Community Networks Growing the Internet

ISOC’s Policy Statement at the WSIS Forum: Support Your Local Heroes

On 13 June 2017, Internet Society Vice President, Global Engagement, Raúl Echeberría, and Senior Director, Global Internet Policy, Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, participated in the Opening Ceremony and the High-Level Policy Session on Bridging Digital Divides at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS) 2017. Here are their reflections.

The WSIS +10 Review made explicit the link between the WSIS process and the 2030 Agenda. A link that highlights the unprecedented ability for information technology to support human progress, and to reduce the world’s geographic and social barriers. A link that clearly demonstrates that connectivity enables socio-economic development. 

The Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals focus on change and action.  They recognize multi-stakeholder solutions.  At the Internet Society we strongly believe that everyone has a role to play in the implementation of these objectives.  For example, the ITU through its membership and mandate has a leading role to play in examining key barriers to connectivity and together – from local to global levels – to find the solutions to overcome them.  With partners, we can amplify change. 

But change will not happen if we look to the past.  We must look forward. We must take risks. To achieve the Sustainable Develop Goals and connect the next billion, business as usual won’t work.  

We know that the answer is to do things differently, and to take our lessons from the core ingredients: A bottom-up approach and collaborative exchanges that have allowed the Internet to flourish in so many parts of the world. 

None of us here this week, whether we are from government, the private sector, or from an NGO, can ever achieve our ambitions to support sustainable development if we try to do it alone. We can only do this through collective efforts, and by supporting more local connectivity solutions and access to information, markets, healthcare, and opportunities. We must recognize that the success of the Internet is inherently linked to building the capacity of those it connects.  And, without connectivity, communities are disconnected.  

We need to connect unserved and under-served communities.

Part of change we need to see is to make it possible for people to connect themselves through local solutions. Solutions like Community Networks, where anyone, anywhere – regardless of background – can connect as long as they have the right tools and support.  Regular people – local champions – local – heroes – who do not think twice about what they are doing.  Let’s be inspired by these everyday heroes. People dedicate themselves to local connectivity.  And, they work from within communities to build connectivity.  They are part of a bigger connectivity puzzle, and they are a compliment to other efforts under way to connect people.

So where do we start?  What can we do to promote local connectivity solutions – to support community networks?

The answer lies in partnerships.  Support your local heroes who are developing these local connectivity solutions.  Understand their needs.  Because they need your support and they are part of your solution to connect more of your citizens, to enable social and economic growth and to enable opportunities. 

For example:

  • If you are a regulator, consider Community Networks as a legitimate alternative form of local connectivity. Recognize them as a sustainable means to connect people “from the village out”.  Where local people build, develop, and manage a community network, where many traditional networks do not reach.  And, where sustainable development is strong as the community network has been developed By, For, and With the Community.
  • If you are a policy maker, consider ways that existing or new funding programs can support Community Networks, and make sure that they are recognized as a solution to your ambitions to develop an information society with more digitally literate citizens and future innovators – who can support economic and social progress. They are a partner for your development ambitions.  
  • If you are from the operator community, consider partnering with local community networks. See them as a complimentary means to empower the unconnected to connect, and consider what you can do to support their development through equipment donations, training opportunities, or through back-haul provision to reach the global Internet.  

All of us need to take inspiration from these everyday heroes who are building connectivity by, for, and with local communities, because development, innovation, and solutions are always local.  

Internet Governance

WSIS Forum 2016: A Spirit of Cooperation

At the WSIS Forum 2016 this week, participants had a clear mission: Supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the WSIS Action Lines.

With 1,800 participants from 140 countries, including 85 ministers and 250 high-level representatives this year, the meeting is growing in importance. Last December at the WSIS+10 Review, the outcome explicitly called for the close alignment between the WSIS process and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the first meeting after that review, the Forum was an opportunity to gather the wider community to discuss the way forward. With a week of discussions on everything from gender, education, and “smart” governments, to the importance of measuring the progress, there was a strong consensus among all participants that action cannot wait. I encourage you to read the summary of all discussions available on the Digital Watch website.

It was encouraging to hear our message about the potential of the Internet to enable progress towards all of the SDGs echoed throughout the meeting.  We championed this message throughout the WSIS+10 Review process and it formed the core of our contribution to the Sustainable Development Summit. However, we have also been clear that this potential depends on a sustainable Internet and empowered users.

As our Vice President Raul Echeberria expressed in the Opening Ceremony: “To fully realize the Internet’s potential we also need to build human capacity to enable people to shift from being users to creators, and for creators to become innovators.”.

A highlight of the week was the participation of the Internet Society’s three WSIS Youth Fellows – part of our effort to draw attention to some of the good work by young people in our community. We were extra proud to have the Chair of our Youth Special Interest Group, Adela Goberna, be invited to participate in the Opening Ceremony’s high-level dialogue on the WSIS Action Lines and the SDGs. This clearly showed that youth voices are needed as we move forward.

Our three fellows also participated in a workshop organized by the Internet Society about “A trusted Internet through the eyes of youth” which generated interesting discussions of what a trusted Internet is and how external factors in your local environment will impact that trust. The session was organized as part of our prioritized focus on “trust” this year: providing useful perspectives on how the issue can be addressed; and confirming our belief that inclusiveness of different perspectives is a key component of efficient policy development.

Although the collaborative spirit permeated many of the discussions, it is also clear that there are still different perspectives on how to implement this cooperation in practice. This appeared clearly in one the sessions I participated in on “Enhanced Cooperation”, a code word referring to a debate on the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders of the Internet ecosystem.

Moving forward I see the future with cautious optimism. The community has the will, ambition and knowledge to promote an Internet to benefit all, and to utilize its inherent potential in realizing the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for a Sustainable Development. But to reach that goal we must implement and strengthen the principles that underpin the multi-stakeholder approach:

  • inclusiveness and transparency;
  • collective responsibility;
  • effective decision-making and implementation;
  • collaboration through distributed and interoperable governance.

We hope that the spirit of cooperation that prevailed this week can be brought to our future discussions. It is the best chance we have to create an Internet for Everyone!

Image credit: a photo of Adela Goberna shared on Twitter by Raúl Echeberría

Events Improving Technical Security Privacy

No haven for spam: collaborating at WSIS Forum 2016 to address spam in emerging economies

Spam is not a new issue. Its origins precede the arrival of the Internet. Remember all the unwanted mail, faxes, sms and telephone calls you have received? Spammers will use any communications means that is available to achieve their objectives.

Some countries that faced the effect of email spam early on have discovered ways to combat spam in their economies. However, many emerging economies are only beginning today to see the full impact that spam can have on their network resources and citizens because increased Internet access has also opened the door to spam.

This Friday, at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2016 in Geneva, the Internet Society and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be hosting a workshop to explore the specific challenges faced by emerging economies and to discuss what we can do together to mitigate the presence and effect of spam in those economies.

Please join us in person:

Friday 6 May 2016 11:00 – 12:45 (local time)
Room C2. ITU Tower

or remotely:

To start the discussion on Friday, I will be sharing some thoughts on why the spam challenges faced by emerging economies today are different than those that more mature Internet economies faced when email spam first emerged.

  • The threat landscape is very different today from 15 years ago, from 10 years ago, etc. The spam problem is now much broader than unwanted emails. It is also a question of scale. The potential scale of attacks is much greater than it was for mature Internet economies countries when they were first exposed to spam. Vastly more commerce now occurs on the Internet and this introduces new avenues for phishing and data theft.
  • Emerging economies may be facing more sophisticated spammers without having had the advantage of building their skills when the threat was simpler. Some economies may have more limited access to human and financial resources.
  • Trust is vital for successful collaboration, especially across borders and communities. New network operators may not know how to get help from anti-spam communities or how to show that they can be a trusted partner.
  • Their citizens may also have less access to secure systems and devices.
  • Many emerging economies are rapidly becoming predominantly mobile commerce economies, a development that will not be overlooked by spammers.

We have invited speakers from emerging economies to share their experiences and the spam problems they are trying to solve.  We have also invited experts from:

  • the London Action Plan,
  • the ITU-D Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT),
  • the ITU-D Study Group 2 Question 3,
  • the Spamhaus Project

Together we will explore collaborative solutions to effectively combat spam.

Please join the conversation on Friday and bring your ideas!

To learn more about what you can do to stop spam, please go to our new anti-spam toolkit.

Internet Governance

Multistakeholder Approaches Are The Way Forward – Remarks at the WSIS Forum 2016 Opening Session

Today Raúl Echeberría, our Vice President for Global Engagement, delivered the following remarks as part of the Opening Session of the WSIS Forum 2016 in Geneva.

UPDATE: A video recording of Raúl’s speech is now available.

Mr. Chairman, Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies, and gentlemen, on behalf of the Internet Society, working globally through 80,000 members and 115 volunteer Chapters in 92 countries to ensure that the Internet is Everywhere, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

The Internet Society was founded by the Internet’s pioneers, and evolved from a belief that ‘a society would emerge from the idea that is the Internet.‘ These pioneers saw connectivity as an intrinsic part of the future, and like most pioneers, they were driven by curiosity and to push boundaries.

These pioneers formed a network of experts that began to expand around the globe. They connected more and more physical networks, and more and more people together over time. They formed a collective community that trained each other, built more networks, and connected even more people. Their history is a history of collaborative pioneering, pushed forward by a community that saw challenges as an opportunity for innovation, and where the goal of connectivity was equally its greatest tool for its success. In those days, the Internet could still be mapped by pen and paper, and the benefits of each new connection with all of its knowledge, creativity and ambition, was clearly visible to the community as a whole. For those participating, the benefits were clear: connectivity is more than moving a packet from point A to point B – it is a tool to empower and enable those who use it.

That collaborative spirit is alive today. And, following the WSIS +10 Review, and the new Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is this spirit of empowerment and what the Internet can enable that we call upon the Global community to keep close to heart. Connectivity adds value to the whole, but connectivity alone is not the goal – it is a means to other ends. This is why the Internet Society’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Summit emphasized the enabling capacity of the Internet as a tool to drive and empower the Sustainable Development Agenda as a whole.

To fully realize the Internet’s potential we also need to build human capacity to enable people to shift from being users to creators, and for creators to become innovators. Companies, governments, or NGOs alone will never achieve sustainable development – it can only be done through a collective effort – by building communities – that empower people and by giving them access to information, markets, healthcare, and opportunities to make their needs and ambitions heard.

As we engage with communities across the world to promote and improve the open standards and infrastructure that underpin the spread of the Internet, we recognize that the success of the Internet is inherently linked to building the capacity of those it connects. Part of this capacity building is intrinsically linked to the Internet itself, of its open access and global reach, but equally in the ability of its users to use and build on the open platform that is the Internet.

Multistakeholder approaches are the way forward…

We are all different, but we share a collaborative desire to exchange information, and a belief that the WSIS Forum can support our common goals. This Forum – the first Forum after the Sustainable Development Conference – is uniquely important. We have an opportunity to share our different needs and solutions, our lessons learnt, and to put our minds together to build and shape an Information Society we all can relate to and participate in – one that can help promote sustainable development for the benefit of all. To do this – we must include all the stakeholders who use, innovate and create on the Internet. We must strengthen the capacity in countries that need it, we must hear the voices of the youth, and we must bridge the gender gap in shaping technology for all.

As we take new steps to realize the global Information Society and to realize the vision behind the sustainable development goals, we must also build on our experiences of the past ten years, and strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach that has brought us this far. We heard this message in New York. The message that we must increase our collective efforts to address the challenges ahead, and for the future Internet to be shaped by a community of stakeholders – not by borders. If we are to harness the Internet’s full potential to support our efforts for sustainable development, we must ensure that its governance reflects its global nature by being open, distributed, interconnected and transnational. The multistakeholder approach is more than a possible alternative – it is the Internet’s DNA.

The call for continued strengthening of the multi-stakeholder approach has been echoed and affirmed across conferences, by governments, and by the people who use it. We heard it during the WSIS +10 Review and we saw the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) extended. We see it in the preparations for the OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy this June. And, most recently, we heard it at the G7 meeting in Japan last week: the multistakeholder approach is the way forward for a sustainable Internet – from development to security – it takes a collective approach.

As a community we must not just talk about what we can do. We need to take action. When we talk about strengthening the multi-stakeholder approach, we are not talking about a new super regime, or a single model that fits all. We are talking about an approach that emphasizes core attributes of inclusiveness, transparency, collective responsibility, effective decision making, and a distributed and interoperable governance system. Attributes that all entities, whether private or public, need to adopt to ensure effective governance of the Internet.

We call on all stakeholders to accept the responsibility we share in ensuring that the Internet continues to be a force for human development and empowerment. The Internet Society and our chapters, present in all regions of the world, have worked to promote the Internet Everywhere since our inception. We know what it takes, and we know that it requires the input of all to enable the Internet’s full potential.

For more background, we encourage you to read:

Image credit: Olivier Crépin-Leblond on Twitter

Building Trust Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

2016: Confronting the Promise and the Challenge of a Global, Open Internet: Connection AND Security

Happy New Year to all!

2015 was a big year for the Internet Society. The graphic we published earlier this week provides only a glimpse of the hours, effort and impact of our collective work. ISOC has worked tirelessly to strengthen its community and organize itself through the power and reach of the Internet. We have advanced Internet technology around the world while upholding the principles we cherish; and we have advocated–and won–at least for an Internet minute– the argument that a multistakeholder, distributed model of Internet governance is the right means of achieving the global and local benefits of the Internet. Through our focused messaging, we made significant progress in highlighting the Internet of Opportunity, the 21st Century door to possibility.

Connection. Community. Sustainability. Access. Trust.

These gains are crucial to the challenges that lie ahead. Well done! to the staff, Chapters, Organizational members and friends of the Internet Society around the world who worked together to make 2015 a resounding success.

And now, as we turn to a new year, we must recommit ourselves, ever more urgently, to our core mission: to ensure that the door to opportunity is unlocked everywhere, for everyone and to make sure it stays both OPEN and SECURE. The stability and future of the Internet depends on what we do now, in 2016.

The agreement at the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was a victory for the power of the multistakeholder consensus building effort, resulting in international agreement that the way in which we meet these goals is through the transnational, distributed, bottom-up model that has worked to bring the Internet to fruition in so much of the world.

But the challenge before us is to make that model work for the people who live in more than half of the world who do not yet have access to the Internet and, frankly, to address the most potent threat to its advancement–erosion of trust. That erosion has been brought about by the very growth of the power of connection and by the accumulation of massive amounts of data. Actions on the part of some governments, commercial enterprises and nefarious individuals have exploited weaknesses in security technology, in the unbounded collection of personal data and in public policies that, on the one hand, are intended to protect citizens and, on the other, to control them. And, despite the gains at WSIS, the tension among governments over “who controls the Internet” continues.

We believe our 2016 Action Plan gives focus to the work ahead. We have prioritized the need to connect the unconnected and to building and restoring trust in the Internet as a medium for personal and community identity, freedom and innovation. Behind the broad initiatives published in our plan at the end of 2015, there are specific, actionable, measurable projects and activities that, we believe, will have an impact on the future direction of Internet innovation, deployment, use and governance.

On Wednesday, January 27 (15:00 – 16:30 UTC) we will hold our first Community Forum of 2016 (details to follow). We have come a long way in the past year to grow our membership, our influence and our energy. We must continue that momentum. If we mean what we say, that innovation, progress and governance on the Internet are distributed and local to its users and communities, we must organize our efforts in the same way. Our Chapters and members are crucial to achieving our goals. I look forward to talking with you.

I sincerely believe that the future of the Internet as we know it is at stake at this important crossroads in its growth. We face regulatory action of dubious purpose, fragmentation, and, worse, the opposite of what we intend for users–an Internet of Apprehension–and control–rather than an Internet of Opportunity where doors are opened and user expression, creativity and autonomy is respected and advanced.

Welcome to 2016.

Growing the Internet Human Rights Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

Wrapping Up A Successful WSIS+10 Review

This week, we concluded the UN’s ten year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10), a multi-year process, designed to cover discussions about the evolution of the Information Society and the governance institutions and frameworks for its realization. Overall, the agreed outcome document represents a positive vision by re-committing to the Tunis Agenda and the principle of a multistakeholder model for Internet governance. Recognizing the role that the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) plays, the WSIS+10 outcome document renews the IGF’s mandate for ten years. It also asserts that Human Rights online must be protected as they are offline.

We are pleased with how the review process has been conducted by the co-facilitators from the UAE and Latvia. As expressed by our CEO Kathy Brown in her speech to the UN General Assembly this week, they have “really shined a light on the value of the collaborative, multistakeholder model.(…) By their actions they acknowledged that there is only one way to build the Internet future – and that is by working together.

What was at stake: A paradigm choice

The High-Level Event was as much an epilogue of the years passed as a prologue for the years to come. It was a paradigm choice, informed by the progress to date in reaching the WSIS policy targets(access, security, etc.), and how the Internet has evolved and become an intrinsic part of our social and economic lives.

The negotiations were an enlightening journey. Parties had to decide if they wanted to regress to a world of frontiers or not, whether Human Rights should be relative or universal, andwhether the global Internet is more of a threat than an opportunity. In this regard, we were glad to see that negotiators agreed that we can not conceive the future of the Information Society without the respect for fundamental rights (read Nicolas Seidler’s analysis).

What also appeared is that as the Internet has permeated all layers of our lives, we need strong consensus on a holistic approach grounded in shared principles and values. As the one proposed by UNESCO : “Internet Universality“, built on four interdependent principles that reinforce each other: a “Human Rights-based” Internet, “Open”, “Accessible to all”, and “nurtured by Multistakeholder participation”. Like a chair built on four legs – remove one and the chair falls down.

For example, if all stakeholders are not empowered to actively participate, an open governance model remains an empty concept. Also, how can the Internet amplify the enjoyment of Human Rights if individuals cannot get online to express opinions? The Internet will bring no economic or social value to people if it’s not actually accessible to them. This obvious observation is part of the reason why ISOC will be dedicating much of its resources and energy to developing Internet access in 2016 and bringing the Internet to all.

What is ahead of us: remaining tensions around the Internet governance model

No negotiations are without compromises. And we saw how the recent global threat from terrorism affected the focus and tone of the negotiations and the perceived issues to be addressed. We expect embedded tensions to resurface as new issues emerge. Security is one them, with almost reflex responses from governments to regress to traditional, nation-state solutions for global issues. With this in mind, the Internet Society and many of our fellow stakeholders share a concern that developments that assign security as the exclusive domain for governments constitute a real risk to the openness and resilience of the Internet. The Privacy and Security Program of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) demonstrates the relevance of the technical community as being part of the solution.

The temptation of fragmenting cyberspace for better control and security is at the heart of this issue, and in our view, the text does not emphasize sufficiently that the Internet is a shared, global platform. Of course it asks that nation states “avoid” actions that would alter this global nature and to coordinate better. However, more assertive language on the Internet’s border-less nature and the negative effects of fragmentary national policies would have been a useful safeguard.

These developments should also be seen in light of other developments, such as the parallel World Internet Conference held in Wuzen, China, where China’s President, Xi Jinping, reinforced in his keynote address that the Internet should “adhere to a multilateral approach.”

The Internet Society is concerned that some countries may be tempted to reverse course to a multilateral, state-centric view, of addressing global issues. To us, it would be giving-up on the vision to develop an open Information Society based on universal values and shared goals.

From words to action

Over the past months, the Internet community’s engagement, led by ISOC and other partners was critical in helping secure a positive outcome for WSIS+10, in particular the close to 350 organizations and individuals who signed on to a Joint Statement calling for an open Internet. As we look at the years to come we celebrate the progress made, and the community’s renewed commitment to spread the Internet to everyone, everywhere.

But we also see a fragile vision that can be undermined by the interests of a few – and beliefs that borders belong in the digital space. The WSIS+10 review process may be over, but the work to build the global and inclusive Information Society has just begun.

In this regard, we need the Internet community to stay alert and remain mobilized to address the challenges ahead.

Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

Internet Society CEO Speech at the UN General Assembly WSIS+10 Review

Today, December 16, 2015, Internet Society President and CEO Kathy Brown delievered the following remarks before the UN General Assembly as part of the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10)


Mr. Chairman, Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Internet Society, an organization of 80,000 members, 145 organizations and 112 volunteer Chapters in 92 countries, congratulations on the successful conclusion of the WSIS +10 review.

The Internet Society evolved from a belief of our founder Vint Cerf that ‘a society would emerge from the idea that is the Internet’. Today we see that not only has an Information Society emerged, but also that the Internet has woven itself into the very fabric of our whole society and is now a critical part of how we connect, communicate, create and collaborate.

We are encouraged by the positive outcome of the WSIS 10 review resulting from years of cooperation and shared dialogue. The final outcome document is an endorsement of the agreement we all made 10 years ago to allow the Internet to grow and flourish through bottom-up, distributed collaborative processes. We enthusiastically support the unequivocal re-commitment to the multistakeholder model first adopted in Tunis; the renewal of the IGF mandate and the central focus on creating a digital enabling environment for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Moreover, the Internet Society has continually called for a sharper focus on development and Human Rights in order to build a people-centered Information Society. WSIS has delivered by putting the building blocks in place to continue to champion these two crucial imperatives.

And importantly, the co-facilitators have shined a light on the value of the collaborative, multistakeholder model by striving to be as open, transparent and inclusive as the UN process would allow. By their actions they acknowledged that there is only one way to build the Internet future – and that is by working together.

So, I want to say thank you to those who have made this agreement possible. Thank you to the Secretary-General; to the president of the General Assembly; and to our two excellent facilitators. But most of all thank you to all those stakeholders who contributed with passion, ideas and advocacy to this positive outcome.

Of course, we all know that the outcome document reflects a series of compromises – and we have a concern; and it is not an insignificant one.

In our view, the outcome statement falls short in failing to fully recognize the transnational nature of the Internet as a borderless “network of networks” comprised of millions of individual networks that connect around the globe. It seeks to apply national solutions to global problems, particularly those related to safety and security. This shortfall is compounded by an unfortunate misbelief by some that cooperation ONLY among governments is sufficient to solve issues that require the expertise and commitment of all of us.

Indeed, our able and perceptive co-facilitator from the UAE asked the opening panel yesterday how we could improve UN processes that have historically been multilateral, to better address the governance issues of the Internet. Those issues are multistakeholder, transnational and distributed by nature.

We agree that further progress must be made to fully embrace a changing digital world that knows no borders and no single “decider”.

As more people – and things – come online, many challenges, known and unknown, lie ahead. Government-centric processes are only one of the many ways that solutions can be crafted AND implemented. Solving 21st Century problems will require the collaboration of all stakeholders through 21st century mechanisms.

We at the Internet Society stand ready to join with all of you – and with all stakeholders around the world – to reach a common vision of an open, global, trusted Internet for everyone, everywhere. Again, thank you for your dedication to a better world.


More information about the WSIS+10 event can be found at

Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Internet Governance

ISOC At WSIS+10 Day 2: Kathy Brown Speech, Access Side Event, Cybersecurity Sessions

On this second day of the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (a.k.a “WSIS+10”) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York our focus is on the main plenary session where our President and CEO, Kathy Brown, will be one of only 10 speakers from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and industry to address the UN General Assembly (UNGA).  Here’s what the day looks like:

Our Schedule Today

At some point today, Kathy will be addressing the UNGA. We don’t know precisely when, though. She is the 82nd speaker on the list of speakers and we anticipate it will be sometime between 3 and 4 pm New York time (UTC-5).  You can watch all of the sessions on “UN Web TV” at:

We’ll send out tweets and other social media updates when we are closer to the time of Kathy’s speech.

In the morning, from 11:00 – 12:30,  Constance Bommelaer will be participating in and speaking at a side event, “Presentation of GIP Digital Watch: A practical tool for navigating the complex field of digital policy ” that will outline the GIP Digital Watch platform in which we are one of the partners.

During the middle of the day we are one of the main organizers of one of the side events (see the official list) from 13:15 – 14:30:

YOU ARE WELCOME TO WATCH REMOTELY as this event will be streamed via the UN’s live video stream.

It will involve these participants:

  •     Moderator: H.E. Andrej Logar, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations and Chair of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly
  •     African Network Information Center (AFRINIC)
  •     Anja Kovacs, Director of the Internet Democracy Project
  •     Jose Cruz-Osorio, Team Leader, Responsive and Accountable Institutions, Governance and Peacebuilding Group, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  •     Salam Yamout , Board Member, RIPE NCC
  •     Carlos Afonso, Member of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee
  •     Raul Echeberria, Vice President of Global Engagement, ISOC
  •     Dominique Lazanski, Director of Public Policy, GSMA
  •     Adiel Akplogan, Vice President of Technical Engagement, ICANN

More information about the event can be found on the side event page.

Any events streamed are also typically recorded for later viewing.

Also during the day a couple of us will be monitoring a meeting happening simultaneously with WSIS+10 of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) with the lengthy title of “Preventing Terrorists from Exploiting the Internet and Social Media to Recruit Terrorists and Incite Terrorist Acts, While Respecting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms“.

As the agenda notes, the first session of that meeting is on “Current threats posed by the use of the Internet and social media for terrorist purposes” – a topic certainly of interest to many.

Events on Tuesday

There was obviously a great amount of activity yesterday here at the UN (as I noted in our Day 1 post). The GIP Digital Watch have nicely summarized the activities in:

Several other links to note:

We will be continuing to post other updates and posts throughout the event.

Please watch our main WSIS page for more information and updates.

Following Along Today

If you would like to follow along as the WSIS+10 events unfold today, you can, as noted above, watch the UN’s live video stream.

You can also follow the “#WSIS10” hashtag on most social networks, including both Twitter and Facebook.

You are of course invited to follow us at @InternetSociety on Twitter and other social networks if you are not already doing so.  We’ll be sharing out our views, images and other materials as the day goes on.

I would also suggest visiting our main WSIS page where we have background information, documents, reports and other content that will help you understand what is happening this week in New York.

If you are at the WSIS+10 event, please do find one of us and say hello!

Growing the Internet Women in Tech

ISOC At WSIS+10, Day 1: Women's Empowerment and Building on WSIS+10

Today marks the official start of the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (a.k.a “WSIS+10”) here in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. All year long our policy activities have been building toward this event, and as our President and CEO Kathy Brown wrote yesterday, we are encouraged by the “outcome document” and are looking forward to the discussions this week – and to translating the statements into actions in the months and years ahead.

Our Schedule Today

The main WSIS+10 schedule kicks off with an opening session at 9:00am US Eastern (UTC-5) where our team will be in attendance.  During the middle of the day we will also be participating in multiple side events (see the official list) from 13:15 – 14:30:

  • Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age: Implementing WSIS Outcome and Agenda 2030, organized by the ITU – UNHQ Conference Room 6 – Kathy Brown will be speaking

We also will have Sally Wentworth attending a third side event:

Based on the “UN Web TV” schedule, we expect that the first two sessions will be streamed live out of New York at:

Any events streamed are also typically recorded for later viewing.  We do not currently have any information about streaming of the third side event.

Events on Monday

While the WSIS+10 Review formally starts this morning, yesterday was quite an active day of meetings and side events. Our friends over at the GIP Digital Watch have nicely summarized the activities in:

We will also be posting further updates as some of the specific video recordings become available.

Following Along Today

If you would like to follow along as the WSIS+10 events unfold today, you can, as noted above, watch the UN’s live video stream

You can also follow the “#WSIS10” hashtag on most social networks, including both Twitter and Facebook.

You are of course invited to follow us at @InternetSociety on Twitter and other social networks if you are not already doing so.  We’ll be sharing out our views, images and other materials as the day goes on.

I would also suggest visiting our main WSIS page where we have background information, documents, reports and other content that will help you understand what is happening this week in New York.

Now… it’s time to begin!

Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Looking Beyond IGF 2015 to WSIS+10

IGF 2015 in João Pessoa, Brazil will be seen as a milestone for the global Internet community. After 10 years of intense work, the IGF has earned the right to celebrate its success and prepare itself for the future.

As we come out of the meeting, we are urging all who want to be heard at this important moment in the evolution of the Internet to join over 80 organizations and individuals who have already signed on to a message to the UN General Assembly that will 1) help safeguard the IGF for the future; 2) preserve the multistakeholder model of governance; and 3) help keep us focused on the work at hand.

The Internet Governance Forum has always been about the future. At its inception in Tunis on 18 November 2005, it was charged with organizing itself to think about the future; a future that was neither clear nor guaranteed. For 10 years, it has been a bazaar for ideas, a marketplace for trading experiences, and a forum for learning the implications of a global network of networks. Stakeholders from civil society, business, academia, governments and the Internet technical community have come a very long way in finding common ground and learning how to learn from and share with each other.

During the past week, over 2500 people on the ground in João Pessoa and 1500 people in remote hubs, participated in over 100 workshops, round tables and best practice sessions. The Best Practice Forums were well organized, well attended and produced strong papers in six different areas, all supporting the overarching track on Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion“. These outputs were made possible by the commitment of over 500 hundred experts who worked all year long and who were eager to present their findings in João Pessoa. The meeting was filled with the pride of participants of this extraordinary output of work –and the collaborative model we have, together, developed and nourished all year long.

And, we heard in the past two days the news we were waiting for: at the UN General Assembly meeting of the WSIS+10 Review in New York on December 15 and 16, 2015, the mandate of the IGF is likely to be renewed for 10 years more.

We understand, however, that no decision has yet been made and that it will be formalized in the next weeks at “informal meetings” of governments at which the non-governmental stakeholders will not be invited. Given that we will not be present at this crucial meeting, representatives of many of the organizations who gathered in João Pessoa, Brazil, along with other organizations and individuals from around the world, have developed a statement to the UN General Assembly with three key messages which we believe are crucial to negotiations in the final phase of the WSIS+10:

  • The IGF, harnessing the benefits of the community’s diversity, has become a primary vehicle for identifying issues and solutions through a collaborative approach, on an equal footing and in a free and open environment. The proliferation of national and regional IGF initiatives is a sign of its relevance, and an example of an inclusive, bottom-up approach to global issues, rooted in local communities. We fully support the IGF mandate renewal. In addition, further efforts to implement recommendations for improvements to the IGF will be essential for the community’s ability to continue addressing complex problems, and the challenges of the future.
  • The multistakeholder approach, cooperatively developed since the inception of the Internet is critical in achieving the WSIS goals. The Internet is one of our most important tools for sustainable development, improved human rights and good governance. The community must safeguard the principles of collaboration, openness, transparency and inclusiveness that have allowed the Internet to flourish.
  • There is still much work to be done, especially in connecting the unconnected. Access to an open and inclusive Internet is the central issue of our time, and a fundamental tool enabling free speech and empowering people in the 21st century. The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals recognize the Internet and connected information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a critical enabler for economic and social progress. The close alignment between the WSIS action lines and these goals reflects the essential role of ICT and the Internet in advancing the 2030 agenda. To achieve these goals, and to ensure a secure and trustworthy Internet, it is crucial that the future of the Internet be shaped through an open, inclusive and truly multistakeholder process.

At the Internet Society, we believe that in ten years hence we will look back at João Pessoa as the meeting at which the multistakeholder model of Internet Governance was solidified and settled as the best and only way to move forward to the future we want: an Internet of Opportunity for all.

We urge all who want to be heard at this important moment to join with us and many others in sending this message. The statement will be submitted before next week when governments gather for their informal meetings in New York.

Thank you, as always, for your dedication, passion and willingness to ensure that the Internet is for Everyone, Everywhere.

Internet Governance

ISOC At IGF2015, Day 1: WSIS+10, IXPs, Trust, Digital Economy, and the Opening Ceremony

Today is “Day 1” of the 2015 Internet Governance Forum (IGF2015) and this begins an incredibly packed schedule of many different simultaneous sessions, workshops, roundtables and other events.  First, a quick reminder that all our Internet Society activities today can be found here:

Also, please remember that remote participation is possible if you are not in Brazil – and please review our other blog posts about IGF2015 for background.

Additionally, I’d encourage you all to read this new Huffington Post article from our President and CEO Kathy Brown that ties in deeply to what is being discussed this week at IGF 2015:

Now… on to Day 1…

Our day begins with the Main Session On WSIS+10 from 9:00 – 12:30 Brasilia Time (BRT, UTC-3) about the 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) happening in New York in December. For us this is a critical time in the WSIS+10 discussions and both our President/CEO Kathy Brown and our point person on WSIS, Constance Bommelaer will be engaged in the discussions, along with other ISOC staff.

Simultaneously, we’ll also have staff in multiple sessions during the morning on the themes of Internet access, trust and cybersecurity, Internet exchange points (IXPs) and the digital economy:

Also of note, from 10:00 – 11:00 we’ll be joining in a session with the Geneva Internet Platform and Diplo Foundation about the GIP Digital Watch resource we recently partnered with them to launch.

Speaking of the Diplo Foundation, keep an eye out for the IGF Daily which they are publishing and distributing each day at the IGF 2015 venue (in partnership with us).

From 12:30 – 14:00 our Raùl Echeberrìa will be participating in the Seed Alliance Awards Ceremony over in Workshop Room 1.

At 14:00 we’ll move into a one-hour Setting the Scene” session where speakers will provide overviews of the eight sub-themes for IGF 2015 that fit under the overarching theme of “Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development”. Our own Constance Bommelaer will give the high level view of the Best Practices Forums (BPFs) that will occur throughout the IGF week.

Finally at 15:00 all attention will shift to the main session area for the Opening Ceremony where the IGF will formally be opened and speakers from many governments and organizations will share their thoughts and views about the IGF and activities this week.  Our President and CEO, Kathy Brown, will be among the speakers and will be sharing her reflections on the incredible importance of connecting the unconnected and also promoting and restoring trust in the Internet.

Throughout the day we’ll be providing updates on social media using the #IGF2015 hashtag, particularly on our @InternetSociety and @ISOCpolicy Twitter accounts.  Please follow us there for more info – and if you are in Brazil at IGF 2015, please do stop by our ISOC booth and say hello to our staff and volunteers!

P.S. IETF Chair Jari Arkko also published a post on the IETF blog about the IETF / IAB participation in IGF 2015.

Image credit: photo of the ISOC community discussion about WSIS+10 on Day 0.

Internet Governance

Comments for the WSIS+10 Second Interactive Consultation with Stakeholders

NOTE: On 19 October 2015, Dr. Alejandro Pisanty spoke at the United Nations General Assembly as part of the WSIS+10 Second Informal Interactive Consultations. Dr. Pisanty is one of three WSIS Fellows sponsored by the Internet Society. Dr. Pisanty’s comments relate to the “Zero Draft” document as part of the UN’s WSIS+10 process.  The Internet Society also submitted comments on the Zero Draft. More information about the WSIS+10 Review can be found at

These comments are articulated around the zero draft of the document for the United Nations General Assembly’s Overall Review of the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes and also address some comments by other parties made in writing and during the consultation session.
The contribution of education to the development of the Information Society is of foremost importance. It is an essential part of solving the problem of access to the Internet and other tools of the Information Society, in the general field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs.)

Formal education, usually mandated and in many cases provided by governments, must open up to include the teaching of computer programming (coding) in a modern, attractive way. The objective is not necessarily to produce a society of programmers, but the bottom line is to foster a citizenship that is aware of the basic aspects of how computers work, in particular the effects of automation and algorithms.

Therefore it is not only computer training that is important. A full access to the Information Society will be achieved optimally by citizens educated in science, mathematics and technology, and with strong critical thinking. This also contributes to counter the spread of misinformation and fraud through the Internet.

The Internet has given rise to forms of education beyond formal education that have proven to be effective. Among these are hackathons and many varieties of fine-grained education and training events, whether face-to-face or online. Governments should foster the activity of other stakeholders and help them reach larger populations and getting this education and training recognized when it delivers quality.

The points above connect mostly to paragraph 21 of the zero-draft.

Paragraph 13 presents the impressive impact of mobile access to the Internet. This should continue and all actors who commit to the outcomes of this consultation and the General Assembly’s resolution that derives  from it should continue to support mobile, not only at the infrastructure layer but also in the development of content and services. Youth and other disenfranchised populations benefit from consuming but also producing these applications. Standards are important to make the applications used broadly and over the Internet, not only within the “walled gardens” of closed apps environments.

Importantly for Paragraph 13, mobile access lacks some affordances of fixed networks and large-format, computationally powerful interfaces. The growth of mobile access cannot be a pretext to make the expansion of fixed broadband. Investments in this expansion will not become inexpensive as fast as mobile and will need a full commitment from the relevant stakeholders to continue, even into regions that are not initially profitable. Universal access funds have proven to be a tool of limited utility for access expansion; they often lack size and scalability, and easily become politicized in a way that stops serving the neediest populations. Other forms of public and private investment need to continue for this purpose.

Accompanying access, especially in the mobile space, is the advantage of compliance with technical standards that maximize interoperability. Our own experience in introducing Internet tools in education reflects on this point; as an example, the introduction of HTML5-compliant resources in face-to-face, online, mobile and blended education creates an accessible, inexpensive, inclusive environment that fosters collective learning instead of only isolated individual learning experience.

Compliance with open standards further facilitates the expansion of impact and sales of applications that simultaneously provide a rich user experience and easy expansion across physical and operating-system platforms with a single development effort. Producers have an easier time to reach larger markets or populations.

Grouping the above, a commitment to the Internet’s core values of interoperability and openness, now also called Internet Invariants.
Paragraph 17 on contributions from UNESCO, CSTD and the ITU should be complemented with “listening to the broad and deep expertise available worldwide among all stakeholder sectors.”

Regarding Paragraph 40, the emphasis on “respective roles” does provide some needed clarity but, as we have discussed since 2004 in the time of the WGIG, the document that the General Assembly approves should not refrain from calling for a form of active cooperation among all stakeholders that aims less to stay in silos and more to make sure that necessary actions are undertaken and dangerous voids are filled cooperatively instead of being left to exist because they are not in job descriptions.

Multistakeholder  collaboration has to be tailored to specific issues and stakeholders. There is not one unique mechanism that will work for all purposes in the same way. It is not incompatible with democratic principles. In fact it elaborates and enriches democratic frameworks where they exist, and provide for participation in their absence. Technical, business and civil-society communities from developing countries have benefitted enormously over the years from access to these types of collaboration without having to wait for “official channels”, which in most cases fail to ever materialize.

Multistakeholder governance is a practice that is used in many fields outside the Internet; some examples exist in the management of the environment and of common-pool resources. There is a growing body of literature around it. Lessons learned in all fields should feed into Internet governance but also from Internet governance to other fields. Further, from within the Internet governance, UN-based framework, the IGF has in operation a Best Practice Forum on Multistakeholder Governance which is compiling best practices, knowledge, experience and outlooks int the future on this vital field. The resolutions of the Assembly General will surely be enriched by resting on this knowledge.

Regarding Network Neutrality, Paragraph 35, I have published some ways to analyze and make progress on this issue. I would particularly want to point to the work of the Dynamic Coalition on Network Neutrality of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), i.e. within the UN Internet governance framework, for guidance and valuable contributions to the further work mandated by the WSIS+10 review of this issue.

Regarding Paragraphs 46, 47, 48 and 49 concerned with cybersecurity:
It would be useful that the document that emerges from the General Assembly make a clearer distinction than the zero draft between the uses of the term “cybersecurity” for national security and for personal and public security. The political implications, technical approaches and legal tools for each share some commonalities but also involve stark differences.

Many of the issues in this area, like children online safety, cybercrime and attacks against national security reflect new technical approaches to preexisting forms of conduct. A framework that emerges from the General Assembly would need to encourage all stakeholders, but in particular governments and their legislative and judicial branches, to analyze and regulate first and foremost the conduct and only having done that, the media and technology applied. Laws, education, prevention, deterrence and risk management are known, in most cases even ancient, for each of these conducts. Laws already exist that can be adapted to the new media instead of legislating de novo for the media.