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Internet Governance 31 August 2014

The IGF in Istanbul: Internet governance in the hands of many

By Kathryn BrownFormer President / CEO

I am excited to be in this magnificent city with its vibrancy, vitality, and incredible food! Istanbul lies at the crossroads of cultures; it serves as a hub of commerce, customs and trade. It is centuries old and always young. Its Internet community is as vibrant, vital and important as the city itself. It has been a delight to meet our hosts; I want to thank them all for their warm welcome and hospitality. And I want to thank our friends at the UN who support, champion and nurture this important Forum.

As anticipated, IGF is promising to be an exciting, challenging and productive week. The global Internet community faces important choices. And, never has it been more important that Internet users around the world take the opportunity to influence those choices.  If decisions related to the Internet and its future are not in the hands of the many, they will only be in the hands of the few.

Debates over online privacy, cybersecurity, censorship, online surveillance, and the evolution of the domain name system require serious consideration; and there’s urgency across the globe to restore trust and confidence in the Internet. The ever pressing need to extend the Internet to all the peoples of the world remains; the promised benefits are just within our grasp.

Quite frankly, like Istanbul itself, the Internet is at the crossroads of culture and time.  We are facing – collectively – a historic responsibility:  Building the future Internet we want; an Internet that provides a shared and unique space where cultures can connect and interests can unite beyond technical and political barriers.

As my colleague Raul Echeberria says so eloquently, the IGF is the greatest experiment ever in global self governance. It is thriving and growing beyond its origins to organic collections of regional and national IGFs in countries far and wide. Our Chapters are the organizing force behind many of these Forums, growing the legions of users, new and not so new, who want and will work for the benefits that the Internet provides.

The global IGF brings a broad cross-section of the Internet community together each year. Every person has an equal voice to share their views and experiences, and to speak their minds.  Respect reigns together with candor, passion, concern, resolve and collective genius.

We expect to tackle, this week, not only very specific issues related to the Internet and its future, such as IANA, human rights, development and capacity building, content creation, and others, but also will address challenges to the Internet governance ecosystem itself and to our unique method of decision making: the multistakeholder model.

As I have said elsewhere, NETmundial sparked a renewed appreciation for what a true multistakeholder process can produce.  And, importantly, it gave diverse parties confidence that the process could accommodate different agendas and world views while lending to collaboration, cooperation and compromise. Indeed, the roadmap and principles coming out of NETmundial will carry the conversation forward this week.

The Internet Society is dedicated to strengthening and growing the IGF and its regional movement. To support this goal, we will actively and enthusiastically promote the Internet Governance Forum Support Association. Tomorrow will mark its official launch with a General Assembly meeting here in Istanbul.   Watch for more details shortly.

We believe that the IGF will deepen its influence and extend its reach by sharing its wisdom widely. A major step in this direction is the introduction of the Best Practice Forums as part of the 4-day agenda, which will highlight, in a multistakeholder environment, some of the best practices adopted on key IGF themes and the development of the Internet. 

Through our participation in the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), the Internet Society has been actively involved with many others in the community to bring these Best Practice Forums to life.  Many elements of this new approach were inspired by work being undertaken by the Internet Engineering Task Force technical community. We expect the Best Practice outcomes from the global IGF to move out into the regional IGFs for local input and practical application.

The Internet Society is participating in a broad range of IGF programs and panels, and the full list can be found on our website. We will be sending out regular updates to our community, via social media, blogs, press releases and other communications.  And, a reminder that you can participate remotely

Special thanks to our Chapters and community for their involvement in many of these hubs.

The IGF has always served as the neutral focal point of Internet governance.  This IGF is our chance to demonstrate that progress on difficult issues, with everyone at the table, is possible.

We look forward to an open, effective, and productive IGF. See you at meetings, here and online, in the hallways, at lunch, dinner and in between. Let’s talk and let’s build the future together.


Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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