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[Briefing #1] Internet governance in January 2014

Published on 24 February 2014
Updated on 05 April 2024

WSIS+10, IGF, ICANN HLPGICGM, /1net, CSTD WGEC, #NETmundial, GICI, GIPO, FOC… What might seem as commands of a programming code for a machine are in fact becoming a must-know for diplomats – especially those placed in Geneva. The abbreviations listed denote numerous diplomatic and political processes related to Internet governance and global digital policies taking place at the moment around the world.

To assist diplomats in grasping the complexity of this multidisciplinary and  multistakeholder political environment, and to bring them up to speed on what to follow, when to follow it, and how to follow it, the Geneva Internet Platform (the GIP), hosted by DiploFoundation, offers a monthly Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance, besides other activities. The briefings take place on the  first Tuesday of every month at 13:00 hrs (CET) and take a blended approach: an in situ gathering at the GIP premises in Geneva and a simultaneous webinar for those away or unable to physically join the gathering. Each briefing aims to discuss the main developments of the previous months and to look into the developments envisaged and global events scheduled for the coming month.

The first Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance took place on Tuesday, 4th February 2014.

We started by reflecting on an unusually interesting month of January, briefly dissecting the controversial US appeals court decision against net neutrality, explaining its possible effects on the USA and on other regions, especially Europe, underlining that the main battlepoint is in the diverse understanding of the end-users: as mere customers (commercial view) vs citizens (human rights view). We touched on President Obama’s speech on the NSA surveillance, emphasising his repeated use of the term ‘cyber-attacks’, placing cybersecurity at the forefront of the security agenda (higher than terrorism). We linked that with the global (limited) efforts to prevent cyber-arms proliferation – like the December additions to the Wassenaar Arrangement. Then, we turned to the three emerging discussion forums:

  • An ICANN-initiated /1net (online) platform to connect various constituencies and feed discussion summaries into other forums.
  • ICANN’s High Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms (GICGM) which focuses on ‘desirable properties’ of the future IG ecosystem (updates were provided by webinar participant Nigel Hickson, ICANN’s Vice President, Stakeholder Engagement – Europe).
  • The Global Commission on Internet Governance which was launched at the World Economic Forum, and focuses on human rights, freedom, and surveillance.
  • The NETmundial conference (often referred to as the ‘Brazil meeting’) scheduled for 23/24 April in São Paolo, to discuss the IG principles as well as the roadmap for the further evolution of the IG ecosystem (an update was presented by our guest speaker Marilia Maciel, a member of the conference Executive Multistakeholder Committee).

Looking into the crystal ball, we zoomed in on the Geneva preparatory meeting of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), to discuss the agenda of the 9th IGF meeting scheduled for 2–5 September in Istanbul, Turkey, ahead of the UNGA decision on the IGF’s continuation. We also looked briefly at the upcoming meeting of ICANN’s HL Panel on GICGM in the USA, when the first draft of its report will be released for open consultation and submitted for consideration for the São Paolo meeting. And  we inquired about the ITU WSIS+10 review process and possible decisions about the High-Level Event supposed to take place in April in Sharm el-Sheikh, but postponed.

An interesting discussion evolved around the increasingly frequent use of the term ‘IG ecosystem’, questioning who is in this ecosystem and if those of us that are not involved (yet) are, in fact, the ‘polluters’. It was clarified that the term was borrowed from the climate change process and the environmental field, in an attempt to convey certain characteristics of digital politics like diversity, adaptability, and scalability.

The video recording of the webinar is available below:


The next Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance online webinar will take place on Tuesday, 4th March 2014, 13:00 CET. Note: for logistical reasons, this will be an online event only. The in situ option will take place again in April.

For more information and to apply, please follow the link.

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