The highlight of Day 2 of the IGF had to be the session on net neutrality. It is one of the hottest topics for this IGF. As expected, the session was controversial, even though it managed to clarify where people agree and disagree – the latter obviously providing points for further discussion. Specific topics in focus included:
- Zero rating – i.e., Internet packages where some services, like Facebook, are given for free – particularly its impact on the emergence of new online services. If a provider gave Facebook for free, it would be the one that would be used most, thus creating a form of positive discrimination.
- Human rights – specifically how and if human rights and basic values can become a user-led demand. If users’ concerns about privacy, data protection, and such drove demand for new services, then both society and the economy would benefit.
The panel debated what the role of the IGF should be in the future, when it comes to net neutrality. Some suggestions were to evaluate various data and information available about practices and effects of network management and existing net neutrality policies; to work on basic principles – i.e., meaningful transparency of data management practices by providers, no blocking, and no unreasonable discrimination of traffic; and further discuss the impacts of emerging aspects, such as zero rating or specialised services on the economy, user experiences, and human rights. The IGF can do that through the work of its Dynamic Coalition, working groups, and especially the possible intersessional dialogue.
In a session – Working together: initiatives to map and frame IG – various initiatives and mapping processes were discussed, including UN Commission on Science and Technology Development (CSTD) project, the Geneva Internet Platform, the Internet Policy Observatory, ISOC’s Internet Collaborative Stewardship Framework, and the FP7-funded mapping project.
Another interesting workshop – Crowdsourced Ideas for IG – saw the Brazilians sharing their experiences in social participation around NETmundial earlier this year. According to the long-standing tradition of civil society engagement, collective brainstorming started two months in advance of the meeting. It partnered across sectors with local and national authorities to create the Participa.br platform. An open call for proposals to be discussed in an alternative venue called Arena NETmundial resulted in 295 ideas, grouped around six themes:
- Connection quality
- Access to knowledge, participation in policy process, access equality and digital citizenship
- Freedom of expression rights
- Privacy and security
- Net neutrality
- Non-liability of the network
Many other meetings took place on the margins of the IGF yesterday, such as one with representatives from south-eastern and eastern European countries who met with ICANN on regional cooperation and strengthening the multistakeholder model in their countries. Capacity building, especially for governments, was recognised as one of the top priorities.
The Dutch government is to host an international Cyberspace Conference in 2015, building on previous conferences held in Seoul, London, and Budapest. They briefed participants on their approach with a focus on putting into practice lessons learned from previous conferences. The conference will try to mobilise the global community to ensure that the world is a safe place to do business, not harmed by threats to security and safety. It will endeavour to overcome policy silos and be inclusive when it comes to content and be interdisciplinary.
A new initiative by MAG – the Internet Governance Forum Support Association (IGFSA) – is designed to provide sustainable support for the IGF Secretariat and fund related activities. Membership is open to anyone for a nominal fee and members would have an opportunity to decide how the funds raised are going to be used within the IGF.
To close the day, Diplo launched the 6th edition of An Introduction to Internet Governance at a reception where five of the ten languages previous editions have been translated into were represented. The book was well received. More to follow on this.