The IGF is the only setting open to all interested parties, allowing for discussions on issues ranging from what it takes to secure networks, how to balance privacy concerns and policy approaches to address infrastructure investment in the Internet, especially in developing countries. The key benefit of the Forum is that it brings people together from widely different sectors – governments, civil society, business, international organizations and technical experts— who would otherwise not necessarily talk with each other.
“The IGF’s unique capability to bring together the range of organizations and stakeholders involved in Internet governance issues for the exchanges we had in Hyderabad is a particular value add to the global level discussions on these matters,” said Ayesha Hassan, Senior Policy Manager of the Commission on Electronic Business, IT, and Telecommunications. “This unique benefit cannot be fulfilled by alternative approaches.”
The Forum, which brings together experts from many technical groups, governments, civil society, and business, was created to support the United Nations Secretary-General in carrying out the mandate from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
ICC, established Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) in 2006 as the voice of global business in the international dialogues on Internet governance and how information and communication technologies can better serve as engines of economic growth and social development.
One key element of the IGF in Hyderabad was the possibility for organizations from around the world and interested individuals unable to attend personally to participate through remote access. “I would like to underscore the importance of the remote participation facilities made available,” remarked Zahid Jamil an ICC member who participated in the meetings from Pakistan, “and hence the support for the continuity of this process and its importance for developing countries.”
The meeting in Hyderabad in December 2008 was another step in the global dialogue that facilitates informed policy approaches with involvement of all stakeholders at the national and regional levels. ICC/BASIS believes that the upcoming IGF in Egypt should focus on human and institutional capacity building, and deepen the discussion of development issues through the exchange of best practices and experiences building upon the IGF in Athens 2006, Rio 2007 and Hyderabad 2008.
“We are seeing the IGF have a positive impact in stimulating interest and participation among the local business community,” said Jeff Brueggeman, Vice President Public Policy AT&T, looking ahead to November’s meeting in Egypt. “The result is a growing network of global businesses that is becoming more engaged in the ongoing policy discussions and more linked to the Internet community as a result of the IGF.”
At the last IGF there were important discussions on key security and privacy issues, which also focused on child protection online topics, bringing to light the work being done by many organizations on these matters and the role of all stakeholders in addressing them. The issues of use and misuse of the Internet and concerns of everyday users will continue to be matters that the IGF can play a real role in facilitating exchange of information.
Just how important the Internet is becoming in the developing world is underscored by the geometric growth of new technologies. When WSIS 2005 ended, approximately 1 billion people were connected to the Internet. Today, three years later, the information society has expanded to 1.5 billion Internet users. Similarly, at WSIS 2005, slightly more than 2 billion people were mobile phone subscribers. By the end of this year, 4 billion people around the world will have access to mobile services and devices.