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!

Building Trust Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security Privacy

The WSIS+10 Outcome Document, some initial thoughts

The final outcome document of the WSIS +10 Review was released late last night. I thought I would give you some initial impressions. 

The text endorses the central tenet of the multistakeholder model of governing ourselves on the Internet and re-commits to the Tunis agreement. It extends the mandate of the IGF for 10 years recognizing the role that this Forum plays in bottom up governance processes.  It is strong on human rights and highlights the right to freedom of expression on the Internet, asserting that human rights online must be protected as are human rights off line. 

This text, of course, represents a series of compromises. In our view, it does not emphasize sufficiently that the Internet is a shared, global platform. It does, however, strongly recommend coordination at the borders and asks that nation states “avoid” actions that would disrupt the benefits of the Internet. We would have liked stronger language on the Internet’s borderless nature in light of fragmentary policies of an ever-growing number of member states. But as always, the proof will be in the implementation. We will be listening very carefully to what is said during the coming debate and closely monitoring proceedings in the important side events.

The text recognizes the responsibility of member states to protect cyber security and stresses the importance of stakeholder participation in matters of trust and security. The tone is good and leans towards the principles we believe in. As we have stressed elsewhere, it is crucial that governments not act alone in responding to legitimate safety and security concerns. It is our collective responsibility to act to maintain and restore trust while safeguarding the rights of users. The text has language that supports this view but, of course, this will be a major source of dialogue moving forward. 

We will absorb the text today and talk with colleagues in the wider community about the implications of specific language and of the statement as a whole. On a first read, we are encouraged by this forward leaning final outcome document. 

I think the Review has been greatly benefited by two excellent co-facilitators who found a way to drive consensus on affirming the WSIS people-centered approach of the Tunis Agreement that has resulted in the tremendous growth of the Internet.  This growth has been led by many innovators, creators, technologists, builders, users and policy thinkers and makers over the last ten years. It is a marvel that must be protected and advanced. Indeed, the final outcome document rightly points to the urgent need to finish the job by closing the digital divides that leave half the world as yet unconnected and without the benefits of an Internet Society. The text further confirms our view that the WSIS spirit must now infuse the work of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by all the Nations of the world. 

I congratulate the very good relationship and work done by the coalition of dedicated Internet activists who, on behalf of the Internet community, contributed greatly to this good outcome. I continue to believe that these kind of discussions must be open to all stakeholders in principle as well as in practice. I appreciate that, despite the governmental nature of the negotiations, the WSIS+10 discussions with stakeholders were led in that spirit. All stakeholders found ways to participate and to contribute and I believe the outcome is better for it. 

ISOC staff will be participating in talks here in NY for the next two days and, on Wednesday, I have been invited to speak to the General Assembly on behalf of the Internet Society.  I welcome all comments as I prepare those remarks. 

Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Privacy

WSIS+10 And The Challenge Of Securing The Internet

In just one week, representatives of governments from all around the world will gather at the UN headquarters in New York for the 10-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society, a.k.a. “WSIS+10”. We are very pleased to see the consensus forming that the principles of multi-stakeholder cooperation and engagement should be at the core of the Information Society. Moreover, consensus has emerged around a “post-2015” vision for how the Internet can be used to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will bring about a better future for us all. We are also pleased to see continued support for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as a key part of the multistakeholder future of the Internet.

However, not all governments share this post-2015 vision that a partnership among all stakeholders is needed to achieve our collective goals. As our matrix analysis of recent comments on the draft document show, some are in fact actively opposed to it, particularly in the area of cybersecurity. There are many explanations for this disagreement, but at its core is a worldview of applying national solutions to global problems, and a misbelief that cooperation among a single stakeholder group (ex. governments) is sufficient to solve issues that require the expertise and commitment of all stakeholders. In short: it is a perspective of the past projected to the world of the future.

In our view, raising the level of trust in the Internet through increasing both security and privacy is the critical imperative of our time. Embedded as the Internet Society is within the Internet’s technical community, we see the massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that are happening. We see the phishing and spam issues. We see large-scale pervasive surveillance and corporate and state espionage. And we see the erosion of trust that this is causing for end users, and the negative effect of these security threats on the economic development of countries.

The challenge, as we have said many times before, is that “the Internet” is not one single entity where there can magically be a simple solution to make everything secure. If this was possible, it would have been done by now.

The reality is that the Internet is a global “network of networks” comprised of tens of thousands of Internet service providers (ISPs) connecting together millions of individual home networks, data centers, WiFi networks and more –  all of which interact with each other through the power of open Internet standards and many of which operate across national boundaries. Just as keeping burglars out of our own physical neighborhood requires each of us to lock the doors of our houses and keep a watch out, so, too, does keeping criminals and attackers out of our virtual neighborhoods require each of us to implement Internet security measures. We call this “Collaborative Security” and see this as a necessary approach for how we make the Internet more secure, particularly as the security threats are constantly evolving at a rapid pace.

After the revelations of large-scale surveillance over the past few years, the technical community has focused a significant amount of energy on its role in this overall ecosystem. A prime example of this is the “Privacy and Security” program of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). Recognizing that Internet security challenges are at an extremely large scale, and also that the Internet is composed of many different layers that act as building blocks for other layers, the IAB has undertaken an effort in three main areas:

  • Internet-scale resilience – work to address the large DDoS attacks, route hijacking and other attacks.
  • Confidentiality – work to address and mitigate surveillance.
  • Trust – work on how to bring about a more trusted Internet

This work out of the IAB is also reflected in the many efforts of the individual working groups within the IETF and other standards organizations.

We’re already seeing the results in new versions of the TLS protocol, the increasing deployment of DNS security (DNSSEC), the increasing number of organizations signing on to efforts to increase routing security, and the many different individual developers who are making their applications and services more secure.

But most importantly we see a global Internet, operated and continuously evolving through a diverse eco-system of technologists, businesses, states, civil society, and most importantly its users. This open and inclusive nature of the Internet is the foundation of its strength, which has allowed it to bridge social and geographical divides. To ensure a secure, sustainable Internet we must harness this diversity and address the challenges ahead as one global community – not as rivals defined by national borders.

As we head toward the UN discussions next week, we seek a post-2015 Vision that recognizes this diversity and the importance of solving collective problems through collaborative solutions. It is important to note that we recognize that governments have a role to play in Internet security. In times of trouble, most citizens look to their governments to provide security and safety. But the Internet is a global multi-stakeholder community, and as such its stability can never be ensured only through a lens of national security.

For the Internet Society, promoting and restoring trust in the Internet is a critical component of our 2016 Action Plan and will be driving much of our activity over the next year. The technical community is already diving deep into the hard core technical work needed to make the Internet more secure.

However, securing the Internet cannot be done solely through technology, and we cannot solve this on our own. Ensuring an open, trusted Internet must involve all its stakeholders operating on all fronts, and as we head toward the WSIS+10 discussions next week, we look for governments to join us and all the other stakeholders in this critical work that we must do together to make the Internet more secure.

Image credit: Christiaan Colen on Flickr CC BY SA

Internet Governance

Where is WSIS heading post-2015?

In just two weeks, UN member states and leaders from the Internet community will gather in NY to discuss the future of the Information Society, “post-2015” ( WSIS+10). The last round of negotiations was held last week, so far without any final results, although with an agreement looming in the distance.

But what does “post-2015” mean? And what has it got to do with the field of Internet governance?

The future of the Information Society, and a “post-2015” vision, is intrinsically linked to the past through the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005, and to the future through the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Together they shape a framework for the global community’s efforts and ambitions to harness the benefits of ICTs for economic and social development, and this is why 2015 marks a milestone in history. Not only is it the year when the global community reviews the progress made since WSIS, it is also the year of new ambitions for the future through the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is why “post-2015” is more than just a vague expression, but an expression to describe a turning point in history when lessons from the past are to support ambitions for the future.

So how do the lessons from the past ten years fit into the new ambitions? Well, at its core, many of the issues remain, such as increased access to the Internet, and people’s ability to utilize ICTs. This was apparent last month at the 10th IGF where much of the attention was devoted to developing ” Policy Option for Connecting the Next Billion“. These are still the great challenges ahead, but as technology has come to permeate almost all aspects of people’s lives, the discussions have shifted from the technical to the social impacts of the emerging Information Society. For example, today the digital economy contributes 5 to 9 percent to total GDP in developed markets, and in developing markets it is growing at 15 to 25 percent per year [1], which means that increased access to the Internet, and the ability to use it, is more than bridging a digital divide – it’s an opportunity to bridge economic and social disparities.

The correlation between Internet access and economic and social development is why the post-2015 vision is so important. Ten years ago we could talk about an Information Society as something separate, as something parallel to the “real world”, and as a potential to be created. However, what was once a potential is today an intrinsic part of modern life, and although we have a long way to go before it’s accessible to all, the Information Society already exists and it’s not something running parallel to processes of “the real world”. On the contrary, it is very much the potential driving force of a modern society, with the Internet being the great catalyst for empowering social and economic development.

This is why issues of the Internet’s governance form such a core part of the discussions, because it links to a wide variety of issues beyond the technical domain. Some of those links are clearly visible today, such as sustainable development, security and human rights, but many of the issues we have still to grasp. The one thing we do know is that the success of the Internet to date has been due to its open, transparent and inclusive architecture, governed through a unique multistakeholder model that has favored cooperation over self-interest. But as ISOC’s analysis of the current WSIS+10 negotiations show, available in a matrix structured by topics, some governments do not share a post-2015 vision where we build on these lessons, but rather regress to a world of frontiers where they are the sole masters of the domain. A world where national interests trumps all, where human rights are relative, and where the global Internet is more of a threat than an opportunity.

In the end, the WSIS+10 negotiations all boil down to a fundamental question: What kind of information Society do we want for the next decade?

Asserting principles, grounded in profound human aspirations, is an essential stage for a group of individuals that want to shape a common society. Addressing this question is the main post-2015 challenge, beyond further technical discussions. As the digital revolution gradually impacts all spheres of our public and private lives, it is time for users, business actors and governments to assert their beliefs, and take action to shape the future of the Internet beyond 2015. It is time to come together as an Internet society.

Just a few weeks ago, 195 Member States endorsed UNESCO’s Internet Universality Concept, highlighting the conditions for continued progress of the Knowledge Societies and the elaboration of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. UNESCO calls for an Internet that should be (i) human Rights-based (ii) Open, (iii) Accessible to all, and (iv) nurtured by Multi-stakeholder participation.

In many ways, this approach paves the way for the Information Society post-2015. We are looking forward to engaging in the WSIS+10 review in two weeks.

[1](BCG, The Connected World Report, 2014).

Image credit: United Nations Photo on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

Internet Governance

ICT as an enabling platform for Innovation and the creation of Value

NOTE: On 19 October 2015, Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent spoke at the United Nations General Assembly as part of the WSIS+10 Second Informal Interactive Consultations. Mr. Larancuent is one of three WSIS Fellows sponsored by the Internet Society. Mr. Larancuent’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

Last Monday Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent, ICT professor at university INTEC in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DR); was invited to participate in the panel ICT for Development, moderated by Ms. Anne Miroux, Director of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This is a briefing from his participation.

Mr. Larancuent reflected about how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), aligned to support the Goals of Sustainable Development (GSD), collaboratively and with a long-term approach might improve the performance of Nations, in its path to alleviate extreme poverty; improve health, education; increase jobs, potentiate socioeconomic conditions and the welfare of society.

He welcomed the Zero Draft and the WSIS+10 revision process by expressing: “In no other time in the past, billions of people have had opportunities to access information like they do today via Internet from the palm of their hands; to nurture themselves from the flow of knowledge and improving their capabilities; produce and share productive tools & remote educational programs; and being producers and consumers; joining the trends of a new wave of electronic services (e-services) helping extend the reach, the remote participation and inclusion based on ICT programs such as e-government, e- commerce, e-collaboration, e-learning; all of them promoting productivity, financial inclusion, innovation, and change in our societies. This have created an offer, and the required demand”.

Reflecting on the concept of access, in vogue nowadays, a word which needs an agreement from all of us, to apply a broader meaning: “We need more access for people to use and demand local contents available on internet, in their languages, concerning their own culture. Civil society, academy, engineers, technicians, the business private sector, they all need more participation to collaborate in this process to create the required offer”.

Discussing about how change is a force feared by human beings and society in general, he claimed: “Yes, we all know that people fear change! because of the uncertainty it creates! But we all are willing to accept change if it improves our quality of life, provides us new knowledge, new productive tools, new successful experiences. ICTs have the potential to promote growth and efficiencies, but they are tools, that needs knowledge, this is not an automated, plug and play process”.

Stressing on the same subject, he remarked: “The academies, technicians, engineers, professionals are the natural sources of knowledge and expertise; the Business and Private sector have also the expertise about efficiencies, investments and their means to finance business growth; Civil Society the social concerns to contribute respect of human rights, inclusion, participation, equality; they, we, are all willing to contribute with innovation, investments, new business models. Politicians, Authorities, Governments have the responsibility to create and implement public policy, to assure the welfare, social balance; and to improve an enabling environment, bridges, inviting all parties of society to join”.

Like an introspective thought, he added: “It is true that public policies created by Governments are limited by short timing, with political priorities and financial needs to address, but politicians and governments role is to envision and address them in a participative step-by-step process, allowing society to benefit from this short timing, in an incremental solution of problems that may be left behind in the long term. I mean, the society stays; so it is possible for them to monitor, to evaluate and to contribute the plan among each period of government. However, to grab this opportunities, governments and politicians needs to create trust and embrace a vision of actions, commitment and collaboration. I think it is important to assure that all parties in society engage in that virtuous cycle on the short, medium and long term”.

Osvaldo concluded his speech, inviting to consider this moment to continue the change adopted ten years ago, with the help of multilateral institutions such as UN and all its agencies, which have shown impressive results in their assistance and support to keep peace, ensure progress, share knowledge, measure achievements: “Models like that of Internet Governance Forum for instance, has proved success as a model of self-regulated collaboration. ICT should improve our societies, with a people-centered approach, by attracting more innovative collaboration from academy, engineers, professional, technicians, civil society, business private sectors. Governments are not alone in trying to bridge digital divide, we, stakeholders are ready and willing to help with this task. We all want, we all desire to contribute; but for that we all need bridges from authorities, in ways that make sense for all of us, creating the expected Value!”.

Image credit: Samantha Dickinson on Twitter