What are your wishes for the Internet?

In anticipation of the Internet Governance Forum meeting in Kenya later in the year, this post encourages the reader to participate in the work that is being done on this critical subject.

Mainstream access to the Internet began about 20 years ago, and in recent years the platform has become increasingly powerful, since it can now support voice, data, video and even broadcasting. However, although the Internet has become global entity – without geographic boundaries – the rules and structures that govern it are still being developed.

Over the next few months, a number of preparatory meetings will be held in anticipation of the sixth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which will be held from 27 to 30 September in Kenya. The theme for the meeting is

“Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation”.

For the Caribbean region, the Fourth Regional Latin America and the Caribbean Preparatory Meeting for the Internet Governance Forum, will be held from 9 to 11 August in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Preceding that meeting, on 8 August, will be the 7th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum, also in Port of Spain. An overview of the two meetings can be found here.

What is Internet Governance?

In 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society put forward the following definition for Internet Governance (IG):

Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.

While this definition might appear complicated, in a nutshell, IG speaks to the rules, principles and decisions that govern the development and use of the Internet. As a global medium, there must be international agreement on governance issues, but there is considerable scope for, and an expectation of, multi-stakeholder participation. As a result, there are numerous opportunities – such as at preparatory meetings, directly through the IGF website, and in discussion forums – where the private sector, civil society and even the average citizen can participate in the policy formulation and development processes.

What are the current issues?

At the upcoming IGF meeting, there are approximately 75 proposals that will be tabled at workshops scheduled during the event. The proposals have been categorised into six themes, as outlined in Table 1.

Table 1: Key themes that will be discussed during the IGF annual meeting in September 2011 (Source: IGF)

What are your thoughts?

The discussion on the Internet ranges from the highly technical to the very pragmatic. Nevertheless, regardless of how intimidating as it seems, it is important that we, as Internet users, add our voices to the global conversation.

Based on our earlier post, 7 insights on the future of technology and the Internet, and noting the excitement surrounding 4G, the Internet will become increasingly central to everyday living. Moreover, many of the advances that are being made in technology, and in programme and application development, are ultimately to satisfy the needs, interests and lifestyle of the “average user”.

As a starting point for future discussions, what are your wishes for the Internet? Please share your views in the Comments section below, or on our Facebook page, or on Twitter (@ictpulse).

Looking forward to your feedback!