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A global commission has been launched with the aim of coming up with a comprehensive stance on internet governance.
Announced today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the commission is a two-year initiative put together by think tank the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).
Chaired by Swedish minister of foreign affairs Carl Bildt, the commission will include about 25 members drawn from various fields and from around the world, including policy and government, academia and civil society.
The commission’s organisers claim that it will encourage globally inclusive public discussions and debates on the future of Internet governance through a public consultation platform, and through other institutional, media, and academic channels.
They also hope that it will create and advance a strategic vision for the future of internet governance that can act as a “rallying point for states that are striving for a continued free and open internet”.
“In most countries, increased attention is being given to all the issues of net freedom, net security and net governance. And they are, in my view, closely related to each other. The rapid evolution of the net has been made possible by the open and flexible model by which it has evolved and been governed. But increasingly this is coming under attack,” says Bildt. “And this is happening as issues of net freedom, net security and net surveillance are increasingly debated. Net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies.”
The primary areas the commission will focus on include:
- Enhancing governance legitimacy;
- Stimulating innovation;
- Ensuring human rights online;
- Avoiding systemic risks.
Even if the commission’s eventual resolutions are taken seriously, it’s worth remembering that it will take two years for it to come up with them. A lot can happen in two years and in countries where internet freedom is under threat (the US for example, where there are serious fears about what’s being done to net neutrality), two years may be too long.