"Someone from the Pacific Islands expressed that the single main challenge with which his region is increasingly faced with is global warming,” Milena Bokova said. Quite striking indeed that the very first workshop at the IGF would list this major environmental phenomenon as the greatest obstacle to making the internet accessible.
The twist this IGF is giving to this old debate about ‘openness’ makes it that more relevant since it calls into life a confrontation, not only involving national law, but also market law. This is why corporations like Google have been taken for a ride at the IGF by those arguing that it is unacceptable that this advertisement firm – know for its flagship research engine – started operations in China, where restrictions on free speech are, to say the least, restrictive.
"IGF is a process," said Natasha Primo during her speech at the opening ceremony of the first (of three) Internet Governance Forum. What she means by this, is that "Athens will not be the a one-time show. The discussions and debates around how the internet is to be governed will continue way beyond and we don’t want to have this huge down-time in between the three IGFs," later explained Avri Doria of the civil society internet governance caucus.
Here I am, sitting in a plenary room at the opening session of the Internet Governance Forum in Athens. This forum was set a couple of months back, in Tunisia, where the second summit on the information society (WSIS) was drawing to a close. Some of you might have noted back then that the two main issues discussed in that UN-organised summit were internet governance and ICTs for development. Well just about eleven months later, what appears to be the legitimate space for continuing the debate on the future of the internet is called the Internet Governance Forum.
Everyone talks, but no-one listens…. Spam, multilingualism, cybercrime, cybersecurity, privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, human rights, interconnection …. The Internet is one of the most powerful inventions of the digital age…. Given the huge impact of the Internet on our daily lives, states must remain the ultimate guarantors of our Internet rights and freedoms,… Reporters Without Borders will be at the Internet Governance Forum in Athens to remind participants that free expression must be at the centre …. A long-simmering dispute over whether the U.S. government has too much control over the Internet’s underpinnings …. Some voices emerging prior to Athens.
Who really controls the internet? Lot of hints, lots of diversity of views… but plenty of smoke screens too. Here’s a lecture, taking place today and titled Who’s really out to control the internet? UN and USA Governance, If you tune into the Guardian, the story you get is “US loosens grip on running of internet”. And here’s another version of the truth, coming from The Mercury News which says, Internet governance dispute will last years, official warns. A dispute, is it?
PressZoom which describes itself as the “global news service and press release distribution” network, has these figures about the Internet Governance Forum, which begins in Athens, Greece from October 30. Participants: 1200. Main sessions: eight (focussing on the Internet’s openness, security, diversity and access). Workshops: 30 (held in parallel to the main sessions, focusing on specific issues relevant to Internet governance).
A single country will not be allowed to govern the internet, speakers at a national seminar vowed adding expectation of the poor countries should be addressed in the upcoming Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meet. The seminar took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on October 14.
In Argentina, internet access averages 13 dollars a month and almost a fifth of the population are online whereas in Sudan internet access costs 160 USD a month and only 9 people in a thousand are online. Africa, the poorest continent in the world, has the highest costs for internet access. In the run-up to the first-ever meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Athens starting October 30, APC releases a set of recommendations that encourage the IGF to tackle the availability and affordability of the internet in the developing world and especially Africa as a matter of urgency. In pdf.
Late May 2006 saw Bangladesh launch its first submarine fibre-optic cable in the southern coastal town of Cox’s Bazar. This could allow high-speed telecommunications, but some voices critiqued the delay in making this possible.