Internet governance refers to the process of developing norms and principles that impact the way the Internet is used and functions.
Customarily Internet governance is thought of as solving technical issues and setting regulatory frameworks. But the past years' debates have shown that it is clearly much more than that: it increasingly includes policy work to respond to social, economic and security matters, as well as questions of trust, standard-setting, accountability and jurisdiction.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) introduced the following working definition of Internet governance:
Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.
A multistakeholder approach – the model for governing the Internet
ICC BASIS believes that successful Internet governance means the crystallization of consensus across stakeholder groups and constructive dialogue on those issues which are not ripe for consensus while maintaining the security, stability, and resilience of the Internet and the openness of the Internet.
Successful Internet governance depends on:
- Functionality, security, stability and resiliency of the network - policies must ensure a safe, secure, open, interoperable, resilient, seamless and sustainable Internet.
- Cross-border flow of data and information -local laws, including those on privacy and security, should be consistent with established trade rules
- Improving and expanding access to the Internet - policies should stimulate sustainable investment and deployment of Internet networks as well as industries, and services that create demand for those networks. In particular, policies and regulatory frameworks should support innovation, investment, and competition, including the protection of intellectual property. Standards should be designed to facilitate interoperability. Efforts to foster local content, improve cultural and linguistic diversity, and bring access to all global citizens, particularly to those in developing countries, should be supported.
- The rule of law - policies should support the rule of law, which governments have primary responsibility for advancing.
- Application of rights - offline rights should apply online, especially with respect to freedom of expression and human rights.
- Making decisions in open consultation with all stakeholders - in any discussion about Internet governance principles, frameworks or processes all stakeholders should be appropriately represented allowing for a transparent and accountable decision-making process.
A top-down regulation of the Internet would be counter-productive, if at all possible. Internet governance should be based on processes that are inclusive and consensus-driven. Thus, there is a critical need for all stakeholders to understand and be part of the process of running the Internet. This is why ICC BASIS is a strong advocate of the multistakeholder approach.
Multistakeholder processes at national, regional and international levels should be consistent with the following principles:
Processes should be open, inclusive, accountable and transparent including how decisions are made and how input is reflected
The processes should enable all relevant stakeholders to participate, engage, and contribute to the discussions and decision-making.
Conversely, this means that ICC BASIS supports the idea that everyone - governments, civil society, business, technical community, international organizations, individual users, etc. - who is impacted by the Internet needs to have a say in its governance. This model can be observed in action at the yearly Internet Governance Forums (IGF).
See how ICC BASIS participates in the IGF