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Internet Governance Outlook 2017: Nationalistic Hierarchies vs. Multistakeholder Networks?

Wolfgang Kleinwächter

Two events, which made headlines in the digital world in 2016, will probably frame the Internet Governance Agenda for 2017. October 1, 2016, the US government confirmed the IANA Stewardship transition to the global multistakeholder community. November 2, 2016, the Chinese government announced the adoption of a new cybersecurity law which will enter into force on July 1, 2017.

IANA Transition and the Chinese Cybersecurity Law

The IANA transition stands for a multistakeholder bottom up policy development process. The Chinese law stands for a top-down governmental approach. The new ICANN Bylaws are probably the most advanced version of a multistakeholder mechanism for a free, open and unfragmented Internet. The Chinese cybersecurity law is probably the most outspoken version of how a country can control the Internet within its territorial borders. Here we have a global multistakeholder network. There we have a national government. And it is not only the Chinese government which introduces strong national Internet legislation. It is Russia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Hungary, Poland, and even the United Kingdom. Will we see a new type of conflict between multistakeholder networks and national Internet policies? Will the wave of the new nationalism swap into the borderless cyberspace? Will, with a new president in Washington's Oval Office, pure power politics trample collective wisdom? Will fictions beat facts?

The short answer to this rhetorical question is, unfortunately "Yes". Yes, we will see a continuation of a chilly "Cold Cyberwar". Yes, we will see that more governments, in the name of security, will restrict fundamental individual human rights as privacy and freedom of expression. And yes, we will see that more governments want to re-nationalize the global cyberspace and erect borders around their "national Internet segment" where they can control individuals, private corporations, personal data as well as the flow and the content of communication.

However, the short answer tells only half of the truth. The reality is more complex. To describe the basic cyberconflict of our time as "Democracies vs. Dictatorships" would be an oversimplification. Yes, there are conflicts between political structures, value systems, and ideologies. And yes, there are conflicts between borderless spaces (managed by multistakeholder networks) and bordered places (managed by hierarchically organized states). But the truth is, that there are hierarchies in networks and networks in hierarchies. And there is no 100 percent democracy on one side and 100 percent Dictatorship on the other side.

There are western governments, which prefer strong Internet regulation, argue that cybersecurity is more important than data protection and reduce their commitment to the multistakeholder model to the technical management of Internet resources as domain names, IP addresses or Internet protocols. On the other hand, the Chinese government has recognized that the concept of sovereignty in cyberspace, as it is pushed forward by president Xi, has to take into consideration also the role of non-state actors. Critical observers recognized that during the 3rd high-level Wuzhen Conference in November 2016 Chinese officials introduced the terminology of "multi-party governance", which is the Chinese version of the multistakeholder model. "Multi-party Internet governance" invites the Chinese private sector, technical community, and even civil society to participate in Internet policy making. How far this will go in practice remains to be seen, but it is an interesting move in an ideologically overloaded Internet Governance language.

With other words, what we saw in 2016 and what we will see in 2017 is a growing mix of approaches with a broad spectrum from a full functioning multistakeholder model as the new ICANN after the IANA transition to a rather rigid national legislation as it is symbolized in the new Chinese cybersecurity law.

The Internet Governance Ecosystem as a "Virtual Rainforest"

In my Internet Governance Outlook 2014, I compared the Internet Governance Eco-System with the rainforest. "In the rainforest, an uncountable number of diverse plants and animals live together in a very complex system. In the "virtual rainforest," we have also an endless and growing diversity of networks, services, applications, regimes and other properties which co-exist in a mutual interdependent mechanism of communication, coordination, and collaboration. One thing which can be learned is that the rainforest as a whole is not manageable. It can be neither governed nor controlled, but it can be damaged and destroyed. In the Internet Governance Eco-System, many players with very different legal status operate on many different layers — on local, national, regional and international levels — driven by technical innovation, user needs, market opportunities and political interests.

As a result, we see a very dynamic process where — from a political-legal perspective — a broad variety of different regulatory, co-regulatory or self-regulatory regimes emerge, co-exist and complement or conflict each other. The system as a whole is decentralized, diversified and has no central authority. However, within the various subsystems there is an incredible broad variety of different sub-mechanisms which range from hierarchical structures under single or inter-governmental control to non-hierarchical networks based on self-regulatory mechanisms by non-governmental groups with a wide range of co-regulatory arrangements in between where affected and concerned stakeholders from governments, private sector, civil society and technical community are working hand in hand.

There is no "one size fits all" solution. The specific form of each sub-system has to be designed according to the very specific needs and nature of the individual issue. In such a mechanism, traditional national legislation and intergovernmental agreements continue to play a role but have to be embedded into the broader multistakeholder environment while new emerging mechanisms have to take note and recognize existing frameworks and regulations on various levels. The "do-not-harm" principle becomes more important than ever. It means that whatever a governmental or non-governmental player will do on the Internet has to take into consideration its direct or indirect consequences for not involved third parties as well as the unintended side-effects for the system as a whole.

Such a competitive coexistence of rather different regimes and mechanisms creates opportunities but has also risks. There are incredible opportunities for new mechanisms, platforms, and services to bring more dynamic into political strategies, social actions and market developments. This competitive coexistence can stimulate innovation, promote job creation, enlarge all kinds of cultural activities and broaden the use of individual freedoms by the public at large both in developed and developing nations. But there is also a risk that differences between regimes and systems create controversies and produce heavy conflicts which include the threat to turn down innovation, hamper sustainable development, to reduce individual freedoms and to pollute the Internet Governance Eco-System in a way that parts of it will be damaged or destroyed."

US vs. China: Chances for a Digital Detente

This was true in 2014. And it will be true in 2017 and beyond. The only thing which today has to be added is, that among the risks we face now is also the risk of a "hot cyberwar" with real cyberweapons, an invisible war with incalculable consequences and unintended side effects.

The US government has made crystal clear that any serious cyberattack against its sovereignty or its critical infrastructure will get a strong answer. On December 2, 2016, the US Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, chaired by Tom Donilon, presented its report to President Obama and he recommended his successor to take the commission's recommendations very seriously.

Three weeks later, on December 29, 2016, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) presented its new "National Cyberspace Security Strategy". The document says that the use of the internet "for treason, secession, revolt, subversion or stealing or leaking of state secrets would be punished". It also warned of penalties for working with "overseas forces" for "sabotage, subversion or secession."

Is this a preparation for a coming fight? Yes and no. A comparison of the two documents allow some interesting conclusions. There is indeed a high probability for a hard- and software arms race and for serious Chinese-American cyber-conflicts in 2017. But there are also windows open for dialogue and mutual understanding. Both papers underline the need to work together in the fight against cyberterrorists and cybercriminals. And they want to promote the digital economy.

With other words, confrontation and cooperation will go hand in hand. There is a lot of mutual mistrust and there are conflicting interests and values. But there is also a readiness to discuss and agree upon confidence building in cyberspace and upon the respect of international law in the digital age. For 2017 this means that the various bilateral and multilateral cybersecurity negotiations and dialogues, as, inter alia, the ongoing work of the 5th UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), are more important than ever. As long as communication channels are open there are always options to manage controversies and to reach agreements. And the new "Global Commission on Stability in Cyberspace" (GCSC), which will be launched in February 2017 at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) could become a very helpful platform to build bridges, to counter new cyber-tensions and to pave the way towards a "digital detente".

And endless chain of governmental and non-governmental negotiations

The big cyberpower scenario is a reality. But it would be another oversimplification to reduce the Internet Governance Agenda 2017 to the US-Chinese cyber-rivalry. Cybersecurity, the digital economy, and human rights are meanwhile high priority issues for nearly all countries in the world. And the subject will be on the agenda of the various political summit meetings in 2017.

Summit Meetings

In 2016 the G7 summit, the network of the leading western powers, adopted in Isa-Shima a special document to strengthen cybersecurity. In 2017, Italy has the G7 presidency. The summit is planned for the end of May 2017 in Taormina. In September 2017, there will be a special meeting of G7 Internet-Ministers in Torino, similar to the meeting Japan organized in Takamatsu in April 2016. G7 in 2017 will see new leaders on the negotiation table. Insofar it remains to be seen how much time and energy is left among the G7 countries to go beyond the Takamatsu und Isa-Shima agreements if it comes to Internet Governance. In 2018 the G7 presidency goes to Canada, a country which since years is one of the strongest supporters of the multistakeholder model.

The BRICS summit, which brings together the leaders of China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa, is scheduled for September 2017 in the Chinese coast town of Xiamen. The 2016 BRICS summit in Goa/India gave strong support to the UN-GGE and underlined that "the states have the leading role to ensure stability and security in the use of ICTs." But they also advocated "for an open, non-fragmented and secure Internet, and reaffirm(ed) that the Internet is a global resource and that States should participate on an equal footing in its evolution and functioning, taking into account the need to involve relevant stakeholders in their respective roles and responsibilities." Whether the Xiamen summit will go beyond this language is questionable. BRICS is in a complicated phase. Brazil and South Africa are occupied with domestic problems, India is now more supportive of the multistakeholder model and Russia and China have different ideas how to transfer "cybersovereignty" into the channels of international diplomacy.

It is also unclear how the Shanghai Cooperation Organisations (SCO) will reach out to the cyber-issues. SCO founding members are China, Russia, and some former Soviet republics. Now, countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey are in the waiting line. The SCO summit is planned for June 2017 in Astana, Kasachstan.

Remaining Peace between ICANN and ITU?

It will be again a busy year for the Internet Governance folks. But after the IANA transition and the renewal of the IGF mandate, there is no "big thing" in the pipeline. 2017 will become probably a "transition year" where new political leaders will define their positions, new mechanisms will be stress tested and a new political agenda, with a view towards 2020 and beyond, will be drafted.

ICANN will have three meetings in Copenhagen (March), Johannesburg (June) and Abu Dhabi (October). After the IANA transition, ICANN has now the chance to return to its core business, the management of the Domain Name System (DNS). More than 1000 new gTLDs in the Internet root and more than 25 million new registered domain names under the new gTLD program is not bad. Competition works. But it is not only the market, which counts. With each new gTLD the list with related and very often unexpected political problems gets longer: .amazon, .africa, .gmbh, .vin are only some examples which tell us that behind nearly every word, which appears now behind a dot, there is also a political conflict. But this problem is also a good chance to demonstrate that the multistakeholder model works, that what is now on paper in the new ICANN bylaws meets the stress test of the daily life. And ICANN has to finish its business under the so-called "Workstream 2": Accountability of the supporting organizations and advisory committees, human rights, jurisdiction and others.

Also, the IETF will have three meetings in Chicago (March), Prague (July) and Singapore (October). Step by step the IETF has realized in previous years, that the technical issues, they are dealing with, have a lot of political implications, in particular with regard to privacy. It will be interesting to see how in 2017 the global codemakers of the IETF and other standard-setting organizations as IEEE or W3C will enhance their cooperation with the national lawmakers. This remains also an issue for the five regional Internet registries (RIRs) which manage the pool of the billions of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, a resource which becomes more and more the target of national policies in many countries.

So far, those resources are in good hands in the private sector and in the technical community. 2016 has demonstrated that ITU and ICANN can work together if they respect their domains. But it can not be excluded, that in the years ahead, some governments in the ITU will try again to twist competencies out of the hands of the I*-organisations and put them back under an intergovernmental ITU-regime. Some efforts during ITU's World Telecommunication Standardisation Conference (WTSA) in October 2016 in Tunis did send disturbing signals which have the potential to undermine what some people have called the "Peace of Busan". In Busan, during the 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, there was a silent agreement, that the ITU will no longer try to interfere with ICANN, IETF and RIR businesses. But this peace is fragile and old failed proposals can reappear in a recycled form.

There are a number of ITU working groups dealing with public policy related Internet issues. Those working groups have opened itself a little bit more to the public, but they are still far away from becoming multistakeholder mechanisms. There is the ITU-T Study Group 20, dealing with the Internet of Things. This new body has a rather vague mandate which can be also misused for a mission creep. Mission creep is also an issue for the WSIS Forum, which is organized by the ITU. The original mandate for the WSIS Forum was to document progress in the 16 WSIS Actions Lines, adopted by the Geneva Plan of Action from 2003. But over the years, the WSIS Forum has gone beyond this well-defined territory and has entered the more sexy field of Internet Governance. According to the Tunis Agenda, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is the main place to discuss Internet-related issues. Competition is always good, but with limited resources, one should think twice whether there is a need to replicate the IGF by an annual WSIS Forum, as it is planned again for July 2017 in Geneva.

The ITU Council will have its annual meeting in May 2017. This meeting will kick-start the preparations for the 2018 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai. Dubai hosted the failed World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in 2012. Hopefully, this is not a bad writing on the wall.

What is needed is not old wine in new bottles, what is needed is an enhanced cooperation among all involved stakeholders. One important role could play here the 2nd UNCSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC II), which has to deliver a report with recommendations to the 73rd UN General Assembly in Fall 2018, that is just before the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai. The next WGEC II meeting is scheduled for the end of January 2017 in Geneva. An interim report will be discussed during the regular UNCSTD meeting in May 2017. With the IANA transition one key controversy, which blocked any progress under WGEC I, is now gone. The way is now free to look forward and come with some innovative ideas, how collaboration among all governmental and non-governmental stakeholders from developed and developing nations can be further enhanced.

There are many other bodies, dealing with Internet Governance issues as WIPO, WTO or UNESCO, which will have its 39th General Conference in November 2017 in Paris where it will discuss how UNESCO's ROAM principles (rights, openness, access, multistakeholder) for Internet Governance have progressed since its 38th conference in 2015.

The list of important Internet Governance meetings for 2017 is again long. It starts in January with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos where issues like cybercrime, national digital policies, and data localization are discussed. The Munich Security Conference (MSC) will look deeper into cybersecurity and the new Global Commission on Stability in Cyberspace will be launched. There will be meetings of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), which had its 8th meeting 2016 in Costa Rica, of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project, which had a great high-level kick-start meeting on November 2016 in Paris, and another Chinese "World Internet Conference" in fall 2017 in Wuzhen. There will be an endless chain of academic symposia, business meetings and technical seminars on the global, regional and national level which will produce thousands of pages of research papers, policy findings, and recommendations for further actions. And in 2017 we will have again nearly 100 national and regional IGFs. Finally, in December 2016, the 12th IGF will take place in Geneva's Palais des Nations.

The Key Role oft he IGF

Looking backward, one can say that the IGF has matured. More and more it becomes what nobody really expected in 2005 when the IGF was launched: a clearinghouse for Internet Governance policy making. After eleven years and with a renewed mandate until 2025 the IGF is indeed now the best place to kick start a discussion or to organize pressure towards decision-making bodies to find solutions for emerging issues.

During the recent IGF in Guadalajara (December 2016), this was demonstrated, inter alia, by the sessions on Internet Governance and trade negotiations. Nobody disagrees that trade, and in particular, eTrade is a key element of the future of the digital economy. Arrangements among nations are needed. But so far, Internet negotiations and trade negotiations are based on two very distinctive political cultures. Internet Governance discussions are based on open and transparent bottom-up processes where all stakeholders are involved in their respective roles and on equal footing. Trade negotiations take place among governments only behind closed doors with big private sector players in a strong lobby position.

For many speakers in Guadalajara, the failure of ACTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) is the result of this clash of cultures. The good thing in Guadalajara was, that all stakeholders — governmental trade negotiators and their opponents from consumer protection organizations, business people, and technical experts — had a chance to present their views, their perspective and their expectations and everybody was listening to everybody.

Such openness and transparency is one key element to identify the areas of common interests and to find solutions which balances legitimate but conflicting interests in a way that at the end of the day all parties can live with it. The discussion helped to broaden the understanding of such a new complexity.

Certainly multistakeholder processes are more difficult and take probably more time. But among the participants in Guadalajara, one could observe a growing recognition of the fact that such an inclusive process will enhance the opportunities to find sustainable solutions. And, in the WTO trade negotiations governments did not demonstrate that they can achieve faster results if they negotiate among themselves in an isolated silo. The Doha Trade Negotiation Round is without any concrete outcome since nearly twenty years.

This example is a good hint, why the IGF is needed and why the IGF does not need a mandate to do negotiations itself. It is obvious that there is a need for a new round of global trade negotiations. And at the end of the day, it will be governments who will have to make the final decision, to sign and ratify treaties. But the open multistakeholder discussions — as those in the IGF — enable the governmental experts at the negotiation table to understand better the various perspectives of the conflicting parties which will help them to find the right compromises to get a sustainable outcome. And it allows the non-governmental stakeholders to raise their voice, to articulate special interests and to become part of the process.

Another example was the discussion around the Internet of Things. Since 2008 a so-called multistakeholder IGF Dynamic Coalition on Internet of Things (DC-IOT) is discussing IOT related issues, including IOT governance, privacy, and security. In 2008, when the Dynamic Coalition was established during the 3rd IGF in Hyderabad/India, IOT was still an "emerging issue". Now, in 2016, it is in the center of the global Internet debate. In Guadalajara, the DC-IOT meeting presented perspectives from governments (EU Commission, NTIA of the US Department of Commerce, ITU-T Study Group 20), from the technical community (IETF, ISOC), the private sector (ICC Basis, Oracle, Google) and civil society groups which raised, inter alia, the need to enhance also the understanding of the ethical implications in the development of new IOT services and devices.

The meeting did not produce any concrete outcome. But the questions raised in the discussion were wake up calls for everybody in the overpacked room with people from all stakeholder groups and from many different sectors, not to remain in his/her stakeholder or sectoral silo, where IOT issues are discussed in inner circles of experts, but to outreach to other stakeholders and other sectors to exchange best practices and to learn from each other how to benefit from the new IOT opportunities by keeping the risks for security and privacy under control.

A new "Grand Design" for an Internet Governance Agenda

With other words, over the years, the IGF has matured into a discussion platform which helps to formulate agendas and setting the scene. In an Internet world, where the list of new and open issues is growing on a weekly basis, such a "structuring of the debate" is a value in itself. One structure which allows a more holistic approach is to put the dozens of Internet Governance issues into four baskets. This helps to identify areas where informal or formal agreements among stakeholders (including intergovernmental treaties) are needed and who should discuss what with whom, where and how.

Basket 1: Cybersecurity

All the new threats to national security, the risk of cyberwars, the emergence of cyberweapons, cyberespionage, the fight against cyberterrorism and cybercrime will dominate the Internet discussion in the years ahead. The IGF will not be the place where solutions will be negotiated. But to understand all the new challenges for cybersecurity, it will be not enough if governmental experts are sitting together and try to agree on new intergovernmental treaties. They will need the cooperation of the technical community and the private sector, as the case FBI vs. Apple has demonstrated recently. And also civil society has to be part of the discussion. If governments ignore the interests of billions of Internet users, any intergovernmental cybersecurity agreement risks failing as we have seen with the trade agreements.

The body which has emerged over the last years with the highest authority for global cybersecurity issues is undoubtedly the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) which operates under the 1st Committee of the UN General Assembly. It is a purely intergovernmental mechanism. But it would be wise for the GGE to listen carefully to the IGF and other multistakeholder discussions and to take reasonable ideas and arguments, which represents legitimate interests and perspectives from non-governmental stakeholders, on board.

Basket 2: Digital Economy

One should not forget, that behind political strategies and cultural values there are economic interests. The digital economy is the driver of economic growth and job creation in the US, in China and in the rest of the world. Until 2020 another two billion people will move from the offline to the online world. Who will serve those cyber-newbies? Will it be the American GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), will it be the Chinese WeiBATs (Weibo, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), or will it be new big players from Europe, Asia, Latin America or Africa?

Economically, there is no way back into the pre-Internet age. A key aspect, as mentioned above, is trade. But the future of the digital economy goes beyond eTrade. It includes, as the recent OECD Ministerial Meeting in Cancun (June 2016) has stated, eSkills, eJobs, Industry 4.0 and many other aspects. At the G20 Hangzhou summit meeting in September 2016, the leaders of the twenty largest nations on earth have adopted a "Global Digital Economy Development and Cooperation Initiative". This initiative is still ill defined and in its infant stage. But as it is inked to the recommendations of the OECD Cancun conference, it has a great potential which will help countries to define a national digital economy strategy and to identify new areas for global digital cooperation.

December 1, 2016, Germany has overtaken the G20 presidency for 2017. The G20 summit is planned for July 2017 in Hamburg. In April 2017 there will be a special meeting of ministers responsible for the digital economy with a special multistakeholder conference on the eve of the ministerial meeting.

Like in the field of cybersecurity, the IGF will certainly not become the negotiation body for the global digital economy. WTO, G20, OECD and other intergovernmental bodies have legitimacy and authority to translate discussions into decisions. But this does not exclude non-governmental stakeholders in digital economy policy and decision making. A good example here is again the OECD. In the OECD, non-governmental stakeholders are organized in four advisory committees for business (BIAC), trade unions (TUAC), technical community (TAC) and civil society (CISAC). All committees participated in the drafting of the final Cancun documents and their contributions were extremely useful in the design of strategies like eSkills or eJobs.

Basket 3: Human Rights

The protection of human rights in the digital age is more important than ever. Never before in the history of mankind, the risk was higher that people will lose privacy and the right to freedom of expression. There has been some important achievements in the last years. The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution which confirmed that individuals have the same rights offline and online. A big step forward was the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Internet Governance Principles at the NetMundial Conference in Sao Paulo in April 2014 which did put Human Rights on top of its eight principles. But we see also a growing number of violations of human rights in cyberspace. Just recently IPS reported that in 2016 more than 50 countries introduced restrictive censorship measures. And mass surveillance continues to be a daily practice.

There is no need to introduce new human rights. But there is a need to enhance our understanding how the existing human rights have to be implemented in the digital age. The IGF Dynamic Coalition on Rights and Principles has produced a good document which can be used as a guideline for such an enhanced understanding. There are projects like the Brazilian Marco Civil or the Italian Bill of Internet Rights. Just recently, a German initiative for a European Charter of Digital Rights was presented to the European Parliament.

But more efforts are needed. The UN Human Rights Council with its special rapporteurs on freedom of expression and privacy in the digital age is a strong mechanism which can do a lot by naming and shaming governments and corporations if they violate human rights in cyberspace. There are a number of watchdogs in this field as Reporter Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and others. In 2019 there is the 5th anniversary of the famous multistakeholder NetMundial conference. It would be probably a good idea if the multistakeholder community could produce a comprehensive report how the Sao Paulo principles are implemented. A NetMundial +5 could be done in cooperation with the 14th IGF in 2019.

Basket 4: Technology

The Internet itself is a technical innovation. But meanwhile, there are so many new innovative products, devices and services on top of the Internet and its DNS that the technological development as such has become an issue in itself. Today the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence are at the center of the discussion. Nobody knows what will be tomorrow's inventions and how the next generation of issues will look like. To have a place where such emerging issues can be discussed in a multistakeholder environment is important. The IGF can function here as an early warning system where both the opportunities of new technologies and its risks and threats can be discussed.

Looking Ahead: Everything is linked to Everything

The 11th IGF in Guadalajara has helped to structure the Internet Governance agenda for 2017 and beyond. But it also has helped to open our eyes to understand better, that in the Internet world everything is connected to everything. That means that neither cybersecurity issues nor issue related to the digital economy or human rights can be discussed anymore in isolation.

Just to take one example: Internet of Things, a technical issue, is key for the digital economy. But if we move from driverless cars to driverless tanks, the same technology becomes a cybersecurity issue. And it has a massive impact on our individual privacy.

With other words, if we look ahead we have to design global discussions and negotiations on Internet Governance in a mechanism which reflects those universal interlinkages. This needs indeed innovation in policy making. The Internet is a network of networks, connected via universal technical protocols. What we need in the policy field is a similar network of political networks wherein various bodies, platforms and regimes are interlinked by a similar universal "political protocol".

The cyberspace is still an unchartered territory, open for creativity and innovation. But it is a commons which belongs to the whole mankind. There is no alternative to global cooperation among all stakeholders from developed and developing nations. National solo efforts or traditional power politics will not bring solutions but have the potential to bring the world into serious turbulences. Did we learn something from history?

When I was a student, I was listening to a lecture by an old professor who spoke about "Seven Jumps in the History of Mankind". When he moved from the past into the future, he illustrated his argument by telling us that mankind is now sitting in a canoe moving towards a big waterfall. He waited a moment before he gave us his recommendation: "Don't fight the waterfall, stabilize the canoe"!

By Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Professor Emeritus at the University of Aarhus. Wolfgang Kleinwächter is a Professor Emeritus from the University of Aarhus. He was a member of the ICANN Board (2013–2015) and served as Special Ambassador for the Net Mundial Initiative.

Related topics: Censorship, Cyberattack, Cybercrime, ICANN, Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Law, Policy & Regulation, Privacy, Security

 
   
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Comments

The Internet Governance Outlook for 2017 provides Janis Karklins  –  Jan 09, 2017 5:12 AM PST

The Internet Governance Outlook for 2017 provides great insight for the year ahead. It equally demonstrates that we will predominantly be in the territory of the governance on the Internet.
This aspect of Internet governance in past years gradually overtook the governance of the Internet debate where a general agreement on a multistakeholder governance model has been developed over the past 10 years. That model is hardly contested (with minor exceptions) and the ICANN with its supporting organizations and advisory committees, including the GAC is a living testimony to this affirmation.
As per governance on the Internet, we are still far from understanding how it should be addressed in an optimal way. Hence, many are looking to governments for a solution. Moreover, governance on the Internet (in other words: governance of actual use of the Internet) is far more complex than governance of the Internet and includes areas which historically have been the exclusive competence of governments - national security being one of them.
We will have exciting year(s) ahead of us and hopefully collective wisdom on how to keep use of the Internet open and free will prevail over attempts to put a “heavy hand” on the use of the Internet that will stifle innovation and development.

Janis Karklins, Ambassador of Latvia

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