Posts Tagged ‘UN’
Brief session description:
Thursday, July 26, 2012 - The US House of Representatives has passed four cybersecurity bills, and the US Senate has indicated an intent to consider cybersecurity legislation in the current session. The US Department of State is working with its global partners to develope relationships, collaborative action and norms of behavior for cyberspace. The US Department of Commerce has spearheaded a government initiative on botnets and is working with industry on botnet mitigation measures. The Department of Homeland Security is increasing its cybersecurity staffing for strategic and operational concerns. And the White House is transitioning its team on cybersecurity policy with a second cybersecurity adviser to the president. Stuxnet and Flame attacks have captured international attention. Cybersecurity remains a key theme in discussions in the United Nations, the International Telecommunications Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, ICANN and the annual Global Internet Governance Forum. This workshop addressed questions such as: What are businesses, countries, and the technical community doing in this heightened era of cyber security concern? What should they be doing? What are the considerations for individual users here in the U.S. and around the world? How can all these pockets of activity help protect – and not hamper the protection of – the very medium that provides for productivity, communications, efficiencies, innovation, and expression?
Details of the session:
The session was moderated by Audrey Plonk, global security and Internet policy specialist at Intel Corporation. Panelists were:
- Tom Dukes, senior advisor, Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, US Department of State
- Jeff Greene, senior policy counsel, Cyber Security and Identity, Symantec
- Kendall Burman, senior national security fellow, Center for Democracy and Technology
- Patrick Jones, senior director of security, ICANN
Panelists from the government and private sectors gathered at IGF-USA’s cybersecurity workshop to discuss how these entities are collaborating to deal with domestic cybersecurity threats and international cybersecurity issues.
This issue is especially pertinent right now. There have been a number of high-level conferences and meetings in Washington and other locales over the summer of 2012 on this topic, and, as moderator Audrey Plonk, global security and Internet policy specialist for the Intel Corporation, puts it, “Cybersecurity is the new black.”
Jeff Greene, panelist and senior policy counsel of cybersecurity and identity at Symantec, agreed. “At this time three years ago, cybersecurity was something that was mentioned in passing,” he commented. “Now the interest is exponential.”
Symantec’s business is centered on protecting enterprises from cyberthreats. Greene, who until recently worked with the Department of Homeland Security, said that according to this year’s Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, 75 percent of the enterprises Symantec deals with were threatened with a cyber attack in 2011.
He added that while the incidence of spam decreased in 2011, there has been a shift to web-based attacks. Greene also said the government and private sector are working together to reduce such threats.
“It is remarkable how much of the threat dynamic in both sectors is the same,” Greene said. “We see criminal and other malicious activity largely the same as the government does, so this is all work through government, private and international cooperation.”
Panelist Kendall Burman had a different view on government access to private sector and citizen information in terms of cybersecurity. As a senior national security fellow for the Center for Democracy and Technology, she has spent time exploring security and surveillance from the perspective of a member of a group focused on consumer privacy.
“I think that the tricky area from a civil liberties perspective is when the government is in a position of receiving that information, making sure that that information is limited to cybersecurity threats, and what the government can then do then once it receives it,” Burman said.
Panelist Tom Dukes, senior adviser for the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the US Department of State, weighed in from a government standpoint on cybersecurity issues, including the important role of the US government in pushing other countries to increase their outreach and share their perspectives on cybersecurity issues.
“Obviously what the US says, the positions we take, are highly influential and they are certainly looked at by a great many other countries,” Dukes said.
“One thing that the US has been trying to do for the last couple years in terms of addressing cyberpolicy issues in general, cybersecurity included, is to try to take sort of a leadership role in helping shape the world debate on how we think about these issues.”
Dukes said that the US has also made progress in terms of leading a global discussion on reaching a consensus about cyber security norms. Greene said that while the U.S. would like to set its own cybersecurity policies, this could cause global problems.
“If everyone has a different set of rules, (global policymaking)’s going to be pretty difficult,” Greene said.
Panelist Patrick Jones, senior director of security for ICANN, shared his view that while US policymaking is important in terms of cybersecurity, politicians should be aware of the effects that any laws they make may have globally.
“It’s helpful for policymakers, when they’re coming up with legislation, that they think of the Internet as global and consider that the decisions they make may have technical impacts that they’re not considering that impact the way people are using the Internet today – give those a thorough understanding before decisions are made about a particular legislation,” Jones said.
One of the final points of discussion during the workshop was the differences between cybersecurity and information security.
In the discussion it was noted that cybersecurity, in the US view on Internet governance, deals primarily with protection from Internet threats. Information security, in the Russian and Chinese view, also includes censoring the civic sector and content from many Western media and knowledge organizations.
Dukes said there are two considerations for openness and freedom of information that convince most leaders in the world to find common ground in the fairly liberal US position on cybersecurity issues.
First is the basic human rights aspect of the argument; many countries accept that people should, whenever possible within the bounds of public safety, have certain rights of free speech, communication and assembly. Most countries agree that this should apply online.
Dukes’ second point is the economic benefit of keeping the Internet as open and free-flowing as possible. “Many evolving world countries are really desperate to find ways that they can harness the power of the Internet to increase economic opportunity, to increase GDP, to increase development and growth,” he said. “Those arguments seem to be very pragmatic, but it’s hard for countries to disagree with that.”
– Mary Kate Brogan
Details of the Session
Marilyn Cade, catalyst of IGF-USA, provided closing remarks to participants at this year’s conference in Washington, D.C., that mirrored, in some ways, her remarks from the previous year, as she described her view of the state of the Internet.
“We were at the very beginnings of the earthquake way out in the middle of the ocean,” Cade said, referring to one of her discussions from last year. “We were just beginning to detect some seismic activity that eventually, if not dealt with, could lead to a tsunami.”
“It’s possible we’re on the threshold of some bad outcomes and we need to deal with those now,” Cade said.
In light of potential threats to the use and access of the Internet as we know it, Cade encouraged people who were not previously a part of IGF to stay in touch and remain involved in discussions surrounding Internet governance.
Cade, along with Chengetai Masango, representative of the United Nations Secretariat for the IGF, urged conference participants to attend the 2011 global IGF conference this fall.
The conference, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from Sept. 27-30, will be the sixth global IGF meeting. Masango said the main theme of the meeting will be “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation,” and will include more than 90 workshops, best practices, open forums, dynamic coalitions and an IGF Village—a space where organizations can display their Internet governance activities.
Masango stressed that not only are the event meetings themselves important to attendees, but that there is “value at the edges”—a benefit from meeting and dialoging with others who have concerns about Internet governance.
Various remote participation options will be available for those interested in being a part of the 2011 global conference but are unable to travel to Nairobi. Among the options are Webex, realtime transcription, a webcast, email, Twitter and HUBS—gatherings of interested people or national IGFs that can connect together through Webex to take part in the meeting.
More information on the 2011 global conference can be found at http://www.intgovforum.org.
- Natalie Allison
Marilyn Cade, chair of the IGF-USA Steering Committee, led a closing discussion that also included remarks from Markus Kummer, executive administrator for the global IGF Secretariat; Larry Strickling, assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Deimante Bartkiene, a representative of the Lithuanian Embassy, invited IGF-USA attendees to the global IGF, taking place in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sept. 14-17.
Details of the session:
Marilyn Cade, president of ICT Strategies, asked the gathered audience during the closing session of IGF-USA 2010 to suggest at least five ways the IGF process can be improved in the future. She received more input than that. Here are a few of the ideas:
- The “users reign” scenario isn’t based in reality right now. The only way the scenario can come to fruition is if the people involved in global IGF efforts help design it and make it work.
- People should not demonize innovative companies that make mistakes. When companies take risks, let them fail, call them out but don’t overreact or issue calls for new laws to stop an experiment from ever happening again.
- The people involved with IGF should embrace transparency, inclusion and collaboration. Inclusion, in particular, means reaching out to parties that don’t show up to participate in opportunities like IGF-USA. The IGF effort should increase awareness, extend more outreach and have broader information available to people.
- The organizers of IGF should extend participation, particularly remote participation (ability to “attend” virtually, online), to the conferences.
- The Internet is inherently not like real life, and the more we try to make it like real life, the less appealing it will be to users. The people participating in the discussions at IGF should to keep this sentiment in mind going forward.
- The IGF organizers should more clearly articulate the roles of the different Internet stakeholders and organizations, define and implement a funding model for IG and enact some form of output for the IGF itself.
- The IGF should have more voices from emerging markets and the private sector at the table.
- A final piece of advice: Make sure what the people involved in IGF ask for is going to gain the best result. Don’t change the mandate, just renew.
Strickling said in his closing remarks that the U.S. government is committed to the continuation of the IGF in its current form. He said allowing a multistakeholder discussion will only enhance the accessibility of the Internet.
“Internet stakeholders across the globe are committed to this type of forum,” he said. “We want to make sure IGF is not just about dialogue. We need to make sure lessons learned from these discussions are put into action. I don’t imagine I am alone in thinking that open dialogue in IGF is an ideal way to enhance trust in these stakeholders.
“Changes that place one group above another in IGF would ultimately undermine this model.”
Kummer closed by saying that the IGF mandate will be up for a vote in the United Nations’ General Assembly later this year, and he added that the general assembly should almost certainly vote to extend the IGF mandate. But he’s concerned about what kind of changes might be suggested.
“Now we will have to find synthesis between two tendencies: the Internet will stay with us and nation-states will stay with us,” Kummer said. “We see the IGF as a synthesis between these two tendencies.
“I hope they will not do much tweaking moving on. All of you can have a role to play in this by reaching out, talking to governments.”
Click here to go to the main site used by
the organizers of IGF-USA: http://www.igf-usa.us/
-Colin Donohue, http://imaginingtheinternet.org
Andrew McLaughlin, deputy chief technology officer for Internet policy at the White House, worked as a top policy expert for Google before joining the administration of President Barack Obama. McLaughlin talked about transparency and democracy in his keynote.
Details of the session:
U.S. government leaders believe that a wide-open Internet promotes growth, innovation and democracy, according to Andrew McLaughlin, the deputy chief technology officer of Internet policy for the White House. He talked about openness, transparency, innovation and democracy during his closing remarks at the IGF-USA conference July 21 at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.
He said President Barack Obama and the leaders of the federal government want to keep the Internet transparent and decentralized because they believe openness spurs creativity and discussion online.
“We’ve been trying to advance those policies,” McLaughlin said. “Openness is a normative value, which is to say a good in and of itself, but also an important network value. It helps everyone connected to the network understand what’s going on in the network.”
McLaughlin drew a strong distinction between the regulatory model developed for telephone services and the policies being established for the Internet, warning that the latter communications entity is definitely not simply a successor to the former. He said the public-switched telephone network was a closed system that was centralized, tightly controlled based on proprietary technologies and vertically integrated.
In contrast, he said, the Internet is an open, decentralized network that’s built around layers where power really rests in the edge of network, rather than its core. McLaughlin said the government needs to find a way to take advantage of this “ever more cheaper, ever more powerful technology” to help promote transparency.
“Transparency can be loosey-goosey term,” he said. “It can be related to openness in one sense. (It also) means the thing you put in is same thing that comes out at the other end. I think transparency in the network needs to come with transparency in policy making.”
McLaughlin said the first memorandum President Obama signed on his first day of office centered on the transparency of government, and one clear example of governmental openness is the digitizing of the Federal Register.
“We took the Federal Register and started publishing it in XML format, and when we did this, within about 24 hours a group of people at Princeton threw up a simple online application that allows you to type in search terms, and you can get e-mail or an RSS feed that pops up in your inbox any time something is published in the Federal Register that you’re interested in,” McLaughlin said. “That’s great because it’s 70,000 pages a year. It’s inscrutable. Now it’s all freely available.”
So yes, the Internet inherently spurs innovation, creation, growth and global dialogues. But it can’t be a staid resource. McLaughlin said its continued positive evolution is integral to its future success.
“We all have an interest in keeping the Internet global,” McLaughlin said. “The Internet should be open, and the Internet should be decentralized. It is and should be treated as a layered stack.
“The Internet governance work we are doing needs to recognize that and treat each of those layers differently. The Internet needs to evolve. We need to be open to that kind evolution and not let the Internet be hardened into its current structure. It’s breathtaking that in my lifetime this communications network has opened possibilities, enabled change and presented encouraging new horizons for the culture and for the practice and performance of democracy.”
-Colin Donohue, http://imaginingtheinternet.org
Cloud computing holds great promise for customers and entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world. It offers users – including governments and enterprises – the opportunity to pay only for the computing they use rather than maintaining all their computing needs and resources themselves. For innovators, the cloud offers a greatly reduced cost of entry into a market heretofore dominated by big players. However, there are policy challenges to be addressed. Fully realizing this potential requires unprecedented cooperation between industry, consumers and governments to ensure individual privacy and data security and ensure confidence in the remote storage of critical information. Not all are optimistic about the future of cloud computing because of the centralization of personal information, concentrated threats to security and the questions it raises about national sovereignty. This panel, moderated by Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, explored opportunities and challenges of “the cloud.”
Details of the session:
There is a need for discussion about the opportunities and challenges of cloud computing in the public policy arena because of the popularity of platforms like Flickr, Facebook, fantasy sports leagues, Google and Amazon, according to panelists in a cloud computing workshop at the IGF-USA conference July 21 in Washington, D.C.
- John Morris, general counsel, Center for Democracy and Technology
- Dan Castro, senior analyst, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
- Jack Suess, vice president of information technology, University of Maryland
- Evan Burfield, chief executive officer, Synteractive
- Marc Berejka, policy advisor, office of the secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce
Cloud computing offers users — including governments and enterprises — the opportunity to pay only for the computing they use rather than maintaining all their computing needs and resources themselves. This allows innovators to have increased access to the market at a reduced price, increasing competition in the market.
“There is a definite trend to using cloud computing,” Castro said. “There are much lower start-up costs because they don’t have to pay for the infrastructure. It gives you the ability to scale up or scale down. “
A common question is if data posted on cloud computing platforms is secure. The risks to data security and integrity rise with transnational cloud computing. Cloud users often do not know which law enforcement rules apply to their data.
“They don’t even know for sure where the data is; they don’t know exactly what country the data is in,” Morris said. “The challenges of being a cloud computing service provider and how to respond to law enforcement requests are very significant.”
If a cloud customer lives in the United States, but her data is stored on a server in another country, does that make her data more or less secure? Will the laws of the other country alter her rights regarding the actions she takes online?
“I think we will move to seeing risks to free speech on the Internet due to cloud computing,” Morris said. “I think that cloud computing could lead to repression.”
The panel also discussed issued tied to cloud computing and intellectual property.
“As we do move into the cloud there is a question about if we want to protect copyright protection,” Castro said. “Can service providers do a better job? We have a lot of intellectual property in the United States that we care about.”
Panelists noted that cloud computing presents completely new challenges in regard to cybersecurity, copyright protection and free flow of information on the Internet. “In the 1990s, during the version 1.0 era, the government philosophy on the Internet was ‘hands off,’” Berejka said. “We are now truly globally interconnected; it’s not a theory any more. Our philosophy is still to do no harm, but that might not necessarily translate into doing nothing.”
Higher education is one industry that has found a way to take advantage of cloud computing platforms. The outsourcing of student e-mail is becoming common, broadband and advanced networking are available to many more participants and vendor and government support for federations like InCommon is increasing.
“A lot of universities are coming together and thinking about community cloud services,” Suess said. “Higher education likes to collaborate with one another but one of the things that is holding the cloud back is stability. And trust is another question.”
Small businesses are also able to take advantage of cloud computing platforms. Burfield’s company, Synteractive, has 45 employees. He said they have no servers, conduct all their e-mail business in the cloud, use Skype for meetings and use Facebook for marketing. His company created recovery.gov for President Obama’s administration. They built the platform on an Amazon-provided server in about a week, creating the entire platform in the cloud.
“For a small business like ours it’s a great competitive advantage that never existed before,” Burfield said.
Cloud computing is allowing small businesses to be competitive, but there are still limits to what cloud computing services can do.
“For the cloud computing revolution to really work for consumers we need for the industry to move to a world of robust data portability,” Morris said. “The real promise of cloud computing for consumers is innovation and competition. I hope that there is data portability so when a new service comes online I can take my data and try the new service.”
-Rebecca Smith, www.imaginingtheinternet.org
The online world and the Internet are continuing to expand at exponential rates. As more and more users and more applications move into the online world with the expansion of broadband and mobile, concerns about online crimes and malicious threats to the Internet and to users also grow. This workshop was established to examine the range and scope of online crimes and malicious use of the Domain Name System. For instance, scam artists host websites with false information or a phisher registers a domain intended to resemble a famous brand. Consumers and businesses can be victims of abuse, and legitimate service providers are seeing crime and fraud in the network. The use of DNS security (DNSSEC) is part of a mitigation strategy.
Details of the session:
Every time an individual pulls up a webpage or website, the Domain Name System is used.
Moderators and industry leaders met at an IGF-USA 2010 workshop titled E-Crimes and Malicious Use in the DNS: Implications and Observations.
Panelists participating in the discussion noted that malicious use and criminal behavior in the DNS is not acceptable, but they did not come up with any clear conclusions regarding new ways to better control these problems.
The moderator of the event was Jim Galvin, director of strategic relationships and technical standards for Afilias. Panelists included Garth Bruen, founder of KnujOn; Doug Isenberg, attorney at law with GigaLaw Firm; Shaundra Watson, counsel for international consumer protection at the Federal Trade Commission; John Berryhill, intellectual property lawyer; Bobbie Flaim, special agent with the FBI; Margie Milam, senior policy advisor for ICANN; and Matt Serlin, senior director of domain management at MarkMonitor.
The panelists agreed the abuse of the DNS is not a regional issue nor is it confined to a particular sector of the Internet. The crimes occur across multiple jurisdictions and affect a variety of individuals.
Some shared anecdotes about incidents where collaboration with other entities gave way to resolving a major DNS violation.
-Anna Johnson, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org
IGF-USA 2010 session summarizes and assesses earlier discussions of three thought-provoking 2020 Internet scenarios
Earlier in the day at IGF-USA, participants divided into three groups to discuss potential-future scenarios for the Internet in 2020. At this session, moderators briefed the plenary crowd on the discussions and a panel of respondents weighed in with their observations. You can find the one-page descriptions of the proposed scenarios here: http://www.igf-usa.us/page/scenario-stories
Details of the session:
Moderators for the three futuristic scenarios presented for discussion earlier in the day recapped their respective sessions at the end of the IGF-USA conference. Their summations were followed by some observations from a final set of panelists representing business, academia, civil society and government who shared their perspectives on the different models.
The “Global Government for the Internet” Scenario: Presented by Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice Coalition
This potential-future scenario described a world in which governments might take up citizens’ call to clean up the Internet after it has become dominated by crime and dangerous content.
The panelists and moderators determined a “perfect storm” might result from three factors: a loss of consumer trust in online content and e-commerce, business owners find they can no longer suffer the losses from fraud and lawsuits, and governments have proven themselves capable of successfully using electronic monitoring to halt terrorist attacks.
“Converge those forces together and it has people asking government to come in and take charge,” DelBianco said.
In a “global government” scenario there would likely be strict oversight of online content and e-commerce. There would be required biometric identification for online users, and online publishers would be liable for user-generated content and conduct. All users would have to apply for an “online license” to use the Internet.
The IGF-USA panelists and audience who discussed this potential scenario came to one conclusion: avoid this at all costs. Court systems raise complexity, the barriers raised by governmental control would block entry and innovation, the bad actors are likely to ignore new rules or find ways around them, the digital divide would probably widen and it is not likely that governments would possess the competency needed to manage a large network like the Internet.
While this scenario was found to be deplorable by people attending the IGF session, it also seemed all too plausible. Governmental control is already occurring to varying degrees in some areas of the world; for the most part, people are already no longer able to operate anonymously online; and good intentions to close the digital divide might be a force that could drive the change to this less-than-ideal outcome.
Group members brainstormed ideas to avoid this scenario. They noted that government officials should simply enforce the existing laws and seek solutions without overreacting. They said the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should involve more higher-level government representatives in its Governmental Advisory Committee.
They said people involved in the IGF process should continue to discuss Internet issues as they emerge and work with industry, government, civil society and technical groups on targeted solutions. And perhaps most importantly everyone has to recognize that the natural inclination of those in governments will always be to think that they have to regulate the Internet. They said this must be avoided when possible.
The “Internet Islands” Scenario: Presented by Andrew Mack, principal of AMGlobal Consulting
In this scenario, subtitled “The Rise of Digital Fortresses and the End of the Digital Republic,” it was proposed that by 2020, corporate, government and individual entities will have established the means to fence off Internet Islands, keeping inhabitants safe within the fortified walls and keeping “dangerous” — and new — voices out.
The small group of listeners and panelists who discussed this potential-future scenario pointed out that this is already a reality for the people online in some regions of the world and the leaders behind such “walled gardens” all claim to have legitimate reasons for the separation they maintain from the open Internet.
Discussants of this scenario said it is best to avoid a tipping point where we go from having a few scattered Internet islands to isolating nearly everyone in separate spaces online.
“The multi-stakeholder model is absolutely critical (to avoiding this),” said Leslie Martinkovics, director of international public policy and regulatory affairs for Verizon Communications.
The group described four types of islands: totalitarian, liberal, corporate and cultural. The discussants of this scenario also came to the conclusion that users appear to trust the private sector more than the government when it comes to their activities on the World Wide Web.
“There is a lot of trust in the private sector on the Web,” Mack said. “Even though we know in our heart of hearts they have shared information with government.”
Audience participants who discussed this scenario noted that non-governmental organizations will continue in their traditional role as bearing witness and representing those who are unable to represent themselves and they noted that NGOs also serve as an important resource for government and corporate entities.
The scenario discussants determined that the threat of making more Internet Islands can’t be solved by one group but instead it must be addressed by many organizations and entities. They said the IGF should remain a place for open dialogue and it should not get into the business of making policies.
Other practical ideas discussants suggested to help prevent this sort of scenario included expanding regional participation, working to make meetings more substantive and promoting best practices.
The “Users Reign” Scenario: Presented by Pablo Molina, CIO of Georgetown University Law Center
This potential-future scenario anticipates that thanks to major breakthroughs in language translation and the proliferation of cheap easy-to-use mobile devices, billions more users begin to use the Internet — especially through social networking sites. And these new users become the people who are generating — and controlling — most of the content on the Internet.
Two words that filled the “Users Reign” session, Molina said, were “Facebook” and “privacy.” He added that other issues raised by the discussants of this future scenario included autonomy, identity, user-generated content, freedom of expression, censorship and editorial control.
This discussion group noted that the general public is not appropriately represented in Internet governance, directly or through intermediaries or via markets. They considered the idea that with billions more people coming online from developing nations that the Internet may change and they asked if Mandarin Chinese may become the dominant language. They said participants in the IGF process should focus on education, awareness and best practices.
They said a goal of 100,000 attendees, most in the virtual form, should be the target for the 2020 IGF. They said smart user engagement, including crowdsourcing and social research could be implemented to incorporate collective intelligence in the processes of IGF. And they added that those attendees should better represent the diversity of the users of the Internet.
Respondents comment on the scenario panel discussions
After the moderators of the three future-Internet scenarios presented information on their individual sessions, a panel of IGF-USA participants commented on their findings.
The group of respondents included Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); Rebecca MacKinnon, a co-founder of Global Voices and visiting fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University; Milton Mueller, professor at Syracuse University School of Information Studies; Michael J. Nelson, professor at Georgetown University; Phil Bond, president and CEO of TechAmerica; Leslie Martinkovics, director of international public policy and regulatory affairs for Verizon; Richard Beaird, senior deputy United States coordinator for international communications and information policy for the U.S. Department of State; and Kirsten Bennett, a communications fellow at Elon University and student research assistant for the Imagining the Internet Center.
Most of the respondents agreed that the most desirable future of the three scenarios presented is the one in which “users reign” on the Internet. They also agreed that the current trend is not headed in that direction.
They don’t see any of the scenarios as perfect, however. Bennett said while she finds personal value in her participation in popular social media and networking sites online there are some negatives that need to be addressed in the “users reign” model.
“You are broadcasting what you want people to think you are but you are not experiencing the world as you would have before the cameras were on,” Bennett said. “… (You) changed your personality. As soon as you put on that camera you’re acting.”
- Anna Johnson, http://imaginingtheinternet.org
The opening plenary session of the second IGF-USA featured general remarks from leaders Judith Aren and Pablo Molina of the host institution, the Georgetown University Law Center, and from global IGF leader Markus Kummer and Ambassador Philip Verveer of the U.S. State Department.
Details of the session:
One highlight of the opening session of IGF-USA 2010 came when Markus Kummer, the executive coordinator of the United Nations-facilitated global Internet Governance Forum, reviewed the creation of many national and regional IGF initiatives. In the past few years the movement has spread to now include eight regional initiatives, such as the East African IGF, and 15 national IGFs. (Click here for links to these: http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/regional-and-national-igfs)
“It’s just proof that in many countries people feel the need of discussing the issues in multistakeholder situations,” Kummer said.
He emphasized the importance of discussing these issues nationally and regionally, not just globally.
“Global coordination cannot work if there is no coordination on the national level,” Kummer said. “This is particularly true in developing countries where quite often the Internet has developed outside the sphere of governance. It is particularly important that these initiatives happen in developing countries so they realize the importance of understanding the discussions with these multistakeholders.”
Pablo Molina, chief information officer at Georgetown University Law Center, said such Internet governance talks should continue, especially in the United States. He noted that one in every five U.S. university students has taken a class online.
“It was once said that all that’s needed to have a university is a library and a printing press.” Molina said. “I would argue that today, all is needed is the Internet and a savvy community of faculty, staff and students.”
The IGF is a place where businesses, civil society, government, academia, technologists and researchers can discuss current topics and issues and the positive evolution of the Internet. Kummer called it a “soft” governance approach, offering a way for people learn from each other how best to improve working with the Internet, tackling problems not through treaties, but through best practices.
“The Internet itself obviously is deployable for both positive and negative purposes,” said Ambassador Philip Verveer of the U.S. State Department. “The positive is on exhibit here in the program today.”
Verveer said the positives of the Internet include the spread of knowledge and efficiency and the challenges include threats to cybersecurity and to children online.
“The IGF has been criticized for not producing concrete results, as a UN meeting normally produces some sort of resolution, however you usually pay a price for getting there,” Kummer said. “[In the IGF] we focus more on the substance, and by not having a negotiating framework, it allows for free dialogue.”
The United Nations will be deciding later this year whether to extend the mandate for meetings of the global IGF past the initial goal of having five annual sessions. “I am very optimistic the UN is going to extend the IGF and hopefully without any changes,” Verveer said.
Kummer said the majority of the people who have been involved in the IGF process to this point have expressed a desire to keep it as a non-negotiating platform, while others want to change the parameters, maybe to move toward some form of negotiating platform. Some people have said that if there are not major changes in the way it operates the IGF should not continue. The UN may make some suggestions about the future direction of IGF if it is to be continued past the fifth meeting, which takes place in September, 2010, in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“The question is will it be a simple ‘yes,’ or will it be a ‘yes’ but with certain conditions attached,” Kummer said.
-Rebecca Smith and Sam Calvert, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org
Participants in IGF-USA final plenary panel show unanimous support for global Internet Governance Forum process
A member of the gathered audience at the close of the first-ever Internet Governance Forum-USA in Washington, D.C., Oct. 2, 2009, offered his response to the open-ended and personal question about why the IGF is important to our future.
“No matter where you’re from,” he said, “you can share your ideas.”
That particular response, however understated and simple, seemed to carry the day and serve as the main thrust of the afternoon plenary session that assessed the IGF and its future.
Panelists on the daylong conference’s closing discussion continued to echo the importance of a multistakeholder dialogue, a concept that was initially raised during the opening session and continually referenced throughout the conference.
“What is important to me about multistakeholderism is not that it’s a formalized exercise in which you have a mechanism that puts a government person and a civil society person and a business person on a panel next to each other and assume they’re all speaking for their group,” said Milton Mueller, a professor in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies who participated by remote video feed.
“What’s important is to maintain access to all the players that have real operational or political control over Internet governance.
It’s distributed, it’s decentralized. What’s important about the IGF is the extent to which it can bring together all those people and come up with solutions to those problems. - Milton Mueller
And open, unfettered discussions that don’t have to result in some kind of formal decree or decision have been a byproduct of putting several different opinions, ideologies and interests at the same table.
“We recognized that the information society is an ecosystem that involves all the players and it’s built by contributions from all,” said Art Reilly, senior director of strategic technology policy for Cisco.
“The IGF has evolved. Any issue is on the table and it can be dealt with frankly and honestly. Because there’s no decision making, I don’t have to worry about at the end of the day what that sentence is that’s going to describe that discussion.
“We have the opportunity to have a very frank discussion.”
Of course, moderator Marilyn Cade, principal of ICT Strategies, didn’t want to know only how IGF impacted those in attendance. She also wanted to know what people had done to help IGF during the last three years.
She and the panelists noted the evolution of the IGF from its first international conference in Athens to its upcoming meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Richard Beaird, senior deputy and United States coordinator for international communications and information policy with the U.S. Department of State, said the U.S. government, specifically, has helped IGF during its course by supporting the organization since its inception and continuing to play an active role in its existence.
“We support the continuation of the IGF through it sessions, and we will continue to do so,” Beaird said. “We will be in Sharm el-Sheikh. Our participation is full, and we will continue to be available upon request to participate in workshops and panels.”
Beyond that, individual members of IGF have helped support the organization by offering an abundance of their time and energy toward ensuring that IGF hosts important and informative conferences.
“We have contributed significantly to shaping the agenda in the sense that we’ve been very willing to take on the controversial issues and promote the forum as a way of having a rational and intelligent dialogue about those issues,” Mueller said.
While the IGF has demonstrated great progress in its effective collaboration in the last three years, all panelists agreed that room for improvement was available.
They said the critical mission of the IGF – that it remain an informal organization that holds open discussions – shouldn’t change.
But Markus Kummer, the executive coordinator for the Internet Governance Forum, observed that some questions have been raised about whether the group’s core beliefs should be reanalyzed.
We have been changing throughout but we have maintained some core principles. Should these core principles be maintained or not? Some would like to change some of the principles and reorient the IGF more like a traditional UN body. Many governments are not used to this freewheeling type of discussion. But there is danger that governments could have the last word, so there is a need for an outreach. - Markus Kummer
Panelists and attendees ended the daylong event looking optimistically toward the global conference in Egypt and yet another opportunity to engage in an international dialogue about Internet issues.
“(The IGF) deals with global issues, transnational issues, ones that require coordination across political boundaries, and that is probably the most important thing about the IGF,” Mueller said. “We cannot deal with the Internet in a purely national context. We don’t want to put the Internet back into boxes for the purposes of regulation.”
-Colin Donohue, http://www.imaginingtheinternet.org
The official site for IGF-USA is http://www.igf-usa.us/
Internet Governance Forum - USA is a multistakeholder effort to illuminate issues and cultivate constructive discussions about the future of the Internet. It provides a local forum in the US to engage civil society, government, technologists and research scientists, industry and academia, helping to create partnerships and coalitions that move dialogues forward and demonstrate best practices. The first IGF-USA will take place Oct. 2, 2009, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street NW, Washington, D.C. The one-day event will focus on the changing Internet and the way forward for the international Internet Governance Forum, an initiative that is facilitated by the United Nations.
The CSIS location is one block from the Farragut West station on the Orange and Blue lines. Take the 18th Street exit and walk north to the corner of 18th and K streets. CSIS is also just a few blocks away from the Farragut North station on the Red line.
Regional and national IGF meetings are taking place globally, including gatherings in East Africa, Europe (EuroDIG), Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa, Spain and Italy. These events are organized on a local level and have no direct ties to the international IGF, however the UN Secretariat recognizes the importance of the regional and national events and reports from these meetings are shared at the international gatherings.
A series of still images pulled from the live webcast of the 2008 international Internet Governance Forum in Hyderabad is included in the video montage that accompanies this article.