Internet Governance Public Policy

Finding Common Ground on U.S. Net Neutrality

After more than a decade of regulatory ping pong, net neutrality’s future in the United States is still unclear.

Since 2004, FCC rulemakings have been caught in a vicious cycle. They have been passed, fought in court, and returned to the FCC with minor (and sometimes major) revisions. In the last few years there have also been numerous attempts to pass legislation, cementing net neutrality once and for all, but nothing has succeeded in Congress.

Recognizing the importance of finding a sustainable solution, the Internet Society proposed a collaborative process to help experts find common ground on this complex policy issue. Starting in June 2018, we convened an ideologically diverse group of experts to create a baseline set of principles for an open Internet. 

The Net Neutrality Experts’ Roundtable series included representatives from the technical community, edge providers, academia, Internet service providers, industry associations, and both left- and right-leaning civil society groups.

In a series of meetings over ten months, participants discussed how to create a sustainable solution for net neutrality that protect the interests of Internet users while fostering an environment that encourages investment and innovation. 

Ultimately, the group was able to create a consensus-driven set of bipartisan principles for an open Internet in the United States.

It is important to note that the Net Neutrality Principles do not represent or replace the existing positions of the Internet Society or any organization that participated in the project.

Instead, they demonstrate the power of inclusive processes in allowing experts to reach common ground on complex issues, and in delivering a concrete outcome. To us, this work is proof of the value of the collaborative approach.  

Our report on this process outlines the need for a sustainable net neutrality policy in the United States, the importance of using a collaborative model for policymaking, and details about the Net Neutrality Experts’ Roundtable Series.

The Internet Society is pleased to have facilitated a collaborative effort to help experts find common ground on net neutrality in the U.S. The bipartisan principles give policymakers a powerful tool to create a solution that upholds a truly open Internet for all. We would like to sincerely thank all participants of this process for their time, effort, and dedication.

Shaping the Internet's Future

Internet Society and UNESCO Offer a Capacity Building Program for Judges

Trust is vital to the future of the Internet. The best way to build it is to let a diverse group of people and interested organizations contribute their experience and knowledge. For this reason, the Internet Society and the UNESCO Regional Office has developed a capacity-building program for judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and other judicial operators in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This program shares our vision for an open, globally-connected, trustworthy, and secure Internet for everyone. We allied with UNESCO to incorporate a plan related to freedom of expression, privacy, encryption, and access to public information. In this way the program responds to the needs of judicial operators facing real cases related to the use of the Internet.

For Raquel Gatto, Senior Policy Advisor of the Internet Society, the program represents an unprecedented opportunity: “The technical foundations of the Internet show us that collaboration is a fundamental factor for the functioning of the network. The Internet is a network of networks that trust each other, allowing interconnection. The Internet can not exist without such collaboration”.

Guilherme Canela, Regional Councilor for Communication and Information of UNESCO, says, “For 5 years, UNESCO, in cooperation with the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Human Rights System, and many other international partners, has developed the Judges Initiative, which seeks to deepen the dialogue with Ibero-American judicial operators on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and Security for Journalists. In this framework, more than 8,000 judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and other judicial operators have already gone through the training offered by the initiative. In the interaction with these operators, their interest in deepening knowledge about the broad Internet agenda is clear. That is why we are proud of this cooperation with the Internet Society, which will offer this opportunity for additional training for those who have already gone through the basic modules of the Judges Initiative”.

The program will be divided into two phases and will have a capacity for 1,000 people. During the first phase, participants will have access to topics related to the technical and policy principles of the Internet ecosystem, the foundations of the Internet Governance system, and the actors involved in the community. Participants who successfully complete the first phase of the program will access a second phase, consisting of a series of discussions led by experts on current issues of the Internet ecosystem, including privacy, freedom of expression, and encryption on the Internet.

Interested applicants can request registration through a simple form. The registration period is open from 21 March to 12 April. Those selected will receive a notification on 16 April to start the first phase of the course on the 22 April.

The Internet is a network of networks that interact with each other on a voluntary basis. Collaboration is part of the fundamental architecture of the Internet, which is why we promote this approach for security and trust. Together, as a community, we can contribute to trust in the ecosystem and continue working for an open, globally-connected, trustworthy, and secure Internet for everyone.

Read about the collaborative security approach to tackling Internet issues.

Internet Governance Internet of Things (IoT)

Collaborative Governance Leaders, Canada, and Senegal Exchange Notes on IoT Security Frameworks

Canada and Senegal partners are meeting for a comparative learning exchange on developing robust Internet of Things (IoT) Security frameworks in Ottawa, Canada 18-19 July. The Senegalese delegation visiting Ottawa is composed of representatives from the Ministry of Communication, Telecommunication, Posts and Digital Economy, the Authority for Telecommunications and Postal Regulations, and the ISOC Senegal Chapter. They are also accompanied by Internet Society directors for North America and Africa.

The two countries are strong supporters of the collaborative governance or multistakeholder model in addressing problems they encounter as Internet technology develops. Both countries have already begun adopting the model for domestic policy development focusing on IoT security. The learning exchange is part of the Internet Society supported Internet Governance campaign activity for both countries and will explore issues of mutual interest, connect stakeholders and exchange notes on the process.

In Canada, the Internet Society partnered with Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, CANARIE, and CIPPIC to convene stakeholders to develop recommendations for a set of norms/policy to secure the Internet of Things. The partners have agreed to focus on two specific thematic areas: consumer protection and network resilience. While in Senegal, the Internet Society partnered the ISOC Senegal Chapter, the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Economy and the Senegalese Commission for Data Protection to explore the same.

Canada and Senegal are amongst the countries that are leading in demonstrating the collaborative, multistakeholder model of Internet governance.  These countries are showing leadership both in the region and globally in embracing the MS model to address pertinent Internet-related issues and effectively demonstrating commitment to tackle emerging issues related to technology. These two case studies may provide a powerful benchmark for using the MS model in addressing critical Internet issues in both the developed and developing world.

The focus subject matter, IoT is an evolving area and is changing rapidly and organically. New capabilities are added and new security weaknesses are being discovered almost every day. Understanding the growing impact that IoT security has on the Internet and its users is critical for safeguarding the future of the Internet. IoT manufacturers, IoT service providers, users, standards developing organizations (SDOs), policymakers, and regulators will all need to take action to protect against threats to Internet infrastructure, such as IoT-based DDoS attacks.

Do you know the risks of what you’re buying? Get IoT smart!

Internet Governance

Dustin’s Internet Community Road Trip: In the Bay Area, What Redwoods Can Teach Us About the Internet

Dustin Phillips, Co-Executive Director of ICANNWiki, is traveling across the United States in his red Toyota Corolla, making connections with the people who are making their communities – and the Internet – a better place. While making his way to the Bay Area from Portland, Oregon, he took a slight detour.

On my way down to the Bay Area from Portland, I made a trip through the Redwood National and State Parks of Northern California. These Coastal Redwoods have existed for over 20 million years and individual trees can live over 2,000 years. What makes these ancient giants so resilient?

They find strength in community.

Redwoods grow in groves, or “communities,” where the roots only go down 10-13 feet (3-4 m) before spreading outward 60-80 feet (20-27 m). In this phenomenon, survival is dependent on interconnection, meaning the roots intertwine and fuse with each other to provide resiliency against the threats of nature and share the resources necessary to thrive.

This lesson from the redwoods is directly applicable to the Internet. The “network of networks” would be nothing without interconnection or the shared resources of open standards and protocols. Expanding wider, not deeper, is essential to the resilience and strength of the ecosystem as whole.

An ecosystem is a community of diverse, interconnected elements that function as a single unit and are most effective when in a state of equilibrium, or homeostasis. There are a few critical elements that shape the environment of an ecosytem, but it takes all of the elements to bring health and balance. While individual elements may compete, their contribution to the balance makes the ecosystem and its individual elements better off. In the redwood forests, there are a large number of plants and animals that thrive in the secure, stable, and resilient ecosystem established by the networks of these amazing trees. Similarly, the Internet continues to be a phenomenal force, but it is the human elements of the ecosystem that establish and preserve the equilibrium that makes it so powerful.

This understanding of an ecosystem is essential to strengthening the multistakeholder model for the evolution of an Internet that is beneficial for all.

For an Internet to exist for the good of all people, it must be shaped by diversity, inclusion, and equality. Learn about Internet Governance and why every voice matters.

About Internet Society Internet Governance Internet of Things (IoT)

Kathy Brown’s Op-Ed in the Hill Times: Canada’s Unique Opportunity to Lead the Future of the Internet

Kathy Brown, CEO of the Internet Society, recently penned an Op-Ed for Canada’s the Hill Times calling for a multistakeholder approach to Internet governance: “an approach that is collaborative, one that engages the entire Internet community.” According to Brown, “The time has come to expand this inclusive model of governance to more places around the world.”

“No one party, government, corporation, or non-profit controls the Internet and we are all better for it. Nor does any one party have the knowledge or the ability to identify the solutions to these complex policy challenges. It has been this approach—what we call the multistakeholder model—that has allowed humankind’s most advanced and powerful communications tool to spread so far and so fast.”

She cites the partnership between the Internet Society, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Canadian Internet Registration AuthorityCANARIE, and CIPPIC as an example of the multistakeholder approach working successfully. “[Canada] is addressing cybersecurity head-on by working with the Internet Society to engage the Canadian Internet community in a process to develop recommendations to secure the Internet of Things.”

Read the entire Op-Ed, then learn how you can participate in the Collaborative Governance Project, which aims to expand global knowledge and use of collaborative governance processes to solve problems and develop norms. You can also register for the April 4th meeting in Ottawa, “Canadian Multistakeholder Process: Enhancing IoT Security,” which is the first in a year-long process to develop recommendations to secure IoT in Canada.

Internet Governance

The global Internet requires a global, collaborative approach to Internet Governance

Now more then ever, the Internet Society believes in the need to preserve the values of openness, inclusiveness and transparency that have always been at the heart of the Internet. A coherent global governance model for the global Internet that includes everyone is key to achieving this vision. But how can we get more governments to embrace the kind of collaborative governance that has shaped the Internet we know and use today? How can we improve and expand the model so that it becomes more widely adopted around the world? How can YOU help that to happen?

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of our Collaborative Governance Project. This brand new initiative aims to help stakeholders of all communities to understand the ways in which they can turn collaborative thinking into tangible and implementable policies and practices.

Under the leadership of Larry Strickling, the project will initially concentrate on building support for collaborative governance approaches globally. We will actively engage stakeholders in the development and evolution of the project.

As a first step in that process, we are holding two open calls for the community on March 1, 2018, to tell you about the project, get your input on the way forward, and, most importantly, to get you involved. Those calls are:

The calls are open to anyone to attend. If you cannot attend live, the calls will be recorded.


The 2018 Internet Society Action Plan identifies the importance of “promoting collaborative governance as a tool to address a range of important issues.” Collaborative or multistakeholder approaches to governance have grown in understanding and acceptance over the past several years. We think this year is an opportune time for the Internet Society to explore whether we can significantly expand the use of collaborative processes globally.

Last year the Internet Society undertook a feasibility study on how to expand the use of the multistakeholder model to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the future of the Internet. We sought input from the community about how to do this and, over the past six months, many of you weighed in with ideas and suggestions for how to carry this project forward.

We want to thank you to all of you who contributed your ideas and expertise through interviews, discussions and written submissions.

We heard broad support for a project that would expand the global knowledge and use of collaborative governance processes to solve problems and develop norms. We also heard that many in the community want to be involved and hope that the project will enable broad participation from stakeholders around the world. Finally, we understand the importance of existing multistakeholder processes and projects and the need to find synergies and avoid overlap.

All of that community input brought us to the project launch today.

Three Project Components

We see three overarching components to this project but we hope the community will contribute to fleshing out these components and will join in expanding the use of collaborative processes globally.

1.Training: The project will focus on developing and supporting training in how to organize and participate in collaborative, multistakeholder convenings. The training will be very practical and will be designed to giving participants the skills to define outcomes for convenings, set agendas for discussion, develop rules of engagement and definitions of consensus and learn and practice strategies for dealing with impasse and dissent. We will explore a variety of delivery mechanisms for the training, ranging from in-person, group “classroom” courses to online training modules for individual learning.

2. Academic Research: The multistakeholder approach, while it has received substantial press attention in recent years within the global Internet community, is not well-known beyond that community. Moreover, even within the community, the approach is not well-understood among all stakeholders. At the same time, there is a tremendous amount of study and thought being dedicated to collaborative governance approaches in a wide variety of institutions throughout the world. Accordingly, the Project will work to develop a network of academic experts in the field of collaborative governance and to create an agenda of academic research that could be funded in subsequent years.

3. Convening: The project will convene collaborative, multistakeholder discussions. Our goal is that these convenings will develop concrete and actionable outcomes that will be implemented by the parties involved. To enable the discussions to be successful, the Project will offer logistical support; help define/refine the issues to be discussed; and recruit a broad, global range of stakeholders to be engaged in the process.

The Internet Society is deeply committed to a collaborative, multistakeholder approach to Internet decision making. We have witnessed and participated in many successful multistakeholder processes and have lent our voice to the countless policy debates over the merits of these approaches. Kathy Brown, our CEO, recently noted that the Internet is at a crossroads and that we all have some critical choices before us to shape the future of this great technology.

It is our hope that this project will help us move from discussion to action by expanding the base of knowledge and support for collaborative decision making approaches to these challenging issues. We hope that you will join us to offer your ideas and to participate in this new Collaborative Governance project.

Image credit:  Veni Markovski CC BY NC

Internet Governance

Can We Expand the Multistakeholder Model for Internet Governance? A Feasibility Report

What can be done to expand the usage of the multistakeholder model for Internet governance?

Collaborative decision making has been at the heart of how the Internet has grown and developed since its earliest days. Multistakeholder approaches are used across the Internet ecosystem and have helped create the opportunities made possible by the Internet today. But as we outlined in our Global Internet Report 2017, more work is needed to expand the use of multistakeholder processes in order to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the future of the Internet.

As I wrote last summer, the Internet Society commissioned a feasibility study on expanding the use of the multistakeholder model for Internet governance , including three focus areas:

  • Demonstrating the efficacy of the model
  • Capacity building
  • Research

I would like to thank Larry Strickling and Grace Abuhamad, who have led this work. Their report is based on interviews with a wide range ICT experts from academia, industry, the technical community, civil society and governments.  It details a possible framework for such an initiative, as well as the resources required. It also makes clear that any new initiative should support and complement existing initiatives such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Their Feasibility Study Final Report is now available online.

This feasibility study is now available for comment from the community. If you have initial thoughts or reactions to how we might approach this initiative, we encourage you to submit your ideas to

Image credit: Fuse Brussels on Unsplash


How Can We Expand the Use of the Multistakeholder Model?

For over a decade, the Internet Society, along with many in the Internet community, have been strong advocates of using multistakeholder approaches to make decisions in a globally distributed network environment. We are encouraged that, within the Internet ecosystem, the multistakeholder model has grown in understanding and acceptance over the past several years. But we also know that the open, global Internet faces enormous challenges and that it is crucial that we not take this progress for granted.

While the IANA transition was, indeed, a pivotal moment that demonstrated how this model could work in practice, the Internet Society believes that we cannot simply “declare success” and turn our attention elsewhere. This is a crucial moment for the Internet’s growth and development and we believe that we must continue to work hard to expand and enhance uses of the multistakeholder model to address these inherently cross border challenges.

As an organization committed to taking on the most challenging issues facing the Internet and doing so on a global level, the Internet Society, along with our network of chapters, is deeply committed to growing the multistakeholder model. We would like to see multistakeholder approaches adopted across the globe and used to address a broad range of Internet-related issues.

Thus, we have asked Larry Strickling and Grace Abuhamad, who many of us know well, to study the feasibility of building a resource to expand and enhance the use of the model and report back to us by September 2017. In the last few weeks, they have already started to meet with experts and stakeholders from around the world to get their views as to how best to expand the use of the model.

Specifically, we think any such resource could have three components or work streams:

  • Demonstrating the efficacy of the model: provide a neutral place and expertise where parties could come to work through Internet related issues in a multistakeholder fashion.
  • Capacity building: provide training to equip stakeholders with the skills to participate actively and effectively in multistakeholder processes.
  • Research: sponsor academic research and analysis on multistakeholder models and processes.

From the start, we have made it clear that any Internet governance activity of this sort must have a global focus and community support. We have also specified that this should not duplicate the important efforts of existing multistakeholder processes such as ICANN, IETF, and the IGF. We are also mindful that a number of multistakeholder initiatives and training programs already exist in the ecosystem and are doing important work. The goal of this effort would not be to duplicate, replace or centralize those efforts but rather to work collaboratively to advance our mutual goals.

We want to emphasize that we are at a very early stage and that the Internet Society has not made any decision to proceed. But we hope the feasibility study will provide a concrete set of ideas and recommendations for what might be an effective way forward for the community to discuss later this year.

In the meantime, if you have initial thoughts or reactions to how we might approach this issue, we encourage you to submit your ideas to We will make sure that they are taken into account during the feasibility study. We also commit to our community that we will share the final report of the feasibility study before taking any action on it later this year.

Internet Governance

In Our New Changed World We Need New Tools (Remarks at Next Generation Internet Summit)

On 6 June 2017, Internet Society President & CEO Kathy Brown spoke at the Opening Session of the Next Generation Internet Summit at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. These are her remarks as prepared.

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, esteemed colleagues and friends.  

Thank you, President Bonvicini for your very gracious invitation to speak at this prescient Summit on the Next Generation Internet. 

This year marks the 25th year of the Internet Society’s advocacy for an open, secure and trusted Internet that benefits everyone, everywhere.  We were founded in 1992 by Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf who believed that a society would emerge from the idea that is the Internet.  And so it did. Today, the Internet is part of our social fabric – essential to how we connect, communicate, create and collaborate. 

We are in what Thomas Friedman, in his newest book, Thank You for Being Late, calls the Age of Acceleration. He posits that the three largest forces on our planet – technology, globalization and climate change are all accelerating at once.  As a result, as Atomium has recognized, many aspects of our societies, workplaces and geopolitics are being reshaped and need to be reimagined.

Friedman weaves the history of the convergence of supercomputing, fiber broadband, mobility, sensor technology and massive data analytics with the network technology of the Internet to describe our world today: where the rate of change and the acceleration of the rate of change both increased at the same time.  And where the slower rate at which humans have been able to adapt has created our current state of anxiety.

I highly recommend this read as it is rich in its description of the enormous benefits that have accrued to our societies and the associated disruptions and dislocations that are the topic of our conversation today.

Even as the opportunities of the Internet Age have become ever more apparent, the rate of change has some shouting “stop the world I want to get off.” 

There are those who wish to turn the clock back – some that are actively trying to do so – but it is impossible to do.

Everywhere on the globe, change is marching forward at an accelerated pace. In Africa the benefits that are so ingrained now in western economies are starting to pay dividends. In my meetings in Nairobi this past week there was a sense of hope, most especially among the young people who’s future appears radically different than it did just 5 years ago. (As an important side note, people under 30 make up 50% of the population on the African continent).  Yet, even with the sense of youthful exuberance, one can feel fear among various governments which, like those in the West, are in the midst of “disruptions” to established cultures, politics, economies and ways of working.

There and here the fear has led to calls to:

  • Shut borders
  • Build walls
  • Put the Internet under tight government control, and even to
  • Shut the Internet down

The Internet Society recently highlighted the high economic and human costs of Internet shutdowns, pointing out that unilateral technical measures are rarely appropriate tools to fix political, social, or legal issues.

Even those of us who urgently advise that fear must not win against hope know, however, that when it comes to our individual and collective safety and security just saying NO to those interventions is not enough. Hope alone is not a strategy. It will not deter the evils of terrorism and hate, criminality and fraud.  

But neither will fear.

Encryption is a current, highly relevant topic here in Europe that falls into this conundrum.

In Europe, according to Eurostat, 84% of the EU28 uses the Internet once a day.  And, because the EU has been the world’s guardian of users’ personal privacy, we have good numbers showing that upwards of 70% of Internet users in the EU provided some kind of personal information online. Given the focus on user privacy by the EU it is perhaps not a coincidence that, according to Cisco,  Western Europe followed by Central and Eastern Europe lead all other regions in the number of secure Internet servers that conduct encrypted transactions over the Internet.

As with many things, technology designed for legitimate and even laudatory reasons can be exploited by those with nefarious intent. Thus, we hear what sounds like a logical call to do away with these “safe places” for terrorists.  But it is quite evident that encrypted technologies protect the civil freedoms of many. Indeed, over two-thirds of traffic on fixed access networks in Europe is already encrypted.

I have some empathy for politicians who are facing hard, urgent problems but who don’t have the proper tools to deal with them.

The encryption quandary is like so many others in our changed world – we have embraced positive change but are not prepared for the inevitable negative side effects of that change.  Our tool box has not been updated. So, we reach for the solutions that we know – shut it down, make it accessible to government, regulate it.

But, in our new, changed world, we need new tools.

How do we begin to address this “solutions gap”?

We believe as, European Council President Donald Tusk articulated last week addressing other aspects of governing in a globalized world, that we must start by embracing our fundamental values. “The greatest task today,” President Tusk said, “is the consolidation of the whole free world around those values, not just interests. Values and principles first….”

Of course he is right. Transactional solutions may be temporarily satisfying but, in the long term – unsustainable or worse – quick fixes may exacerbate the very problem one is attempting to solve.

Europe has been a steadfast champion of the principles of the Internet: upholding the values of openness, global connectedness, trustworthiness, transparency, and inclusion. 

It is against these values that we should be designing a new policy direction. 

I have a notion that the new tools needed to solve the problems of the next ten years can be found in the innovations of the last 10 years.  

Let’s ask ourselves: how can the super computing power, sensor technology, big data, and high speed connectively that we have created help with the very disruption we have caused.

And how can the methodology of Internet innovation – creativity, cooperation, collaboration – shape sustainable solutions.

The EU has called for multistakeholder processes and procedures to develop Internet policy for over 10 years and, yet, we have not reformed how government governs in the digital age. The European Union is in, perhaps, an unexpected position, in this extraordinary year 2017, to take the lead on making good on the promise of a new governance model. 

Let’s talk for a moment about who would be your partners:

The technologists will help design the “applications” that can address the change.  While the Summit agenda points to new technologies that “disrupt” how we work, govern ourselves, and “blur” online and offline ethics, I might prefer to tilt the lens a bit and see these technologies as tools for innovation and creation of new way of governing. We might use the technique of open source standard making to inject a bias for action and agility. 

Civil society will legitimately – and passionately – insist that human rights principles must shape the guardrails that ensure that new solutions enhance and not harm our rights as citizens.

Experts from areas of economies that are now being changed by the Internet – education, medicine, agriculture, banking, transportation, and more – will want a place at the table. 

The private sector remains the engine of economic growth and innovation and without it, we would, indeed, still be living in the 1950s.  Business needs to be in the room.

And in these fraught times when freedom and security, and war and peace are ever so close to the surface of so many of our anxieties, advocates for the adherence to the rule of law and established international codes of behavior must have a clear voice.

All of these players need to come forward with a new commitment to actual problem solving that will require learning and demonstrating new skills: substituting, for instance, lobbying prowess for understanding of and willingness for collaborative consensus building. 

There is a lot to do. And governments feel the burden of the future on their shoulders.  But we need to acknowledge that when things are moving so fast, governments do not have the complex knowledge base, experience, or wisdom to go it alone.

Indeed, solutions to the changes occurring in our societies today may not be at all obvious because we have not yet done the work to fully adapt to our present circumstances.  We need an entirely different mindset – we actually have to move from managing disruption to the way things are, to inventing new frameworks for anticipating and managing the way things will be.  And to do that, the Internet Way requires that the discussions, decision making, and enforcement be inclusive and multistakeholder

As the working sessions progress, I hope the conversation can quickly move from our anxious lament that disruption and chaos is our destiny to an exploration of how to use the tools of the digital age to reboot the relationship between the governing and the governed. We must do this if we are to reap the benefits of the greatest technical advances in history – for all the people of the earth. 

Thank you!