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Thursday 16 September 2010

• On the third day of the Internet Governance Forum meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, the key issues of security, openness and privacy and Internet governance for development (IG4D) were discussed in the two main sessions.

• Participants from government, the private sector, civil society and the Internet community also took part in other events including 17 workshops, as well as ‘open forums’, ‘dynamic coalitions’ and other meetings.

• At a press conference today, Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum said it was a very successful meeting so far with many important topics being discussed from managing critical Internet resources to security, openness and privacy, and access and diversity, As far as attendance was concerned Mr. Kummer told journalists there were 1,879 participants from 105 countries, roughly the same as in last year’s meeting in Sharm El Sheikh. There has been a slight increase in participation by the private sector, civil society and the technical and academic communities at this year’s meeting.

• Mr. Kummer reported that strong efforts had been made to encourage remote participation and the IGF had created a virtual space for interaction. More than 360 people have participated remotely from more than 30 registered remote hubs as well as individuals. There have been several remote panellists and even some remote moderators whose role was to encourage remote participation, had taken part remotely themselves. One group from Dhaka in Bangladesh of 55 people from all stakeholder groups had taken part remotely and said they had never before taken part in such an interesting discussion and felt as though they had been in Vilnius. Mr. Kummer thanked the hosts, Lithuania especially for the technical facilities and arrangements.

• The Lithuanian Member of Parliament, Vytautas Grubliauskas who chaired the session on Internet governance for development in the afternoon, told the press conference that the Internet Governance Forum offered the best possibility to discuss the global issues and on an equal basis, listening to everyone’s ideas. The parliamentarian and jazz musician who had entertained participants with his trumpet playing and singing at the opening ceremony, said that Lithuanian was serious about the development of its information society and had ambitious plans to have 75 per cent of citizens using the Internet and 90 per cent of public services available on the Internet.

• Questions were asked at the press conference including by a remote participant about pressure on the multi-stakeholder nature of the IGF from some governments, online censorship and remote participation. The press conference can be viewed on webcast archive at webcast.intgovforum.org

• In response to a question about the value of the IGF Mr. Kummer said the main achievement was the consolidation and acceptance of the multi-stakeholder approach by many governments, some remain sceptical he acknowledged, but many had accepted the benefits of the multi-stakeholder dialogue.
The spread of national and international IGF initiatives showed how successful it had been and one Kenyan Government official had told him it was sometimes painful but it always helped them to make better decisions in the end. The IGF process had depoliticized many of the issues by promoting a better understanding of how the Internet works.

• The four day meeting will conclude tomorrow with more meetings and workshops including a session on the emerging issue of cloud computing and a discussion of the way forward for Internet governance.

Security, openness and privacy

• Previous IGF meetings had dealt with security, openness and privacy separately but given that they were inextricably interconnected, it was felt that these important and complex issues should be dealt with in one session. Several speakers during the main morning session made the point that they should not be traded off against one another or seen as opposing priorities. It was suggested that an open Internet could also be a secure one in which citizens’ privacy was respected.

• Another issued raised was the balance between security and privacy. Highlighting the human rights perspective, Frank La Rue, United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said the right to privacy was a fundamental permanent right and security was a necessity for exercising all rights. So what was needed he said, was not to balance security against privacy but to work out how to enhance both simultaneously and not allow one to erode the other.

• Other speakers spoke about freedom of expression and freedom of information, cybersecurity and protecting the Internet from cyber attacks, the issue of interoperability and open standards. A speaker from UNESCO said their commission report showed that censorship and filtering was done not only by government organizations but also by private companies.

• The importance of providing privacy to customers was stressed by a participant from Google who said good legal regimes were needed to ensure providers of social media were not forced to become gatekeepers. A speaker from Facebook said it was a mistake to think the Internet was an unregulated space with many laws and regulations already in place on everything from privacy and illegal content to advertising and commercial regulations which online companies had to respect.

• The youngest speaker at the session was a fifteen year old from Germany, a security researcher who warned that sometimes security laws prevented security researchers such as himself doing their work because they could be punished by the same laws used to catch cybercriminals.

Internet governance for development (IG4D)

• The afternoon session on IG4D explored the possible effects of global Internet governance arrangements on the development of the Internet and people-centred information societies in developing countries. Panellists offered their definitions of Internet governance for development and considered whether how Internet governance has developed has helped or hindered development.

• Nitin Desai, special adviser to the Secretary-General for Internet Governance said the Internet was clearly crucial for development and therefore Internet governance matters for development. It was important that developing countries had a voice in the way the Internet is managed and governed.

Other events

• Workshops held today examined the following issues among others: the implications of cloud computing; development and mobile broadband; social networking and e-participation; openness and digital copyright; cloud computing and climate change; open standards and accessibility and remote participation in the IGF.

• ‘Dynamic Coalition’ meetings were held on accessibility and disability; Internet and climate change; linguistic diversity; child online safety; the Internet of things; global open localization platform; freedom of expression and freedom of the media on the Internet; and core Internet values. Among other meetings were nine regional/national initiative presentations and an Open Forum on inclusive knowledge societies organized by UNESCO.


Anne Thomas, UN Information Officer
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