At UN Internet Governance Forum Business Emphasizes Need for an Open Internet

4183_image002At the UN’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place September 27-30 in Nairobi, USCIB joined business representatives from around the world in underscoring the importance of maintaining an open, multi-stakeholder approach to international discussions of the Internet’s development. Many USCIB members attended the 2011 IGF and participated in a range of substantive sessions on Internet policy.

Heather Shaw, USCIB’s vice president for information, communications and technology policy, participated in a panel discussion aimed at promoting awareness of the OECD’s Principles for an Open Internet.  The principles were agreed at a June OECD High-Level Meeting on the Internet Economy.

Ms. Shaw was joined on the panel by: Ambassador Philip L. Verveer, deputy assistant secretary of state and the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy; Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), who spoke on behalf of the Internet Technical Advisory Committee to the OECD; Dimitri Ypsilanti of the OECD, who chaired the session;  Professor Luis Magalhães, the head of Portugal’s “knowledge society” agency; Alice Munyua of Kenya’s ministry of information and communications; and Anriette Esterhuysen, CEO of the Association for Progressive Communications, who spoke on behalf of the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council to the OECD.

The OECD principles aim to ensure the openness and dynamism of the Internet.  Ms. Shaw explained they would be valuable going forward, particularly in the lead-up to the World Congress on Information Technology, to be held in October 2012 in Montreal.  She said USCIB was pleased to convey the views of the broader OECD business community to the IGF, which it regards as an ideal place to draw greater awareness of the OECD principles given the IGF’s broad and diverse participation.

Ms. Shaw said the principles “serve as a basis for greater international coherence on these issues, vital for issues related to the internet where there are no borders, although countries will continue to set their own policies and regulations, adapting international principles to suit their individual cultures, legal systems and priorities.”  She said another added value of the OECD principles is their broad scope and flexibility, which, she said, “means they can be applied on topics where technology and business models are still evolving and emerging.”  Ms. Shaw stressed that interoperability of national policies must be maintained for information flows to continue across borders, promoting greater investment and innovation.

The OECD has been a pioneer in integrating the view of all stakeholders’ in Internet policy discussions.  The need for wide stakeholder involvement was further stressed by ICANN’s Mr. Beckstrom, as an essential to drive the Internet forward.  “We can look at the multi-stakeholder model as something that’s absolutely essential in this system,” he said.  “It’s part of the architecture of the system that, in many ways, reflects the Internet itself,” driving collaboration between different groups.

Ambassador Verveer said that “we in the United States are making it a point to try to recommend these [principles] to other administrations whenever we have the opportunity to do so.”

Also at the IGF, members of the International Chamber of Commerce’s BASIS (Business Action to Support the Information Society) initiative highlighted the essential role of the private sector in driving the Internet’s growth and evolution.  BASIS serves as the voice of global business on how the Internet and ICTs can serve as engines of economic growth and social development.

Speaking during the IGF’s closing ceremony, Herbert Heitmann, executive vice president for external communications with Royal Dutch Shell and chair of the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms, said: “As a dynamic innovator, investor and user, business contributes to the development of the Internet through education initiatives, promoting innovation and creativity, public-private research and development partnerships.”

Staff contact: Barbara Wanner

More on USCIB’s Information, Communications and Technology Committee

Staff Contact:   Barbara Wanner

VP, ICT Policy & Managing Director, Washington Office
Tel: 202.617.3155

Barbara Wanner directs USCIB’s work on information, communications and technology issues. She works with members and government officials on a wide range of international business issue that include advocating for the continuation of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and for policies aimed at promoting the stability, openness and innovative flexibility of the Internet. She represents USCIB members’ interests in several international forums, including the UN, APEC and the OECD.
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