Previewing the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul

IGFThe 9th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meets in Istanbul this year from 1 to 5 September.  As with IGF Bali last year, the meeting will be a chance for human rights advocates, members of government, industry representatives, the technical community, academics, and others from around the world to come together and discuss issues related to Internet policy and governance.  I’ll be there representing CDT, along with Emma Llanso. We hope that Istanbul will build upon the success of Bali and explore how IGF can be further strengthened to ensure its continuing success.

CDT is fully committed to IGF’s continued success and sees immense value in its continuance as a space for discussing Internet policy and governance issues…

CDT in Istanbul

CDT is fully committed to IGF’s continued success and sees immense value in its continuance as a space for discussing Internet policy and governance issues, for sharing experiences and best practices, and for open and vibrant dialogue on difficult and pressing issues of import to all stakeholders. Emma and I were engaged in the planning of IGF Istanbul, and will be very active participants as well:

  • Emma and I authored a chapter on the IANA transition and its importance to Internet governance for the publication “Beyond NETmundial: The Roadmap for Institutional Improvements to the Global Internet Governance Ecosystem” (organized by the Internet Policy Observatory, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania) and are speaking at the book launch at IGF.
  • Emma is a panelist on CDT and ISOC’s co-organized workshop on “Implications of post-Snowden Internet localization Proposals.”
  • Emma is moderating CDT’s workshop on “Net Neutrality, Zero-rating & Development: Where’s the Data?”
  • I am a panelist in the workshop on “ICANN Globalization in an Evolving IG Ecosystem.”
  • I am moderating the ICANN accountability panel in the main session on “IANA Functions: NTIA’s Stewardship Transition and ICANN’s Accountability Process.”

Both Emma and I will also be involved in a number of associated events, including an all-day pre-IGF meeting of the civil society BestBits platform, side meetings of the Freedom Online Coalition, as well as meeting with governments, business, and other stakeholder representatives.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for frequent updates: @ellanso and @matthew_shears.

What We Expect at IGF

As with IGF Bali, where extensive deliberation over what was to become the NETmundial meeting almost eclipsed discussion of surveillance related concerns, current issues of import will likely dominate the discussion at IGF Istanbul.  These include the IANA transition and enhancing ICANN accountability, and building on the NETmundial outcomes and the newly-minted (and divisive) WEF-hosted NETmundial Initiative.  While it is certainly appropriate to take the opportunity of IGF to engage with other stakeholders on these crucial issues, they should not completely draw focus from other key concerns.  There is a continuing need to bring states’ surveillance practices in line with their human rights obligations, and more generally to reinforcing the central idea that the human rights people enjoy offline also apply online.

And all those who take note of IGF Istanbul must also confront the very real challenges that people in Turkey have in expressing their views, accessing the services and content of their choice, and exercising their rights online.

Revisiting NETmundial

A number of sessions and workshops at IGF Istanbul are dedicated to the NETmundial meeting and its outcomes.  CDT is a strong proponent of the NETmundial outcomes. We think the Internet governance principles, and the related human rights, process and participation principles outlined in the NETmundial outcomes document, provide necessary guidance for improving current governance mechanisms (and developing any future approaches).  The Internet governance principles are essential to enabling more rights-based, open, and transparent governance processes around the globe – not just in the Internet policy space.  Translating those governance principles into practical methodologies that are implemented at national levels is a key task for all stakeholders.  CDT encourages a robust discussion of the NETmundial outcomes at IGF and looks forward to hearing others’ ideas about how the NETmundial outcomes can be built upon.

One of the key findings of the NETmundial meeting was the importance of strengthening IGF. Key recommendations include exploring “creative ways of providing outcomes/recommendations and the analysis of policy options;” extending IGF mandate beyond five-year terms; ensuring predictable funding for IGF, including through a broadened donor base; and using intercessional dialogues to promote ongoing discussions of key policy and governance issues.  CDT hopes that IGF Istanbul and the follow-on deliberations will result in progress towards meeting, and hopefully exceeding, these goals.

Hope to see many of you in Istanbul for this important gathering.

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