IGF 2016 – Open forum: internet society

6 Dec 2016 11:45h - 12:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

The moderator started the session by giving a brief presentation of ISOC’s activities and the main ‘on the ground’ impactful projects; she spoke about the challenges facing the future of the Internet and how ISOC is tackling them globally as an organisation with global influence. She asked the speakers to give the audience more facts from the ground.

Raúl Echeberria, Vice President of Global Engagement, ISOC, presented ISOC’s main achieved tasks, such as the integration of work on the ground with the network of ISOC chapters worldwide and the connected developed policy work with the community. He added that Internet society today is at an intersection leading in three different directions (technology, community and policy). Echeberria presented the four main pillars of ISOC engagements :

  • Infrastructure (networks and wireless community)
  • Community building through different programs like ISOC ambassadors, youth empowerment initiatives, etc.)
  • Capacity building, including training in different aspects (Internet governance, human rights, cybersecurity, legal policy development, Internet technical aspects)
  • Bringing the ISOC expertise on this work to the ground

He added that ISOC is working intensively to provide tools and valuable content to its chapters, the chapters are very important to launch the ISOC mission, he spoke about other opportunities and programmes which ISOC is offering, such as their Beyond the Net Funding Programme.

Karen Rose, Senior Director, Strategy & Analysis, ISOC, gave a brief summary on the monitoring work done by ISOC about the future of the Internet. She added that ISOC knows that the future of the Internet is uncertain, with many unclear issues we still do not know how to resolve in the coming ten years. There are many challenges facing the Internet today, like the emerging social, government and economic forces that are threatening the Internet’s future; the direction in which these forces evolve in the next period will have a profound impact on users globally. She added that ISOC will host a participatory and interactive session about the Internet’s future.

Earlier this year she asked how different the world will look, ten years from now. She went back through technological history inventions starting by the telephone in 1887 and explained that all the human being predictions of the future of these technologies were wrong and that no one today can predict the future Internet. She concluded that when we try to think about the future, we need to challenge our assumptions. She listed the main issues facing the Internet in the future which present opportunities as well as risks:

  • The increasing role of governments’ control over the Internet
  • The Internet of Things
  • Artificial intelligence
  • The future of the market-place and the competition
  • Challenges to media and culture
  • Evolution of cybersecurity
  • Emerging business models
  • Evolution of the Internet and the standards
  • Future of online privacy and rights
  • The digital divide

A lot of focus was put on the digital divide issue during the second part of the session’s discussions. The digital divide presents several issues like gender, country, and social class divide. The session ended by separating the attendees into four groups to discuss and provide solutions to the most critical issues that can affect the Internet neutrality, unicity and openness.

by Hafedh Yahmadi, Internet Society Tunisia