8th Internet Governance Forum – Meetings facilitated by the European Internet Foundation

31 October 2013 Author: EIFonline

As in previous years, in the context of the IGF 2013, EIF worked in close cooperation with the European Parliament delegation and the European Commission delegation and facilitated the following bilateral meetings.

MEPs Sabine Verheyen, Teresa Riera Madurell, Salvador Sedó i Alabart and Maria Badia i Cutchet were part of the European Parliament delegation, the European Commission delegation was led by Linda Corugedo-Steneberg, Director for Cooperation at DG CONNECT. 


BILATERAL MEETING WITH MEPs AND ICANN

22 October 2013, Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre

Participants: Members of the European Parliament, ICANN representatives including Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO, EIF director, European Commission officials and European Parliament’s staff members 

Further to last year's bilateral meeting at IGF in Baku, this meeting was a timely occasion to discuss ICANN's latest developments. ICANN’s President and CEO Fadi Chehadé presented the state of play of ICANN's globalisation process, with the set up of 2 new HQs (in Singapore and Istanbul) and of 8 engagement centres around the world, and with an increased international staff. The MEPs, who were openly asked for their support to ICANN's efforts, expressed their appreciation for the changes ICANN has undertaken. As ICANN’s President stressed, the US government agrees that ICANN can no longer be a US organisation, as its role has become too critical, and a public consultation has started to find an appropriate alternative. Some of its activities like the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) functions - i.e. implementing policies coming from technical organisations – are performed under their contract with the US government,

It was also explained that 13 Internet roots exist: 10 are in the United States, 1 in Sweden, 1 in the Netherlands and 1 in Tokyo. The other countries use images of the existing roots. If a country asks ICANN to have an own new root or to make a change to an existing root, ICANN has to decide and the US has to approve of their decision. Besides, the machine managing the roots belongs to Verisign, which is an American company and this is found by some as non-legitimate.

Other examples of ICANN's tasks followed:  if asked to create a new domain name for a country, before starting the necessary technical procedure, ICANN would listen to the government but also to the community. No legislation exists ruling this process.

President Chehadé expressed concerns about the pressure on ICANN about Internet governance - a matter that cannot be addressed by ICANN. ICANN has thus recently built a coalition of experts - who met in Montevideo for the first time - to try find a new institutional framework and offer an alternative to the world. With a bottom-up approach, the next meeting will include more than 100 organisation representatives.


INFORMAL MEETING WITH EIF MEMBERS AT IGF

23 October 2013, Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre

Participants: Members of the European Parliament, EIF business and associate members, EIF director and European Parliament staff member.

Guests were invited to express their views about this year's IGF, its future, and an EU involvement in the dialogue with ICANN and Brazil.

Many observed that while the IGF maintains its exceptional features of openness and inclusiveness as a forum to exchange views on Internet Governance, no general consensus nor concrete conclusions are generated. It is important that IGF discussions continue within Parliaments in order to ensure that a decision-making process follows. EuroDIG can be a good occasion for Parliamentarians to engage.

It was felt that the European Union is not playing a central role and more engagement was prompted. If hosted in Turkey (Istanbul), the next IGF would be strategic for the participation of the EU, who played an important role in ensuring freedom at the WSIS.

Some stressed that the IGF is not sufficient to address Internet Governance issues effectively and should be transformed, as well as the way it is funded, which needs to keep it transparent and independent. Some claimed that a transformation would be more appropriate than the set-up of a new entity. However some observed that changing the IGF into a negotiations platform or decision-making space would undermine its openness.


EIF MEETING WITH MEPs, PARLIAMENTARIANS AND GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES FROM EU COUNTRIES

24 October 2013, Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre

Participants: Members of National Parliaments / Governments representatives, Members of the European Parliament, European Commission delegation, EIF director, European Parliament’s officials, Assistants to MEPs.

This meeting offered a valuable opportunity for MEPs, Parliamentarians and government representatives attending IGF to meet and exchange views.

It was observed that the Internet users' rights are very topical among all the many issues addressed at the IGF and that the Council of Europe is preparing a Guide on Rights for Internet Users that will be anchored to Human Rights, with the aim to preserve openness and universality of the Internet and protect users.

Although it was felt that the IGF multistakeholder model has been strengthened today and is felt less at risk, the issue of funding the IGF and establishing a more solid Secretariat was found by many as crucial.

Recent US NSA allegations and related privacy concerns are a hot topic at this year's IGF. Such concerns are widely shared by countries and may help raise general awareness about the importance of Internet governance.

The increased engagement of Brazil was also widely discussed at the Forum, Brazil clarified their wish to sustain a multistakeholder model rather than a multilateral model of the IGF and launched the proposal of hosting an international Internet Governance summit in Brazil in April 2014 with experts from governments, industry, civil society and academia.

Many expressed their support for the internationalisation process recently undertaken by ICANN and for the initiative of the Montevideo meeting.

It was observed that the IGF is an important watchdog that identifies Internet-related issues at an early stage and that this function is of utmost interest for policy-makers, who should get more involved e.g. participating in EuroDIG meetings as well as IGFs.

Participation of developing countries in Internet Governance discussions is also a concern, as a multistakeholder model can work only if legitimate. Countries with a poor budget or small administration may encounter big difficulties in getting evolved and this should be solved, possibly with a stronger multi-donor IGF Trust Fund. Not having the resources to participate in Internet Governance processes, some countries may prefer to designate it to established bodies e.g. the ITU or UN where they can have a voice.

Appreciation was expressed for the recent launch by the European Commission of an online platform called Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), to help find relevant information and documents on Internet Governance.

Finally, it was felt that if Turkey hosts the next IGF, Europe will have a bigger opportunity to engage.

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