Home » News & Speeches » 8th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Bali, Indonesia Opening Address

24 October 2013 – Opening address by Joseph Alhadeff, Chair, ICC Commission on the Digital Economy

Opening address by Joseph Alhadeff, Chair, ICC Commission on the Digital Economy

  • I am here on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce which has a reach into 130 nations worldwide and its BASIS initiative, Business Action to Support the Information Society, which was created after WSIS to help coordinate both the input and participation of business into the multistakeholder process and more specifically IGF.
  • We want to give our thanks to the host country, Indonesia and to the warm and welcoming people of Bali, to the IGF secretariat and UN DESA and to the many stakeholders for their invaluable part in contributing to the strength of the IGF as a truly open, representative and inclusive forum on Internet governance.
  • As an open forum, the IGF provides the perfect opportunity for enriching the debate about participation in Internet governance, and for highlighting the importance of a representative and inclusive process for debate.
  • It is important that we continue to invest in the value that the IGF delivers. Multistakeholder cooperation is vital in ensuring effective approaches to Internet governance
  • The break-neck speed of technical innovation means that policy is always playing catch-up. As an unparalleled economic force, digital innovation is transforming our societies and economies, transforming communications and opening up a truly global marketplace.
  • To fully harness the potential of the digital economy, it’s vital to build a policy framework that encourages investment in these next-generation technologies, and which primes the path for future innovation in both technology and business.
  • Investment in high speed networks and ICT services creates a platform for economic growth, job creation, and greater competitiveness. Studies show a positive impact on productivity, on GDP contribution and on job creation in ICT-enabled business sectors. ICT is enhancing every industry and all are increasingly dependent on the flow of data. The ability for information to be harnessed and used by organizations and individuals both within and across borders will be increasingly important for economic growth.
  • To seize the opportunities presented by the increased use of ICTs and the Internet, global business supports technology-neutral policies that promote market entry and investments, and aim at attaining broader access to ICTs and related services and greater coverage of networks.
  • The Internet can be an ever driving force in contributing to global economic growth, if we implement interoperable regulation, with globally consistent policy principles that engender people’s trust and that provide the credible online protection consumers need.
  • Enabling more people to gain access to the Internet and related information and communication technology is the most effective way to ensure diversity.
  • Attracting investment and promoting innovation requires: enhanced ICT literacy and access, open markets and pro-investment policies and supporting policy approaches that foster entrepreneurship, independent regulators establishing fair and pro-competitive legal and regulatory environments that are sustainable and that also increase user choice regarding quality and cost of services, respect for the rule of law and independent courts and adequate intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.
  • Business strongly supports freedom of expression and the free flow of information in a manner that respects the rights of others and the rule of law. Governments should work together with business to develop policies and practices to maximize freedom of expression and the free flow of information over the Internet and to minimize trade barriers so companies of all sizes have the ability to engage in legitimate commercial activity.
  • Today we face new threats that could harm the Internet’s role as a vehicle for economic development and market innovation. Barriers such as the forced ‘localization’ of data management and storage discourage investment and hamper the prosperity and trade which the free-flow of data has enabled.
  • The value of the IGF is clear and its role is both important and unique: a truly multistakeholder forum to enable conversation that enhances understanding and cooperation on the issues of the day without being limited by a constraining negotiated text. Yet, despite this essential and unique role, the IGF faces a challenge future. In light of the IGFs global importance, we call for a continuation and strengthening of this platform for bringing together governments, business, the Internet technical community, civil society, and IGOs as equals to discuss public policies regarding the Internet.
  • The global business community recognizes the hard work of many stakeholders here in ensuring the IGF went ahead as planned this year. We all have work to do in order to make sure that the IGF is able to continue into the future. Business supports and calls for the continuing of IGF after 2015.
  • We hope that this week’s open dialogues will help not only demonstrate the strengths of the IGF for protecting and promoting the free and open Internet, but also help us to consider potential improvements in an effort to reaffirm and reenergize the concept and practice of multistakeholder governance.
  • We should remember that a favourable Internet governance environment for investment, innovation, and development has yielded a digital economy and Internet Society that has been an unparalleled success.
  • Multistakeholder cooperation is vital for a unified approach to Internet governance and is the foundation for policy decision-making that champions and enables future economic growth.
  • The key to maintaining a robust Internet for the future lies in the continued enhanced cooperation between all stakeholders.
  • There is still a need for stakeholders to collaborate more fully in order to bring about the positive policy changes needed to deliver open trade and Internet investment to enhance future economic growth and maintain the free flow of information online.
  • That is why there is such great value in the transparent and open Forums such as the IGF in enabling governments to work together with business and other stakeholders to foster policies and practices which reinforce the clear and positive correlation between investment in the Internet and economic growth policies, which progress the freedom of expression and free flow of information.
  • The IGF is perhaps more relevant than ever when we consider the important policy questions facing us today – the likes of user privacy, transparency, and data security. There is a clear need to strengthen public trust and confidence in these areas, and only through multistakeholder collaboration can we recognize our common interest in supporting policy frameworks that protect and enhance the Internet’s value to global business and the wider society.
  • We thank you for the opportunity to participate and look forward to a productive meeting.