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Outcome of UK IGF 2014 As I Saw It

Mwendwa Kivuva

The UK IGF was held on 1st July 2014 at St. Ermin's hotel, London, England. The Nominet Chair Baroness Rennie Fritchie gave the sponsor's welcoming remarks. She said "The IGF provides an opportunity for discussion, dialogue, divergent views, and encourages people to speak-up".

The event had about 50 participants. The Minister for Culture, Communication and the Creative Industries Hon. Ed Vaizey, MP gave his keynote speech and fielded questions from participants.

The agenda had 6 items:

  1. Net Governance: Net Mundial, London High Level Governance Meeting, now what?
  2. IANA functions.
  3. Governance of cybersecurity.
  4. IPv6.
  5. Network filtering plenary.
  6. Wrap-up and key takeaway from the IGF.

Despite the low turnout (attributed to conference fatigue at ICANN) the discussions were healthy with key takeaways. The government was taken to task on her position on Net Neutrality, which she seemed to contradict herself with no clear position. However, the Minister stated UK is concerned on the kind of regulation being discussed in Europe that would stifle businesses. The IGF organizers were also not able to clearly indicate how the outcome of previous IGFs were used to influence policy, only stating that multistakeholderism and dialogue was part of the success of the IGF. The UK also stated she was able to adjust policy positions from outcomes of the IGF and have UK positions in bilateral talks with the greater EU. However, there was no example given on these positions. Mr. Vaizey noted there is need to strengthen IGF locally and internationally.

UK Internet Governance position for the IGF

The session on Internet Governance landscape identified the following positions for the UK

  1. Resist attempt to give priority to single stakeholders — have a more dynamic model
  2. Keep the IGF open and balanced
  3. Keep vested interests out of the process.
  4. Have IGF outcomes stakeholders can take home to aid in capacity building. Use IGF as a forum to address local problem.
  5. Make the IGF more focused, and identify the big issues to be discussed.
  6. The IGF is all about lobbying. (Seems to contradict point 3. above)
  7. True democratic governments are a minority.
  8. Looking for climatic help from state is the norm. It would be difficult to achieve multistakeholderism while states have more strength.
  9. Focus on involving more businesses on the IGF. Content Providers, ISPs, and industries affected by the Internet.
  10. Rebuild trust among stakeholders locally and internationally.

It was appreciated that the IGF landscape has changed greatly. For example, at NetMundial, all stakeholders were treated equally with Civil Society, private Sector, Government, and Technical Community all queuing up to the microphone to make their submissions. IANA stewardship was identified as a positive step taken by USG's NTIA. A key point was that the idea of human rights has become more mainstream in Internet Governance.

One hindrance identified to multistakeholderism was the fact that not all stakeholders understand the issues being discusses. An example is eight out of nine US Supreme Court judged do not use emails. What kind of decisions would they make if IG issues were presented in their courts?

Relevance of the Istanbul IGF.

  1. NetNeutrality will be a big debate in Istanbul.
  2. Ongoing support for the IGF and fundraising.
  3. How to make the IGF feel like an open platform.
  4. How to achieve consensus to develop an outcome document from the IGF
  5. The IGF offers capacity building, and many participants find answers to local problems.

The IPv6 Session
The session covered updates on IPv6 addressing use in UK and explored the potential barriers to it's adoption. The panel was chaired by Olivier Crépin-Leblond Chair of ISOC UK England, with panelists being Alain Fiocco of CISCO, Tim Chown of University of Southampton, and Adrian Kennard Andrew and Arnold Ltd.

It was noted that UK is trailing other European countries in roll-out of IPv6. The global growth of IPv6 roll-out was at around 8% as of 2014. The challenges identified that face the implementation of IpV6 were:

  1. Traditionally lack of Content on IPv6. It's hard to convince people to use IPv6 without content hosted on it. Now there is massive content on IPv6 and clients need to access this content.
  2. There were few IPv6 transit providers. Now there are many directly commuter BGP transit points.

    In the past, there were Few equipment especially core routers and client premise equipment that supported IPv6. Now most devices are IPv6 compliant.

  3. There is a high cost of upgrading the Internet backbone to support IPv6 by large ISPs
  4. Bugs on equipment that were to be IPv6 compliant. Most equipment are now bug-free
  5. Affordability of consumer routers. Low end routers did not have IPv6 support. Most of these technical hurdles have been solved already.
  6. lack of Operating System support. Now, most Operating Systems are IPv6 compliant.
  7. Use of Career Grade NAT (CGN) and Large Scale NAT (LSN) which are presented as IPv6. This prevents operators from rolling out pure IPv6 networks. The CGN is not scalable, and the end users have poor network experience.
  8. What is left? Cost of change. We need technical staff to understand issues around IPv6. Staff need to be trained including engineers, support team, and call center operators. There need to be more affordable equipment in the market that support IPv6. There need to be demand from the end users for IPv6 content, and IPv6 connectivity.

It was identified that as of July 2014, only 4% of the Internet users had access to IPv6. The big players like Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. are on IPv6. A key point was the driver for IPv6 roll-out seemed to be innovation and not demographics.

The Network filtering session came into a conclusion that education was more desirable in protecting minors online instead of blocking websites since the minors could still access the content from other devices elsewhere.

The wrap-up session was a Q&A session between Kate Russell, freelance Journalist and BBC Click presenter with Eleanor Bradley, CEO of Nominet.

NB: Key take-away from the IGF: Possible areas of research — IPv6 uptake in Kenyan Universities. Universities are agents of change in society, and they usually have good budget. Why are they not leading the way in implementing IPv6?

By Mwendwa Kivuva, Networking and Security Expert. More blog posts from Mwendwa Kivuva can also be read here.

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance, IPv6, Net Neutrality, Policy & Regulation, Web

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