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Internet Governance 26 May 2015

Internet Society Statement At WSIS Forum 2015

Olaf Kolkman
By Olaf KolkmanPrincipal - Internet Technology, Policy, and Advocacy

[Note: Today, 26 May 2015, the following statement was delivered by Internet CITO Olaf Kolkman to the WSIS Forum 2015 in Geneva as part of the High-Level Policy Statements. For more information please see our WSIS Forum blog post and also our WSIS page. Links have been added to the statement text to enable you to learn more about particular topics.]


Madam Chair, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Before getting into the substance of my address, allow me to first congratulate our host, the ITU, with its impressive 150th birthday.

The organization that I represent, the Internet Society is much younger. We find our origins in the technical community that first began collaborating over 40 years ago and which brought the Internet. The Internet: that amazing network of network with an architectural agility that has allowed connectivity and services to innovate at amazing speeds. The Internet: that has caused a paradigm shift in our communication. This all happened in my lifetime.

Even younger is the WSIS journey. Who could have predicted 10 years ago, at the start of the WSIS mandate, that the Internet would have evolved in the way it did. We came a long way building out the Internet and making it an enabler for sustainable development.

The Internet is constantly evolving and while some issues get closure new issues arise or older ones get exacerbated. The question is how to address those issues without breaking the very nature of the Internet itself.

In assessing the properties that make the Internet valuable and are worth preserving we came up with a number of invariants.

· Global reach – any endpoint on the Internet can reach any other.

· General purpose – the Internet supports a wide range of services; irrespective of the carrier of its signals.

· Permission-less innovation – there are no gatekeepers for new ideas or services to be deployed on the Internet.

· Accessible – anyone, anywhere can get on the Internet to not only consume but also create.

· Interoperable – open standards that allow for voluntary adaption have lead to a high degree of interoperability

· Collaboration – willing collaboration between stakeholders makes for efficient addressing of issues.

We have linked these invariants to the pressing issue of security and have spoken and written a great amount recently about the need for “collaborative security”. That concept is about the need for stakeholders of all types to come together and work to raise the levels of security – and trust – for all — while preserving the opportunities that the Internet enables, not to the least, as a tool for sustainable development.

While we talk here in this room about linking ICTs and SDGs at an international political level we should not forget that there is great power and resources that make the Internet a key tool and use that tool to empower societies in a sustainable way. There is an enormous potential of stakeholders that act locally while thinking globally. It is at the local level where through collaboration, trust is build and implemented. It is at the local level where the visions and leadership of individuals can be seeds for global implementation.

The key point here is that people are what ultimately hold the Internet together. Cooperation and collaboration remain the essential factors for the Internet’s prosperity and potential.

This, finally, is the reason why we have published call asking for an open WSIS+10 Review process. Along with 85 other organizations and individuals from the Internet community, we believe the WSIS+10 discussions can only be successful if they include all relevant stakeholders. We invite all of you to endorse this call at!

Thank you.

Photo credit: Arnold van Rhijn on Twitter. Used by permission.

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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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