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IGF2016: Internet Society urges all Internet stakeholders to find coherent voice on key issues

06 December 2016

Kathy Brown speaking at the 2016 IGF

Kathy Brown, President & CEO, provided the following statement at today’s Opening Ceremony at the 11th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Guadalajara, Mexico.


Once again I would like to thank the government of Mexico for hosting this IGF and the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (the MAG) and to you, Lynn, for putting forth such an excellent agenda. And to all of you, friends and colleagues, for being here, especially, the next generation of Internet leaders, 90 young activists from Mexico, the region and around the world.

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 itself has grown.

I would like to suggest to you, my friends, colleagues, that Now is the time for the Internet Community to confront the most important challenges before us to advance our shared objective of bringing the Internet to everyone, everywhere.

First and foremost, as every speaker has said, we have only done half the job.

Connecting the unconnected remains a key challenge and deploying infrastructure, increasing usability, and ensuring affordability are critical for creating an Internet that is truly for everyone. Today, we released a report entitled Beyond the Net showcasing the impact the Internet Society and its partners are making in providing connectivity to the least connected communities. You will find the Impact Report on our home page at internetsociety.org. We ask you to join us in this effort.

At the same time, multiple security issues are damaging user confidence and have emerged as the existential threat to the future of the Internet. The Internet Society’s Global Internet Report, released last week, calls for urgent attention to the growing problem of data breaches.

In addition, issues such as blocking of content, privacy,mass surveillance, cybercrime, hacking, and fake news are all contributing to what is a growing global erosion of trust amongst users.

It is incumbent on those of us who build, safeguard and cherish the global, open Internet to be realistic about both the Internet’s strengths and its weaknesses. We understand its technical vulnerabilities and the social and political challenges that are mounting.

We can best explain that The Internet’s openness is a means to protect it. It is the key to robust, flexible and agile solutions. 

We can’t let policies of fear damage the foundational values that have defined the Internet since its creation-- openness, transparency and inclusiveness.

At the WSIS+10 Review, the governments of the world renewed the commitment to a collective, inclusive model for governing ourselves on the Internet. We have an opportunity now to reinforce this multistakeholder approach as we address today’s pressing issues.

Collaboration, not isolation, is the only way forward.

We are in a good position because the Internet’s governance model and its technical architecture is designed to facilitate collaboration and change.

But change will not happen by itself. It will take all of us working together to keep the Internet open and secure for future generations. 

We have a choice. We can let others take the lead or we can be resolute and fight for the future we want.

The IGF is the ideal place to come together – civil society,governments, technical experts, and academia-- to find a coherent voice and insist on the model we fought for and for the Internet we want.

We still have time – but there is urgency!

Our collective actions today will determine the Internet of opportunity that future generations will inherit, use and build on.

Let us use this meeting-- in this wonderful place-- to recommit to our shared values and our shared objective of bringing a global, open, trusted Internet to everyone, everywhere. Have a good meeting!