Centre for Internet & Society
Bali meet to discuss Internet governance issues

Photo: Bloomberg

Four-day event hosted by Internet Governance Forum to also discuss Internet access and diversity, privacy, security.

Bali meet to discuss Internet governance issues

Photo: Bloomberg

This article by Moulishree Srivastava was published in Livemint on October 22, 2013. Sunil Abraham is quoted.

Representatives of governments around the world, technology executives and activists will discuss issues such as Internet access and diversity, privacy, security, inter-governmental corporation, and Internet governance at a four-day event hosted by the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that begins on Tuesday in Bali, Indonesia.

J. Satyanarayana, secretary, ministry of communications and information technology, confirmed India’s participation in the forum and said the country would be represented by Dr Govind, a senior director and head of department, e-infrastructure and Internet governance division, department of information technology.

“We will also be taking part in a working group on Internet governance and enhanced cooperation, which will be convened by the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development in November,” said Satyanarayana.

“IGF is a valuable learning forum wherein different stakeholders can discuss Internet governance policy issues without any antagonism. Other fora for Internet policy like ICANN, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), ITU (International Telecommunication Union), etc., are places where international law and policy are developed, and do not allow for such learning because negotiations are always very acrimonious. Since IGF is only meant for learning, it does not directly address the global policy vacuum that exists for cyber crime, data protection and privacy,” said Sunil Abraham, executive director of Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, who will be participating in the Bali event.

“Indian government, private sector, civil society, technical and academic community can become more competent and effective through such a dialogue in other multilateral and multi-stakeholder fora where international Internet standards, policies and laws are formulated. It also helps the stakeholders contribute to the development of internationally interoperable domestic policy,” he added.

In 2006, the UN secretary general established a small secretariat in Geneva to assist him in the convening of IGF. The first meeting was convened in October-November 2006 in Athens. In December 2010, IGF’s mandate was extended for five years.

In its eighth edition, IGF will have detailed discussions on issues such as free flow of information on the Internet, regulatory approaches to privacy, and protection of interests of individuals and communities in cyberspace, Internet surveillance and legal framework for cyber crime, said the forum in a statement on its website.

During the four-event, for instance, one of the workshops “will explore what core principles and strategies are needed to achieve a balanced and fair approach to data protection that is effective internationally and regionally”, according to IGF.

Some of the prominent speakers in the event include Jari Arkko, chairman, Internet Engineering Task Force, Finland; Virat Bhatia, president, South Asia, AT&T Inc.; Chris Painter, coordinator for cyber issues, US department of state; Karen Mulberry, policy adviser, Internet Society; and Matthew Shears, director of Internet policy and human rights, Center for Democracy and Technology.

According to industry estimates, over 2.5 billion Internet users interact in shared cross-border online spaces where they can post content potentially accessible worldwide.

“No clear frameworks exist yet to handle the tensions between these competing normative orders or values and enable peaceful cohabitation in cross-border cyberspace. This challenge constitutes a rare issue of common concern for all stakeholder groups,” said IGF on its website.

According to a UN estimate, nearly 40% of the world’s population will be online by the end of 2013. “The Internet has become an essential tool for the creation of jobs and the delivery of basic public services,” said the UN undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs, Wu Hungbo, in a statement, adding that it is also essential “for improving access to knowledge and education, for empowering women, for enhancing transparency, and for giving marginalized populations a voice in decision-making processes”.