The inaugural Internet Governance Forum closed last Thursday in Athens, Greece after 4 days of panel discussions and workshops that attracted over 1,000 government officials, business representatives, and non-governmental organizations from around the world. I was there, representing CDT and the Global Internet Policy Initiative (GIPI), our joint project with Internews. In two workshops and a plenary session, I highlighted GIPI as a proven model for working locally to reform national laws and policies in order to foster expanded Internet access in developing countries. Everything you need to know about GIPI can be found here. Also present was GIPI executive director George Sadowsky, who, over the past 12 years, has educated and advised a generation of Internet technologists and policymakers in the developing world.
As a special advisor to the Chair of the IGF, Sadowsky had a major role in planning the Forum. The unstated question at the IGF was "What is Internet governance?" Based on our experience with GIPI, both George and I stressed repeatedly that 90% of Internet governance is local: telecommunications policy (especially enforcement of competition and interconnection), licensing requirements, limits on use of wireless technology, the privacy framework, and management of country-code Internet domains. Overall, it seems as though the initial misperceptions that equated ICANN with Internet governance have been replaced with a more sophisticated view.
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