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

Growing the Internet Internet Governance

We Need Your Vote!

The WSIS Forum 2015 is coming up this May in Geneva and we’re excited to announce two projects the Internet Society is involved with are nominated for a WSIS prize.

The winners will be decided by you – so we need your vote! 

Voting closes May 1st so don’t miss out!

Here’s what’s been nominated:

Under Category 2 African Internet Exchange System project

African Union Commission, ETHIOPIA

The African Internet Exchange System project or AXIS project aims at keeping Africa’s Internet traffic local to the continent. Currently, much of Africa’s Internet traffic is routed through Internet exchange points external to the African continent. As countries establish their own IXPs, Internet traffic will be routed locally, creating a downward pressure on costs and stimulating growth in and distribution of local Internet content. Through the AXIS project, the AU and the Internet Society, working with other African Internet organizations such as AfriNIC, AfNOG and AftLD, is providing capacity building and technical assistance to facilitate the establishment of National Internet Exchange Points and Regional Internet Exchange Points in Africa. Through this collaborative effort the organizations involved are assisting in the development of a more locally operated and, hence, more robust and economically accessible pan-African Internet.


Vote for AXIS Now!


Under Category 5 Combating Spam for Developing Countries

Internet Society, SWITZERLAND

The Internet Society’s Combating Spam for Developing Countries is designed to address the need for linkages between policy makers, network operators and the technical communities who have the knowledge and expertise to policy makers, network operators and technical communities who are in need of the information so they can address the issue of spam within their counties and join the global effort to stop spam. The Internet depends on the reliable functioning of its infrastructure and applications such as email, social media and texting. Addressing the many concerns that have been raised about what to do and how to approach spam mitigation is an on-going activity due to the ever changing nature of the threats that come from unsolicited forms of electronic communications, or spam. With its partners, M3AAWG, LAP, GSMA and the ITU; the Internet Society is keeping the dialogue on how to combat spam going so that expertise, experiences and lessons learned can be shared with people around the world.


Vote in support of fighting spam now!


Photo: "Vote" © 2008 Mykl Roventine CC BY-NC-SA 2.0