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IGF 2015 Takes Action, Developing Best Practices to Address Internet Issues

Janis Karklins

After many months of hard work and preparation, the IGF community has published draft Best Practices on a range of key issues, complementing other intersessional efforts such as Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion, and Dynamic Coalitions.

Best Practices Forums (BPFs) offer the Internet governance community tangible ways to address Internet issues. Discussions stemming from the BPFs can inform policy debates taking place in other fora and are 'living' outputs: they can be updated at any time to accommodate the pace of technological change faced by Internet policy-makers. Expert communities have the freedom to define their own methodologies, tailored to each theme's specific needs and requirements.

Tackling emerging issues in a collaborative fashion

Building on a busy and compelling agenda, the IGF community is united this year in its willingness to address concrete issues, with a view to work towards solutions. I am very pleased by this positive development. It demonstrates the IGF's capacity to produce tangible outcomes within multistakeholder collaboration frameworks.

IGF 2015 Best Practices Forums will be tackling critical issues: Regulation and Mitigation of Unwanted Communications; Establishing and Supporting Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs); Developing Meaningful Multistakeholder Participation Mechanisms; Practices to Countering Abuse Against Women Online; Creating an Enabling Environment for IPv6 Adoption and Enabling Environments to Establish Successful IXPs. All interested stakeholders are invited to join these open and transparent working groups. All BPF working processes are entirely open to all. (discussion lists, webinars, etc.)

Openness and transparency, key success factors of the BPF

I also wanted to reflect here on a recent event that highlights the importance to continue building on the IGF's commitment to principles of openness, transparency and respect. Last week the Twitter conversation convened by the BPF on Countering Online Abuse and Violence Against Women was unfortunately the target of an online harassment campaign. The IGF Secretariat responded to the offensive comments accordingly by blocking or expelling anyone that does not adhere to the general principles of engagement in all of the various BPF work outlined in the IGF Code of conduct, and that include interacting with other members of the community with respect. While it was truly regrettable that a small group of individuals decided to engage in this type of behavior, it reinforces at the same time the need for such best practices. Today, it has strengthened the group's resolve and determination to continue their excellent work on this important topic.

The value of IGF outputs is indeed intimately linked to the open, bottom-up and transparent nature of the process. Discussions on the various topics are healthy, but need to be led in a constructive manner. The BPF leaders have learned from this experience and are continuing the work leading into the upcoming IGF in Brazil from 10-13 November.

What comes next?

Draft Best Practice Forum outputs are currently open for comments on the IGF review platform and further versions will be made available at the end of the month. These will be further discussed at the IGF in João Pessoa, Brazil from 10 to 13 November, and finalized after the meeting based upon meetings there.

With the 2015 Best Practices effort, the Internet community is facing the challenges head on with new collaborative processes designed to turn dialogue into action and numerous, substantive results. As Internet-defining issues continue to emerge, the IGF is demonstrating that is has the potential to play an increasingly important role in the global debate on Internet governance.

By Janis Karklins, Ambassador of Latvia, Chair of the MAG
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