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Overcoming policy silos: the next challenge in Internet governance

Published on 17 September 2014
Updated on 05 April 2024

How do policymakers find the right balance between tackling issues like cybersecurity and safeguarding digital rights? How can innovation be encouraged and users’ experience improved in the net neutrality debate? In tackling multifaceted issues, how can policy coherence be ensured by the various actors?

Overcoming policy silos in Internet governance (IG) is the first of three themes that is being discussed in the lead-up to the Geneva Internet Conference, an international conference that will address issues, gaps, and future developments in IG at this critical time.

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The first theme was introduced in a webinar held yesterday, in which Dr Jovan Kurbalija, leading the discussion, explained how IG is indeed at a crossroads. Most issues in IG are multifaceted, involving political, legal, economic, technical, and sociocultural aspects. For example, data protection and privacy involve similar issues; yet they are tackled from different perspectives, such as from the point of view of human rights, or from a business perspective, not to mention the security implications. Marilia Maciel from FGV-Rio commented that we miss the security perspective in discussions on issues such as data protection and online privacy.

Stakeholders and policymakers approach the same issues, both at national and global levels, from various angles and policy routes. Parallel debates take place, at the risk of policy incoherence and turf battles among the forums discussing the same issues. With each coming from different backgrounds, stakeholders often have different interests, and are accustomed to different procedures and institutional cultures.

From a diplomatic perspective, IG is a complex issue that has been added to an already full agenda. While topics such as economic and humanitarian diplomacy are traditional topics which diplomats have dealt with for a long time, IG is a multidimensional new issue which requires capacity to understand and deal with. Pressure is especially felt by small and developing countries and is most visible in their permanent missions in Geneva.

With an increasing focus on the multidisciplinary environment, the future of IG will require better coordination and dialogue among stakeholders. It will require bridging the different communities, from lawyers to technical experts, from economic standpoints to standardisation. Achieving policy coherence will be important for inclusive and effective IG, Dr Kurbalija highlighted.

Join the discussion

In the next three weeks, the Geneva Internet Platform will be guiding the discussion on how to overcome policy silos, by focusing on three particular policy areas as examples: data protection and privacy; cybersecurity and cybercrime; and intellectual property rights. For each of these areas, stakeholders will map the policy process at national and global levels.

The Geneva Internet Platform invites you and all involved in IG processes to map out any of the following policy areas – (a) data protection and privacy; (b) cybersecurity and cybercrime; (c) intellectual property rights – at national and/or global level. Please take part in the survey on policy silos, and contribute to the discussion forum.

In three weeks’ time, the second theme – Whom do I contact if I want to raise my IG concern? – will be introduced, followed by a third theme – Evidence and measurement in IG: What sort of data and numbers are we talking about? – taking place in the last three weeks before the conference. Discussions will feed into the Geneva Internet Conference, which will take place in Geneva in November.

For questions or comments, get in touch with the Geneva Internet Conference team at gic@diplomacy.edu

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