Don’t risk losing unique Internet governance opportunity, says ICC

  • 23 February 2011

The ICC Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative has reaffirmed its support for the unique Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and urged that participation remains open to all and that discussions on Internet policy take development issues into consideration.

The call came at the first round of open consultations for the biggest Internet-policy related event of the year, which got underway today in Geneva.

“The IGF has a special role in building human and institutional capacity regarding Internet policy issues. As further improvements are discussed or envisioned, we must keep the essential ingredients of the IGF foremost in our minds, otherwise there is a risk that this one-of-a-kind opportunity will be lost,” said Herbert Heitmann, Royal Dutch Shell’s Executive Vice President of External Communications and Chair of the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms.

The consultations aim to shape the programme for the next round of the Forum by taking stock and building on the experience of last year’s event, which took place in Vilnius, Lithuania. ICC/BASIS contributed business priorities and recommended the integration of the theme ‘building an innovation economy’ for the 2011 Forum, which is scheduled to take place in Nairobi, Kenya in September.

ICC/BASIS applauded the considerable increase in remote participation achieved at the 2010 gathering and commended a debut IGF Secretariat best practices document comprising a series of practical recommendations that had emerged from focused sessions on a range of Internet governance issues.

“Exploring entrepreneurship and business creation as a means of development while focusing on the Internet governance issues that support them, will build on discussions engaged in at past IGFs,” said Ayesha Hassan, Senior Policy Manager and Executive in charge of Information and Communication Technologies Policy at ICC. “We also believe that the essential enabling environment components needed to attract investment in infrastructure will be key issues this year.”

In 2010 the IGF focused on security, openness and privacy, considering issues such as access, development, diversity and cloud computing.

ICC BASIS pointed out that moving data and information across borders raises important policy considerations, and recommended that this should be discussed as a major component of the privacy and security discussions. ICC BASIS also urged discussion on website blocking and the Internet governance issues at stake, with emphasis on how to handle legal and non-legal resources, and content and harmonization.

“Internet openness and network evolution in the context of investment and infrastructure deployment, and human rights issues in the free flow of information, are important issues for business, users and policymakers,” said Jeff Brueggeman, Vice President, Public Policy for AT&T speaking on behalf of ICC BASIS at the consultations. “A substantive discussion at the IGF about these issues will help all stakeholders better understand the challenges, opportunities and policy options.”

Convened under the aegis of the UN Secretary General, the IGF is a unique international platform that welcomes frank and open discussion on governance issues from all interest groups including governments, business leaders, the technical community and civil society. Last year the Forum attracted over 1,200 registered participants as well as a host of remote participants.

“The founding multistakeholder principles and structures of the IGF are what make it unique and such a beneficial opportunity for all stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike,” said Subramanian Ramadorai, Vice Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services and Chair of BASIS. “The future of the Internet relies on such an inclusive approach to drive economic growth and increase its benefits to society. Any further improvements must preserve the openness that allows all interest groups to participate on an equal footing.”

ICC BASIS is planning activities for the IGF 2011 and is actively contributing to the preparatory process.