PublishedApril 30, 2014

Outcome from the Net Mundial Global Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance

Going in, the business sector hoped for some consensus on both substantive Internet governance principles and a process roadmap for the future evolution of the governance ecosystem.   We were not disappointed.   Opportunities to speak from a microphone in the cavernous convention hall dwindled from 2 minute slots to 30 seconds each, but CCIA made good use of one of these.

The official outcome in the form of recommendations from NET Mundial in Brazil, April 2014 drew from some 180 contributions from around the world, and can be used as a framework for upcoming Internet governance related discussions in other venues, such as the post-2015 economic development agenda process, the WSIS+10, IGF meetings and many others.

The newly affirmed Internet Governance Principles include: human rights and shared values, such as freedom of expression and association, privacy and access to information; intermediary liability protection; cultural and linguistic diversity; unified, unfragmented network infrastructure promoting free flow of data; security, stability and resiliency; open architecture with voluntary collaboration and stewardship by technical experts; and “permissionless innovation” supported by infrastructure investment.

Characteristics of the process of governance include: meaningful multistakeholder participation, open, collaborative and consensus driven policy development, agility and flexibility, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness/no sector disadvantaged, decentralized and distributed ecosystem, capacity building for newcomers especially those from developing countries, public access and low barriers to entry into the process.   Open Standards is named as a separate principle, meant to support interoperability, resiliency and security, consistent with human rights.

The Roadmap for the future evolution of Internet governance outlines possible steps forward.   It references the successful implementation of the Tunis agenda as validating the multistakeholder model.

Issues for all stakeholders include: increasing participation and engagement from all sectors, enhanced co-operation under the Tunis agenda, open, democratic and transparent selection of sector representatives, including national levels reps, with attention to sector, geographic and gender balance, capacity building and empowerment, commitment to development oriented information society as defined by the WSIS outcome documents, and improved communication and coordination between technical and policy communities.

Institutional improvement issues involve strengthening the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and increasing co-ordination among forums, task forces and organizations of the ecosystem.   Importantly, the Net Mundial outcome document describes another institutional improvement action item as following up the recent “welcomed announcement of US Government with regard to its intent to transition the stewardship of IANA functions” with discussion about mechanisms for future transparency and accountability of those functions in the global public interest.

Finally, specific Internet governance topics to be fed into the various procedural frameworks include: security and stability, with network operators and software developers engaged in cybersecurity; mass and arbitrary surveillance that undermines trust; and again, capacity building and financing.   Points identified as needing future discussion include jurisdictional issues and net neutrality, open Internet and individual rights.

Nothing is binding or totally settled, but progress was made toward shared understandings about the civic and economic importance of the Internet to all citizens of the world.

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