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"The Internet is its Edges" and "Digital Canyons" -Successes and Failures of Internet Governance - Perspectives from #WS55

Successes and failures of Internet Governance, 1995 - 2010, and looking forward to WSIS 201

Different parameters of success of IG proposed by the moderator:

  • Technical - does it work?
  • Development- for whose benefit?
  • Democratic- is it transparent, participatory and inclusive?
  • Definition of Failure- Perhaps nothing is a failure if lessons are learnt from it. Can lessons been learnt from the less successful practices.
Key Questions:

What is the future for the World Summit on the Information Society> Will it be a different beast for IG? Will it still have the same focus? Will it retain a development focus or move to a different focus e.g. Human Rights? What is left for WSIS 2015 to do? Can WSIS learn from the successes and failures of the preceding 20 years.

Catherine Trauttman former Minister of Culture in France and now member of European Parliament calls for more discussion on gTLD issue and multilingualism. She says that Multi-Stakeholderism not only worked well but beyond expectations. Participation is still a question of cost and time. Enhanced Cooperation is needed. She points to the need for more equilibrium between different stakeholders. Young people must be represented more in the process.

Wolfgang Kileinwachter University of Arhos said that the current IG process settled an issue of who takes the lead on the Internet. Technical? Government? There was a conflict on who was the leader. This multi-stakeholder approach with no set leader but each party has a role to play was one of the great successes in settling conflicts on who leads. This was important in the success because there can be different governance mechanisms for different issues. It runs a gamut from not just regulation but self regulation. e.g. One mechanism to fight Cybercrime may be different from IP addresses or e Commerce. This was a revolutionary step from hierarchal to revolutionary thinking. While the sovereignty of the Nation State will not disappear it will be executed in a different way.

David Souter said the Internet is more important than it used to be but the most crucial areas are not governed by the internet itself. He proposes that the Internet is in a state of flux and is a prime example of adaptiveness, an important parameter in many policy domains. He proposes that there needs to be some accommodation with mainstream governance as a conflict is not sustainable. Affirmation of Commitments is an example of this changing Ethos. He urged for more involvement of non-Internet focused groups ( e.g. Womens, Faith Based etc)and warned about having a myth of "Merry WSIS" as to whether Tunis is being looked at with nostalgia or is there a better way forward.

Small Island Developing States brought the discussion to a crux of what is the reality in the Developing World. Tracy Hackshaw, ISOC Ambassador demonstrated how critical IG and ICT4D is in the Developing States that are vulnerable to issues ranging from Climate Change to Global Economic Crises. He focused on the impact and showcased some of the Regional and National Access and Usage initiatives but highlighted the gap that still exists in a Digital "Canyon" that still exists. He publicly congratulated Diplo and ISOC for their work in providing fellowships to bring more real diversity to the IGF.

Carlos Afonso of Brazil said that Rio was an important milestone in promoting Multi-Stakeholderism. This process he believes is being reproduced Regionally and Nationally and this he believes is the measure of successes so far but the quality of regional coordination brings up important questions. He asked why some countries that were present in the WSIS process are not now involved in the IGF? e.g. Bolivia. He said the IGF is a good space for sharing experiences and learnings. The IGF must bring the Developing Countries the opportunity to participate. He urged us to remember " The Internet is its Edges"

Questions ranged on the efficacy of the Regional IGFs and the deficit in terms of the representation at the main IGF to decision making and what will be the tangible outcomes are from the IGF. Conclusions focused on the need for better inclusion and participation on Policy Making.

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