Over the past several years, there has been a debate internationally about who "governs" the Internet. The debate has at various times displayed a deep confusion about what Internet governance is. Too much of the debate has focused on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has responsibility for only a very small portion of Internet governance. Too little has focused on the policies of national governments, which hold many of the keys to Internet success or failure in their national policies on innovation, competition and the trust environment.
A UN-sponsored gathering called the Internet Governance Forum
has helped channel the debate in a positive direction. In the broadest sense, the IGF is a yearly meeting, which has taken place 3 times since 2006. The most recent, in Hyderabad, India in December 2008, attracted 1280 participants from 94 countries. The IGF is due to meet again this November in Egypt.
Yesterday, CDT filed comments
as the IGF considers its future. We said that, overall, the IGF has been remarkably successful. In particular, the IGF has raised awareness of Internet governance among a broad range of stakeholders - awareness as to what Internet governance is, how the Internet has been "governed" from its inception by a wide range of bodies and institutions (governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental), and how participation in those governance bodies can be expanded to reflect the interests and needs of non-governmental stakeholders and stakeholders from developing countries.
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