Internet Governance 24 October 2013

The Value of Openness for a Sustainable Internet

The Internet has changed the world. It has revolutionized the way individuals communicate and collaborate, the way entrepreneurs and corporations do business and the way governments develop policy and interact with their citizens. The Internet is a catalyst for innovation, communication, economic growth and social development. These statements are commonplace, but it is valuable for us to think about how the Internet has come to be so transformative.

At the most fundamental level, this question can best be approached by examining the open and collaborative processes along with the legal and governance principles that have enabled the Internet’s evolution. Both the open platform and the open processes through which the Internet is developed, have created an empowering medium whose impacts extend far beyond the realm of technology to affect all aspects of our societies, our economies and how we do business, as well as our mechanisms of governance.

This paper is intended to briefly describe openness in the context of the Internet and its effects, and why openness is vitally important to the sustainability of the Internet as we move forward. 

As Internet access expands across all regions, increasing numbers of Internet users will engage in Internet Governance issues and make their voices heard, both at the global and local levels. It is timely to have a discussion about openness and sustainability, as we enter a period of intense assessment and many questions are raised regarding the way the Internet is and should be structured and governed. In 2014, the Internet Governance calendar is accelerating with major conferences, including the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference and World Telecommunication Development Conference, WSIS+10 High Level Review event and the Internet Governance Forum. These conferences will shape the future economic, technical and political governance of the Internet.

As the international community discusses the current and future arrangements for Internet governance, we believe it is timely to reflect on “The Value of Openness for a Sustainable Internet” to help shape a common vision for the post-2015 era. Whether the challenges are related to technology, development or policy; whether the issues are regional or global, the Internet Society’s assumption is that a healthy and sustainable Internet is based on the principle of openness:

  • Open global standards for innovation
  • Open communications for everyone
  • Open for economic progress through innovation
  • Open and multistakeholder governance for inclusion.
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