Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development Thumbnail
Internet Governance 5 December 2012

Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development

IGF Baku

Internet Society, Lynn St. Amour Opening Remarks

“Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development”

Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under Secretary General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Mr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Prof. Ali M. Abbasov, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, Republic of Azerbaijan Excellencies

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues and Friends:

It is a great pleasure to be here in Baku for the 7th Internet Governance Forum. I’d like to thank the government of Azerbaijan for hosting this conference, and thanks go to the UN Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) as well as to the IGF Secretariat and MAG for all their hard work.

The IGF has shown us the power of multi-stakeholder dialogue. All the national and regional multi-stakeholder IGF, and IGF type meetings that have sprung up across the world have proven the validity of the concept. The latest additions being the African and Arab IGF’s as well as the Internet Governance Meeting held in India last month

The idea of creating the Internet based on open standards, and this was over 30 years ago, reflected a philosophy that encompassed open, participatory management and governance structures, and principles of freedom of expression, access to information, as well as other democratic processes with a broad community of stakeholders – a shared global ownership with all the responsibilities that implies but without central control. This approach was first institutionalized by the creation of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which continues to lead in the development of Internet standards today,  and this also gave rise  to the recent “Open Stand” campaign led by the IEEE, IETF, IAB, W3C and ISOC and highlights the principles behind today’s most relevant standards organizations. In addition to these organizations, we all also rely on a number of organizations managing or overseeing some key Internet resources for all of us, and I would like to recognize the very central efforts of these other Internet bodies, inter alia the Regional Internet Registries (RIR’s), root servers, ccTLD and gTLD operators, and ICANN. And, of course, the Internet would not be what it is today without all the efforts of the private sector, or without support from governments and Inter-Governmental Organizations.

All these organizations work together in a distributed, collaborative effort, each with their broad mission and communities, and based on expertise and trust. We all work together, nobody, and no one body controls the Internet, or should control it.

As we all know, the Internet’s impact as a contributor to the world economy is staggering. And, importantly, developing countries and emerging economies are at the forefront of Internet growth, with many experiencing some of the fastest rates of GDP growth in the world. As more Internet users come online, the “center of the Internet” will shift more and more to the developing world andwill significantly influence the future of the global Internet. These new users are rapidly developing the innovations, efficiencies, and opportunities that will help fuel the next wave of growth, investment, and prosperity.

While the Internet governance arrangements of today have served it well over the years – the proof point is the Internet itself and its undeniable economic and social benefits. There are challenges and forces at play that have the potential to undermine the Internet’s benefit for those online today and for the billions of people still to come online.. Let’s look at just a few of these as there is a lot of work we need to do together:

By way of example, the advent of “big data” and the way it affects the nature of digital identity: increasingly third parties are more likely to rely on low-assurance data from many sources to establish a reliable idea of who we are, some of which we, as the data subject, may not even know they have. And, taking this a step further, our privacy and individual liberties can now be significantly affected by inferences about us, drawn from data about others.

Privacy, trust, and identity, are social constructs and as such are highly nuanced and very highly contextual. That makes them difficult problems to “solve”. The challenge for all of us is to work collaboratively to develop the technical, legal, regulatory and cultural frameworks so that our online activities can flourish. And, we need to do this without sacrificing our legitimate and healthy social expectations of anonymity, privacy and self-determination.

Or, we can turn to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which still needs attention and support in many parts of the world. The Internet is an essential vehicle for promoting freedom of opinion and expression, and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights encapsulates the very essence of the Internet and its borderless nature.

Yesterday, the Internet Society co-hosted a pre-event with the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) and International Chamber of Commerce BASIS (ICC-BASIS) to discuss ‘enhanced cooperation’. ‘Enhanced cooperation’ was one of the outcomes of WSIS, and since 2005 we have qll repeated our different and diverging interpretations of what we thought the negotiators had in mind when they coined the term. In other words: we had a deadlock. Yesterday’s event was meant to bring us from deadlock to dialogue, and it succeeded in this endeavor.

We did not reach agreement of any sort, but in the spirit of the IGF, we talked and listened to each other and we believe we ought to continue the dialogue in the framework of the IGF. This week will provide an opportunity to take this a step further and to discuss how to shape this dialogue.

The IGF can play a central role in all these areas as collaboration and mutual cooperation is essential to ensure the continuation of the Internet as an engine for unprecedented innovation, human empowerment, social development, and economic growth.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

Related resources

Internet Way of Networking 9 December 2020

Remarks at the 35th Anniversary of the NSFNET

Remarks from Internet Society President and CEO Andrew Sullivan at the NSFNET 35th Anniversary Celebratory Virtual Event 8 December...

Growing the Internet 17 June 2020

“The Internet is a deeply human technology”

Andrew Sullivan's remarks at the launch of the U.N. Secretary-General’s report Roadmap for Digital Cooperation

Internet's Future 25 February 2019

Up and Down the Stack Through a Nerd’s Eyes: Making The Internet Better the Internet Way

Andrew Sullivan's Keynote Speech at APRICOT 2019