IGF-USA 2012 Afternoon Plenary: Summaries of the Day’s Sessions
Brief session description:
Thursday, July 26, 2012 – The moderators and organizers of the day’s workshops, best practices and case studies sessions presented reports rounding up the key details of the day’s discussions.
Details of the session:
From big data to youth online, policy must evolve with the Internet. Nine workshops were held at today’s IGF-USA concerning topics from gTLDs and big data to cybersecurity and youth online. Moderators or organizers reported the main takeaways from each workshop or best practice forum.
Workshop: Next challenge – How to handle data in the cloud
- The idea of big data confuses policymakers, who tend to interpret the data as numbers as opposed to actual text, image and video content. The term “big data” is often confused with politically charged rhetoric like “big government,” “big business” and “big tobacco,” joked moderator Mike Nelson, a professor at Georgetown University and research associate at CSC Leading Edge Forum.
- The panel concurred that the European Union idea of a digital “right to be forgotten” is impractical for the majority of Internet users. Because of the interconnected nature of the Internet, erasing one user’s published content could cause a domino effect and compromise the content of other users.
- The policies instituted thus far have created layers upon layers of future problems for policymakers, according to Nelson.
Workshop: The changing landscape of the Domain Name System – New generic top level domains (gLTDs) and their implications for users
- A multi-stakeholder model for the Internet will continue to exist but needs to be refined, moderator Ron Andruff, president and CEO of DotSport, LLC., said of the panel’s conclusions.
- A healthy criticism of ICANN can only make it a better organization, Andruff said. Domain names may continue to seem irrelevant based on the continued use of external links and search engines, but they will always play a critical role on the Web.
- There are “more questions than answers about the changing landscape,” Andruff said. “While we know the changes are coming, none of us know what those are.”
A scenario story: Two possible futures for copyright: anarchy or totalitarianism
- This workshop focused on two possible extremes regarding copyright laws: total removal of all copyright law or complete enforcement of copyright online. A panel of three students discussed the economic and creative implications of each, led by organizer Pablo Molina, information systems technology professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
- If a regime of anarchy concerning copyright laws ensued, creativity would flourish at an individual level, but companies would be hindered from investing in creativity at an organized level, Molina said. If a regime of totalitarianism concerning copyright laws developed, money would constantly be changing hands at the business level, but individual creativity would suffer for fear of persecution for the use of copyrighted materials.
- Based on a survey of the panel’s audience, one third of the audience believed U.S. would most likely adopt an anarchic copyright policy, while two thirds believed the U.S. would favor copyright totalitarianism.
- The panel concluded laws are only one part of the copyright struggle, and other important aspects include social norms and efforts for more innovative business model solutions, Molina said.
- “One of the principal takeaways was that communication and information flows to evolve to the point of being an essential service in international disaster response,” said panelist Garland McCoy, founder and president of the Technology Education Institute.
- Considering that citizens are often the first at a scene of an emergency, social networking sites are transforming the way that the public becomes aware of emergency situations, McCoy said.
Workshop: Can an open Internet survive – Challenges and issues
- Main challenges in maintaining an open Internet include protecting intellectual property, privacy and freedom of access simultaneously, according to moderator Robert Guerra, Privaterra founder.
- Important measures required to maintain an open Internet is to embrace the multi-stakeholder effort and consider different global points of view, Guerra said.
Critical Internet Resources (CIRs): Evolution of the Internet’s technical foundations
- In order to keep the Internet alive, it is necessary to continue to develop policies and adopt standards for the future of CIRs, said panel co-organizer Paul Brigner, the regional bureau director of the North American Bureau at the Internet Society.
- Perception that the US government is in control of Internet governance has exponentially decreased as multiple stakeholders continue to actively participate in the policymaking process.
Workshop: Cybersecurity – Channeling the momentum at home and abroad
- Unlike debates concerning healthcare and economic policy, panelists agree that Internet policy has not evolved to have a common understanding by the public, according to Patrick Jones, senior director of security for ICANN.
- There is a long way to go before policymakers can fully understand the technical implications of policies when there is legislation being developed concerning Internet governance, Jones said.
Turning principles into practice, or not: Case vignettes – Internet Governance/ICANN, consumer privacy, cyber security, dialogues about lessons learned
- Principles are good for guidance in hard legislation, but when Internet actors do not follow legislation guidelines, principles alone are not enough to govern the Web, said moderator Shane Tews of Verisign.
- Soft laws have the flexibility to update and change as the Internet evolves, Tews said.
Youth forum: Youth in an online world – Views and perspectives of youth as users
- The majority of college students 20 and older are most concerned about privacy online, specifically on social networking sites, said moderator Dmitry Epstein, a post-doctoral fellow at Cornell University Law School.
- Youth’s main worries about the future of Internet policy is that they will continue to have to worry about privacy settings if they want to enjoy the free and personalized services online, Epstein said.
- One solution Epstein proposed was a policy to make all social networking sites private by default and allow for simple ways to configure privacy, such as a switch or opt-out of personal information disclosure.
— Madison Margeson