[governance] New IGF Paper Online

Robert Guerra rguerra at lists.privaterra.org
Thu May 4 07:38:32 EDT 2006

(Full text is below)

A paper with a summary of the discussions and contributions with some
preliminary conclusions and questions is now available on this Web site.


The substantive agenda of the first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum

Summary of the discussions and contributions

The preparatory process for the Convening of the Internet Governance
Forum (IGF) started a broad-based discussion on the substantive agenda.
This paper aims to produce a short synthesis of the discussion as well
as the contributions posted on the IGF website
(http://www.intgovforum.org). It is an attempt to give a cumulative
overview of all statements and contributions made with the aim of
facilitating the discussion at the next round of open consultations,
scheduled to be held in Geneva on 19 May 2006.
First round of consultations

At the first round of consultations, held in Geneva on 16-17 February
2006, participants were invited to list the top three policy issues they
would like the first meeting of the IGF to address.

After the consultations, a short synthesis of the public policy issues
discussed during the meeting and also reflecting responses to a
questionnaire was released by the IGF Secretariat
This synthesis included:

    * A recognition of an emerging consensus that the activities of the
IGF should have an overall development orientation.
    * A recognition of an emerging consensus that capacity building to
enable meaningful participation in global Internet policy development
should be an overarching priority.
    * A recognition that meaningful participation included both
assistance to attend meetings and training in the subject matter of
Internet governance.
    * A listing of the ten most frequently mentioned public policy
issues in the consultations:
    * Spam
    * Multilingualism
    * Cybercrime
    * Cybersecurity
    * Privacy and data protection
    * Freedom of expression and human rights
    * International interconnection costs
    * Bridging the digital divide: access and policies
    * Bridging the digital divide: financing
    * Rules for e-commerce, e-business and consumer protection.

Contributions submitted in March and April

Based on the call for comment, a total of 43 contributions were
submitted by governments, private sector, civil society, the academic
and technical community as well as intergovernmental organizations. The
contributions addressed a wide variety of public policy issues.  Many of
them included not only a description of a public policy issue, but also
included an expanded discussion on the importance of the issue, the
actors involved in the issue and an explanation of reasons why the issue
should be included in the agenda of the first IGF meeting.

The emerging consensus, originally reported after the February
consultations, that the IGF needed to maintain an overall development
orientation was reinforced by many of the contributions. One proposal –
by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) - recommended
that the major issues be combined within a framework of a development
agenda on Internet governance.

Capacity building was the most frequently addressed issue.  It was
presented not only in terms of the growing consensus for its priority in
enabling meaningful participation but also as a specific policy issue.
When looking at capacity building it was pointed out that access to
education, culture and knowledge was a recognized human right.  Other
authors pointed out the necessity of fostering the ability of all
stakeholders from all countries to participate in the process of
Internet governance.  The discussion of capacity building also extended
to consideration of technical standards and the need that they be
developed in such a way as to not hinder capacity building.  One
contribution offered concrete programs that could be explored to foster
open educational resources that could be made available over the
network. The Coordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors (CCBI) and
the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in their contribution
suggest focusing on capacity building as the basis for progress on all
other issues in the IGF and as an essential element to effective
Internet governance.

The next four issues had similar levels of support and were the next
most frequently discussed in the contributions:

    * Privacy and data protection with its relation to human rights and
digital identity
    * The security related issue of spam viruses and phishing
    * Issues of freedom of expression and human rights
    * The concern for equitable and transparent management of critical
Internet resources.

On the issue of privacy and data protection several contributions
discussed the evolving concept of digital identity.  It is predicted
that these new technologies will allow a greater degree of public trust
once policy deliberation has clarified the benefits and risks of on-line
life.  Another issue discussed under this category concerned protection
of the privacy rights of Internet users and website owners. Several of
the contributions brought out the linkage between privacy and data
protection and governance and human rights.

The next issue concerned spam.  Frequently the discussion of spam was
combined with discussions of other network problems such as viruses and
phishing, as spam is the major vehicle by which such security risks are
delivered to Internet users.  Because of this linkage, the issue was
closely allied with the issue of cybersecurity by many of the
contributions. The importance of finding a solution for these problems
focused on the need for a safe and reliable Internet.  It was also
mentioned that if the Internet is not secure, or if a large percent of
email consists of spam, viruses and phishing attacks then users will not
trust the Internet, which in turn will decrease the usefulness of the

Issues involved in freedom of expression and human rights were also a
major focus of the statements received.  Some of the issues that were
brought up include content policies and filtering as well as the
relationship between intellectual property rights and access to knowledge.

Another frequently discussed issue involved the transparent and
equitable management of critical Internet resources.

To a lesser but still substantial extent, there were other issues that
were proposed for the first meeting of the IGF in Athens.

    * Cybercrime was also linked to cybersecurity and the need for a
safe and reliable Internet to ensure access and reliable use.
    * Access, policies and financing to bridge the digital divide.  This
is an important issue to the developing countries.
    * Multilingualism and local content in the Internet.
    * Rules for e-commerce, e-business and consumer protection. Those
who recommended this topic pointed to the Internet's role as a key
public infrastructure for economic activity.  In this category there was
also discussion of consumer rights and a suggestion that the IGF define
the consumer rights involved in on-line purchases and in commerce in
digital goods.
    * International connection costs and their effect on access, in
particular in developing countries.  This topic was also related to
financing efforts for bridging the digital divide.

Two contributions recalled the Open Regional Dialogue on Internet
Governance (ORDIG), which had carried out a survey of stakeholder views
on Internet governance priorities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
This project of the United Nations Development Programme’s Asia-Pacific
Development Information Programme (UNDP-APDIP) was conducted in 12 major
regional languages. The survey, the largest to date on Internet
governance, received over 1,200 responses from 37 countries and
representatives of all major stakeholder groups. The contributions
recall that the following issues emerged as top priorities in the
Asia-Pacific region: connectivity and access, multilingualism, spam and
viruses, and cybercrime,

A number of issues were mentioned by a small number of contributors.
These issues included:

    * The promotion of open standards and non proprietary development
    * Emerging issues in technology and their governance.  Some of the
issues explored included network neutrality, Voice over IP (VOIP) and
peer-to-peer technologies.
    * A suggestion that the IGF discuss the rights and duties of users
of the Internet
    * A recommendation on the use of effective methods for Internet
    * A suggestion for sharing best practices in current Internet

governance arrangements and for encouraging the adoption of methods and
mechanisms that reflect the spirit of the WSIS principles.

Several contributions made reference to the public nature of the
Internet and of the need to explore issues of public interest, the
public domain, public infrastructure and the public good in the context
of the Internet.
Preliminary Conclusions and Questions

A cumulative listing of priority issues since the beginning of the
preparatory process would appear to confirm the top issues listed in the
first synthesis paper. Capacity building, spam, cybercrime, privacy and
data protection and multilingualism appear to be the most frequently
mentioned items. It should also be noted that the Group of 77 and China
in their submission put a great emphasis on issues related to the access
to the Internet, such as international interconnection costs and the
affordability and availability of the Internet, as well as issues
related to bridging the digital divide.

There are a few open questions however that the meeting on 19 May 2006
may wish to address.

    - There will be a need to establish some division of labour between
the IGF and the general WSIS follow-up. Some access issues, such as
international interconnection costs, would appear to fall under the
remit of the IGF, while other “digital divide issues” might better be
dealt with in the WSIS follow-up and implementation framework.

    - There appear to be two different approaches to the agenda: one
approach favours a focus on one or at the most a small number of issues
to be dealt with in depth, while another approach favours a broad
discussion on any issue that is considered to be important. As it might
prove difficult to reach a common understanding on any one of these
possible approaches, there might be some merit in combining the two.
There could be a vertical axis with workshops that would deal in depth
with two or three priority issues and a horizontal axis allowing for a
broad policy debate. Such a debate could include an “open microphone”

    - The undisputed priority given to the issue of capacity building
raises the question of how this should be dealt with. Should it be dealt
with as a horizontal issue, that is should all priority issues have a
capacity building aspect? Or should it be dealt with as a separate
issue, maybe identifying the various areas where capacity building is
most urgent and necessary?

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