SEIITI: Deirdre, there was a recent meeting in Rio on the LAC preparatory meeting for the IGF. What can you highlight from the meeting?
DEIRDRE: The need for harmonisation, and the need to agree on principles to inform policy, rather than particularly on the policies themselves, to make negotiation among diverse cultural positions easier.
Several of the speakers pointed to the need for harmonisation – of principles, policies and regulations, of rights and responsibilities, of law and reality, and of design.
The other reiterated theme was the need for users generally to be involved in Internet Governance discussions and decision making.
SEIITI: What concrete, specific achievements you could tell about the meeting?
DEIRDRE: A sense of consensus. The participants were truly multi-stakeholder and yet they successfully got past differences of language, culture and agenda. I saw this once before at the ICANN meeting in Puerto Rico when the LACNIC charter was being negotiated.
SEIITI: Deirdre, what projects do you have for the future?
I’m always concerned with issues of diversity of language and culture. The meeting in Rio forcibly reminded me that I still don’t speak Spanish, although I can read it well and understand spoken Spanish fairly well. My justification for this is: there is a new polygot elite who move fairly effortlessly among several different languages. How easy is it for them to remember the difficulties faced by someone trying to communicate a point when that person’s language is in the minority? How important does the right become to speak – and to be heard – in your own language if you can simply switch to “their” language instead? Or perhaps I’m just too lazy and making excuses?
Most recently I have been thinking about the “newness” of the Internet. How much is, in fact, new, and how much is the same thing being done faster and more efficiently? Perceptions seem to be changing rapidly too. What my generation considered to be private information my children and my students may be quite happy to share. Is the nature of privacy changing? And what about identity? I enjoy the freedom of an Internet in which we are all, like angels, ageless, genderless, without ethnicity, but more and more often I am being required to identify my non-virtual self in a virtual environment..
And I am racking my brains for useful suggestions to back up a call to the IGF for improved dissemination of the findings of the meetings. So much energy is invested in the consultations and the meetings themselves; it should surely be possible, considering the Internet as a medium of communication, to broadcast the ideas and conclusions to a much wider audience than the initiated – see above and the issue raised at the Rio meeting of the need for the involvement of all users. According to the ITU there are at least one and a half billion people to reach.
And there is very exciting news, just over the horizon, of a local/regional IG training project, working with Diplo.
The full text of the book An Introduction to Internet Governance (6th edition) is available here. The translated versions in Serbian/BCS, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese are also available for download.