How do we best work together to create an open, trusted Internet? That is a key question I will discuss in my opening keynote address tomorrow at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG 2016).
As I wrote earlier in the week, the Africa Internet Summit in Botswana was a remarkable event. The energy and passion there was so strong. Africa is poised to take full advantage of the digital revolution and our week there has been productive.
I find it appropriate, then, that as I move from one continent to the other the theme of EuroDIG 2016 is “Embracing the digital (r)evolution“.
A critical difference, of course, is that in Europe access to the Internet is readily available. Europe has played an important role in this global “network of networks” since the dawn of the online era.
Europe is facing an important choice
The challenge Europe faces now is how to fully embrace that digital revolution while at the same time protecting its citizens online.
I understand the very real concerns. We are facing a global erosion of trust in the Internet right now due to security and privacy concerns. Each week we seem to hear of more massive data breaches. A recent survey in the US found that 45% of users had changed their behavior online because of their fears. Articles from around the world voice similar concerns.
Europe is facing an important choice between two different paths forward. One path leads to an open, trusted Internet and all the social and economic benefits it brings. The other path leads to an untrusted and increasingly closed off network that fails to drive growth and remains vulnerable to threats from outside. One path leads to opportunity, the other to stagnation.
The key is trust, and how to sustain the Internet as a fundamentally vibrant and trusted space. Yet, the challenge is that there is no magic answer. Governments alone cannot restore trust in the Internet. The private sector alone cannot do so. Neither can the engineers or the universities.
I worry, though, that some governments in Europe believe that they can solve the issues alone. Seeking to ensure their citizens are safe, they are taking actions that may have the unintended consequences of creating online barriers or fragmenting parts of the Internet.
Collaborative Security is the way forward
We cannot let this happen. We need to find ways that the benefits of the Internet economy get to everyone, everywhere.
We need to work together – all of us, not just governments or technical people alone – to restore trust in the Internet.
At EuroDIG I will speak of an approach we recommend called Collaborative Security. I will also speak about why the multistakeholder approach to Internet goverance is so critical.
I look forward to joining in this European dialogue on Internet governance and identifying opportunities to act. To not just talk about the need for better Internet governance, but to join together as governments, businesses, entrepreneurs and civil society to create the kind of Internet we all want. We need to work together to develop the collaborative consensus on how we get the Internet of Opportunity to survive, thrive and grow.
This is the critical work of our time!
Editor’s Note: You can watch Kathy Brown’s opening keynote via the EuroDIG live video stream on Thursday, June 9, 2016, at 11:30am CEST (UTC+2). For information about other Internet Society activities, please visit our EuroDIG 2016 event page.