Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet 2012-2013
Internet technology has expanded rapidly and changed dramatically in a relatively short space of time. Today, there are questions about the direction it is heading. Awareness is growing of the impact of the Internet in a range of areas from consumer rights to human rights, and from business models to political security. The number of devices that can connect to the Internet continues to increase, as does the breadth of access and the volume of data involved in online interactions.
Public discourse surrounding Internet governance is unclear. Much of the debate, be it about regulation, cybersecurity, privacy or cyberwarfare, is dominated by fear, uncertainty and doubt. Although these concerns are legitimate, the result is that the social, economic and political benefits and opportunities offered by the Internet risk being eclipsed. In particular, those not intimately acquainted with technology, notably political leaders and decision-makers, tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. In addition, technical and academic discussions surrounding the technology are often difficult to understand or poorly communicated, making them inaccessible to the general public.
The key priority for the future of the Internet is to ensure that its benefits and advantages are properly understood, both at the legislative and public levels. For legislators, this means ensuring that arguments focus not only on the uncertainties surrounding the Internet, but also on the benefits. For non-specialists, it is important to provide real-world examples in order to engage them in discussion. Finally, it is essential to consider alternative models of Internet governance to fully appreciate how the Internet might evolve in the future.
- As of 2012, almost one-third of the world’s population had used the Internet.
- The 2012 Reporters without Borders Enemies of the Internet Report identifies 12 “Enemies: Bahrain, Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.”
- According to the OpenNet Initiative, globally, there are seven states with “pervasive” – the maximum – levels of Internet filtering tools (websites that provide e-mail, Internet hosting, search, translation, Voice over Internet Protocol telephone services, and circumvention methods). Another five countries have “substantial” levels of Internet filtering.
“Security, surveillance and censorship are very much current features of the Internet. While I think it is important that we develop a positive vision and positive examples across the spectrum, we also need to recognize the limitations and the negatives that are associated with the online environment.”
Brett Solomon, Co-Founder, accessnow.org, Australia
“If we look at how policy is crafted today, a small number of people behind closed doors look at facts that reflect the world today and they hard-wire policy for decades – but the world doesn’t work like that, it is constantly changing. Sometimes it seems as though there’s more data and analytics used to decide where milk is placed in grocery stores versus how governments disperse billions of dollars!”
Vivek Kundra, Executive Vice-President, Emerging Markets, salesforce.com, USA
The Innovation Engine
Risk and Responsibility in a Hyperconnected World: Pathways to Global Cyber Resilience
Declaration of Internet Freedom – Access
Behind the hype of hyperconnectivity
What if the Internet collapsed?
Internet Governance Forum
6-9 November 2012
World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly
20-29 November 2012
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
World Conference on International Telecommunications
3-14 December 2012
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Telecoms Regulation Forum
22-24 April 2013
London, United Kingdom
World Telecommunication and ICT Policy Forum
14-16 May 2013
The Council on the Future of the Internet will examine the governance and benefits of this medium, with a focus on heads of state, civil society and chief executives as its key constituents. First, the Council will work on concept flows: how the Internet will evolve under certain conditions, so as to demonstrate how regulation will impact on these flows. Second, it will examine multistakeholder models, which are integral to the emergence of the Internet and the changes it brings to social structures, and discuss how partnerships can be used for the benefit of all.
The Council will create several task forces: one will work with civil society, looking at innovation and the long-term future of the Internet; a second will take the policy perspective and consider possible real-world examples of policy decisions; a third will look at the overall system and examine the Internet’s development; and a fourth will consider the Internet of things.
Through these focus areas, the Council hopes to provide real-world examples of concept flows to demonstrate the benefits of the Internet and explore the conditions for multistakeholder engagement, to reveal the range of governance options and their possible implications, whether positive or negative.
The Council on the Future of the Internet works closely with the World Economic Forum’s Partnering for Cyber Resilience initiative, a community of chief executive officers and public-sector leaders who have joined forces to address the new risks and responsibilities associated with a hyperconnected world. It seeks to gather signatories and support for the Principles for Cyber Resilience to support organizations to achieve protection and resilience of their own assets and reputations so that their actions also contribute to greater security and resilience at a systemic level.
Research Analyst: Stefan Hall, Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com
Council Manager: Derek O’Halloran, Associate Director, Head of the Information Technology Industry, firstname.lastname@example.org
Forum Lead: Alan Marcus, Senior Director, Head of Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries, email@example.com