About Internet Society

Heads Up! A Slight Change to the Internet Society Election Process

I’m writing to the Internet Society community today with a notice that there is a key change to the Procedures for Selecting Trustees starting this year.  This change reduces the duration of voting period from 28 to 14 days in the Internet Society Board of Trustees elections through which Chapters and Organization Members get to elect candidates to the Board.

If you read the 2019-2020 Elections Timetable carefully, you may notice that the Candidates Forum and the voting period are no longer done in parallel. As the below timeline shows, the 28-day period that used to be allocated for voting and the Candidates Forum is now split into two distinct sequential stages: the first 14 days is for the Candidates Forum and the second 14 days is for voting.

This decision was made for two reasons.

The first is to allow candidates to be heard fully before votes are cast. Upon examining the activity log of the last elections, we realized that some voters cast their ballots before the candidates had a chance to interact with the community. Voting before hearing what candidates have to say in the Candidates Forum is detrimental to the elections process as it encourages what one can call ‘electoral tribalism’ since voters base their decisions on name recognition or popularity rather than on the merits and ideas of the candidates.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new candidate with great ideas on how to improve the work of the Internet Society. You are not known by many in the community, but have a lot of useful ideas that you wish to share to try to persuade voters to vote for you. In the past, voting would be open immediately at the start of the Candidates Forum, hence making whatever you say meaningless for those who are already committed to vote for their ‘favorite’ candidate. This may cause you to be frustrated since voters may not hear you out because they have already made up their minds. It may likewise make those more ‘popular’ candidates less keen to engage in the discussion because they expect to have voters cast their ballots already at the start of the voting period without the need to hear any candidate.

After this key change is made, this will no longer be possible. Candidates will have their say first and voters can hear them out and weigh their options if they are keen on voting for those with the better ideas and clearer vision. They could also consider looking into the candidates’ past track records of course, but voters cannot cast a ballot until all the candidates have spoken and answered all queries of the community. In other words, this makes responding and interacting with the community of greater importance and value for candidates, forcing them to be more upfront and engaging and less laid back since no votes will be cast until the Candidates Forum is over.

This change will probably not deter some voters from voting for candidates they had in mind before, but it gives those voters an opportunity to reflect and rethink their choices, because they gave all candidates the chance to argue for their positions and ideas.

As the Chair of the Elections Committee at the time, I felt it was necessary to make this change to ensure that all candidates, especially new and relatively unknown ones, are treated fairly and get the chance to be heard. It is not healthy in a democratic process to prejudge candidates before listening to their ideas and responses to questions posed by the Committee or the community through the Candidates Forum. Candidates deserve to be heard and their competing ideas assessed by voters well before the first vote is cast. Doing so promotes greater awareness and equips voters with all the information they need to make informed decisions.

The second reason is based on our conclusion from the statistics of the voting record of the last elections that the period of voting was apparently too long and not efficiently utilized. We found out that the majority of the voters either voted immediately after they were invited, waited until the last day before voting, or cast their ballot only after they got a reminder as the below graphs show.

2018-2019 Chapter election:

2018-2019 Organization Member election:

The empirical data above clearly showed that the 28-day period was not necessary since the majority of votes took place in a few days. While a long period of voting or early voting can be justifiable in paper elections to avoid long lines or to give voters the ability to vote on weekends without having to miss work or school, in an online voting environment, this is not needed. In fact, part of the month-long period could be more effectively used exclusively to hear from and interact with candidates.

Yes, we are halving the voting period from 28 to 14 days. But by doing so, we are also providing candidates with 14 days exclusively to engage with the community, mainly through the Candidates Forum, and to offer an opportunity to create a much more informed electorate.

I thought I’d just let you know how we came to this decision and look forward to having a productive and democratic elections process this time around.

If you are an eligible voter, make sure you mark your calendar and note this important change.

Walid Al-Saqaf
Chair of the Internet Society’s 2018-2019 Elections Committee

About Internet Society

2019 Internet Society Board of Trustees Final Election Results & IETF Appointment

The Internet Society Elections Committee is pleased to announce the final results of the 2019 elections for the Internet Society Board of Trustees. The voting concluded on 8 April. The challenge period (for appeals) was opened on 9 April and closed on 17 April.

There were no challenges filed. Therefore the election results stand:

  • Olga Cavalli has been re-elected to the Board by our Chapters.
  • Mike Godwin and Mieke van Heesewijk have been elected by Organization Members.
  • Also, following the process documented in RFC 3677, the Internet Architecture Board has selected and the IETF has confirmed Richard Barnes to serve a second term on the ISOC board.

The term of office for all 4 of these Trustees will be 3 years, commencing with the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the Internet Society, 26-28 July.

The Elections Committee congratulates all of the new and renewing Trustees and expresses its gratitude once more to all the candidates and to everyone who participated in the process this year

25th Anniversary About Internet Society Shaping the Internet's Future

The Internet Society’s 25th Anniversary and the Renewal of Commitment

Last week was a proud and memorable moment for us at the Internet Society as we celebrated our 25th anniversary in Los Angeles. In addition to the well-known Internet Hall of Fame award ceremony and the annual InterCommunity 2017 event, this year’s event also had a dialogue on topics from  the 2017 Internet Society Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future and introduced the 25 under 25 award ceremony, which celebrated inspiring and remarkable ideas and projects that young and motivated entrepreneurs in the Internet space have initiated.

I was equally, however, touched by the strong drive and energy in the Internet Society leadership and staff, whose efforts and attention to detail have been clearly visible throughout the two-day event. The joyful spirit demonstrated by the Internet Society team at the Brussels interactive node helped ensure that the 15-hour InterCommunity 2017 marathon covering 16 interactive regional nodes was truly a global conversation. Using the Internet to connect those nodes demonstrated one practical application of the Internet to run a global event with precision and high productivity. Furthermore, the positive mood at Brussels appeared to be quite contagious as reflected by the celebrations that took place in at least another 55 celebrations nodes across the globe.

Past, present and future

To me, the anniversary celebration had three major pillars. The Internet Hall of Fame was an opportunity to look back to the past and revisit some of the remarkable work of individuals who contributed to building and advancing the Internet during its early stages. This group of veterans can teach us a lot about the struggles and challenges they faced and overcame to make the Internet what it is today.

The second part was on the present as can be deducted from the interactive and engaging discussions in the various nodes that took place in dozens of countries across the globe. Much of the discussions revolved around regional and local issues that are also connected to global aspects of the Internet. The increasing importance the Internet as a driver of development and progress was emphasised along with the central role that the Internet Society should continue to play in promoting an Internet that is accessible, affordable and works for the benefit of everyone.

The third part dealt with the future and this is where the Internet Society’s Paths to Our Digital Future report reflects upon what many see as challenges and opportunities going forward from Artificial Intelligence to Internet of Things and from increasing concerns about privacy and ethical challenges to the emergence of disruptive technologies built on the Internet such as blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the 25 under 25 awardees presented to us a glimpse of how the future may be improved using the Internet for the good of society.

We are all in this together

By following the conversations that took place on Twitter last week regarding the Internet Society’s 25th anniversary celebration and the work it is doing particularly after the recent Internet censorship attempts in Spain’s Catalonia region, we can see how central the Internet Society is to addressing ongoing challenges. I extracted over 37,000 tweets to see that last week’s most used hashtag – as can be shown in the below word cloud – and apart from those to do with the Internet Society’s 25th anniversary was #KeepItOn, which is basically a reference to the Internet Society’s efforts to oppose attempts to restrict Internet access in Catalonia, as demonstrated through the official statement released last week, or elsewhere for that matter.

The most frequently used Twitter hashtags associated with the anniversary


Those calls in support of the Internet Society’s bringing up this issue seem to have come mostly from Catalonia itself though there were also calls from other parts of the world as shown from the location word map below.

Locations of Twitter users who used #KeepItOn in connection to the Internet Society


Twitter users from Lahore, Istanbul, Nepal, USA, and other regions have also supported the Internet Society’s efforts to advocate for keeping the Internet open. To me, this illustrates that limiting Internet access in one part of the world is a threat to Internet everywhere. It is truly a remarkable way to demonstrate one of the phrases that was used at the 25th celebration, namely “We are in this together”.

Further reach, stronger influence

As the Internet continues to grow in importance across the globe, challenges and opportunities will also increase. In this light I believe that the 25th anniversary is an opportunity for the Internet Society to grow and make a stronger impact. It is time to move further into regions that have not yet heard about the Internet Society and its work and and to strengthen its influence in parts where it is well known, particularly in the global south where Internet growth is fastest.

It is indeed time to aggressively pursue the Internet Society’s noble mission of helping connect the unconnected and protecting the rights to access the Internet. Yet one should never abandon the Internet Society’s original mission set forth by the early Internet pioneers to enhance and develop its standards so that it remains an open, strong and resilient network of networks that serves all people no matter where they live.

As we celebrate 25 years of productivity and progress, let us as the Internet Society community, including staff, chapters, members and partners, use this opportunity to renew the commitment to fulfilling the Internet Society’s mission as well as striving to make a bigger positive impact on the world stage. With hard work and dedication, this can happen.

Image: the cake marking the 25th anniversary at the celebration at UCLA