Dispatch from the Internet Governance Forum – Washington, D.C., July 16, 2015

ThisIGF year’s Internet Governance Forum started with a keynote by Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA). Discussing the transition of oversight over critical domain name functions from NTIA to the global Internet community, Strickling emphasized the importance of multistakeholder involvement as “the best way to set the future direction of the Internet.” In the following keynote conversation, Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Steve Crocker discussed issues ranging from IPv6 adoption to the expansion of the top-level domain name system and the role of mobile for the expansion of the Internet. Cerf and Crocker also addressed concerns over global challenges to free expression, open innovation and the stability of Internet infrastructure. Despite these ongoing challenges, Cerf expressed optimism that “freedom of expression and openness will prevail” on the Internet.

Other issues discussed at this year’s Internet Governance Forum ranged from hate speech online, the Internet of Things to global Internet expansion. Speaking on the panel “WSIS+10 and beyond: Enhancing multi stakeholder engagement in Internet governance,” Internet Governance Lab director Laura DeNardis emphasized the importance of the multistakeholder model in performing Internet governance functions. Dr. DeNardis also addressed current challenges for Internet governance. A first challenge relates to the “co-optation” of infrastructure for purposes other than ensuring Internet operability. According to DeNardis, government efforts such as using infrastructure to turn off Internet access cause “collateral damage not just to free expression, but to the Internet itself.” A second challenge arises out of government efforts to create an increasingly localized Internet. As a third point, the Internet Governance Lab director discussed how propriety approaches constitute a challenge to open Internet standards. Concluding her remarks, Prof. DeNardis emphasized the importance of striking a balance between privacy and security to restore trust in the Internet.