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Put Free Expression on the Internet Governance Forum Agenda

Milton Mueller

The Internet Governance Project has joined free-expression advocacy organizations Reporters Without Borders and Article 19 to push for including Internet censorship and filtering problems on the agenda of the first meeting of the new Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a multistakeholder deliberation body created by the World Summit on the Information Society.

The Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum is accepting suggestions from governments and the public as to which "themes" or topical areas it should consider at its first annual meeting in Athens October 30 - November 2. The deadline for submissions is March 31.

Noting that many participants in the UN process are more interested in finding new ways to control the Internet than with preserving and enhancing the freedom that made it a success, these groups are insisting that problems associated with filtering and censorship of the internet be on the agenda in Athens.

IGP is also attempting to put the so-called "enhanced cooperation model" called for in the WSIS Tunis Agenda into the Athens Forum. This is a continuation of the dialogue over political oversight of ICANN, which was left unresolved by WSIS. IGP is concerned that the European and U.S. governments are attempting to settle this issue in private, without the open involvement of civil society and the private sector. IGP views the Forum, which involves all stakeholders in equal status, as a more appropriate place to take it up.

IGP has also supported a proposal to make affordable access a theme of the first forum.

A description of the IGP's proposed Forum agenda items can be downloaded here:
http://dcc.syr.edu/miscarticles/igf-themes.pdf

You can express support for the inclusion of the free expression theme by sending an email to this address: igf@unog.ch

By Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy
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