The diversity of Internet governance issues and processes creates a ongoing challenge for civil society groups to keep up and to effectively engage. This meeting offers the opportunity to review the landscape, and to dive deep into a few selected key areas. Amongst the highlights of 2015 have been the IANA transition, the ongoing WSIS+10 preparations, rulemaking on net neutrality in both the United States and Europe, and the progress of trade agreements that will impact on the Internet issues. Meanwhile, concerns over state surveillance still occupy as much concern as in previous years. Alongside these substantive concerns, the institutional landscape of Internet governance continues to evolve, including the first meetings of the NETmundial Initiative, and new experimentation with outputs at the Internet Governance Forum this year. Participants at the Best Bits 2015 meeting will share knowledge of recent developments, broaden their understanding of existing initiatives in this space, and collaborate on the development of shared principles and strategies to advance the use of transparent, participatory processes in the development of Internet policies.
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Welcome, logistics and opening
Policy slam and introductions
Part of what Best Bits does is identify issues of common concern and allow small working groups to form. This informal session will get everyone talking and explaining what their organisation’s main concerns are so that people can then hook up informally over lunch if they are interested in that issue.
Criteria of meaningful stakeholder inclusion in Internet governance
Just as the so-called multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance has attained broad acceptance, it has also begun to attract criticism for how elastic that term is, extending to processes that at best offer limited opportunity for meaningful stakeholder inclusion, and at worst may be a front for corporate self-regulation or government policy whitewashing. There is an apparent need for a set of criteria to distinguish these deficient processes from those that truly do promote policy-making that includes the perspectives of all affected stakeholders. This session will discuss such a set of criteria of meaningful stakeholder inclusion in Internet governance.
An update on the WSIS process and its significance, and an invitation to those who are interested to go into more detail to come to a follow-up deep dive event on Monday.
Overview of active global venues discussing Internet public policy issues
This session will provide a survey of some well-known and some lesser-known global or multi-regional institutions and policy processes where Internet rules are being shaped. These are as diverse as technical bodies such as ICANN, human rights bodies such as the Human Right Council, trade negotiations such as the TPP, TISA and TTIP, intergovernmental venues such as OECD, ITU, UNCTAD, UN GGE, UNGA and GCCS, and hybrids such as the NETmundial Initiative and Freedom Online Coalition.
Catalyzing reform of trade negotiation processes
The aim of this session is to generate actionable strategies for reclaiming Internet-related public policy development from closed, captured trade negotiation processes. Strategies to be considered may involve catalyzing reforms to the procedural norms of multilateral trade negotiations, and/or redirecting Internet-related policy discussions away from trade negotiations to more open and inclusive fora.
Best Bits way forward
Since the first meeting, Best Bits has always been in finding a balance between loosely or tightly institutionalised. This session will review the 2014 annual report, being our first full year with an elected steering committee. We will then present the results of an attempted election for new steering committee, and questionnaire results following from that aborted election, suggesting that we should revert back to a looser voluntary restructure. The session will conclude with discussion of the transition from a formal steering committee structure back to voluntary ordering. Also to be discussed: representation on and leadership of the Civil Society Internet Governance Coordination Group.
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A set of Idea Rating Sheets were produced, with ideas for reforming closed trade negotiation processes in which Internet public policy issues are being determined, in conflict with multi-stakeholder process norms.