Internet Governance Shaping the Internet's Future

A World Without the IGF

Last week in Geneva, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) met to discuss preparations for IGF Berlin. The Internet Society is concerned that the IGF community is showing signs of fatigue and believes that certain things must be improved in order for it to survive in an increasingly crowded Internet policy arena. We also believe the world is much better with the IGF than without it.

As the IGF reaches its fourteenth year, we must ask ourselves if it is still capable of dealing with the myriad governance challenges surrounding the Internet and policymakers – and whether the IGF can continue to evolve the Internet way – into an open and distributed global network of networks grounded in voluntary collaboration.

Imagine a world without the IGF. A world where we won’t be able to welcome people from most corners of the earth, from multiple stakeholder groups, and from diverse viewpoints and perspectives to address the Internet’s pressing public policy issues. All sharing a common goal, albeit sometimes speaking different languages.

Certain things have indeed improved. We have seen better advanced planning from UNDESA and the IGF Secretariat, along with a supportive, well-organized, and solid support from the German hosts. We have also welcomed programmatic improvements seeking a more focused and cohesive agenda, with fewer thematic tracks, which should enable more meaningful discussions.

We hope the High-Level Panel recently appointed by the UN Secretary General to foster digital cooperation will support needed reforms of the IGF, while maintaining its open and multistakeholder nature.

If we don’t remain committed to these reforms, we’ll face a world without the IGF, or – perhaps even worse – a world in which the IGF becomes irrelevant. In such a world, the IGF could be replaced by other policy platforms that meet and make important decisions about the future of the Internet without involving all stakeholders. This is why we think the world is better with the IGF than without it.

Read Why the Multistakeholder Approach Works

Internet Governance

The Importance of the Multistakeholder Approach: My Experience at the Internet Governance Forum

My name is Gustavo Babo, I’m from Brazil and I’m a Law and Political Science student. One of my biggest interests is to understand the best way to create national and international policies related to the Internet and other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Blockchain. Having participated in the IGF as a 2018 Youth@IGF Fellow has enhanced my perspective on the future of all these technologies. Enjoy my opinion!

Throughout the IGF event, in all the panels I have attended, I have noticed one thing in common: the feeling that the human being has had less-and-less control over technology and its implications. The unpredictable factor for the future of some emerging technologies that have developed very rapidly is a situation that divided the event into two perspectives: some of those present believe that technology will bring to the world many positive situations and we need to collaborate with its acceleration to any cost. However, there are others who fear the speed and lack of control of the impacts of these technologies – which are really transforming the world – believing also that the human being may be tracing a disastrous path for itself, since we no longer control the consequences of the development of the technology.

A situation that supports these different perspectives well and the uncertainty of how people might proceed in the face of the accelerated development of technology is the speech of the president of France at the event, Emmanuel Macron. The president also shared the same uncertainties discussed there in the forum, always on the wall and saying that we need to promote the growth of technologies in a healthy and positive way and we must try to prevent the second pessimistic perspective from happening. Macron’s solution to this is a greater government approach and possible intervention through regulations and public policy. (You can read his speech here.)

However, Macron is not necessarily right. Sharing experiences in the forum with different countries of the world, I realized that there are innumerable perspectives regarding the future of technology in each country. Thus, it is possible to say that the human being does not yet know the best way to lead the emerging technologies, there are many opinions about these technologies that imply different results, many still unknown, as we can see in a global analysis of countries that adopt more or less restrictive regulations and policies. Therefore, we can conclude that we do not yet know how to regulate (or not regulate) technology and how best to create policies. However, at least we can say that we already know what is the ideal model to discuss these technologies, which is the multi-participatory or multistakeholder model adopted by the Internet Governance Forum. This is exactly what was made clear to me during the experience of attending the forum as an Internet Society Youth@IGF Fellow. The model that the forum works is absolutely exceptional in what it proposes and it is exactly in this style of discussion that the world will discover what to do with all this.

The Multistakeholder Model

This is the model used by the UN forum to discuss the different perspectives, regulations, and policies of the Internet and emerging technologies. The multistakeholder model consists of a discussion involving representation from all interested sectors: the private sector, the government sector, the academic community, the technical community, and civil society. These actors participate through an inclusive and egalitarian basis. In this way, the interests of multiple parties are met and the results of the discussion can be very positive and balanced. To be sure, this is the model of discussion we must follow in order to understand the best way to conduct technology from a national or global perspective. We still do not know how to regulate, but it is clear that with this model of discussion we will have the best results, since, for example, discussions between engineers alone or between politicians have already proved to be very unproductive and unrealistic. We need to move this model to other discussions, regulations, and policymaking that involve technology as quickly as possible. As I said, we still do not know how we should regulate technology and create public policies. In this way, we should discuss how to do this – using this model. So, one day we will know how to do it in the best way. I hope it’s not too late!

Young people are one of the categories most affected by these technologies and Youth@IGF promotes their approach to the discussion environments. The program gives form and voice for young people to contribute to the important debates. In addition, the program also serves as training for hundreds of young people who will one day move from Youth to You. We need to think in the long term to have more and more qualified people around the world to participate in debates and decisions in the world of technology.

Thank You(th)!

Read “We Won’t Save the Internet by Breaking It.”

Image from APrIGF 2018 ©Frederic Courbet/Panos Pictures

Development Growing the Internet

Youth@IGF Fellow Story: How Far Are You From the Internet?

Growing up, a family friend will run all the way from her house with a pot of soup hoping to find out something we had at home that could complement the soup she had. On days when my twin sister and I were also missing a part of a meal, she will also return the good deed. Though the distance was not a short one, the thoughts of having a complete meal urged us on.

This neighbor of mine currently studies in Ukraine and none of us has or late had any thoughts of running all the way from Ghana to Ukraine – that will be a new record for the longest run.

The world is currently undergoing a difficult transformation with a rapid migration of almost all manual process to digital and the effect is a massive one both in advantages and disadvantages.

Just like distance resulted in the gap with my friend who now studies many miles away, several reasons have also been identified to be the ones causing the widening digital gap.

Some of the common ones are:

  • Access – the ability to actually go online and connect to the Internet (largely relying on the constant supply of electricity)
  • Skills – to be able to use the Internet and understand it.
  • Motivation – knowing the reasons why using the Internet is a good thing – seeing the Internet as a tool and not just a space.
  • Trust – the risk of crime, knowingly or unknowingly or not knowing where to start online.

Closely related to these reasons are the issues of Gender-based violence and the language barrier online.

As the number of Netizens (Internet users or Internet citizens) rapidly increase, we all should be able to have access to, and skills to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) while being safe online and hence reaping the numerous benefits that comes with using the Internet as a tool.

Again with the current trend in most places being the use of IT tools and online platforms to gradually replace the manual processes which has been in use for a long time, the way forward will be to act responsibly and herald initiatives that:

  • Teach the relevant skills that will help people easily use the Internet not only for leisure but to benefit fully from them. Some of these initiatives will be to volunteer to physically teach groups to first know the environment they will be working in by laying emphasis on what the Internet is and Internet Governance. Again, to be able to accommodate others who are far from our geographical location, a couple of us will herald the creation of online schools with certificates of completions awarded to motivate more people to come on board. Through this program, many people can be mentored to eventually choose careers in IT.
  • Encourage and motivate the use of the Internet through periodic online challenges that encourage rigorous participation.
  • Advocate for the bridge of the digital divide that stems from the unavailability of devices through online campaigns and applying for grants to implement fully resourced mobile labs that will travel places to bring digital skills to the grass root and the marginalized especially those who do not know about these tools or basically cannot afford them. In addition, simple educational resources mainly graphics with captions in local languages will also be produced to help reach people who do not read or speak the English language. In future, I would lead campaigns to have an all-inclusive digital front where all can utilize and benefit greatly from applications regardless of one’s physical disability.
  • Provide community network services that could either run on quota basis or properly implemented to serve wide areas also with the ability to withstand adverse weather conditions.
  • Discourage the gender-based violence online by reporting such cases to administrators of the platform and educating persons on when to sense abuse and to report accordingly.
  • Encourage staying safe online by teaching basic security hacks such the avoidance of posting very private information online, connecting with only people who they can verify online, updating anti viruses and using safe and strong passwords.

This is therefore a clarion call to have everyone rally behind me and the team implementing the Global Repository for Internet Studies by following and participating on social media and the call for online trust with the hashtag #3kNetVoices.

This is the second blog post in the series of stories from Youth@IGF Fellows. Read other impressions on the Youth@IGF Program and the IGF. 

Internet Governance

We Cannot Shape the Internet’s Future Without the Voices of Youth

After almost a decade, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) remains a cornerstone of international Internet and local governance with participation from over 140 countries. The approach of the IGF is simple: anyone who has a stake in the future of the Internet can go and be heard. It was founded and operates on the principles of being bottom-up, transparent, and inclusive.

At the Internet Society, we want to empower youth as a key force in reforming decision making approaches to deliver sound Internet policies that put people’s interests at the center. With the goal of having Youth Voices heard, together we must demand world leaders to break down the barriers that shut their voices out. With this in mind, and together with our partners, we have brought more than 200 youth to IGF 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, under the Youth@IGF program. This is part of our commitment to ensure that the next generation of Internet leaders are primed to advance an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

Some of the 50 Youth@IGF Fellows who attended this year’s IGF in Paris wanted to share with us their impressions of the Youth@IGF Program and the IGF.

Marko Paloski from Macedonia, founder & coordinator of the Youth IGF MKD and active member of SEEDIG (South Eastern Europe Dialog on Internet Governance), summarizes his experience as Youth@IGF Fellow as follows:

“I was for the first time on Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. I was there as part of Youth@IGF Fellows program from Internet Society. The experience is invaluable. First of all, the event is huge it has over 100+ sessions on every Internet Governance topic. What I liked the most was that in every session you could ask questions or give your opinion on the topics, with all the people there from all around the world. You could also speak open and get advice from professionals that work in Governments, Private Sector, Civil Societies, Academia, etc.

Also, I had the pleasure to meet Internet Society president & CEO Andrew Sullivan on the Collaborative Leadership Exchange on Day 0, where we had the opportunity to share our projects and experience in our topics. Andrew took part with us, like he was part of the Youth@IGF Fellows group. We had presentations and meetings with representatives from the Program’s Sponsors, Microsoft and Google that work in this domain, and they listened to us about what obstacles we are facing and how can they help us accomplish our projects goals for better healthy and open Internet. I met a lot of people and with some of them we are still in connection on weekly basis whenever we are working on projects, initiatives or discussing the situations in our societies.
I like to thank the Internet Society that allowed me to take part in the program and have the pleasure to participate on the IGF event. Also, big thanks to our mentors Sheba Mohammid and Tracy Hackshaw for the experience that they gave to us, and Alejandra Prieto for all the coordination and help during the IGF meeting.”

Harsh Ghildiyal is a Teach for India fellow who is teaching at an under-resourced school in Mumbai and helping communities the students come from solve problems. Harsh, whose interests lie in policy and technology, and owing to those interests, over the past couple of years, repeatedly chanced upon the term ‘Internet governance’ until he applied for the Youth@IGF Program. In his own words:

“I knew I would love to play a part in shaping the future of the Internet. However, I couldn’t find a way to do so. Soon enough, though, opportunity knocked. Through Internet Society Youth@IGF program, I entered the intimidating realm of Internet governance with relative ease, and I left Paris with broadened horizons – a more informed and motivated individual. Through the Collaborative Leadership Exchange, the Internet Governance Forum, and other informal interactions, I was able to learn, grow, and most importantly, establish relationships that are helping me collaborate and play a role in shaping the future of the Internet like I always wanted to.”

Sebastian Hoe Wee Kiat from Singapore University of Social Sciences, who builds and strengthens community networks to create a digitally inclusive society to bridge the digital divide, shared with us his impression of the Youth@IGF Program:

“Coming from a low-income family background, I am grateful for the 2018 Youth@IGF Fellowship to contribute to the global conversation on Internet Governance in Paris. As an Asia-Pacific youth, I contributed my voice to the conversation as an invited speaker panelist in the UNESCO workshop The Internet and Jobs: Preparing Gen YZ for future of work. My key takeaways are: we need to champion for a multi-stakeholder approach, allowing more youths and community stakeholders to contribute to the IGF global conversation. My experience as Youth@IGF Fellows allows me to further contribute my work in creating stronger community networks for action. Moving forward, I plan to collaborate with community partners, create resources for digital inclusion projects and champion them by speaking in schools and various local and regional events on topics that are important to our society and which I am deeply passionate on: Mental Health & Technology, Community Networks, and Digital Inclusion.”

Gabriel Karsan, a graduate Intern at the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC), reflected:

“I return home as an optimist with a fundamental base of knowledge and resources from the people and sessions attended as a proud 2018 Youth@IGF Fellow, as of now my dream for an egalitarian Internet for all is closer as the path is set. Currently, we are working with our Group Project DreamInternerVoices, collectively pushing for a safer equal internet, breaking the digital divide by sharing our voices through a touch of diversity and niche-based rhetoric.”

Juliana Novaes, Head of the Projects Comission of the Youth Observatory, shared her impression of the IGF:

“Some years ago, when I thought of the expression “policy-making”, I always imagined old men wearing fancy suits and having difficult conversations in a big company or congress. Not exactly a welcoming place for a young Latin American woman. However, my perceptions of the term started to change when I first heard of the IETF meetings and the decentralized processes in which protocols and technical decisions were made. It was curious to me how it functioned so well without a centralized authority. Later on, I became aware of a United Nations Forum about Internet Governance, and it seemed so strange to me how it was possible for this space to be open for everyone who wished to participate, with no governments retaining all the influence. It wasn’t only until my first IGF, though, that I really saw what policy making really was and how openness, transparency and decentralization are basic principles to be followed by any initiative that calls itself multistakeholder. I’m young, and for this reason there will be many doors closed to me in terms of policy making, but having the opportunity to attend the IGF and to participate in a program such as Youth@IGF gave me strength to fight for these doors to be opened for us. We are young, but we have things to say and we want these things to be heard.”

All these testimonials show us the importance of having a diversity of voices, including Youth, in Internet Governance world. We cannot shape the Internet’s future without Youth’s voiceslet’s open the doors and let them in! Youth are a vital force to get an open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet for everyone.

Are you a passionate young person who thinks you should have a role in shaping the Internet? Learn what you can do at #CountMyVoice!

Building Trust Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

Global Cybersecurity and the Internet Conundrum

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the first World War. The 1918 ceasefire re-introduced a fragile peace that had collapsed when the world failed to defend common rules and international cooperation. International security and stability are as important now as they were a century ago.

That’s why French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders from around the world are about to gather in Paris for the first Paris Peace Forum. The forum will attempt to pave a way forward for a world that is shifting and changing faster than most of us can keep up with. That change and shift, and the speed of it is enabled by the Internet.

That is why the Internet Society is participating in the Forum.

I will be in Paris to speak on a panel about creating peace in cyberspace. Cybersecurity concerns across the world are real and justified and need to be addressed. We believe that the collaborative approach that helped to drive the growth of the Internet and allows it to thrive is essential for establishing cybersecurity.

The essence of a collaborative approach is that it allows stakeholders to create a shared vision for security.

The Shared Vision

At the Paris Peace forum there will be many places where we will talk and try to converge on a shared vision

For example, we  support the work of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) – for which I am allowed to serve as commissioner. The GCSC has developed the “Call to Protect the Public Core“.  In fact, in the lead up to the Paris Forum, the GCSC  introduced six more norms towards cyber stability.

But while a shared vision is necessary for successful collaboration, it is not sufficient. We need to get to action.

Securing Cyber

Implementing the cybersecurity vision doesn’t come from a single technical fix or upgrade, nor will it come from a treaty or declaration. Improving security is done in a highly distributed way with the responsibility in the hands of many. This means participation not only by policymakers and a few companies from Silicon Valley, but millions of security practitioners, developers, implementers, protocol developers, network operators, civil society groups, and researchers.

And as we work to secure the broader cybersecurity environment, we have to make sure that we do not break the Internet along the way.

Can You Actually Break the Internet?

In short: specific regulatory or even technical interventions may break the Internet.

And now for a longer explanation of what that means.

For the Internet Society, the Internet (capital I) is the open network of networks voluntarily interconnecting to deliver connectivity globally. This network of networks enables those that connect to develop and deploy applications.

A metaphorical description of the Internet Architecture is an hourglass.

The sand in the bottom half is the physical infrastructure that makes the Internet work. It is the network of networks each making their own competitive and technical choices to compete in the market of offering connectivity.

The sand in the top half of the hourglass is made of Internet applications like social media, blockchain, email, messaging, and all the apps we use in our daily lives.

While the top and bottom parts of this hourglass need each other for the hourglass to work, they are very loosely coupled and their interaction is limited. Basically, they are the two most co-dependant strangers you will ever come across.

The thin funnel at the center of the hourglass contains the protocols and technologies that provide the ability for the applications in the top half of the hourglass to benefit from a single global Internet. The Internet Protocol (IP), the global Domain Name System (DNS), various transport protocols such as the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP), and global authentication and encryption infrastructure provide the ability to interoperate and establish a baseline of trust that allows all of these applications to flourish.

The beauty of the Internet is that the technology is agnostic. The bottom half and funnel of the hourglass have no idea what is running above it – whether it’s an email to your mom, a cat picture to Instagram, or a million rupee transaction.

It is the loose coupling between the top and bottom of the hourglass, that offers the ability to invent new applications without having to negotiate with the network; the networks do not need to have detailed knowledge about the working of the applications, and the applications do not have to understand the workings of the networks. Without this property of permissionless innovation, inventions like the World Wide Web, messaging apps, or Blockchain would likely not have been possible.

Losing out on either global connectivity or permissionless innovation will impact the ability that the Internet brings for social and economic prosperity.

A growing number of countries are putting these opportunities at risk by proposing policies or laws to regulate technology in the bottom half of the Internet hourglass in reaction to security challenges appearing on the top half of the hourglass. An example of this would be a law that restricts Internet connectivity in reaction to concerns about social media content. It is these kinds of policy approaches that worry us – while individual measures may not immediately break the Internet, they will lead us down a path where we find that we have lost the properties that make the Internet what it is. It will no longer be a global network of networks, but a tightly controlled tool where someone else is in charge of what we see and do.

We may think that pulling a hair or two is OK, but at some point, we’ll be bald.

Back to the Paris Peace Forum.

In Paris, we join a vision for a secure society in which the Internet plays a major role.

That vision calls for action.

  • Action that is deliberate, distributed, and takes a global perspective.
  • Action that is already ongoing all across the Internet technical community.
  • Action in which regulation, tax, and other government tools have a role but are not the only tools in the box.
  • Action that attempts to address issues at the appropriate layer – the half of the hourglass where the problems arise. And most important;
  • Actions that do not break the Internet itself while also addressing the legitimate needs of society.

The Internet Society CEO, Andrew Sullivan, recently summarized this as, “We must not save the Internet by breaking it, denying humanity this tool that can benefit us all.”

Tweet your support for an Internet that’s for everyone! #DontBreakTheInternet

Internet Governance Women in Tech

The Best Practice Forum on Gender and Access: Empowering Women Online

A Need for More Gender-Disaggregated Data

While Internet access and use is rapidly growing all over the world, women still face several challenges that hinder them from benefiting meaningfully from it. The proportion of women able to access and use the Internet is 12% lower than the proportion of men accessing and using it worldwide. This gap is even bigger in developing countries where only one out of seven women use the Internet.

These numbers highlight some of the discrepancies that the digital gender gap is both producing and reproducing. However, understanding them and to what extent they affect women’s online lives requires more data. While many studies have been conducted in the last few years in order to gather evidence about the existing barriers, there are still many aspects of the phenomenon that need to be studied in-depth, particularly at grassroots levels.

Various recent efforts – including those of the W20, the UN Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development, the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), the World Wide Web Foundation, the GSMA and Association for Progressive Communications – have expressed concerns about the paucity of gender-disaggregated data and insights on Internet access and use masks the true extent of the digital gender divide.

Without this data, closing the digital gender gap will be difficult as we simply don’t understand it.

This article explores how the Best Practice Forum on Gender and Access (BPF Gender) as part of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) intersessional work, has, over the past three years, collected qualitative and anecdotal data to help better understand these gender discrepancies by considering different aspects of women’s Internet access and by encouraging stakeholders to contribute to the process.

The BPF Gender: Exploring Gender Barriers

While acknowledging the role that women’s social locations (such as gender, class, religion, caste, race, sexuality, ability, etc.) play in mediating access, many women in the Global South still face hurdles to adopt or use the Internet meaningfully or at all.

In its 2017 report, the BPF Gender continued exploring these issues and, apart from a lack of digital skills and capacity development, indicated the significance of barriers like affordability and infrastructure challenges, a lack of relevant and local language content, social stigma, and cultural barriers. Regarding the extent of the barriers, the research also concluded that such barriers are experienced differently across various communities. Women from LGBTQIA+ communities, for example, tend to be subjected to cultural stereotypes and stigmas quite acutely, while women refugees often highlight barriers related to the cost of devices and data.

Better collaboration between stakeholders in mapping initiatives, further gender-specific research in the area of community access networks, and the need for differentiating between public and private means of access were some of the recommendations issued by the BPF in both the 2016 and the 2017 reports.

As the BPF aims to continue conducting research in these areas and building upon these outcomes, in 2018 the BPF Gender is focusing on identifying initiatives working on complementary models of connectivity to address specific communities of women and exploring their impact to such groups.

By doing so, the BPF Gender is contributing to understanding who the impacted women are and where they are in order to foster public policies and best practices in the Internet Governance environment that encourage women to connect themselves and empower them to make use of the Internet in their day-to-day lives.

A Community-Driven Process

The BPF Gender work started in 2015 as part of the IGF intersessional work, and, due to the importance that the topic has for the community, has continued its work since then

During these three years, the BPF Gender has functioned in a bottom-up, multistakeholder, and community-driven manner.

“The stories and anecdotes the BPF community has managed to collect from diverse stakeholders around the world have provided us with interesting and useful insights into the challenges real women face in gaining meaningful Internet access”, said Anri van der Spuy, rapporteur of the BPF Gender in 2015 and 2016, and co-facilitator in 2017.

The work is done by volunteers from different regions who meet each other online on a regular basis to discuss different approaches, methodologies, and challenges. Enabling diverse stakeholders to collaborate to try to better understand and address women’s barriers to access to the Internet, has produced incredibly valuable evidence of the challenges that define the digital gender gap.

Three Ways of Contributing to the BPF Gender

Gathering the information needed to better understand women’s access and use of the Internet requires the efforts of all of us. From sharing your experience or highlighting initiatives that are making a difference in your community, there are several ways in which each of us can contribute to generating knowledge about the causes and remedies that affect women online.

The ways of contributing to the BPF Gender 2018 are:

1: Joining the BPF calls and mailing list

During the year, the BPF Gender has regular calls to organise the work and discuss different topics related to women’s Internet access and use. The calls are open to everyone and create an atmosphere and a culture where everyone has a voice and has something to contribute to the work. As any other Internet Governance-related process, we also use our mailing list for considerations and discussions of possible approaches and topics the BPF should be focusing on. If you are interested, sign up here.

2: Completing this year’s survey

To collect concrete inputs, the BPF Gender invites all different stakeholders and communities to contribute to this year’s survey. Recently, the BPF Gender has launched a survey to gather information about the impact that complementary ways of connectivity are having on access to the Internet for women. The survey is open until September 30, 2018, and will feed the BPF final report. We encourage you to complete the BPF survey – hosted on Google Forms and LimeSurvey – or to share it with your networks!

3: Promoting the BPF work in your country/region

At local and regional level, there are several spaces, like the NRIs, that have discussions about gender issues and that could be valuable platforms to expand the BPF work. If you are attending an event in your country and you want to share the BPF work with your community, please do! We can provide you support to prepare a presentation.

The BPF Gender 2018 wants to find means of empowering women and fight for them to thrive online so if you are conducting research in women’s Internet access or want to become more vocal in exposing the barriers encountered by women online, join us!

About the BPF Gender

In 2015, the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF)’s best practice forum (BPF) on Gender and Access was launched to conduct intersessional research on gender issues. That year the BPF investigated online abuse and gender-based violence and proved the importance of continuing to study Internet access and use with a gender perspective. As a result, in 2016, the BPF considered women’s meaningful access to the Internet and in 2017, the group delved deeper into the experiences and needs pertaining to the Internet of specific communities of women. Every year, the BPF gender produces a report with the main outcomes (see the 2015, 2016 and 2017 reports) that have been used to inform discussions at various policymaking fora at the global, regional, and national level. The work of 2018 is undergoing and, building on the work done during the past year, it is studying the impact that complementary ways of connectivities are having on different populations of women.

Help build an Internet that’s for everyone! #CountMyVoice

Internet Governance

IGF 2018: Improvements and a Call for Contributions

The annual meetings of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) have been consolidated as the main space for discussion and exchange of ideas among the stakeholders of the Internet community on an equal footing. However, there are diverse activities which take place throughout the year that require the participation of all the actors of the community.

The Intersessional Activities

The concept of Dynamic Coalitions (DCs) emerged during the first IGF meeting in 2006. These are informal groups, focused on specific topics that report their activities to the IGF Secretariat each year. Currently, there are 17 active coalitions, which involve diverse topics ranging from accessibility and disability to Internet core values. It is possible to join the work of each of them by accessing the site published by the IGF Secretariat.

On the other hand, following the recommendations of the Working Group on IGF Improvements, the IGF community promoted the creation of the Best Practice Forums (BPFs) as a way to generate more tangible outcomes. For the 2018 cycle, four BPFs were approved; all of them are currently seeking feedback from the community. Some of them have a deadline of September 30, while others will receive contributions until October 15. All dates are considered as soft deadlines, so all interested stakeholders are invited to contribute.

Finally, the Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion (CENB) project activated its Phase IV as part of the IGF 2018 preparatory cycle. The project is focused on concrete examples of how connectivity efforts help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 7 (clean energy), SDG 8 (work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 17 (partnerships to achieve the SDGs). CENB Phase IV accepts contributions no later than September 30, although it is also a soft deadline.

Information about these activities was shared with the community through a webinar whose recording is publicly available.

It’s Time to Strengthen the IGF

Historically, the Internet Society has shown a strong commitment to the IGF. Since its first meeting we have been a support force both logistically (through funding or fellowships), as well as in public debates, by organizing sessions at the annual meetings and by contributing to MAG meetings and Intersessional activities.

This commitment remains intact, as Raúl Echeberría, Vice President of Global Engagement of the Organization, pointed out during the eleventh meeting of LACIGF. We are convinced that the IGF is the most innovative experience of international governance in the last decades, so we must be proud of what we have achieved. However, it is necessary to evaluate what actions can be taken to improve the IGF.

In March, prior to the first MAG 2018 meeting, Raúl shared with the community some ideas to make the IGF more attractive and, thus, be better prepared to face current and future challenges. The proposals are practical and concrete: have more focused discussions, produce more tangible outcomes, reduce the number of parallel sessions that compete among each other and encourage attendees to actively participate in the debates.

The IGF has been fundamental to the Internet community. We have invested a lot in building this unique space, in which the diverse actors have learned to work together, in accordance with the principles of the multistakeholder model. If the IGF is not attractive enough and Internet Governance discussions are taken to other spaces, we must start from scratch and re-create the forms of participation we have created in the IGF.

Some of the changes can be implemented at the 2018 meeting, which will take place in Paris from November 12-14. Some others will have to wait for the 2019 cycle and later, but the most important thing is that the stakeholders of the community find consensus around the idea of the need for these adaptations. It is in favor of the IGF and the benefit will be shared by all.

Learn more about Internet Governance and why everyone should have a voice in helping to shape tomorrow!

Growing the Internet Human Rights Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

Day 4: Here Comes The Future

It’s closing day at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum and it’s time to wrap up with some great sessions, best practices, and a look towards what’s next.

As you pack your bags or your laptop, let us know what you think is next. What were your take aways from the sessions. What did you learn from the Best Practice Forums. More importantly, what will YOU do to implement what you discovered.

Tell us!

Here’s what’s on today

Day 4: Friday, December 9

WS97: How to create relevant Internet Governance Content 9:00-10:30
Workshop Room 1
Olga Cavalli speaking
WS212: Promoting Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Global South 09:00 – 10:30
Workshop Room 10
Joyce Dogniez speaking

(in partnership with SEED Alliance)

IGF Best Practice Forums (BPFs) and Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion(s) 10:00 – 11:30
Main Session Room
Constance Bommelaer speaking
WS240: Building trust and confidence: implement internet standards 10:30-12:15
Workshop Room 1
Olaf Kolkman speaking
Shaping the Future of Internet Governance – An Open Dialogue between Pioneers and Young Leaders 11:30 – 13:00
Main Session Room
Raùl Echeberrìa speaking
WS109: Analyzing the causes and impacts of Internet shutdowns 12:00 – 13:30
Workshop Room 4
Nicolas Seidler speaking
An Open Dialogue between Pioneers and Young Leaders 15:00 – 15:30
Main Session Room
Raùl Echeberrìa speaking
Community Projects Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Day 3: Human Rights, Cyber Security, and Standing Up for Inclusiveness.

Today looks like it’s going to be a really interesting day the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Talks on human rights, cyber security, and how to stand for diversity and inclusiveness in discussions around how the Internet grows.

Day 3: Thursday, December 8

BPF Cybersecurity

Workshop Room 9

Hiroshi Esaki speaking
Human Rights: Broadening the Conversation

10:00 – 13:00
Main Session Room

Sally Wentworth speaking
WS 37: Internet Fragmentation: Getting next 4billion online

12:00 – 13:30
Workshop Room 4

Karen Rose speaking
DC on Blockchain Technologies

Workshop Room 8

Walid Al-Saqaf speaking
WEF Open Forum: Internet for All working group

12:30 – 13:30
Workshop Room 3

Raùl Echeberrìa speaking

WS99: Multicultural and Multistakeholder Capacity Building

Workshop Room 1

Olga Cavalli speaking

WS165:  Fostering Digital Capacities for Decent Life in MENA

Workshop Room 2

Walid Al-Saqaf speaking

Quick Links

Community Networks Community Projects Growing the Internet

Wanted: Community Builders

I’m a lawyer by training, but my day job is to develop applied research that may allow people to enjoy the benefits of the Internet. There’s a lot of people involved in this field, and my part is to look at where technology and regulation meet.

I came across community networks a couple of years ago. I’d been working a lot on Internet access, human rights and connectivity issues and net neutrality.

One of the hot topics in that debate is zero rating. What these practices mean is a provider sponsors a given app, like Facebook, or a type of apps, making it possible for you to access for free only the specific applications, while billing the rest. And while this is talked about as a way to bridge digital divides, I don’t agree. The greatest thing about the Internet is that it allows every individual to access but also create and share content and applications, freely, with all the other connected individuals. I think if you can only access certain services, well, you become simply an app consumer.

So I was looking for an alternative way of providing sustainable connectivity. Sustainability is critical. We need to make sure the Internet stays open and allows everyone to have the possibility to do things. To use the Internet to make their life better, to learn, to be entrepreneurs to communicate and associate. The may many of us start to use the Internet is you buy Internet access from a provider. Like you are a consumer who’s buying bread. But that is not the Internet. The Internet is about opportunities and connecting people. With community networks, you have members of local communities building their infrastructure. It is like realizing that you can bake your own bread locally, meeting the needs of your community, rather than paying a supplier that is frequently not interested in coming to your area. That is an amazing thing. People aren’t simply consumers of community networks; they build them! They become real key players in connectivity. It’s the Internet as its founders envisioned it, a network of networks, and you can create your network. So actually, it’s one of the most extraordinary, empowering things we could have.

The problem is that not a lot of people know how to build these networks There are a lot of legal and regulatory issues that could hinder or prevent a network. For example, in France, copyright law states Internet users have an obligation to secure their Internet access connection. This way, users are responsible for any copyright infringement that happens. So that means that users cannot freely share their connection. The purpose of this is to protect copyright, but the collateral effect is that it makes it hard to build community networks.

Helping people work through issues like this is why I co-founded the Dynamic Coalition for Community Connectivity (or DC3) at last year’s Internet Governance Forum. The goal of this Coalition was to have people interacting. You have a lot of smart, brilliant people, researching or doing things, creating community networks, but they don’t ever meet. So, when they stay in their silos, maybe they are doing cool things, but they could be doing even cooler things if they knew each other’s and interact and collaborate with each other. They could be an example for other people that can learn from them and do the same things or even better. I have personally met a lot of really clever and passionate people in this field that are also becoming good friends.

Part of what we’re doing is starting with simple things. For instance, we prepared a report that could serve as a manual for people interested in creating their networks or for organizations willing to promote them. A further step will be to elaborate detailed instructions, like a model, so that people in unconnected areas can start looking at it and build their own networks. Even in rich countries, rural areas tend to be underserved by traditional Internet Service Providers because it is not lucrative for them to expand the network out there. But when people in local communities and local administrations know that they can create their network, and they have guidance on how to do it, then connectivity becomes a lot more possible. There are lots of these examples among DC3 members. In India or Colombia, people are using TV white spaces — unused spectrum bands that were allocated to TV stations — to create wireless community networks. Altermundi, in Argentina, and, in Spain built wireless community networks exploiting what they called “cantennae,” which were just repurposed Pringles cans, to make wireless antennae. is now one of the largest community networks in the world and covers the entire in Catalonia region, in Spain.

This year, for the IGF, we’re going to be pretty active. We are organizing four different events, we are promoting our report and our Declaration on Community Connectivity, and most importantly, we’re going to be connecting people. We’re just excited to get all these people who are interested in community networking in one room. We have a so much to learn from each other.

mpressed by Luca’s story? Tell your local policy maker. Share this and the Policy Framework for an Enabling Internet Access and help make access possible. Keep watching our blog throughout the week for our Community Networking Series.

You can also meet Luca as part of the 2016 Internet Governance Forum. Here’s how to take part .

Community Projects Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

Day 2: Collaboration and Community at IGF 2016

Welcome to Day 2 at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum!

Today will be packed with discussions focusing on the importance of working together, being inclusive, and empowering people to fight for the Internet they want.

Join online and tell world leaders that your voice must be included Internet policy discussion.  The IGF is a great place to start.

Take Part Online

  • Register to take part from wherever you are!

Day 2: Wednesday, December 7

WS191: “Are we all OTTs? Danger of regulating an undefined concept” 09:00 – 10:30
Workshop Room 1
Raùl Echeberrìa speaking
WS143: How to acknowledge Cyber Evidence – Reform/New Parallel Law 9:00-10:30,
Workshop Room 5
Walid Al-Saqaf speaking
Sustainable Development, Internet and Inclusive Growth 10:00 – 13:00
Main Session Room
Raùl Echeberrìa speaking
Lightening session: South Summer School on Internet Governance SSIG 13:50-14:10
Lightening Session Area
Olga Cavalli speaking
WS 238: Community Connectivity: empowering the unconnected 15:00 – 16:30
Workshop Room 2
Christian O’Flaherty speaking
WS 152: Working Together: Collaborative Security in local contexts 15:00 – 16:30
Workshop Room 3
Olaf Kolkman and Hiroshi Esaki speaking
WS 159: Encryption and safety of journalists in digital age 15:00 – 16:30
Workshop Room 6
Sebastian Bellagamba speaking
ITU Open Forum: WSIS Action Lines supporting the implementation of the SDGs 16:00 – 17:00
Workshop Room 4
Constance Bommelaer speaking
WS: CICG-A new Social Compact for Internet Governance 16:30-18:00,
Workshop room 5
Sally Wentworth speaking
DIPLO Open Forum 17:00 – 18:00
Workshop Room 10
Constance Bommelaer speaking
Technical community reception (ISOC, ICANN, NRO)
RSVP required
PALCCO, Concession Hall
Multiple ISOC staff

Quick Links

Internet Governance

Let’s Build the Future of the Open Internet at IGF 2016 this week

The Internet’s founding fathers were very deliberate in the model they devised for the Internet. From its earliest beginnings, it was built on open standards. It embraced open, participatory management and governance structures, and reflected principles of freedom of expression, access to information, as well as other democratic processes across a broad community of stakeholders.

The open, trusted, global Internet has changed lives and accelerated economic and social progress. It has brought the world closer together and enabled humanity to connect, communicate and collaborate.

In fact, the success of the Internet to date has a lot to do with the characteristics of its design – open, resilient and global.

But as the Internet has grown, so too have the challenges that come with it. The opportunity it brings has been unevenly distributed and today it is still the case that half the world is without access to the Internet.

Our first priority then, is to connect the unconnected in the remote parts of the world and in the under-served communities of every continent.

The Internet Society is helping to do this on a daily basis. Today, we released our first ever Beyond The Net funding program Impact Report. The Beyond the Net program itself is a tangible expression of our commitment to development, established to support Internet-led projects around the world at local level and shine a light on the inspiring work of our global Chapter community. The 2015 report showcases an amazing range of initiatives that harness the power and potential of the Internet to change people’s lives – from training the visually impaired in basic Internet skills in Sri Lanka to providing Internet access and training in Guatemala.

This is the work that will help us to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and, specifically, the target of extending universal and affordable Internet access to the least developed countries by 2020.

This is not the only challenge we face today. As we build a better, safer, stronger Internet around the world, we also need to recognize that security issues and their impact on user trust are an existential threat to the Internet’s future. These issues are damaging user confidence, leading to an erosion of trust in the Internet; trust that must be rebuilt if the Internet is to remain in place as the backbone of our evolving digital society.

In the Internet Society’s recently launched 2016 Global Internet Report, we highlighted how companies are not doing enough to protect consumer data and prevent data breaches; a staggering 93 percent of all breaches are preventable. The report made some important recommendations to help us all reduce the number and impact of data breaches globally, but the key lies in tackling this, and other security challenges, together.

This week at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Mexico, the Internet Society will reinforce the idea that we must work collectively and collaboratively to connect the unconnected and increase trust in the Internet. We have an opportunity to find a coherent voice and insist on the inclusive model we fought for and for the Internet we believe in.

We are in a good position to take on this task because the Internet’s governance model, and its technical architecture, is designed to facilitate change.

Please join me this week at IGF, either in person or remotely, and let’s create the future of the open Internet together. Collaboration is the way forward.