Chair’s summary of the Seoul Cyberspace Planning session at the UK IGF 2013

The purpose of this panel was to provide an update on planning for the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace, scheduled to take place on 17th-18th October, and to seek views from UK-IGF members on what specific outcomes and deliverables we should be seeking to reinforce.  The panel was drawn from Government, Industry, Civil Society and Academia.

The broad scope of the Seoul conference was described – this covered the role of cyberspace in promoting economic growth and social progress.  Security was also an important theme, but as an enabler of growth and progress, not as an end in itself.

The anticipated outcomes of the conference fell into three broad categories:

  • Policies. Using the conference as a platform to promote progressive policies for countries to adopt at the national level and for us to champion at the international level – eg promoting the open nature of the Internet, the multi-stakeholder model, and human rights.  It was not enough to point to high level principles – we needed to point countries towards practical policy models that could be implemented in their local contexts.
  • Capacity Building.  Our narrative on the benefits of cyberspace risked being undermined by a failure to close the digital divide and help countries to create the conditions for real growth in their digital economy.  Critically, this included helping countries to develop approaches to cybersecurity that would help them prevent their investments in infrastructure being undermined by a failure of end user confidence and trust.
  • Cooperation.  There were significant obstacles in the way of effective international cooperation to enable countries to work together to maintain the security and resilience of cyberspace. The conference needed to put forward practical measures to address this gap.

Various suggestions came up during the course of discussion and during the Q&A.  The importance of supporting the creation of local content was seen as critical – use of open standards would help keep costs of entry for local players down.  The importance of promoting progressive policies on freedom of expression and privacy protection was highlighted by many – it was important to ensure that calls for necessary security were not subverted into calls for censorship and control.  We needed to ground our efforts in the practical – there were a number of good policy models out there – how could they best be implemented?  Genuine multi-stakeholder engagement was seen as a valuable way of keeping policy grounded and for holding Governments to account – some Governments and institutions were better at this than others.   All agreed on the importance of focusing on emerging economies and of the need to understand needs for their perspectives – Seoul was a valuable opportunity to promote progressive policies, but needed to be made relevant to countries struggling to do the basics.

The proximity of the Seoul Conference to the Bali IGF was noted.  The involvement of Foreign Ministers and other “non-specialists” at Seoul was a good opportunity to raise issues that might not otherwise attract attention from those outside the IGF community.

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