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Internet Governance 23 May 2014

Energizing the Global Conversation on the Future of the Internet

Frédéric Donck
By Frédéric DonckChief Regional Bureau Director for Europe

The Internet has reached a critical juncture and faces challenges that threaten to compromise the freedom and openness upon which it was built. There is a growing need to restore the world’s trust and confidence in the global network, and every stakeholder should be included in the dialogue about its future…precisely because it impacts so many, in so many important ways.

The Internet Society is a strong advocate for an open and free Internet. We believe the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance is the only way to ensure the stability, security, and availability of the global infrastructure. To that end, ISOC partnered with Bilgi University to engage key stakeholders at the INET Istanbul for a multistakeholder discussion of important issues.

This INET forms an integral part of our strategic regional engagement with a view to further promote the Internet Society’s multistakeholder process to address critical issues related to the Internet. Both the panel and the audience included civil society, government, business, and academia with Turkish and global Internet leaders.

The agenda reflected issues such as privacy and intellectual property rights which constitute key issues in Turkey and within the wider European region. The conversation was marked by a very open and transparent environment that allowed both the keynote speakers and the panel to discuss, address, and deliberate on some fundamental principles regarding Internet governance, human rights, and the openness of the Internet. There was a wide agreement on the value of the multistakeholder process as well as on a balanced approach to reflect the different stakeholders’ vision as regards to the Internet.

Amongst others, discussions focused on the recent ECJ decision on the right to be forgotten as well as what it means in the context of the European region and globally. There was also some very interesting debate on the relationship between IPR and innovation with particular focus on the notion of “permissionless innovation” and its compatibility with copyright.

The INET Istanbul also served as a touchstone in moving forward the conversations on Internet governance recently addressed at the Sao Paulo NETmundial and in advance of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul in September.

Indeed the recent NETmundial in São Paulo provided an open and participatory process with thousands of people from governments, private sector, civil society, technical community, and academia discussing current Internet challenges. The conference addressed some basic questions and concerns on Internet governance issues that many have been asking, in various ways, for over a decade. It was widely agreed that the meeting energized the global conversation about the value of the multistakeholder model and the importance of collaborative, bottom-up processes while examining the dimensions of Internet governance, and the complexities therein.

The IGF has proved its worth over the years as the go-to place where the community gathers to exchange information and discuss the future of the Internet. The IGF is well placed to consider the outputs from NETmundial and to discuss how best to move forward to rebuild online trust, along with many other topics.

Whether challenges are related to ensuring the robustness and resiliency of Internet security and privacy, advancing the deployment and development of core Internet infrastructure—or any number of other challenges—we must continue to find ways to solve these issues without undermining the Internet’s fundamental design principles.

The Internet Society looks forward to continuing its collaboration with all stakeholders to build the Internet of the future. The key to finding solutions is an ongoing, open exchange of information and ideas based on the multistakeholder process.

For more information on the INET Istanbul please visit its website.

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