[Guadalajara, Mexico – 7 December 2016] – At the 11th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a United Nations-convened conference taking place in Mexico, 6-9 December, the Internet Society urged the global Internet community to redouble its efforts in addressing the wave of unprecedented challenges facing the Internet.
Speaking to representatives from governments, the private sector, non-profit organizations, and academics from around the world, the Internet Society’s President and CEO Kathryn Brown, stressed the importance of the Internet in creating social and economic opportunity, in accelerating human progress and in developing knowledge-based societies. She also implored the Community to engage in addressing the hard challenges that have arisen for the Internet in the 21st century.
“The open, trusted, global Internet has delivered on its promise as a tool to change lives, enhance growth and provide essential human services – but the progress is uneven and threatened by challenges that have grown, just as the Internet has grown,” said Ms. Brown at the IGF Opening Ceremony. “Now is the moment to tackle the most important challenges before us to advance our shared objective of bringing the Internet to everyone, everywhere.”
The lack of affordable access to the Internet and the disparity in levels of access across the world remains a key challenge for the Internet. With just under half of the global population expected to be online by the end of 2016, Internet growth rates are slowing, resulting in a deepening digital divide between those with access and those without. Deploying infrastructure, increasing usability, and ensuring affordability are critical for expanding Internet access and globally eliminating divisions in society, as are the policy frameworks to enable this.
In addition, issues such as blocking of content, privacy, mass surveillance, cybercrime, hacking, and fake news are all contributing to what is now a growing global erosion of trust amongst users.
“Multiple security issues are damaging user confidence and have emerged as the existential threat to the future of the Internet. We must act now to reverse this trend,” added Brown.
The consequences of security and access challenges are in sharp focus in Mexico. As Internet adoption and connectivity continue to grow, with 45% of the population online, so do the number of cyber-attacks. In fact, Mexico ranks as the second country with the largest number of cyber-attacks in Latin America after Brazil, with a 40% increase in reported cyber-attacks in 2014 alone.
The Internet Society will use IGF this week to emphasize the importance of stakeholder participation in matters of access, trust and security. The Internet Society believes that governments should not act unilaterally in responding to legitimate safety and security concerns. Rather, it is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to act locally in contributing to a global effort to maintain and increase trust in the Internet, while safeguarding the rights of users.
In her address, Ms. Brown reiterated the outcome of the WSIS+10 Review meeting in December 2015, at which governments around the world recommitted themselves to the principle of the inclusive, multistakeholder model for Internet governance as the best way to build the Internet of the future.
“We still have time – but there is urgency,” she concluded. “We must work together now to solve these significant emerging challenges facing the Internet, using the value in the multistakeholder model and the power of collaboration to offer solutions for connecting the unconnected and increasing user trust.”
About the Internet Society
Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet into the future. Together with its growing global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society supports Internet-led innovation, promotes the use of best practice technologies and encourages the adoption of policies that enable universal access to a globally connected, trusted Internet. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
Allesandra de Santillana