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).
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.
This article proposes a general “reputation–based governance” framework that used a method that not focused only on market applications. Although many have studied various incarnations of Internet–based reputation systems, the author argues that past analyses have mostly been piecemeal in method and have focused only on those market applications. His study also provides useful insights on the issues of openness (as in “open source” software) and of participative forms of design and production. September 2007.
The development of the Internet involves the interplay between the multiple stakeholders of the public and private sector worldwide. So far, this synergy was generally positive, under an environment in which the necessary public infrastructure and financing met the creativity and entrepreneurship of individuals and institutions. However, as the governance debate receives growing attention, new challenges are identified, one of which is the protection of public interest.
Net Dialogue is a joint project between Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society (Berkman Center) and Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society (CIS). The project bridges the high-tech communities of Boston and Silicon Valley and the international policymaking community of Geneva, Switzerland. Net Dialogue aims to promote transparency and informed debate on Internet governance by providings ummaries of international rules and guidelines; information on organizations involved; a conceptual framework for understanding the emerging system; links to further information and online discussion forums for public dialogue.
This article attempts to clarify the different positions that exist in relation to Internet governance, while at the same time trying to contribute to a better understanding of the meaning of this extremely ambiguous and imprecise term.
This note is designed to address certain questions that commonly arise in discussions of Internet governance. Is divided into several sections: definitions, Internet governance, Internet bill of rights and Internet technology.
These papers, contributed to the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TF) "Global Forum on Internet Governance" provide useful information on how many different organizations are already managing the Internet and its effects on society. At the same time, the papers suggest that a number of important issues are not being addressed effectively, and that in some areas there is an urgent need to put in place new arrangements to counter real and present threats to the stability and utility of the Internet. PDF format.
The first part of this document describes the main Internet governance approaches, while the second one presents Internet governance structures, players and objectives, in order to provide an overview of the issues to be addressed and the way in which different players interact. PDF format.
This paper presents the evolution of the "Internet governance" concept and its impacts on economic, social and developmental issues, as well as the debate around the Internet governance that emerged at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society. PDF format.
The author states that "governance" is not the final objective in terms of a "final regulatory regime" but an exploratory notion for the present step by step process towards an "effective international rule of law". In this process States still are actors of primary importance but in competition with foreign, international and private governing authorities or joining them in hybrid efforts. PDF format.
This paper reflects on the cambodgian experiences by sharing steps and milestones, combined with related public policy issues and the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders involved, "in the hope of lifting up some guideposts of wider relevance for other countries on the way towards an Information Society, and the efforts to clarify what Internet governance implies". PDF format.
This paper is aimed primarily at those issues in the "Internet governance discussion" that, authors consider, are important and relevant to developing countries. Authors state that a good portion of what has been discussed using the label "Internet governance" is perhaps of little relevance to countries that have larger problems than, for example, how top-level global domain names are chosen or implemented. They claim that issues of governance, policy and implementation vis-à-vis developing countries matter because they allow for harnessing the new technologies in a more effective fashion in targeting social and economic goals. PDF format.
This article explains that ICANN leverages the capabilities in the Internet domain name system (DNS) to implement four mechanisms of governance: authority, law, sanctions, and jurisdictions. These governance-related features are embodied in seemingly technical features of ICANN’s institutional design. Recognition of ICANN’s governance mechanisms allows us to better understand the Internet’s emerging regulatory regime. 2002.
The United Nations (UN) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in their development of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), are contributing to the on–going discourse of the "Information Society." This study analyzes how WSIS contributes to the on–going Information Society discourse, especially how it frames a vision of an Information Society and the global "digital divide." The methodology of this study is a broad, comprehensive, and critical content analysis of the two main documents of WSIS, its Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action. The content analysis utilizes discourse analysis and ideology critique, and quantitative and qualitative methods. The results of the analysis show that WSIS paints a wholly utopian, technologically deterministic picture of an "Information Society" that oversimplifies and generalizes a complex issue and phenomenon, about which no clear consensus exists. (May 2005)
WSIS seems to be foundering on the issue of "political oversight" of the Internet. IGP issues a new paper that clarifies the issues and provides concrete proposals for moving forward. By means of a careful analysis of the contractual instruments used by the U.S. government to supervise ICANN, the paper shows how the problem of U.S. unilateral oversight can be addressed in a way that is both politically feasible and avoids threatening the stability or freedom of the Internet. PDF format.
This document provides information on the current Internet governance transition processes,
discussing some of the approaches being submitted to public discussion, and reviews the
final report of the WGIG. It also provides brief historical and reference information on the
current global governance system specifically created for the Internet. In addition, it
presents a review of the perspectives on Internet governance from the point of view of the
organized groups of civil society organizations who have been involved in the corresponding
discussions both within and outside the WGIG. PDF format.
The purpose of this paper is to describe the debate about Internet governance in WSIS, and
to examine the main policy issues that are being considered in that discussion. The paper
also suggests opportunities for developing nation stakeholders to contribute to the
processes that are defining the Internet governance landscape. PDF format.
The author states, on the relation between WSIS and Internet governance, that "the Internet
Governance WSIS controversy is insofar much more than a classical interest conflict among
two or more governments. It is a fundamental conceptual and philosophical conflict among
different stakeholders about the question, how the global Internet should be organized, or
even more, how the global information society, which is based on the Internet as its main
infrastructure, should be governed". PDF format.
This opinion piece looks at the various range of views about the ICANN and its rationale and
role over its brief history. It is considered that no look at Internet governance would be
complete without also looking at the role of the International Telecommunications Union
(ITU), as well as the broader background to this topic.
This webpage contains all comments and contributions on the report of the UN Working Group
on Internet Governance (WGIG). As of 29 August 2005, comments and contributions had been
received from 11 Governments (including a contribution from the 25 EU States plus 2 acceding
Member States), and from Ghana for the Africa region; 7 Business Entities; 3 International
Organisations; 18 Civil society and non-governmental organisations and 4 Miscellaneous,
including members of the WGIG)
The WSIS Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus states in this declaration that the WGIG
achieved the mandate set for it by the WSIS Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of
Action, and hopes that the multi-stakeholder approach as explored by WGIG will become a
reference model for future WSIS discussions. PDF format.
The European Union welcomes the WGIG report as a framework to guide discussion for the WSIS
Tunis phase and advocates a new co-operation model, in order to concretise the provisions in
the WSIS Declaration of Principles regarding the crucial role of all actors within Internet
Governance, including governments, the private sector, civil society and international
organisations. PDF format.
In its response to the WGIG report, the US government highlights "a fundamental area of
public policy", which is considered to be absent from the WGIG report: "the role of an
enabling environment in Internet development and diffusion". "To maximize the economic and
social benefits of the Internet", US government states, "governments must focus on creating,
within their own nations, the appropriate legal, regulatory, and policy environment that
encourages privatization, competition, and liberalization".
Concept paper by the Internet Governance Project. It states that the WGIG final report
succeeded in supplying a consensus definition of Internet governance and in identifying a
range of important public policy issues. On the key problems of defining roles and
responsibilities of actors and proposals for action, however, the WGIG Report provides less
clear guidance, according to the authors. PDF format.
The Number Resource Organization, congratulate the WGIG on their work and understand that
important conclusions are represented from its report. The WGIG has opted for a broad
definition of Internet Governance. This definition firmly establishes that fact that
Internet Governance is much more than Internet Resource Management. It is only with this
definition that any analysis of Internet Governance models and systems can take place.
The Internet Governance Project (IGP) is an interdisciplinary consortium of academics with
scholarly and practical expertise in international governance, Internet policy, and
information and communication technology. The Project is conducting research on and
publishing analysis of Internet governance. Some of the work is intended to contribute to
the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and the United Nations Working Group on
Internet Governance, as well as related debates at the international, regional and national levels.
APC believes all decision making on Internet standards must be open and accessible and allow
participation and scrutiny by all stakeholders, particularly from civil society and from the
developing countries. The rapid expansion of the Internet means new standards are being set
that involve major decisions determining the whole direction it will move in, and the
interests of civil society and of developing countries need to be fought for against the
attempts of corporate organisations and the more powerful governments to dominate Internet
governance and produce standards that entrench their domination.
This page describes the activities of CPSR's working group on Domain Names and Internet
governance. The management of Internet domain names and addresses has become a major issue
in the question of Internet governance. CPSR has been active in this policy area since its earliest days.
DiploFoundation is a non-profit organisation which works to assist all countries,
particularly those with limited human and financial resources, to participate meaningfully
in international affairs, through education and training programs, research, and the
development of information and communications technologies for diplomatic activities. This
section in the website includes links to IG resources.
People For Internet Responsibility (PFIR) is currently a global, ad hoc network of
individuals who are concerned about the present and future operations, development,
management, and regulation of the Internet in responsible ways. The main goal of PFIR is to
provide a resource for individuals around the world to gain an ability to impact these
crucial Internet issues, which will affect virtually all aspects of our cultures, societies, and lives in the 21st century.
The Global Internet Policy Initiative supports adoption in developing countries of the legal and policy framework for an open
and democratic Internet. The project works with local stakeholders in consultative, coalition-based efforts to promote the
principles of a decentralized, accessible, user-controlled, and market-driven Internet.
CDT has created the Internet Standards, Technology & Policy Project, intended to increase public interest input into the
standards processes, and to increase communication and understanding between Internet technologists and public policy makers
and advocates. This Web site and CDT's Standards Bulletin are intended to provide the public policy community with a clear
and understandable window into the Internet technical standards processes and the possible impact of new technical standards
on issues of public concern.
The internet is often described as the last frontier for free speech and expression, an anarchic and chaotic space for irrepressible political, sexual and personal expression. However, the last decade has seen an increase in the confidence of States to govern the internet, and simultaneously the crackdown on spaces on the internet. February 2008. (PDF document).
This paper tries on one side to master the authors' theoretical understanding of changes in governance brought about by different institutional levels and non-governmental actors’ participation in global political processes; on the other side it looks at the written documents and contributions that are inputs and outputs to different phases in the WSIS preparatory process. July 2003.
This paper is a contribution to further reasoning in terms of the “reason for/content of (civil society) networking” and the underlying question could be synthesized as “civil society networking for what?”. If a more participatory governance at the global level can be one of the outcomes of such networking the author therefore not interested in a “review of the literature” on global governance. What the author aims at is to offer a contribution in terms of a more operational conception of governance in its relation with democratic principles; where “operational” should not just be conceived in theoretical terms but mainly in the light of strengthening the potential for effective political action. December 2003.
Over the past year or so, there have been calls from different quarters to preserve the integrity of the net, to avoid the net being fragmented, and to thus support Net Neutrality. In this article however, the author questions the concept of Net Neutrality as fundamentally being a red herring. He lays down this argument as the basis for questioning the concept of Net Neutrality as something that currently exists. April 2007
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a private sector initiative to assume responsibility for overseeing the technical coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS), which allows Internet addresses (for example, web pages and email accounts) to be found by easy-to-remember names, instead of numbers. Incorporated and headquartered in California and subject to US laws, ICANN is a non-profit corporation that reflect the historical evolution of the Internet.
Concept paper by the Internet Governance Project. It analyzes the state of play in Internet governance in different forums, with a view to showing what issues are being addressed; by whom; what are the types of consideration that these issues receive and what issues are not adequately addressed. PDF format.
Internet governance is becoming an influential factor in the way we access, consume, produce
and exchange information. In preparation for the work of the WGIG, Panos London launched the
first brief of its WSIS media toolkit, focused on the ICANN system. PDF format.
News and discussion site devoted to ICANN and names-related issues. ICANNWatch.org is a
collaborative effort. We hope that this forum will provide an occasion for us all to think
broadly at times about how to ensure that this communicative tool we call the Internet
remains free, accessible, and best able to contribute towards human welfare.
NAIS was an international project to review the nature of public representation in ICANN.
Over fifteen months of activity, the NAIS team played a number of different roles in the
debate over ICANN's structure and governance. In August 2001, NAIS issued its major report -
the only one of its kind - examining the 2000 At-Large election at every level, from local
and regional organizing to central coordination provided by ICANN.
The Internet Society (ISOC) is a global not-for-profit membership organisation founded in
1991 to provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, and policy issues. ISOC
goals include ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the
benefit of people throughout the world.
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) sets the underlying technical standards for the
Internet. It describes itself as "a loosely self-organised group of people who make
technical and other contributions to the engineering and evolution of the Internet and its
technologies." Membership of IETF working groups is open to anyone who chooses to
participate via email. These working groups develop technical specifications based on "rough
consensus and working code". The Internet Society (ISOC) plays a prominent role in
overseeing IETF activities.
W3C sets standards for the World Wide Web (accessibility, user interface, architecture, etc)
through defining such things as HTML specifications. Its structure differs fundamentally
from the IETF in that participation is restricted to member organisations willing to pay
annual membership fees or to "invited experts".
Established in 1865, the ITU is an international organization within the United Nations
system. It coordinates global telecom networks and services for governments and the private
sector; it is responsible for standardization, coordination and development of international
telecommunications. This site gathers resources related to ITU Internet governance related
activities as a contribution to the WGIG process.
A new report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe takes a detailed look at how the Internet is governed in the OSCE region. The concept of Internet Governance is addressed from a number of different sides and examples from various countries in the OSCE region show how diverse issues of Internet Governance are being tackled by different stakeholders. "Governing the Internet," issued by the 56-nation OSCE, warns that 'governance' must not be allowed to become a code word for government regulation of Internet content. (July 2007).
One of the themes discussed at the second Internet Governance Forum relates to something called the critical internet resources. Critical what? That’s what many people tried to figure out in Rio de Janeiro on November 14, starting with the speakers themselves. November 2007.
The debate over whether the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) should grow beyond its no-decisions, dialogue-only capacity was under consideration during the second IGF in Rio de Janeiro. While a majority of participants from the various stakeholder groups at the meeting agree with the mandate, there are also those who ask for more concrete results and those who want to see a new structure in the management of critical Internet resources. November 2007.
The second Internet Governance Forum (IGF) concluded on November 15 and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) presents an initial assessment of the event and makes suggestions for moving towards the third forum in New Delhi in a year’s time. Recommendations include the establishment of a self-regulatory mechanism to ensure participation, access to information and transparency in internet governance, convening regional and national IGFs, working groups to address complex issues, more resources for the IGF secretariat, strengthening the capacity and legitimacy of the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group, making better use of plenary time and passing of lessons learned by former IGF hosts Brazil and Greece to New Delhi. November 2007.
Intergovernmental and civil society organisations have drafted a proposal, modelled after the Aarhus Convention of 1998, that would regard the internet as a public service. Aarhus, a unique international environmental agreement, grants the public rights and demands government accountability. The proposed code on internet regulation, drawn up during this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro, would be similarly designed to accommodate participation, encourage greater transparency and improve access to information. November 2007.
The Internet Governance Forum is an innovative approach to international policy deliberation. If it is to work, equally innovative support mechanisms must be developed. This paper explains why international policy discussions are heavily dependent on the substantive preparatory activities of a Secretariat. And yet the Internet Governance Forum lacks the staff and ressources needed to provide those services on its own. Keeping its structure “lightweight” is a requirement of the Tunis Agenda. This paper outlines a new way for the Forum to meet the need for a substantive Secretariat. It proposes to create a “distributed Secretariat” wherein the Forum delegates to qualified academic or professional groups the responsibility for preparing the factual and normative analysis that can serve as the starting point for its public deliberations. May 2006.
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was given a five-year charter by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. In 2010 the Forum’s effectiveness in implementing the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society will be assessed by the Assembly. This paper argues that the road to the 2007 meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro and beyond must be paved with effective management practices. Results-based management principles employed elsewhere in reform of United Nations agency practices provide that base. October 2006.
Management of the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone file is a uniquely global policy problem. For the Internet to connect everyone, the root must be coordinated and compatible. While authority over the legacy root zone file has been contentious and divisive at times, everyone agrees that the Internet should be made more secure. A newly standardized protocol, DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), would make the Internet's infrastructure more secure. In order to fully implement DNSSEC, the procedures for managing the DNS root must be revised. Therein lies an opportunity. In
revising the root zone management procedures, we can develop a new solution that diminishes the impact of the legacy monopoly held by the U.S. government and avoids another contentious debate over unilateral U.S. control. In this paper we describe the outlines of a new system for the management of a DNSSEC-enabled root. Our proposal distributes authority over securing the root, unlike another recently suggested method, while avoiding the risks and pitfalls of an intergovernmental power sharing scheme. May 2007.
This paper discusses the concept of network neutrality (NN) and explores its relevance to global Internet governance. Internet neutrality is usually seen as a domestic regulatory issue. And in many ways it has been a domestically focused controversy, up to now. It originates in a debate over the policies to be applied to broadband access networks, which are typically licensed and regulated at the national or even the state and local levels. November 2007.
Amnesty International believes that numerous allegations of corporate involvement in suppression of human rights necessitates both companies and governments taking their responsibilities more seriously. The organisation is calling on governments to halt prosecution and legislation aimed at limiting freedom of expression online and to release prisoners held on the basis of their online political expression. Amnesty also calls on governments to commit collectively to human rights standards as the essential basis to prevent violations online. November 2007.
Looking at the IGF meeting from the perspective of European Digital Rights, the interesting point is to which extent the IGF may advance the protection and promotion of human rights such as privacy, freedom of expression, access to information etc. in the digital world. November 2006.
Convened by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on the 28th of October 2007, civil society groups have called for new forms of corporate governance to develop the ICT infrastructure in Africa. These new forms should “ensure the interests of all stakeholders, but above all, the interest of African consumers and citizens,” the statement insists. October 2007.
There are more than a billion internet users worldwide, and the number is set to double within the next ten years. What will the next billion users mean to the Internet itself? How will it affect the network, the technology, the computer software industry, access to knowledge, and our environment? December 2007.
The role of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as a pure discussion forum - “a neutral, non-binding and non-duplicative process” as the EU presidency put it - was intensively discussed during the IGF consultation meetings that were held in February 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland. While hailed as a “liberation” of the bounds of classical diplomacy by some, several governments and NGOs ask for more formalised output.
The Internet Governance Forum's (IGF) inaugural meeting that took place in October-November 2006 in Athens ended with cautious optimism about its experiment in "multi-stakeholder dialogue" on internet policy issues. While no agreement was reached, the Forum provided a venue for various players involved in the internet to voice their views and to share experiences. Several NGOs also used the opportunity to organise workshops as well as to set up "dynamic coalitions." The next meeting of the IGF is scheduled for 12 to 14 November 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Openness is one in four topics to top the list of crucial issues tackled at the first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) (31 October-2 November, Athens, Greece), as part of the discussions around the future of the internet. The session on openess dealt with issues such as the responsibility of IT coorporations about the uses that repressive regimes give to their technology. Intellectual property rights and the limits they impose on the free flow of information were also addressed at this session of the IGF.
IGF could develop a particularly important role in setting an agenda that helps to move the focus of Internet governance debate and policy making from the procedural structures of governance to the identification of the substantive issues involved and the key ‘owners’ of these issues in the real-world arenas where practical outcomes are shaped through interactions between relevant decision-makers. PDF format.
As ICTs reconstitute reality around us in so many different ways, of which we keep discovering more every passing day, their governance is an important area. In ICTs ‘architecture is policy’ and ‘code is law’. And, more and more of it is being written every passing day, perhaps irrevocably, deciding the contours of an emerging world for us, but without our participation in these decisions. IT for Change submitted a paper to the Internet Governance Forum as an input for its first meeting in Athens in October 2006, calling for a framework convention on the Internet.
The high cost of international Internet connectivity has a negative impact on the ability of citizens and institutions in developing countries to access the Internet. This in turn has negative consequences on developing country participation in the global economy and ‘information society’. It is possible to do something about it by accelerating the restructuring of
the communications sector, supporting the establishment of regional internet exchange points in the developing world and forging a legally binding agreement through the WTO Doha Development Agenda as a development-related negotiations issue.
In its recommendations to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), IP Justice highlights the need to preserve the oppenness of the Internet and the free flow of information, to recognize the Internet as valuable tool for access to knowledge and to consider that the laws and the technical structures of the Internet must be embedded with civil liberties values.
The contribution by the Human Right Caucus to the IG Forum Agenda states that the Forum should establish a task force on Human Rights and Internet Governance. This task force would particularly address compliance with freedom of expression, privacy, and the rule of law (most notably due process and effective remedy). PDF format.
The first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) concluded that Internet governance must be "multilateral, transparent and democratic," and based on "the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations." However, there is little prospect of the WSIS reaching agreement on these issue, as 10 proposals for restructuring the system are still under debate after the last preparatory conference. October 2005.
While the last Preparation Conference to the WSIS has only one day left to produce real results that could be presented at the Tunis Summit in November, an agreement on future mechanisms for the regulation of the Internet is still far from reach. Frontlines are drawn between a status quo position and the establishment of a new UN oversight body for Internet regulations. It is a battle between an isolated, but determined United States government and the developing world, in which the EU, Canada and Civil Society try to mediate. September 2005
This paper explores the main aspects that have to be taken into account in providing an effective structure for a forum function in Internet Governance at the international level. The issue is not the forum function, but rather how to translate that concept into a mechanism that can help resolve the problem of Internet governance.PDF format. September 2005.
The first phase of WSIS agreed to pursue the dialogue on Internet governance in the
Declaration of Principles and Action Plan adopted on 12 December 2003 in Geneva, with a view
to preparing the ground for a decision at the second phase of the WSIS in Tunis in November
2005. In this regard, the first phase of the Summit requested the UN Secretary-General to
establish a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). The WGIG has been asked to present
the result of its work in a report "for consideration and appropriate action for the second
phase of the WSIS in Tunis 2005." The WGIG fInal report proposes four possible models for
Internet governance. Three of the four models call for the formation of a UN-linked body.
Depending on the proposal, the new body would either replace or complement the ICANN. PDF format.
The Working Group on Internet Governance has fulfilled its mandate from the Geneva
information society summit. What can be learned from this innovative multi-stakeholder
process, and how are the chances “Internet governance” does not end up as the struggle
between the United States and some Southern governments about the control of ICANN and the root zone file?
This paper suggests fifteen baseline propositions that could help advance the development of
a discourse on IG. They are generally of a definitional and process-oriented nature, and are
intended to be reasonably neutral with respect to the policy choices governments and other
stakeholders may make about the substantive rules that define particular governance
mechanisms. PDF format.
This article argues that a new paradigm of rule-making is needed, not only with respect to
Internet governance. Some essential components of this new model would be that: it must be
international, capable of operating across borders; it must be multi-sectoral, including a
wide variety of voices and participants; and finally, in a search for multi-sectoral
governance, civil society must be accorded an equal voice alongside governments and
industry. PDF format.
This document aims at identifying concrete policy options for Internet governance as a
contribution to the WSIS process. Authors consider that any initiatives in this area must
address the criticisms targeted at ICANN since, although the international community has
defined "Internet governance" in a way that goes beyond ICANN's control of domain names and
addresses, ICANN nonetheless remains central to many issues. PDF format.
This document presents a plan for the ICANN rebuilding. It begins by looking at the desired
functions of a new ICANN. From that starting point a modular structure is articulated that
is considered to be a capable and appropriate framework for the performance of those functions.
The Global Forum on Internet Governance, organized by the UN ICT TF, was designed as a
contribution to a process of consultations that would lead to the establishment of the WGIG.
In terms of its substantive outcome, the Global Forum succeeded in identifying important
areas where commonalities existed, as well as in outlining workable approaches to issues
that remained controversial. The Forum produced a broad agreement on several major areas
where there was a clear and urgent need for international cooperation in developing globally
acceptable solutions: spam, network security, privacy, and information security. PDF format.
ESCWA (Economic and Social Comission Western Asia) contribution to the Global Forum on
Internet Governance. This document considers the issues from a high level perspective in the
form of a problem, alternative strategies for tackling it and a proposed strategy. Efforts
are made to simplify the presentation of points of agreement and others of disagreement,
wherever relevant, while focusing on priority messages. PDF format.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stresses that
Internet governance mechanisms should be based on the principle of "openness" encompassing
interoperability, freedom of expression and measures to resist any attempt to censor content. PDF format.
The OECD has prepared a report as an input to the WGIG. According to OECD's website, this
report "presents an overview of the major benefits that the developments of the Internet and
ICTs provide to both OECD economies and non-OECD countries’ economies; briefly reviews the
evolution of the Internet and the parallel evolution of Internet governance from the 1960s
until today; provides the OECD’s perspective on the factors that were instrumental to the
successful development of the Internet; and finally, provides information on the relevant
work conducted by the OECD on policy issues related to Internet governance as per the
"Internet governance" public policy areas identified by the WGIG".
Civil society: A key player in Internet governance
This essay on the implications of the digital divide for civil society participation in global governance attempts to make three points. First, the author argues that the framing of the digital divide merely in terms of abstract resource/skill inequalities is incomplete and misleadingly detached. He illustrates his point by assessing the implications of the digital divide on the chances for voice and representation of civil society organizations in global governance processes. This analysis leads to the second point, that even in the digital age, it is first and foremost a number of political factors,
domestic and international, that determine the chances of civil society organizations to participate in global governance decision-making. These political conditions take precedence over digital resource inequities. The primacy of the political is further corroborated by the third point. Looking at the potential of the Internet to further an emancipation of civil societies in developing countries from Western-established advocacy and lobbying infrastructures the author conclude that a number of - this time exogenous and international economic and regulatory coordinates - crucially shape the chances of a more disintermediated digital voice in global governance. October 2001. PDF Format.
Civil society organizations interested in Internet governance started a discussion process
at the occasion of the second preparatory meeting for WSIS phase one, in February, 2003 that
led to the formation of a CS caucus. The IG caucus' initial goals were to help ensure that
not only organizations but also individuals participate in the WSIS process; to help set up
language communities and let them be connected to the relevant parties for globally
available resources and to critically monitor ICANN contracts, processes and activities.
Since then, a lot of new ground has been covered by the caucus in a far more sophisticated
debate, embracing nearly all themes of WSIS itself.
This report was produced on March 2005 by Karen Banks, APC's focal point for WSIS and member
of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). At a time of global malaise,
indifference and lack of faith and legitimacy in many of the global and national governance
institutions, the Internet governance debate is one where civil society advocates can make a
real difference, concludes this report which covers the main developments in the Internet
governance debate. PDF format.
This paper provides information on the current state of international and national Internet
governance and their relationships, seen from the point of view of a user of the system who
has been active in a number of Internet governance forums at different levels. PDF format.
Interview with Milton Mueller, professor at the School of Information Studies, Syracuse
University (NY) and director of the Convergence Center. He has widely published about
regulatory issues in the global telecommunications industry. He is also editor and regular
contributor to the ICANNwatch website and one of the members of the Internet Governance
ALAC is currently responsible for considering and providing advice on the activities of the
ICANN as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users (the "At-Large"
community). It has been observed that ALAC is not being successful in attempting to change
its constituency from individual users to a structure of associations of users assembled in
a regional configuration, which renders it ineffective in the adequate follow-up of the ICANN processes.
There is a bit of confusion in the interpretation of the results from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which had its second phase ended in Tunis in November, 2005. For some nothing changed, but the truth is that the WSIS process as a whole has led to several important gains. Actually, the entire WSIS process during these three years has contributed enormously to make the general public aware of relevant ICT-related concepts and actions for social inclusion and human development. December 2005.
The WSIS kicks off Wednesday with a compromise document approved unanimously after several months of fruitless negotiations. The document was hailed late Tuesday with a half-hearted standing ovation. The discontent arises because the Internet status quo has been maintained, allowing the US- based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to continue as the main governing body of the global computer network. The outcome is likely to further upset civil society groups who have found themselves frustrated by intimidating security measures that have isolated foreign delegates, journalists and non-governmental organisations from local groups. November 2005.
The basic problem posed by WSIS was the role of national governments and national sovereignty in global Internet governance. That conflict remains completely unresolved by the WSIS document. The new Internet Governance Forum is a real victory for the civil society actors, but we still don’t know whether this Forum will be based on true peer-peer based interactions among governments, business and civil society, or whether it will reserve special policy making functions to governments, says the member of the Internet Governance Project Milton Mueller.
Civil society will now have a formal role to play in Internet governance through the newly set up Internet Governance Forum. It is considering who will represent it at the forum that will advise the ICANN, the U.S.-based non-profit private organisation currently managing the Internet. The digital divide can be overcome only if the Internet is seen as public good, and governments must set the rules for the private sector to get engaged, says Anita Gurumurthy from the Indian non-governmental organisation IT for Change. November 2005.
Many heads of state and technical experts from around the world are due to attend the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, where, among other things, they will try to negotiate the legal and technical future of the internet. But with the United States unwilling to embrace any changes in the network and other nations seeking to alter the current system, indications are that negotiators could pack up without a concrete agreement. November 2005.
An article written by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, for the Washington Post, states that there is "a growing chorus of misinformation" about the rol United Nations will play in the coming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS, Tunis, 16 to 18 November 2005). One mistaken notion, he says, is that the United Nations wants to "control" the Internet, and adds that "Nothing could be farther from the truth. The United Nations wants only to ensure the Internet's global reach, and that effort is at the heart of this summit". November 2005.
APC has participated extensively in the Internet Governance proccess at the World Summit on the Information Society. Out of this participation, and in collaboration with other partners, including members of the WSIS civil society Internet governance caucus, APC has crystallized a set of recommendations with regard to Internet Governance ahead of the final Summit in Tunis in November 2005. PDF format.
The final text on Internet Governance was agreed at the World Summit on the Information Society. The two quick sounds bites are that (1) the US and the US based Internet Corporation for Domain Names and Numbers (ICANN) retain, for now, control over the most important aspects of the global Internet Domain Name System (DNS), and (2) the conversation over this issue and a surprisingly broader governance agenda is continuing, under the United Nations. The Tunis resolution will create a new "multi-stakeholder" Internet Governance Forum (IGF). This new entity will include governments, various UN agencies, businesses and civil society.