My main take away impressions of the 6th IGF were:
That the European view, as expressed by the Council of Europe via EuroDIG, that puts human rights and net neutrality, as absolutes, at the top of the agenda, without due consideration of the proportionality between security and privacy was not a governance model accepted widely. The reality is that users expect their data to retain domestic levels of protection (whatever these may be) whatever jurisdiction they are in on the Internet. Common principles and compromises are needed, but these will be very hard to achieve.
For individual users the Internet is “experiential”. Trust increases with use and depends on the national and individual starting points. In developing countries trust rested largely with major companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook. In relation to privacy rights, it was widely accepted that there needed to be an internationally agreed definition of what comprised “sensitive personal data”.
Only a small number of principles are key to Internet Governance: open architecture; multi-national, multi-stakeholder dialogue to develop good governance and an understanding of conceptual meta-level approaches to complex networking with the adoption of interoperability standards.
Governments need to have a policy to ensure their citizens have access to a safe and secure Internet, to encourage social interaction, access to content and development. Outside the EU, our data protection laws are seen as a protectionist device and not a strongly held principle, because the key for users in developing countries is that the Internet is cheap and flexible.
There was also resentment about blocking of certain country domain names on fraud grounds. Domain Name System filtering and blocking was seen by many as an excessive focus on illegal on line content that impeded creativity, fostered criminal activity and damaged the Internet. By attacking the content via ISP addresses, law enforcement agencies were blocking consumption, driving services underground and bringing only short term relief as the content just reappeared elsewhere. If content was illegal, law enforcement should find and prosecute the perpetrators.
Ways forward on Internet Governance were suggested via: CSR reporting in company accounts; suitable International Conventions that countries could sign up to; Consumer Protection Agencies, as most countries had these and many countries already had bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements across borders that could be developed for Internet trading.
The 6th IGF saw the resurrection of a Dynamic Coalition for The Internet of Things to develop understanding of governance issues (if they differ from current issues) and take them forward. There is an opportunity for UK to be influential from an early stage in this developing global initiative.
Posted by the UK IGF on behalf of Dr Louise Bennett, Vivas Ltd