Why the Internet Governance Forum is Important to Us

Source: https://www.publicknowledge.org/news-blog/blogs/why-the-internet-governance-forum-is-important-to-us

Since the IGF’s inception at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005, it has served as an invaluable space for governments, civil society, academia, the technical community, and the private sector to learn from one another, share best practices and policy recommendations, and collaborate with new partners. Over the years, Public Knowledge has welcomed this opportunity for stakeholders to come together and develop their vision for the future of the Information Society. However, the IGF’s mandate is set to expire at the end of this year and its course will be determined at the ten-year review of the WSIS (WSIS+10) on December 15-16. For this reason, Public Knowledge signed a joint statement on the final phase of the WSIS+10 negotiations to convey that it is time to do the following:

  • renew the IGF and implement recommendations for its improvement;
  • preserve the multistakeholder model of governance; and
  • promote access to an open and inclusive Internet.

Platforms like the IGF are a crucial venue for open and collaborative multistakeholder dialogue that will help shape the future of the Internet. Extending its mandate will be a step towards achieving a secure and open Internet. Over 100 organizations and individuals have already signed on to the joint statement, and we urge you to add your support as well.

Highlights

Discussions about cybersecurity and human rights online were prevalent at this year’s IGF.  Public Knowledge contributed to these topics through various meetings, panels, and workshops. This included hosting a cybersecurity strategy meeting with Latin American digital rights advocates to identify venues and ways for Latin American civil society to engage in the cybersecurity debate. This effort is also tied to our forthcoming cybersecurity program to support civil society’s engagement in the development of their respective national cybersecurity agendas. To learn more about our work in this area, please see our Cybersecurity and Human Rights issue page

Additionally, Public Knowledge’s Vice President of International Policy, Carolina Rossini, co-organized and moderated a panel entitled “How Trade Agreements Shape the Future of Internet Governance.” The session included a diverse group of representatives from civil society, the European parliament, business, academia, and the U.S. government, and the discussion focused on the impact of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements on Internet governance.

This is a particularly important topic that we believe more digital rights activists need to follow. Trade negotiations are increasingly becoming the vehicles for norm setting on Internet policy issues, such as intellectual property, domain names, e-commerce, human rights, privacy, cybersecurity, spectrum, access to telecommunications, and the free flow of information. Many of these negotiations are being held in secrecy, among governments and few private sector lobbies. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the current negotiations of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are prime examples of this. The panel assessed how the inclusion of these Internet policy issues, in closed door, state-to-state agreements, impact the future of multistakeholder Internet governance and the digital rights at stake.

Finally, in an IGF pre-event, we joined the Association for Progressive Communications, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Coding Rights, and Global Partners Digital in a WSIS+10 strategy meeting to discuss the main issues at stake and coordinate with other organizations to ensure that civil society priorities are strongly reflected in the WSIS+10 review. Such priorities include aligning the WSIS+10 review with the Sustainable Development Goals, bridging the digital divide, and protecting human rights online, such as the right to privacy and access to information.

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