Documentary coverage of IGF-USA by the Imagining the Internet Center

Posts Tagged ‘wcit

IGF-USA 2012 Afternoon Plenary Discussion: Defining the Future for Internet Governance – Meeting Evolving Challenges

leave a comment »

Brief session description:

Thursday, July 26, 2012 – This  major session of the opening plenary of IGF-USA discussed the current state of play with various proposals ranging from the WCIT, the UN Commission on Science and Technology and Enhanced Cooperation, areas where more government may be called for from their perspective or strong improvements in “governance.” Panelists offered a range of perspectives about government and governance.

Featured participants in this special session included Jeff Brueggeman, vice president for public policy, AT&T; Chris Wolf, partner and Internet law expert from Hogans Lovells; Danny Weitzner, Office of Science and Technology Policy, The White House.

Details of the session:

Panelists sit to discuss “Defining the Future for Internet Governance: Meeting Evolving Challenges” at the IGF-USA Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

As Chris Wolf of Hogans Lovells said, the ghosts of Internet past, present and future were part of the final plenary discussion on “Defining the Future for Internet Governance: Meeting Evolving Challenges” at IGF-USA Thursday at Georgetown Law Center.

Wolf dubbed himself the “the past guy” and remembered a time he was considered a pioneer in knowledge of the Internet and how it was evolving in its early years. The trio of panelists defined the future for Internet governance and the evolving challenges citizens face.

There’s been an enormous amount of growth and development during the Internet’s short life, noted Jeff Brueggeman, vice president of public policy at AT&T.

“I think the true strength of the IGF, as we talk about every year, is its ability to self-improve,” he said. “And, for all of us, from a bottom-up way, to help innovate and change the process each and every year.”

IGF introduces new topics and builds on those addressed the year before. The IGF is not just a “talk shop” that meets once a year, Brueggeman added.

Chris Wolf speaks during “Defining the Future for Internet Governance: Meeting Evolving Challenges” at the IGF-USA Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

IGF needs to keep broadening the participation and the process, including peers in more developing countries. More remote participation and adding numbers has been a success in the meetings, Brueggeman said. The discussion needs to keep evolving at IGF-USA and on a global basis. Pressure is growing to show that it doesn’t have the same discussion year after year.

Brueggeman said those involved in IGF should do a better job of capturing the impact of the multi-stakeholder process and show the value of it to those who don’t come to the meetings and those who will never come.

Sustainability is a real challenge, though he has seen an enormous amount of progress. A few years ago, organizers and attendees were debating whether there would be an IGF the following year. Now, they debate what to build around the one-day conference.

Danny Weitzner of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy – Wolf called him the “ghost of Internet future” – highlighted three things that are already happening.

“We are at the middle of a multi-stakeholder explosion and the question is how to actually help make sure it’s directed and productive and doing the right things,” Weitzner said,

The second thing: He said Vint Cerf has eloquently pointed out that the Internet is now being actively used by more than 2 billion of the 7 billion people in the world, adding: “Attending to that is going to tremendously important in the future.”

And his final point: “We are in an era of just inevitable and irresistible transparency. Sometimes even governments, sometimes companies, sometimes even civil society groups take refuge in un-transparent un-institutional activities because it’s often easier, it’s often safer. But I think we’re learning over and over again in a variety of different institutions that we’ve got to learn to embrace transparency, we’ve got to learn to make it work for us and that resisting it is a mistake.”

Top-down rule-making does not always lead to innovative solutions. The Internet keys into collective intelligence and is best served by the multistakeholder model of governance, Weitzner said.

Although there are many important issues to address as the Internet evolves, Weitzner said he thinks the real discussion that’s going on is to make sure the Internet’s open environment can raise its accessibility to move from 2 billion users to 7 billion.

— Ashley Barnas

Advertisements

IGF-USA 2012 Opening Plenary Roundtable: Emerging Internet Issues – Governments or Governance?

with 2 comments

Brief session description:

Thursday, July 26, 2012 – This major session of the opening plenary of IGF-USA discussed the current state of play with various proposals ranging from the WCIT, the UN Commission on Science and Technology and Enhanced Cooperation, areas where more government may be called for from their perspective or strong improvements in “governance.” Panelists offered a range of perspectives about government and governance.

Details of the session:

The session was moderated by Marilyn Cade, the chief catalyst of IGF-USA. Panelists included:

  • Rebecca MacKinnon, the Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation
  • Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Jacquelynn L. Ruff, vice president of International Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Verizon Communications
  • Paul Brigner, the regional bureau director of the North American Bureau at the Internet Society
  • John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers
  • Kristin Peterson, co-founder and CEO of Inveneo
  • Fiona Alexander, associate administrator of the Office of International Affairs at NTIA

If there’s a keyword lying at the heart of the Internet Governance Forum it is “multistakeholder.” Key is the belief that individuals from various backgrounds—from private industry to civil society to government to academia—benefit from gathering and discussing their visions for the future, and the viability thereof. Whether they’re able to reach any consensus after gathering and discussing the issues is another matter entirely.

The 2012 IGF-USA conference, held at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C., Thursday, opened with a panel showing just how diverse these individuals can be, and how varied their focus is in regard to the pressing issues facing the parties looking to influence the continued growth of the Internet.

Rebecca MacKinnon from the New American Foundation speaks at the Opening Plenary Roundtable at IGF-USA in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

Rebecca MacKinnonof the New America Foundation opened the seven-member discussion by highlighting the importance of the “digital commons,” the non-commercial backbone providing structure to a number of vital digital institutions. Because of the shared nature of this backbone, which stretches across traditional nation-state boundaries, MacKinnon said she believes the world is on the verge of a reformation of the current governing concepts, as individual states try to gain control over institutions that involve those beyond their jurisdiction.

In the modern era, MacKinnon asserted, individuals are “not just citizens of nation-states and communities, we’re citizens of the Internet.”

“We have to be informed about how power is exercised,” she continued, highlighting a need for everyone involved to play their part in shaping the direction of the Internet’s evolution.

This, in turn, circles back to not just the perceived necessity for multi-stakeholder solutions, but the lingering questions as to how those solutions are reached.

“How do we ensure that the policy-making mechanisms actually allow input from all affected stakeholders?” MacKinnon asked.

She theorized that societies are on the precipice of a “Magna Carta” moment, in which the traditional concepts that dictate the ways in which governments work will be disrupted by this multistakeholder model.

This drew some rebuttals to some degree from other members of the panel.

Fiona Alexander, associate administrator at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, agreed with MacKinnon that some nations may be standing at that edge, but said the Magna Carta moment isn’t to be expected of every country, or even every stakeholder taking part in current dialogue.

“They [unnamed stakeholders] have in many cases failed to live up to what’s expected of them,” she said, which leaves those advocating for multistakeholder solutions in a situation where they’re defending a model for governance under siege, fostering doubts for its efficacy.

And a large number of those stakeholders are far behind those in developed, Western countries in regard to Internet penetration.

Fiona Alexander speaks at the Opening Plenary Roundtable at IGF-USA in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

Kristin Peterson, co-founder and CEO of Inveneo, a non-profit organization dedicated to the proliferation of communications technology in the developing world, shared just how much work needs to be done in bridging the gap between dominant Internet stakeholders and those just attaining reasonable access to the Web.

“Internet access is important not just on individual level, but on a functional level, an organizational level,” she said.

Part of this is due to the remoteness of developing, rural areas, which drives up the cost of infrastructure to a counterproductive degree.

A single 1MB connection, Peterson highlighted, which would be suitable for a school or a medical clinic, costs upwards of $800 a month in Haiti. Another unnamed country that Inveneo has worked with has less than 100MB in total. And that 1MB of Internet access? It costs roughly $2,000 per month.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, far removed from countries just beginning to break down the barriers preventing them from gaining full access to the Internet, are stakeholders who, in the minds of some, will have an inordinate amount of influence over multi-stakeholder debates.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, highlighted the influence of corporate entities as one such problem.

Comparing growing corporate influence over the Internet to “the clouds gathering at the beginning of a Batman movie,” Rotenberg warned those in attendance, “You have to pay attention when the skies darken, things are about to happen.”

One such entity, which Rotenberg accused of having an ever-growing outsized influence over the Internet, is Google, whose growing presence on the Web is the “Number-one threat to Internet freedom.”

Regardless of whether that’s the case, such problems do require a means to draw in those affected by the evolving dialogue on Internet governance.

John Curran speaks at the Opening Plenary Roundtable at IGF-USA in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

“How do we get people engaged, how do we raise a flag and pull in society, business, governments?” asked John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers.

Curran offered perspective into the scope of the problems facing Internet stakeholders, the shape of which appears on multiple layers, with technological standards and protocols existing at the bottom layer. They require little political involvement, moving up to domain names and IP addresses, which aren’t necessarily the most hot-button social issues under debate within the halls of Congress. Nonetheless, they bring about privacy and tracking concerns, peaking with the broad, end-user experiences that draw in such general topics as intellectual property use, censorship and national security.

And, of course, given the nature of IGF, the multistakeholder model is seen as the best means to approach such problems.

Paul Brigner, the regional director of the North American Bureau at the Internet Society and Jacquelynn Ruff, vice president of international public policy and regulatory affairs for Verizon, offered insight into how new players are accepting and integrating into the multistakeholder approach.

Telecommunications firms, well aware of the dwindling demand for their traditional services in the wake of the Internet revolution, are “moving away from focusing on traditional telecommunications to Internet protocol and Internet issues,” Brigner said.

Jacquelynn Ruff speaks at the Opening Plenary Roundtable at IGF-USA in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

An issue such as the possible transition to a sending party pays structure, for example, is an issue that demands the inclusion and participation of a multitude of affected parties. Under such a regime, “You’re not free, necessarily, to innovate at low cost like you experience today,” Brigner said. “The end-to-end nature of the Internet that allows these sort of things to evolve.”

To alleviate some of the difficulty inherent in such discussions, Ruff cited the importance of enhanced cooperation, the notion of mapping past developments, current deficiencies and projecting future ambitions in a way that involves all interested parties. Emphasizing examples within UNESCO, ICANN and the Council of Europe, Ruff celebrated enhanced cooperation’s increasing rate of adoption.

The world is at “a fork in the road on the global discussion on where the future lies,” she said. And applying enhanced cooperation to the traditional multi-stakeholder methodology could be an effective means to remedy the arguments over which path to take.

That said, a plethora of stakeholders have their own interpretation and they will be seizing the opportunities granted by this IGF event and future conferences to throw their hat into the ring drawn by the opening plenary session’s panelists.

— Morgan Little

IGF-USA 2012 Opening Plenary Remarks: Ambassadors Phil Verveer and Terry Kramer advocate Internet freedom, multi-stakeholder model

leave a comment »

Brief session description:

Thursday, July 26, 2012 – Ambassador Phil Verveer, coordinator for international communications and information policy at the US State Department, offered opening remarks and introduced Terry Kramer,  the former president of Vodafone North America, who was appointed in the spring of 2012 to be US Ambassador to the World Conference on International Telecommunications, which will take place Dec. 3-13 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The International Telecommunication Union description of WCIT: “The conference is a review of the current International Telecommunications Regulations, which serve as the binding global treaty outlining principles that govern the way international voice, data and video traffic is handled, and which lay the foundation for ongoing innovation and market growth.”

Details of the session:

Phil Verveer, U.S. State Department Ambassador, gives opening remarks at IGF-USA in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

Ambassador Phil Verveer, US coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, emphasized the importance of Internet freedom at the Internet Governance Forum-USA Thursday morning at Georgetown Law Center.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, directly supports Internet freedom, Verveer said.

“Article 19:2 (states), ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,’” he said. “Every human is entitled to these rights simply by being human.”

Although it has been ratified by many nations, the declaration is not bound by international law, and Verveer acknowledged that differing government philosophies result in different Internet policies.

“There is a compelling case for Internet freedom grounded in human rights, but the problem, of course, is that it is not nearly enough to persuade some countries that have strong reasons to interfere with Internet freedom,” he said.

Verveer pointed out that the declaration does not provide the only support for Internet freedom. The economy also allows for strong incentive to liberalize Internet policy.

From an economic standpoint, the argument for Internet freedom is straightforward: The Internet is an enormous commercial channel, and there is a positive correlation between its accessibility and its economic potential.

“There is the fundamental intuition that serious reductions in innovation will handicap economic growth,” Verveer said.

Verveer said he expects that delegates to the 2012 World Conference of International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai will be in agreement that the amendments made to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) in 1988 be upheld.

“The United States will … prevent changes of ITRs that would … constitute a reversal of the liberalized telecommunications environment that has prevailed virtually everywhere in the world since 1988,” he said. “Our principal goal for WCIT involves maintaining this enabling environment, with complete confidence that if we are successful the benefits of information and communications technology will continue to increase and to expand to billions of additional people.”

Terry Kramer, U.S. Ambassador for WCIT, gives opening remarks at IGF-USA in Washington, D.C. on July 26, 2012.

Verveer then yielded the stage to Terry Kramer, US ambassador to the WCIT. Kramer charged the audience to think critically about the Internet’s future and about the messages relayed to other stakeholders in the global network.

“When it comes time for us to advocate directly (for Internet freedom), it will be very important that we come from a position of knowledge and fact, not just ideology,” he said. “(We must) be able to speak from knowledge about what worked in the past and how we see the future evolving.”

Kramer attested to the value of the multistakeholder model, given the distributed nature of the Internet and the diversity of its users. He emphasized the need to meet with international players at the forefront of the Internet’s evolution. “The multistakeholder model is the only effective one that will work,” he said. “The Internet is too global to have one organization in control. …We need to get examples of what success looks like (across the world).”

Kramer warned that some stakeholders’ ambitions are likely to oppose Internet freedom, openness and accessibility.

“There have been several proposals that … are worrisome,” he said. “One category of these is the control of traffic and the control of content. From every angle, that results in a bad outcome. It creates cynicism … and workaround solutions. … But there will be wisdom and good ideas here that we can effectively advocate.”

— Katie Blunt