Statement for High Level Segment of the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC)
25 May 2010, Hyderabad, India
[Note: For ITU scheduling reasons, this statement was submitted to the WTDC but not delivered orally]
Strategic Global Engagement, Office of the President
Your Excellencies, Honourable Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Internet Society, I thank you for the opportunity to address this session of the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference.
The Internet Society is an independent, international, non-profit, established in 1992. the Internet Society is a Sector Member of both the ITU-D and the ITU-T and an active participant in ITU processes related to the Internet.
We are dedicated to the stability, continuity, and advancement of the Internet – not only for its own sake, but rather for the benefits the Internet can bring to all people, everywhere in the world. We work at the intersection of technology, policy, and capacity building activities to advance the development of the Internet for end-users worldwide.
The Internet Society is also the organizational home for the groups responsible for Internet standards, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).
We are a global organization, with more than 100 organizational members, tens of thousands of individual members, and more than 90 Chapters around the world. Our staff are based in more than a dozen countries, and we have bureaus in five regions of the world.
The bureaus work to provide active support to regional Internet communities and, at the same time, help us to understand how those communities view global Internet issues.
The Internet Society is particularly active in regional training and capacity building on many fronts, such as supporting network administration training (including exclusive courses for women in Africa); helping establish Internet Exchange Points; sponsoring technical and policy conferences; providing grant funding for community-based development projects; and granting fellowships for practitioners from developing countries to attend global forums.
We don’t do this alone, but by partnering with a broad range of stakeholders: civil society, private sector, governments, and international organizations.
Here in Hyderabad we look forward to participating in the deliberations with you in the coming days. For now, I want to highlight areas of particular interest for all of us, building on our motto and our goal: The Internet Is For Everyone.
We believe all the delegations here share this goal with the Internet Society, and so it is important at the outset of the Conference to step back and consider what are the most important things we can do to make the vision a reality.
First, we have to ensure that the Internet remains globally addressable, interoperable, and based on OPEN standards that can continue to support the services that empower people and drive economic growth.
We have to preserve the Internet Model of development. We need to ensure that all Internet users have a stake in the Internet’s development, by virtue of its open technical architecture, the open processes by which it is developed, and the distributed responsibilities and roles in its administration and operation. In this model, expertise is highly valued, and the extent to which users exercise their stake is a matter of their own choice.
Second, we have to be realistic in how we deal with challenges. And indeed many challenges exist. But these challenges are not things that are created by the Internet. They are the same challenges that exist in the physical world. When thinking about solutions, we should exercise a light touch and – learning from the wisdom of the medical world – take to heart the admonition: “do no harm.”
Third, as an increasing number of traditional institutions become interested in promoting the Internet and increasingly involved in its future, it is important to learn from its past. The Internet Society has been involved with the development of Internet standards and policies for nearly 20 years. In that time, the Internet has grown from being a small research network to become the underpinning for the worlds’ telecommunications and content industries.
But that does not mean that the Internet has become a legacy network, to be discarded in favour of the next new thing. The Internet is only in its adolescence. Its fundamentals are strong and growing, and it continues to evolve in response to new discoveries through its openness – which is a fundamental source of its innovation.
This is the genius of the Internet. Thanks to its open, distributed development model, it empowers innovation everywhere. And because its architecture is based on multiple, interoperable building block technologies, new developments can be introduced without having to abandon or replace what is already there.
We have learned those lessons in the technical realm, and we believe they can equally be applied in the realms of policy, of regulation, and law. They are also essential for equitable social and economic development.
These are areas where the ITU’s Development Sector has well-recognized expertise, and we would welcome opportunities to collaborate as we move forward. The Internet Society believes developing countries are key to the future of the Internet. With access in developed countries near 80% in many places, the next frontier for Internet development lies substantially in emerging economies.
So, returning to the themes of this Conference, we would above all want to urge delegates to remember that we can all achieve more by working together, by respecting the different capacities each brings to the table, by avoiding duplication, than we could ever hope to achieve working on our own or in competition.
The story of human progress is, in so many ways, the story of communication and the Internet is the most profoundly powerful communication medium we have ever known.
To divorce the future development of the Internet from the processes which developed it is to lose the Internet itself.
We believe that this understanding must inform us as we work together to address the themes of this World Telecommunication Development Conference.