IGF 2018 – Open mic/taking stock

21 Dec 2017 15:00h - 17:00h

Event report

The open mic session was moderated by Mr Chengetai Masango, Programme and Technology Manager, United Nations Secretariat for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and aimed to go over the events of the past three days and take into consideration the various inputs for bettering future IGFs.

Ms Lynn St. Amour, Chair, IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), thanked the IGF community, on-site and remote, for participating, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and everyone involved in organising another successful IGF. She welcomed feedback, which is essential for on-going activities. She announced the next IGF host, Berlin, Germany in 2019.

Ambassador David Martinon, Co-Chair, IGF Host Country organising committee, gave remarks and welcomed the speakers. Mr Pierre Bonis, Director General, Association française pour le nommage Internet en cooperation (AFNIC), agreed that taking stock will be useful, believing that the 2018 IGF is a milestone in history, hosting over 3 000 participants.

Mr Alexandre Zapolsky, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), LINAGORA, reinforced the belief of an open Internet, which is a guarantee and cornerstone of a neutral Internet. He cautioned that the Internet must not become market for time and data and that no government, no matter how powerful, should be the sole guardian of freedom of citizens. He talked about the free and open Internet putting us on equal footing. He ended by saying ‘we should make the Internet great again, forever’.

Mr Eric Leandri, CEO, QWANT, mentioned that the Internet should not be a tool but a network where services are provided. He referred to QWANT, which promotes privacy by design, noting that the model is sustainable for a better digital world. He encouraged the promotion of digital development where regulators ensure that private and public actors play their roles. He encouraged stakeholders to work together to ensure that the Internet is protected and neutral to all.

Close to 40 contributions were received during the open microphone session, as summarised below. In general, contributors agreed that the 13th IGF in Paris was well organised. New MAG members were welcomed and wished a fruitful term. Many of the contributors mentioned the need to have more stakeholders represented. Specifically, youth and government stakeholder groups were noted to be missing greatly from discussions. Regions like Africa and the Middle East continue to be under-represented. Persons with disabilities (PWDs) were missing from the discussion, even in sessions that talked about accessibility. Massive outreach and engagement, and capacity building were recommended to encourage under-represented voices to join the discussion.

A couple of panellists referred to President Emmanuel Macron’s speech, which talked about a ‘China and California Internet’. It was agreed a balanced and multistakeholder approach would be the ideal model for Internet governance.

1) Event coordination (IGF) and the MAG

Some topics may not come up in a bottom-up process, so the MAG should be proactive in getting such topics to the agenda
Internet governance meaning was lost during discussions. There is a need to focus on IGF-related issues like youth, gender, artificial intelligence, blockchain, among others, instead of addressing local issues
Continued improvement for remote participants in terms of support with tools and language translation in all the United Nations languages
22 sessions focused on digital security and cybersecurity yet there are many pressing issues
Rooms were too small to fit people for some sessions
Too many parallel sessions, yet most sessions were about 60 minutes. Recommendation to have more time for interaction and engagement instead of only speakers talking.
Rename the IGF to Internet Appropriation Forum because the word governance can be mistranslated in some languages

2) Future of the Internet

Ensure that the Internet is free, open, secure and neutral so that all voices are welcome to contribute and innovate
Fight cybercrime and cyberterrorism
The Internet should not be a vehicle for hate speech and radicalisation
Access continues to be a challenge and costly to developing regions. There is a need for infrastructure as we advocate for access
Finding online and offline processes to help in decision-making
Cooperation among states when talking about cyber issues
Connect people online without ignoring offline lives
The role of National and Regional Initiatives (NRIs) in extending the IGF discussion to national and regional levels

3) Other topics/issues

Climate change
Standing in solidarity with colleagues who have been imprisoned because of authoritarian regimes, and many of these cases are related to the Internet and freedom of speech
Masango noted the feedback and said it would be helpful in planning the 2019 edition.


By Sarah Kiden