Doubts Raised Over Global Internet Governance Body

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Is the NetMundial Initiative, which seeks to create a world governing body for the Internet, in trouble?

Attempts to create an equivalent of the UN Security Council, but to oversee the global Internet rather than world affairs, is reportedly in trouble.

The effort to create the worldwide Internet governance council, known as the NetMundial Initiative, was launched three weeks ago but is already struggling for support from the Internet community.

NetMundial Initiative

The NETmundial meeting was held in São Paulo, Brazil, back in April this year. It brought together the private sector, governments, academia, technical and civil society in an effort to create a shared set of principles to guide the evolution of Internet cooperation and governance.

Internet - Shutterstock -  ©Tatiana PopovaTheoretically, the Initiative has been driven by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with ICANN and selected governmental, industry, academic and civil society stakeholders. It formally launched three weeks ago, but problems occurred also immediately over the decision by the organisers to form an oversight body (Co-ordination Council) to select members. And to make matters worse the organisers reportedly granted themselves “permanent seats” on the oversight body.

This has to the objection of the Internet Society, one of the groups that had been offered a permanent seat. Last week it warned that it was “concerned that the way in which the NETmundial Initiative is being formed, does not appear to be consistent with the Internet Society’s longstanding principles.”

“With respect to the need for new groups, such as the NETmundial Initiative and its Coordination Council, the Internet Society Board reiterates that the Internet Society’s longstanding position is that there is no single, global platform that can serve to coordinate, organise or govern all the Internet issues that may arise,” it said. “At its heart, the Internet is a decentralised, loosely coupled, distributed system that allows policies to be defined by those who require them for their operations and that ensures that issues can be resolved at a level closest to their origin.”

“Based on the information that we have to date, the Internet Society cannot agree to participate in or endorse the Coordination Council for the NETmundial Initiative,” it said. It feels that the body must stick to long-standing principles that includes a bottom-up orientation; it must be decentralised; as well as open, transparent, and accountable.

And the Internet Society is not the only one concerned. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is scheduled to meet in Geneva, but is reportedly uncertain whether it will accept a seat.

It remains to be seen whether the IGF will follow the Internet Society on the matter.

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