Who governs the Internet? A view worth reviewing –
The matter of how the Internet is governed is a critical one. How we
manage this precious, global resource directly impacts our economic and
social opportunities far into the future.
Internet governance refers to the processes that impact how the Internet is managed.
As policy makers and technical experts work to connect the remaining
two-thirds of the world’s nations, the WAY in which the Internet is
governed will likely have an impact on how we use it and how it evolves.
The Internet governance landscape is peppered with events and meetings
this year as a number of key Internet policy issues are debated.
There are key global, regional and local discussions underway about how
to strengthen the Internet governance model in ways that will be
meaningful to users around the globe, and how to be
more inclusive of new ideas and perspectives. As we move through the
rest of the year, we still have many issues to navigate:
- The community must find a path for a successful
IANA stewardship transition.
- The mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is up for renewal.
- The ten-year Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10) will be held in December.
The success of the Internet is rooted in the way it was built and
able to grow: an open platform for innovation and sharing of ideas. It
is this openness that has defined the Internet from the outset and has
enabled it to become such a strong tool for positive
change through new ideas and services that make a real difference to
people all around the world.
It is our deep belief that the Internet cannot be regulated
in a top-down manner, but its governance should be based on processes
that are inclusive and driven by consensus.
The need to create a clear and simple ways for everyone – regardless
of background – to understand and be a part of how the Internet is run
Fortunately, there is a model in place that people around the world are fighting to protect.
In the policy world, this is talked about as the “multi-stakeholder
approach.” Basically it means that everyone who has a stake in the
future of the Internet needs to have a voice in how it’s run. A great
example of this in action happens every year at the
Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an annual event where anyone who cares
about the Internet’s future can take part to help others learn best
practices when it comes to how the Internet is governed.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Users: Nearly three billion Internet users are both
creators of information as well as consumers. Websites, blogs, videos,
tweets, can all be broadcast and accessed in the largest mass medium
imaginable. Audio and video calls and conferences
can be set up and received without regard to distance or cost.
Business: The Internet allows for what we call
“permissionless innovation”, where anyone can create and offer a
service. This helped Jeff Bezos to start Amazon.com in his garage with
just his savings, and expand rapidly into one of the largest
global retailers. Likewise, Google and Facebook were started by
students, alongside thousands of other entrepreneurs around the world
who have pursued their dreams online.
Governments: Governments can use the Internet to
deliver services and levy taxes and, in turn, can choose to enable
citizens to elect, petition, and oversee their governments online.
People’s ability to build Internet as a uniquely universal platform
that uses the same standards in every country so everyone can interact
with everyone else is one of the most spectacular, and most hopeful,
success stories of our time.
But the story isn’t over yet. More needs to be done.
We must continue to work to clear away complications and open
doors for everyone to have their voices heard when it comes to how
Internet policies are developed.