Calls for increased regulation of the Internet are growing in force and frequency. As a result, the future of Internet governance is at play. Over the past year, we have seen increased tension between governmental regulations and the historical model for governing the Internet. During the past few months, this tension was on full display at the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary, the Internet Governance Forum, ICANN 63 and numerous other events. This event provided a debrief of the major developments in Internet governance events that have happened in Autumn 2018 and discussed the potential ways they could shape the future of the Internet.
From the physical infrastructure to the services that run on top of it, the Internet has become a major focal point of debate around the world. Globally, Internet governance is split into three camps. On one side, there are proponents of an internet driven by ideals of freedom and openness, whose domestic governance usually manifests in an equitable multistakeholder approach. On the other side, authoritarians see the Internet as a threat to regime security and opt for a sovereign and controlled model, where the state is the primary force in governance over the Internet’s infrastructure and services. In the middle, there are the undecideds—some unsure of which direction to go, and others seeking a third way.
ISOC-DC held its annual debrief on the UN’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF). In addition to discussing IGF2017, which was held from December 18 to December 21 in Geneva, participants will discuss their observations from the Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) held in November in New Delhi, India, as well as the 4th annual World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen, China, in December. These three conferences examined the forces and decisions that are shaping the Internet but from three very different perspectives. This was an audience participation event with opportunities to share observations, questions, and opinions.
The debate over the role of governments in the realm of Internet governance stems in large part from the inherent contradictions between governments and governance and the Internet and the tensions that have played out over time between policy makers and the Internet governance community as a result of those tensions.