25th Anniversary Events Internet Governance

Community Forum: What are your hopes and fears about the Internet?

On May 11, 2017, the Internet Society in collaboration with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House hosted a panel discussion on the impact of the Internet on societies.

Over the past decades, people, businesses, and institutions have felt the depth of the technological change brought on by the Internet.  The Internet has always held the promise as a tool for advancing social and cultural understanding. And, the speed and intensity of the digital transformation has triggered all manner of utopian and dystopian perceptions. For instance, does the use of the Internet increase the possibility of misinformation and propaganda or does it allow for more meaningful engagement in knowledge production?

When the Internet emerged as a communications medium, it provided unprecedented opportunities for individuals to connect, speak, innovate, share, be heard, and organize socially. Over the past few years and with a world order in constant transition, there is an increasing awareness that the Internet could be fundamentally undermined if current technical and social trends – such as fake news, online harassment or radicalization – continue. Can the Internet withstand those trends and emerge as a force of social and political cohesion?

This complex question was one that the panelists were asked during the event at Chatham House.  And, there is no easy answer.

Although everyone acknowledged the need to bring people online and to make sure that the Internet is everywhere for everyone, the question that emerges is whether societies and governance structures are fit for the Internet’s purpose. What is clear is that for addressing the social concerns of the Internet, whether social divides, prejudices, or the deepening of ethnic and social rivalries, we need the right governance tools.  Currently, we do not have them at our disposal. To this end, questions continue to persist:

How do we incentivize stakeholders engaged in and using the Internet to be more accountable?

How do we develop a set of standards to benchmark how we all behave on the Internet? 

These are some of the questions the panelists raised last week. (If you haven’t already, please take a look at the recording of the open session on Livestream or on YouTube.)

And, these are some of the questions we plan to continue discussing during our upcoming Community Forum on June 15, 2017.

What are your hopes and fears about the Internet?  How do you envision its impact on society in the future?

Many of you have already participated in our Internet Futures project with your views and we look forward to hearing more from our community on these important questions.  These issues are also core to the Internet Society’s focus on putting the user at the forefront when considering the future of the Internet.

So, in preparation for the Community Forum, send us your questions and comments to guide our discussion on June 15.  When you register, you will have an opportunity to share your viewpoints and questions on the future impact of the Internet on society.

For more information on the Community Forum, visit

Community Networks Community Projects Growing the Internet

Bringing the world online. Meet the people who are making it happen.

There are many reasons people are not connected to the Internet. Some people can not afford the Internet – it is too expensive. For other people who live in a rural or remote locations, their geography does not allow them easy access. We want people to be able to access connectivity — to access the Internet, mobile phones, fibre networks. Basically, to connect to whatever is most useful to them.

This is why connecting the next billion people feels like such an overwhelming task.

  • How are we going to connect people in Canada’s far north, or in the mountains of Nepal?
  • How are we going to drive down costs to the point where everyone in emerging markets can get online if they want to be online?
  • How are we going to connect places where big telecoms have decided it is not cost efficient to operate? Or, where Governments seem to have forgotten to provide basic connectivity?

Community network operators have already figured out how to do many of these things.

They are connecting the hard-to-connect places. The places where people thought they could not afford basic text-messaging or Internet connectivity. The places where people want to have more control over their networks. Community networks are working all over the world, from Oaxaca, Mexico to the Himalayas.

By the people, for the people, with the people.

Community networks are networks that are runby everyday people. They are open, accessible, and affordable.

Working with people is at the core of their approach and our approach to development work.

1. We listen.

2. We make connections. When it comes to a community – people in the community are the experts. But, if they need help with more information and best practices, or talking to other experts or regulators or telecom operators, or getting more and better equipment – we help where we can to make that happen.

3. We train people. Through online courses or face-2-face workshops, we trainpeople to help connect themselves, to connect to each other, and to build the Internet in underserved communities around the world. Their way.

We need you to be a part of it.

Join us for a Community Networking Event!

The key focus of the event is on the people that help build sustainable connectivity through community networks!

On 28 June we will be hosting an online event. Peoplewill be able to log in and listen to some of the leading experts in the field of community networking.

People like:

Osama Manzar of the Digital Empowerment Foundation will talk about working together with ISOC to get the Internet to communities in rural India through the Wireless for Communities (W4C) project. Where micro-enterprises are being started and women are being empowered.

ISOC Hall of Famer Mahabir Pun will talk about his experiences getting Nepalese communities back online after the tragic earthquake there, including by carrying equipment up a mountain to build that network. He will also talk about his work training trainers for our Wireless for Communities programs.

Peter Bloom of Rhizomatica will talk about how he helped put together a DIY cell phone network for farmers in rural Oaxaca and why the community networking approach has worked well around the world.

Jane Butler and Sebastian Beuttrich are part of a team of volunteers who helped create a book called Wireless Networking in the Developing World. Volunteers wrote the book and maintain a site on how to build these sorts of networks and how they can help communities and we will learn more about training and other resources.

Mike Jensen will talk about his experience setting up a mesh network and inexpensive, lean computer networks for NGOs and communities, something he’s been doing since before the Internet existed.

Roger Baig Vinas will be talking about his work with as part of the community network technical training and development team that is connecting communities in Spain through a community “commons”-based approach.

Anyone who wants to learn more about community networks and how they can help transform a community can join in by going to at 13:00 UTC on June 28. More information is available on our membership portal.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to be profiling some of the community network operators we have worked with in the last few years.

What would you like to find out?

Let us keep building connections.

Community Projects

Join us for the second Community Forum this year!

We are pleased to invite you to attend the next edition of our Community Forum on 21 April at 13:00 UTC (09:00 EDT, 15:00 CET).   The Community Forum is something we do four times per year to check in with our members, update them on what the latest developments our cause, and talking with our members about these things.

This forum (which will be live!) be on focus on data breaches and privacy. 

Questions will center around how to improve data protection, how to increase transparency of data practices and what are the implications for rebuilding and engendering trust in the Internet itself. We will also explore the trends and uncertainties relating to privacy and data protection and what these bode for the Internet’s evolution. 

Internet Society’s Chief Economist, Michael Kende and our Director of Security and Privacy Policy, Christine Runnegar, will lead the discussions.

If you want to take part we welcome you. Sign up to become a member and confirm your participation! 

Zoom video/audio conference details:

Time: Apr 21, 2016 9:00 AM (GMT-4:00) Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap: 14157629988,444161899# or 16465687788,444161899#

Or Telephone:

Dial: +1 415 762 9988 (US Toll) or +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll)

Meeting ID: 444 161 899 

International numbers available

Links for translations are:


Online Instructions:

Community Projects

Internet Society Members Across the Globe Rally to Call to Action

Last week was a high point in our long history of engagement with a growing global community that shares our mission of promoting the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of everyone, everywhere.

In a live-streamed event which we believe has set a new benchmark for global engagement, our community came together to be a force for progress and action. During the Q1 Community Forum on 15 January and in the days that followed, more than 600 individual member participants heard the Internet Society’s CEO Kathy Brown talk about the successes achieved together in 2014 as well as the key Internet technology, policy and development issues and challenges that are important for the organization as 2015 gets underway.

The Forum highlighted several areas that represent a focus for the Internet Society this year as part of the Internet Society 2015 Action Plan, including: the value of the collaborative, bottom-up approach to Internet governance; the importance of the continuing WSIS process; the need to restore trust in the Internet; the next steps in Internet security; and the most effective ways to increase access to the Internet opportunity. In summarizing the work of the organization this year, Kathy Brown called the community to action to advance the Internet debate, self-organize and strive for positive change.

A total of 108 countries were represented at the Forum, with a geographic reach that spans the entire globe. Brazil, Canada, Ghana, India, Kenya, the United States, Pakistan, Spain, Switzerland, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the UK all showed especially strong attendance figures. People even interrupted their sleep to tune in from as far afield as Samoa.

See the numbers here!

Designed to provide an interactive platform for dialogue, the first global Community Forum of the year attracted many questions on a broad range of Internet Governance and technology-led issues, giving a voice to the concerns of our community members. Its success follows a number of regional community forums held around the world in December and January that offered the community an opportunity to talk with ISOC Regional Bureau Directors about 2014 achievements and plans for 2015.

There will be additional Forums throughout the year, with the Q2 Forum in April and the Q3 event being a fully virtual ‘town hall’ meeting of the Internet Society’s global community, streamed from Auckland, New Zealand. More details to follow.

If you’re a member, login to watch the full Q1 Community Forum here.

If you’d like to become one, sign up to be an ISOC member here!

Q1 Community Forum: Participants Across the World
Country Sessions
United States 98
India 48
Switzerland 23
Ghana 23
Kenya 19
Nigeria 17
Canada 15
Spain 15
Pakistan 15
Brazil 14
Congo (DRC) 13
United Kingdom 13
Venezuela 12
Austria 11
Portugal 11
Belgium 10
Germany 10
France 10
Sri Lanka 9
Yemen 9
Israel 8
South Africa 8
Bangladesh 7
Côte d’Ivoire 7
Egypt 7
Indonesia 7
Senegal 7
Uganda 7
Finland 6
Mexico 6
Netherlands 6
Saudi Arabia 6
Chad 6
Tunisia 6
Turkey 6
Argentina 5
Costa Rica 5
Haiti 5
Italy 5
Sierra Leone 5
Thailand 5
Uruguay 5
Burundi 4
Botswana 4
Cameroon 4
Dominican Republic 4
South Korea 4
Liberia 4
Malaysia 4
Peru 4
Puerto Rico 4
Paraguay 4
Rwanda 4
United Arab Emirates 3
Australia 3
Burkina Faso 3
Bulgaria 3
Congo (Republic) 3
Algeria 3
Ethiopia 3
Gambia 3
Jamaica 3
Jordan 3
Niger 3
Philippines 3
Poland 3
Qatar 3
Trinidad & Tobago 3
Vietnam 3
Zimbabwe 3
Benin 2
Colombia 2
Ecuador 2
Lebanon 2
St. Lucia 2
Morocco 2
Malta 2
Palestine 2
Russia 2
El Salvador 2
Togo 2
Taiwan 2
Tanzania 2
Afghanistan 1
Azerbaijan 1
Barbados 1
Bolivia 1
Belarus 1
Czech Republic 1
Djibouti 1
Guatemala 1
Hong Kong 1
Croatia 1
Ireland 1
Kazakhstan 1
Luxembourg 1
Macedonia (FYROM) 1
Mali 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1
Mauritania 1
Nepal 1
Oman 1
Sudan 1
Slovenia 1
Somalia 1
Sint Maarten 1
Samoa 1
Zambia 1