The past 18 months have seen unprecedented public unrest over proposed new laws and policies for the Internet that would both undermine its functioning as an open, neutral communications medium, and threaten the human rights of its users. At the national level instruments such as the United States’ SOPA and PIPA, and India’s Internet Intermediary Guidelines, are seen as uninformed and/or unduly influenced by industry lobbyists protecting outdated business models. At the global level, agreements such as the secretively-negotiated ACTA, Trans-Pacific Partnership and International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), are rightly seen as democratically deficient and therefore illegitimate in light of norms of multi-stakeholder participation to which governments pay lip service.
At the same time, civil society has also recently been at the nexus of a flourishing of interest in a positive agenda for Internet governance, such as the development of broad statements of shared principles (including the Declaration of Internet Freedom), ad hocnetworks for engagement on current policy processes (such as the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) at which the ITRs are being renegotiated), and new institutional innovations that could channel public interest inputs into policy development processes either in a reactive (eg. the Internet Defence League) or a proactive (eg. the Enhanced Cooperation Task Force) fashion.
Some of these civil society initiatives are so new that those leading them have not yet had time to adequately allow for the input of other NGOs who may have a long background working on ICT issues in their own countries, with important perspectives to contribute. In fact there is much scope for all of the NGOs working on Internet governance issues, from North and South alike, to gain valuable practical knowledge from each other. In advance of the upcoming meetings of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the ITU’s WCIT, we have an important opportunity to share such knowledge, to deliberate on issues of difference, and to produce tangible outputs to further objectives that we share.
- To broaden and diversify participation in the initiatives that participants are undertaking individually or in smaller networks (in particular dissolving North-South divides), by allowing participants to report on those initiatives to their peers and thereby discover opportunities for collaboration or even merger of similar initiatives.
- To amplify the voice of civil society at the upcoming WCIT about proposed amendments of the ITRs, by sharing knowledge about harmful proposals and empowering participants to raise the shared concerns with their national delegations.
- To produce tangible shared outputs addressing pressing current issues that can be used in advocacy at important upcoming Internet governance events, most notably the global IGF in November and the WCIT in December.
- To raise the level of shared understanding about related groups, initiatives and issues and their political contexts, and thereby increase the quality of advocacy work conducted by individual groups and networks on Internet governance issues, and reduce duplication.
- To jointly outline the development of an inclusive and sustainable civil society network for Internet governance issues, that would provide a platform for collaboration and mutual learning over the longer term.
Internet governance history and review
- Mapping Internet governance – institutions and actors
- Last 20 years of Internet governance: ITU, ISOC, WSIS and IGF
- Last 2 years – ACTA, SOPA/PIPA and online activism eg. StopTheMeter.ca, government assertions of sovereignty over IG
- Southern perspectives on global Internet governance
The ITU and the International Telecommunications Regulations
- What are the real dangers of the proposed ITR revisions?
- Remaining opportunities for input into the WCIT process
- How to engage with your national delegation to the ITU
- Beyond WCIT – WTPF, WTSA, IMPACT, and the Dedicated Group
Lunch and networking break
Drafting a civil society statement to WCIT
- Draws together points of consensus
- Defines the legitimate role of the ITU
- Judges it against the WSIS criteria
- Refers to statement on IG principles
Declarations of Internet rights and Internet governance principles
- Background to Internet principles declarations 1999 to 2012
- Declaration of Internet Freedom – first and second iterations
- Other current initiatives – “rival” Declaration, Marco Civil, etc.
- Respective advantages of consolidation and maintaining diversity
Process towards enhanced cooperation on Internet public policy issues
- If not the ITU, then what?
- The global vacuum on Internet-related public policy issues
- Likely scenarios (favourable or not) if the vacuum is not filled
- Discussion of reform proposals – Committee on Internet Related Policies, Enhanced Cooperation Task Force
Lunch and networking break
Drafting civil society IG principles for the IGF
- Development of existing statements
- Reinforces multi-stakeholder approach
- Suggests roadmap for improved implementation of enhanced cooperation
- Making an inclusive civil society network on IG issues sustainable
- Other existing civil society+ networks – Internet Defence League, Internet Governance Caucus, Global Network Initiative, CSISAC, OpenMedia network, Internet Progress Administration
- Recap of upcoming events and campaigns for possible joint action
Attending in person
The background papers for the meeting can be viewed on a separate page. For future meetings, the list will be contained on a tab like this one.
Message to the Internet Governance Forum
“We call on the IGF to develop an IGF-level multistakeholder statement on Internet governance, drawing on existing statements of rights and principles developed by various stakeholders, for presentation to the 2013 meeting of the IGF in Indonesia.