Internet governance

Source: APC Women's Networking Support Programme
This paper attempts to explore these questions and others around content regulation, as well as the notion of “harmful content”, which has been the main focus of content regulation discussion. February 2008. (PDF document). [see more]
The first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in December 2003, launched two critical issues with regards to the information society, which were to be analysed and debated during the inter-summit period and solved at the second phase to take place in November 2005 in Tunis.

The first issue aims at developing global financing strategies for information and communication technologies (ICTs) devoted to the promotion of digital inclusion in the least developed countries. The second issue is related to the Internet governance system, that is to say, to the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society of shared principles, norms, rules, decision making procedures and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet. The definition and distribution of Internet domain names and numbers, inter-country data bandwidth cost settlements, rights of access to infrastructure (universal access) and information, freedom of expression, cultural and linguistic diversity, privacy, cyber security and use of free and open source software represent only a few in a long list of issues that should be dealt with in terms of Internet governance.

Within this framework, the UN - mandated by the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action - established in 2004 a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). The group was made up of 40 members from different countries and sectors (governments, private sector, academics and organized civil society) with the main purpose of investigating and making proposals for specific actions regarding Internet governance. Among the central tasks of this working group were: to build a "working definition" of Internet governance, identify public policy issues relevant to the topic and develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, as well as the private sector and civil society, from both developing and developed countries.

The debate on Internet governance, updated through the creation of the above-mentioned working group, oscillates between two polar views. On the one hand, there are those who insist that modifications to be made should be launched within the current governance structure, characterized by being private-sector based and ruled by ICANN (a non-profit US-based corporation, which manages domain names and IP addresses), thus avoiding substantial changes within the system. On the other extreme, there are those who suggest that functions currently falling under ICANN's sphere, should be gradually transferred to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a position that is reinforced by the active participation of the ITU in the creation and coordination of the WGIG.

The issue of jurisdiction frameworks for Internet governance is of utmost importance since to a large extent determines the relative degrees of autonomy of the different countries and the capacity for participation of the different sectors in such respect. In this sense, the current managing configuration is far from being global or participative: ICANN is an organization that is subject to US laws and its Internet governance powers are mainly based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) involving the US government, ICANN and the main operator of the global domain name system, a private company called Verisign. Although the position to be adopted by the US government upon the expiration of the MoU in September 2006 is still uncertain, the clear fact is that within the current system it has full powers to direct Internet governance at its own convenience, given the lack of global and intergovernmental regulations in such respect. In fact, one of the main arguments calling for an urgent global debate on Internet governance is the need to establish true global forms of organization that should be autonomous from any particular government; a structural principle pointed out by the WGIG and shared by the United Nations.

Following months of intense work, the WGIG issued its final report on July 15 2005, expecting it to be used as reference to conduct debates in the preparatory process of the second phase of the WSIS. The report includes a consensual definition with regards to the concept of "Internet governance" but since it was not possible to achieve consensus in terms of a unique governance model, four alternative models were proposed and can be found within the report.

One of the main critiques made of the models proposed is that these are excessively focused on the current governance forms and, therefore, on the ICANN system and the coordination of names and numbers, leaving aside crucial aspects such as inter-country data bandwidth cost settlements, the access to information, the freedom of expression, privacy and cyber security. Likewise, it is worth pointing out that all models relegate civil society organizations, the private sector and the academic community to an observer or advisory passive role, in spite of the fact that the WGIG acknowledges the adoption of multilateral, transparent and democratic coordination mechanisms as one of the basic principles that should be guiding Internet governance. In this sense, the WGIG has expressed the idea that a new type of organization - such as a multistakeholder global forum - is essential to deal with all those issues related to Internet governance in a more transparent and democratic way. Civil society organizations have been constantly monitoring debates carried out within the WSIS and the WGIG and have admitted the importance of the report as input for the ensuing debates, while at the same time they have considered the wide working definition of Internet governance established by the Group as a positive fact. The importance of the WGIG has also been highlighted as an example of multistakeholder participation mechanism, which thus turns it into a significant antecedent and possible model to be followed in other UN processes.

Based on the document prepared by Carlos A. Afonso for WSIS Papers: Internet Governance: A Review in the Context of the WSIS Process
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Monday, February 25 2008
The world wide web of desire: content regulation on the internet
(Source: APC Women's Networking Support Programme)
Wednesday, February 28 2007
Internet Governance Forum: Is it more than talk?
(Source: IP Watch)
Monday, November 13 2006
Internet Forum aired many issues, though no conclusions
(Source: South North Development Monitor (SUNS))

Internet governance: Some conceptual tools

Reputation-based governance (First Monday)

Protection of public interest on the Internet (Internet Governance Capacity Building Initiative)

Does Internet governance concern you? ( Net Dialogue)

Internet governance: What are we talking about? (Monitor Políticas TIC Y Derechos en Internet en América Latina y el Caribe)

Questions and answers about the Internet and Internet governance (CaveBear)

Internet Governance: A grand collaboration (UNICTTF (United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force))

Which Internet governance model? (AFNIC)

Internet Governance. Issues, actors and divides (DiploFoundation)

Internet governance. Definition, governance tools, global multistakeholder entity (UNICTTF)

Internet governance perspectives from Cambodia ( UNICTTF)

Internet Governance: A Discussion Document ( UNICTTF)

ICANN meets the WSIS

ICANN and Internet Governance: Leveraging Technical Coordination to Realize Global Public Policies (Georgia Institute of Technology)

WSIS: Whose vision of an information society? (First Monday)

Political oversight of ICANN: A briefing for the WSIS Summit (Internet Governance Project)

Internet governance: A review in the context of the WSIS process ( WSIS Papers)

Internet governance and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Association for Progressive Communications (APC))

Beyond ICANN vs. ITU? How WSIS tries to enter the new territory of Internet governance (UNICTTF)

ICANN, the ITU, WSIS and Internet governance ( CISCO)

Some responses to the WGIG report

Contributions on Internet governance (ITU)

WSIS Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus Response to the WGIG Report (WSIS Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus)

Initial comments by the European Union on the report of the WGIG (ITU)

Comments of the government of the United States of America on the WGIG Report (US Department of State)

Internet Governance: Quo vadis? A reponse to the WGIG Report (Internet Governance Project)

Who should run the Internet? (World Peace Herald)

Number Resource Organization (NRO) comments on the WGIG Report (NRO)

Information resources on Internet governance

Internet Governance Project (IGP) ( IGP)

APC: Internet governance (APC) coverage and background information on Internet governance (Heinrich-Böll Foundation)

CPSR Working Group on Domain Names and Internet Governance (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR))

Diplo Foundation: Internet Governance (DiploFoundation)

People for Internet responsibility (PFIR) (PFIR)

Circle ID-Internet Governance (Circle ID)

Global Internet Policy Initiative ( GIPI)

Internet Standards, Technology & Policy Project (Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT))

The current governance model

The world wide web of desire: content regulation on the internet (APC Women's Networking Support Programme)

Changing Modes of Participation and Communication (IPSA)

From Output to Outcome, A Theoretical Approach to WSIS (SSRC)

Can the Internet Be Truly Neutral ? (The Guardian)

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) (ICANN)

Internet Governance: The state of play (Internet Governance Project)

Who rules the Internet? Understanding ICANN (PANOS)

ICANN Watch (ICANN Watch)

ICANN, legitimacy and the public voice: Making global participation and representation work (NAIS (NGO and Academic ICANN Study))

The Internet Society (ISOC) (ISOC)

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) (Internet Engineering Task Force)

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (World Wide Web Consortium (W3C))

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (ITU)

Towards a new model of Internet governance

IGF 2007 : Still a Long Way to Effective Outcomes (European Digital Rights EDRI)

OSCE Report, "Governing the Internet" (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe)

Convergence of views on access at international internet forum (APC)

IP Justice Report on 2007 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) (IP Justice)

Internet Governance Forum: Test Of A New Global Governance Model (IP Watch)

APC makes recommendations to UN internet governance forum (APC)

Inspired by Aarhus Convention, Council of Europe and APC propose a code for public participation in internet regulation (APC)

The Distributed Secretariat : Making the Internet Governance Forum Work (Internet Governance Project)

The Road to Rio: Results-based Management of the UN Internet Governance Forum (Internet Governance Project)

Securing the Root : A Proposal for Distributing Signing Authority (Internet Governance Project)

Net Neutrality as a Global Principle for Internet Governance (Internet Governance Project)

Rio IGF 2008: Amnesty renews its call on governments and companies to make human rights central to internet governance (Amnesty International)

U.S. Control Of Internet Still A Concern (WebProNews)

IGF - UN innovation or just another conference ? (European Digital Rights EDRI)

Civil society calls for new governance to make internet accessible to Africans (APC)

How the Next Billion Will Reshape the Internet (Michael Geist)

Internet Governance Forum: Is it more than talk? (IP Watch)

Internet Forum aired many issues, though no conclusions (South North Development Monitor (SUNS))

Internet Governance Forum: Openness in the activist's eye (APC)

The role of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

A development agenda for Internet governance

Reduce the cost of international Internet connectivity (APC)

Realizing the Internet’s promise of universal access to knowledge and development (IP Justice)

Prioritize human rights in the Internet governance agenda

The struggle for real control over the virtual world (IPS)

PrepComm-3: Debate over Internet governance gets to the core ( Heinrich Böll Foundation)

The forum function in Internet Governance: What will it take to make it work? (Internet Governance Project)

Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) ( WGIG)

Power, Legitimacy, and the Future of the Internet (Heinrich-Böll Foundation)

Reframing Internet governance discourse: Fifteen baseline propositions (ITU)

A new model for global Internet governance ( UNICTTF)

What to do about ICANN: A proposal for structural reform (Internet Governance Project)

A plan to Reform ICANN: A functional approach (CaveBear)

Summary of the Global Forum on Internet Governance (UNICTTF)

Internet governance: Main directions and priorities ( UNICTTF)

UNESCO Position Statement on Internet governance (UNESCO)

OECD report on Internet governance (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD))

Civil society: A key player in Internet governance

Internet, civil society and global governance: the neglected political (SSRC (Social Science Research Council))

WSIS civil society Internet governance caucus (WSIS civil society Internet governance caucus)

Internet governance debate: civil society can make the real difference ( APC)

A user’s point of view on international and national Internet governance (ITU)

ICANN, WSIS and the making of a global civil society (Circle ID)

ICANN's At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) ( ALAC)

The debate in the WSIS Tunis phase

World Summit on the Information Society: What Did it Achieve for ICTs and Development, What Did it Ignore? (University of Manchester)

Internet governance and WSIS: who won? In a certain way, the world has won

U.S. to stay in charge of Internet (IPS)

Five more years! There was no "deal" and WSIS resolved nothing (Circle ID)

Internet must be a public facility (IPS)

U.S. fights to remain the ultimate webmaster (IPS)

The U.N. isn't a threat to the net (The Washington Post)

APC's recommendations to the WSIS on Internet governance (APC)

Notes from Tunis: The New Internet Governance Forum (The Huffington Post)

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