Home / Blogs

Lost in Translation? Bridging the Gap between Technology and Governance

Mark Raymond

This post was co-authored with Gordon Smith, a Distinguished Fellow at the Waterloo, Canada based Centre for International Governance Innovation.

It is reassuring that, with the WCIT underway, there is increasing awareness of the threats to the Internet posed by a number of the amendments, significantly in many cases supported by authoritarian governments. There is less awareness of the serious economic implications of some of the proposed ITR amendments.

While it is highly unlikely a doomsday scenario will unfold at the WCIT itself, it is clear that substantial changes to Internet governance are possible over the next several years. Internet governance — and yes, it is has always been governed, though not solely by states — has developed organically and sometimes without sufficient coordination or forethought. Improvements to Internet governance are not necessarily a bad idea; the trick is to get it right, by strengthening, enhancing and preserving the multi-stakeholder model.

To do so, it is necessary to make the process as open and inclusive as possible. Specifically, it is necessary to bridge the gap between a traditional Internet community on the one hand and a policy/governance community on the other. Both of these communities bring critical experience and expertise to the table; the problem, put simply, is translation between these two distinct and highly technical languages.

Anxieties and misunderstandings have plagued such translation attempts. The recent attacks on the WCIT website in response to the negotiations in Dubai are one indicator that all is not well in this regard. Yet it is important to recognize that Internet activists and hackers have partially overlapping interests with many of the state delegations attending the WCIT that are committed to maintaining multi-stakeholder Internet governance models.

The traditional Internet community and the governance community will no doubt continue to have strong disagreements both internally and in their interactions with each other. The key is that the two groups learn more about each other in order to craft a mutually acceptable modus vivendi. If that happens, we can avoid a scenario in which conversations about Internet governance are poisoned from the outset and in which it is impossible to bring knowledge about public policy and governance to bear on the Internet.

The focus should now be on a strategy for the next five to ten years where those who value an Internet as free as possible work together to concert their efforts. CIGI, a Canadian think tank, has started to bring together state and non-state actors to this end. For more, see Safeguarding a free Internet in The Globe and Mail.

By Mark Raymond, Research Fellow, Global Security at CIGI

Related topics: Internet Governance


Don't miss a thing – get the Weekly Wrap delivered to your inbox.


To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Dig Deeper


Sponsored by Verisign

DNS Security

Sponsored by Afilias

IP Addressing

Sponsored by Avenue4 LLC

Mobile Internet

Sponsored by Afilias Mobile & Web Services

Promoted Posts

Buying or Selling IPv4 Addresses?

ACCELR/8 is a transformative IPv4 market solution developed by industry veterans Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman that enables organizations buying or selling blocks as small as /20s to keep pace with the evolving demands of the market by applying processes that have delivered value for many of the largest market participants. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

Leading Internet Associations Strengthen Cooperation

i2Coalition to Present Tucows CEO Elliot Noss With Internet Community Leadership Award

Michele Neylon Appointed Chair Elect of i2Coalition

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

Season's Greetings - 2015 End of Year Message from DotConnectAfrica

"The Market Has No Morality" Sophia Bekele Speaks on Business Ethics and Accountability

Dyn Comments on ICG Proposal for IANA Transition

DotConnectAfrica on "CONNECTing the Dots: Options for Future Action" at UNESCO, Paris

IBCA Presentation to ICANN GAC on Protection of Geographic Names in New gTLDs

Season's Greetings - 2014 End of Year Message from DotConnectAfrica

Domain Name .Africa Faces Hurdles - Q&A with Sophia Bekele

Afilias Director Wins ICANN's 2014 Leadership Award

DotConnectAfrica Contributes at the 9th IGF in Istanbul, Turkey

Video Interviews from ICANN 50 in London

ICANN London Recap Webinar

DotConnectAfrica Delegates Attend the Kenya Internet Governance Forum

Sophia Bekele Weighs in on Obama's August US-Africa Leader Summit at the NYF Africa

DotConnectAfrica's Expert Selected to Attend the Hague Institute of Global Justice

DotConnectAfrica Delegates Attend the KHRC Internet & Human Rights Breakfast Roundtable in Nairobi

Internet Business Council for Africa Participates at the EU-Africa 2014 Business Forum, Brussels