LACNIC's Comments at the Public Consultation Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, February 2014
In recent months, great expectations have been generated among the various stakeholders regarding the future evolution of global Internet Governance mechanisms.
The difference between now and the period from 2003 to 2005 during which Governance was debated within the context of WSIS is huge. Relationships between the various stakeholders and the evolution of Internet governance mechanisms to encourage increasingly diverse participation are but a few of the areas in which major progress has been made.
Ten years ago, resistance to the notion of multistakeholderism was evident in several areas, yet it is now practically impossible for anyone to consider implementing a new process or activity relating to Internet governance that is not designed as a multistakeholder process from the outset. Major progress is also evident in the contents that are being debated. In the early years of the IGF, it was difficult to include Human Rights related issues; today, discussion of these topics is taken for granted.
Even sensitive topics such as massive Internet surveillance have found the IGF to be the most appropriate forum for analysis and serious, mature, open debate
Innovations in this area are reaching far beyond the limits of the Internet. These governance models are gaining ground in many other areas of activity and will surely be the basis for major changes in society.
The implications of Internet governance evolution help us understand the magnitude of the undertaking and its need for gradualness.
Changes that seem small when introduced from one year to the next are in fact enormous when analyzed within a longer time frame. The period from 2003 to date has unique historical value that will surely be better appreciated several years from now.
2) MAIN THEMES
We believe that the main themes for 2014 IGF should include, but not be limited to, the three topics detailed below:
- IGF evolution
- Developing multistakeholder models at national level
- Massive Internet surveillance
2.1 – Evolution of the IGF
Our organization has consistently contributed content to IGF discussions since the forum's inception, always promoting a vision that prioritizes the discussion of topics relating to development and human rights rather than the structural and bureaucratic aspects of Internet governance.
This year, however, because of the degree of maturity reached by the IGF and the expectations generated regarding the evolution of governance frameworks, the IGF should devote time to this topic.
Our position is that the IGF should continue to be a central part of the Internet governance ecosystem, and even strengthen its position as such.
2.1.1 – Producing results
In this sense, it is important that the IGF continues to show its evolution and, although these issues should be discussed at the Istanbul meeting, certain changes need to be promoted in advance so they can be implemented during the meeting.
We believe that the IGF should face the complex challenge of producing concrete results, based on the search for consensus, without implementing formal negotiation mechanisms.
Some experiences have already been implemented, for instance, at the WSIS + 10 meeting organized by UNESCO in February 2013, and will also be used at the NetMundial meeting in April this year.
These experiences should be assessed and the most appropriate mechanisms should be implemented during the 2014 IGF meeting.
Such mechanisms should include the production of preliminary documents that can later be updated during the meeting in an open and participatory manner.
This suggested change should be introduced in 2014 and subsequently evaluated to determine its success as well as satisfaction levels among all stakeholders.
2.1.2 – The MAG's role between IGF meetings
In order to strengthen the IGF as a key part of the Internet governance ecosystem and allow more concrete results to be obtained, the Forum should be a place where topics can be brought up for discussion at any time, not only during annual meetings.
In recent years, MAG candidate nomination systems have seen much improvement, and this has made the group a reasonable representation of the community's diversity.
In view of the above, between IGF sessions, the MAG could have a more active role as an appropriate forum for discussing Internet governance issues and promoting debate with and among the community.
This would further strengthen the IGF as the place to bring up Internet governance issues that are not being adequately addressed in other forums. Building such a space has been a long time aspiration of various actors.
2.2 – Creating national multistakeholder Internet governance mechanisms
In recent years, various stakeholders have expressed their desire that the IGF should be a forum capable of having a direct effect on the development of policies on specific topics.
The IGF already has this effect as, in practice, it is where the international Internet governance agenda is decided.
Beyond this consideration, changes such as those proposed in the paragraphs above could be introduced to improve the results of the IGF.
For the most part, however, public policies are developed at national level and, therefore, in order for IGF discussions to end up having concrete results that users can appreciate, the relationship between global and regional discussions on the one hand and national discussions on the other must be improved.
We have come far in consolidating and developing the multistakeholder model at global and regional level. Nevertheless, in order for the model to have an effective impact, the creation of multistakeholder mechanisms at national level is needed to develop policies relating to all aspects of Internet governance. IGF 2014 should issue a clear statement in this sense.
2.3 – Massive Internet surveillance
This topic has undoubtedly been one of the most controversial issues in recent months and was even deserving of a main session at the IGF meeting held in Bali. This session was highly successful; however, as productive as the debate was, further discussion is needed.
This topic is beyond the scope of the IGF due to the fact that, for the most part, the solution to the problem is not within the scope of the Internet but must be addressed within the field of international law.
While the IGF itself cannot solve the issue, it can be the forum for launching a strong appeal to the international community to update and increase multilateral cooperation agreements on the matter to ensure that, in those circumstances where due process and the law justify surveillance activities, these are carried out with full respect for human rights and providing full guarantees to those involved, regardless of which country's judicial system originates the surveillance and the country where the people or organizations under surveillance are located.
Any massive surveillance activity without a specific goal should be rejected both through the IGF as well as through multilateral agreements, just as any surveillance activity not conducted through proper channels that guarantee the parties' rights should also be rejected.