The coming Internet Governance Forum seems to be the place where many of the hot-topic related issues around the Internet will be discussed.
In the last year that place was the WSIS.
I believe there’s a need for involvement of different players on the stage. The way ICANN board is being renewed every three years, perhaps the same way should the people around ICANN be renewed. Today this arena is taken by mainly people from the rich North and rich West. People from countries in transition often can’t make it to the ICANN meetings. They couldn’t make it to the WSIS, too, although so far this was the only place one can see citizens from all over the world talking to the governments as equals.
Coming from Bulgaria, and being one of the founders and chairman of the Internet Society of Bulgaria (est. 1995!), I have alternative views on many of the items regarding the Internet Governance topic.
I have been sharing some of these ideas throughout the years, and I have often been a lonely voice in environment, which is often superior to people from developing countries. Today, also thanks to the WSIS, that has changed. My voice is not the only one alerting of the dangers confronting the global Internet community. There are other, different voices. And it’s important not only to be different, but to be vocal, too. Because different voices make a difference.
How to deal with the coming number of forums – IGF, ITU, UN, US, you name it? One has to have unaccounted money to be able to travel all over the world, and follow what’s going on every week. That’s a huge problem, esp. for poor countries or countries in transition, like Bulgaria.
Can we improve these and other related matters?
My solution for the IGF is to have a small secretariat – either the one from the Working Group on Internet Governance (based in Switzerland), or one which should be based in a non-West country. The independent status of the secretariat is of vital importance. Be that Switzerland, or another country, preferebly in Eastern Europe (to eliminate speculations – Bulgaria is not a candidate to host it; we believe if something works, it should not be touched). This secretariat should look for funding for developing countries’ participation in the IGG. If the IGF will be only for the rich countries, then it’s not needed.
The issues to be discussed should include not only the “most favorite” topic – who “controls” the Internet (aka “the ICANN topic”), but issues, which have far greater importance for the users – spam, security (computer crimes are causing more and more losses to… the West!), affordability of the access to the Internet.
Some countries and people may decide there’s also a need of a small, properly formed, coordinating group – the countries who have the most to gain/lose in this discussion, plus representatives from civil society, academia, and business should create something like a WGIG-2, but working mainly on line – cost-effective, all-inclusive, etc. Why they may want this? Because the IGF seems to become a big gathering, with many parallel tracks, and in the meantime, there’s need for people to communicate on a smaller scale.
Much more information can be found at the Internet Governance Resource Portal