by Filipe Fonteles Cabral
September 01, 2007
In November of this year, from the 12th through the 15th, the second annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Rio de Janeiro.
The IGF is an international Forum called by the UN Secretary-General, which brings together representatives of government, civil society and the private sector to debate Internet governance matters. It is the largest and most important Forum dedicated to the issue, on a par with the Davos (Switzerland) World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum.
The Forum is the product of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a UN gathering of heads of state from 174 countries and 18,000 observers, held in Tunisia in 2005. During this event, UN member countries adopted what was called the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, a document that acknowledged the importance of communication and information technologies for humanity and established an action plan for developing common private and public policies in the area.
The IGF is the primary action under the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society and will be organized annually for five years, in a different country each year.
The first IGF took place in November of 2006 in Athens, Greece. As previously mentioned, Brazil will host the 2007 IGF. Subsequent Forums will be held in India and in Egypt. The 2010 Forum will be held in either Azerbaijan or Lithuania.
In terms of its organizational structural, the Forum is divided into five main panels dedicated respectively to Internet Critical Resources, Access, Diversity, Openness and Security.
The Internet Critical Resources panel will assess technical aspects of Internet infrastructure, as well as the current domain name system (DNS), the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, the adoption of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) and Electronic Numbering (ENUM).
Internet Access, as its name implies, addresses and promotes private and government initiatives to reduce the digital divide.
The Internet Diversity panel will address issues concerning information content on the web, since information variety is an important aspect of representation for all peoples, cultures and social groups. One important focus will be the publication of user generated content (UGC), facilitated by tools such as YouTube.
The session dedicated to Internet Openness will include examination of protocols adopted by problem solvers. We note the clash between owners and defenders of open protocol (free). The juggling of rights to information and intellectual property rights promises to fuel heated debate.
Internet Security will be addressed in the last meeting. It will consider specific issues concerning authentication and technologies for protecting information traffic, but will also address problems such as spam, phishing and viruses.
Parallel to the main panels, a variety of workshops will be held on specific Internet governance topics.
In addition to diplomats and ministers from UN member countries, civil society representatives (especially non-governmental organizations) and agents from private entities participate in the IGF. Any interested party may apply to attend the event provided they are established in one of the fields in debate (requests are subject to approval by the organizing committee). Registration may be effected on the official website at www.intgovForum.org.
Given the themes’ importance, their future developments and the divergent interests of IGF participants, private companies are strongly encouraged to attend, either via direct representatives or associations.