. Some authoritarian states are enforcing a more prominent role for states in the administration and management of the Internet. This alternative idea of order would enable states to censor content in these state-restricted areas or to switch off the Internet for political reasons. This would not only make the Internet a medium of surveillance instead of political self-empowerment. There would also be an increasing number of national Internets, which would foster the undesirable fragmentation of the Internet.

2. Proposal for Day Zero

2.1. Conceptual Preliminary Work:

Against this background, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in cooperation with the Global Public Policy Institute is preparing a study on the future of the Internet. This study will identify important trends and develop scenarios for the future of the Internet from a European / German perspective. The normative frame of reference is an expertise developed for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation by Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger of the LMU Munich. This study can serve as a compass for the design and regulation of the Internet. In the context of a panel discussion on Day Zero, we will use our global network to discuss the communication science analysis and the scenarios gained with stakeholders from Asia, Africa and Latin America. With a problem-oriented view of the future of the Internet, the aim of the panel is to work out the common ground as well as the regional differences and thus make a contribution to the urgently needed debate on the future of the Internet, which can be continued.

2.2. Methodical Considerations

The aim of the event is a problem-oriented discussion on the future of the Internet, which should serve as an impulse for a vision on the future of the Internet. In addition to the panelists' discussion, the audience will also be involved. Therefore, we will conduct question rounds on individual problem areas / challenges. In these, the respective representatives from individual regions will be asked about their perspective to specific challenges (short statement). The statements will then be discussed and related to each other. The audience will also be involved via interactive methods.
In the run-up to the event, we are planning various activities on social media (e.g. Twitter surveys on the future of the Internet). Furthermore, the event will be accompanied parallel via our social media accounts (e.g. input for questions).

2.3. Speaker

As speakers, we aim to integrate multipliers from different regions. The aim will be to involve representatives from Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Latin America. For the identification of relevant speakers, we will use our global network of over 100 offices abroad. First consultations have already taken place. As soon as we have commitments from individual representatives, we will be happy to communicate them.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678