Geneva Internet Conference’s first edition delivers powerful recommendations and questions for the future of Internet governance0
November 27, 2014 by Vica Mazilo
Geneva Internet Platform 2014
During November 17-19, 2014 Geneva hosted an important two days event focusing on Internet Governance issues, probably most important event on Internet Governance of the year 2014. Following ICANN President Fadi Chehadé’s opening speech, more than 250 experts from all stakeholder groups, including some 50 leading figures/authorities and high-ranking officials in Internet governance, participated in this high-profile event, scanning significant pending Internet governance issues. This conference is an illustration of the Geneva Internet Platform’s (GIP) potential as a prominent facilitator and a natural hub for incoming digital negotiations, bringing together all actors, and increasing inclusion with outreach through remote meeting hubs around the world. Geneva Internet Conference agenda started with an introduction to internet governance. For the next day The Internet governance landscape was the main topic for debates. The third day continued with open forum on The complexity of Internet governance: sustaining innovation while ensuring equality, discussing about Internet policy issues.
Veronica Cretu, President of the Open Government Institute and member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Commitee, took part in the event and shared some thoughts and reflections during the session focusing on “Aim for full transparency – accept exceptional translucency”. The session aimed at bringing different perspectives on transparency issue, and Mrs. Cretu reflected on the issue from the Government stand point of view, particularly departing from the current practices and mechanisms implemented today as part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Mrs. Cretu shared that transparency was one of the principles to which 65 Governments committed as of today, along with fighting corruption, and engaging citizens in policy making. The question is, what levels of transparency should governments commit to in their OGP agenda? Cretu described four key dimensions:
- Data transparency: it is not enough to provide access to data if citizens are unable to interpret the data to influence policy-shaping – this is tantamount to translucency, and not transparency.
- Process transparency: once the data and information is in place, such as open data by default processes, there needs to be proper places for discussions.
- Strategic transparency: before policy decisions are made and formal documents are approved, there should be a mechanism for governments to feel the pulse of stakeholders. There should be a strategic approach to that.
- Transformational transparency: related to social accountability is the need to have a mechanism in place for all stakeholders to be able to monitor and evaluate the quality of the decisions.
If governments are ambitious enough and have these four key dimensions in place, the next step is radical transparency, which Cretu describes as ‘painful’. ‘If openness and transparency means pain, then we go for pain,’ she stressed.
Here is the video part of the session:
Approximately 100 online participants, including 15 remote hubs who watched the meeting online and intervened through in situ remote moderators, attended the first Geneva Internet Conference, organised with the support of the Swiss Confederation. A number of high profile speakers shared their views here over the future of the Internet, highlighting the following facts and challenges:
- Need to advance innovation in Internet governance triggered by NETmundial and advanced by other major events (WSIS +10 and Internet Governance Forum)
- More than 50% of global Internet policy is discussed and decided on in Geneva
- Concerns about surveillance and lack of privacy protection are increasingly growing
- Most of the content on the Internet is still easier to get from illegal rather than legal sources
- The more the Internet impacts all spheres of our life, the more complex and broader Internet governance will become
- There is a need to aggregate the information available on Internet governance to make it more accessible
- Every Internet entity has its own needs
- There is a communication problem between engineers, politicians, or diplomat
Lively discussions roved around the following key questions:
- To map or not to map: the more mapping that we engage in, the more it seems that complication ensues
- Business sector involvement in IG: are they profitable partners or will they hold IG hostage to their needs?
- The double-edged sword of Human Rights: the platform Human Rights so desperately needs can and does create the need for surveillance
- The NETmundial initiative: a new paradigm or more of the same?
- ICANN: monopoly or model of diversity?
Other items under discussion included:
- Issues of conditionality and the relationship between policy positions, actions, and activities and the provision of funds
- Sustainability of investment
- How to use innovative ways of funding
Check more on Geneva Internet Platform
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