InternetNZ at the Ninth Internet Governance Forum: #IGF2014

This coming week sees the ninth meeting of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum, a bells-and-whistles gathering of the global Internet community. The purpose of the IGF is to bring together the whole range of Internet stakeholders to talk through issues regarding the Internet's ongoing development.

It's the only global platform for the whole of the Internet community that is organised on a multi-stakeholder basis - though because the purpose is info sharing and discussion, sadly too many governments don't attend and take part. The technical community, civil society, academia and business are here in force for what will be an interesting set of discussions.

The meeting is at Istanbul in Turkey, and I'm here along with Ellen Strickland and Keith Davidson from the InternetNZ staff team to pursue a range of different commitments:

  • I am mainly taking part in the ICANN accountability and IANA transition discussions, and absorbing the sense of what the big issues are in the global Internet for InternetNZ to look at in the coming year's planning. I'll be speaking on a panel on ICANN accountability on Wednesday morning.
  • Ellen in her role as our Collaboration and Community lead is focused on the range of sessions that are about spurring IGF style events in regional or national communities (NetHui being our Kiwi version), and connecting these to the global event.
  • Keith's here mainly in his role as a board member of the Internet Society, and fulfilling his responsibilities in supporting their various sessions at the IGF - mainly a technical community focus.

It's a substantial resource commitment, but a justified one. It's a year of significant change in the Internet sphere, and many of the debates that will be in full swing here have the chance to shape the Internet we use - whether it can remain or again become truly open and uncapturable. While we can't point to a document as an outcome, the contribution and voice InternetNZ brings to this debate is a novel one (a mix of technical community and civil society concerns), and well-respected in this community.

Among the specific topics on the table, all three of us will be paying a good deal of attention to the big issues facing the ICANN community (of significant interest to InternetNZ as the designated manager of the .nz country code top level domain), which are around ICANN accountability and the transition of responsibility for the IANA functions from the United States government to the global multistakeholder community.

The former of those two is proceeding in a fashion that is little short of astonishing. I will get my thoughts out on this in a separate blog tomorrow, but it is fair to say that there is a level of outrage in the ICANN community about how the corporation has been pursuing a top-down, staff-led approach to the critical question of accountability that simply isn't going to work.

Joy Liddicoat, our newly elected Vice President, is also at the IGF in her role as a staffer for the Association of Progressive Communications. They have written an impressive document about what they are hoping to get out of IGF2014, which you can find here.

Anyhow, more on that later. For now, one of the hallmarks of the IGF is that you can involve yourself remotely. The website, and there are a range of remote participation options available. You can follow the discussion on twitter - usually with the hashtags #igf2014 or #netgov.

The time zone isn't awesome for New Zealand (the 9am starts here are 6pm the same day in NZ), but there will be transcripts and so on after the fact.

If you have questions or suggestions do feel welcome to share is me.