NETmundial 2014
May 5, 2014
by Mark Ollig

A two-day meeting about the Internet recently took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

This gathering was hosted by the government of Brazil, and was convened in order to focus on the expansion, direction, and governance of the Internet.

This year’s meeting, titled The Future of Internet Governance, or NETmundial; was organized in partnership with the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee.

This committee coordinates and integrates all Internet service initiatives in the country, and is located at: http://www.cgi.br.

The other partner is made up of a group of Internet technical organizations called /1net, found at: http://1net.org.

The meeting focused on several ideologies of how the Internet should be governed globally, and suggestions were presented for its future development.

The end-goal was to try and consolidate the many proposals which were presented by the speakers.

These speakers represented the private sector, civil society, universities, business, government representatives, and experts from the technical community.

The meeting was open to everyone, and was well-attended, by a large number of individuals representing various organizations from all over the world.

Conclusions included recognizing how the Internet has developed from an experiment, and into a crucial network used by society.

In fact, some compared the World Wide Web, now commonly called the Web, to an “essential public utility.”

The Internet is seen as being the backbone of the world’s economy.

Discussion of the potential use of the Internet included how it could help exterminate poverty, by dealing with economic inequality.

Global cooperation in the Internet’s use was noted as an important factor in meeting its potential.

Agreement on the kind of Internet desired included its affordability and accessibility; it was noted almost two-thirds of the world’s population is not yet connected to it.

It was agreed the Internet should allow online users the right to privacy, and freedom of expression.

These rights more or less should reflect the same rights individuals have when offline.

Freedom to create, share, distribute, and access information over the Internet by everyone, along with authors and creators of content having certain rights, was also agreed to.

A road map of how to nurture the Internet’s environment was also talked about.

It was agreed the expanded participation of developing countries was warranted; all governments should have an equal say in the Internet’s governance.

The free flow of information, its creativity and growth, need to be protected in order to promote economic, and social development.

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which administers and coordinates the Internet’s global domain name system, and its numbering system for IP addresses, should be allowed to continue to manage and coordinate Internet numbering databases.

It’s the management of these numbering databases which ensures the security and stability of the Internet.

ICANN began as an independent organization in 1998, and is located in Los Angeles, CA.

Recently, the US announced it was relinquishing oversight of ICANN, and handing it over to a non-government entity.

The NETmundial meeting also discussed the Internet’s flexibility, and how policies for Internet access should be future-oriented.

It should also be technology neutral, in order for it to accommodate the fast-pace of today’s quickly developing new technologies, and adapt to other uses.

Vinton Cerf, who many of us consider as one of the Internet’s founding fathers, spoke during the first day of NETmundial.

He acknowledged the dialogue being held at NETmundial about the Internet was timely, as it was occurring during the 40th year of its public unveiling, and the 31st year of its operation.

“Some 3 billion people already are online working together towards continued growth of a powerful economic engine, and positive social force,” said Cerf.

He stated how the openness of the Internet has been the key to its growth and value.

“Our work is not nearly done until the Internet is accessible to everyone, and IPv6 is accessible everywhere,” Cerf emphasized.

There was a moment of levity encountered when Cerf frowned, and abruptly stopped talking.

While looking down at the printed papers of his prepared speech he quipped, “Well . . . I have a very interesting problem here . . . my speech ends because the rest of it wasn’t printed out.”

Laughter erupted among the audience.

Cerf also laughed; he then quickly composed himself and smiled while looking out at the people in attendance.

The people applauded him, as he ended his speech by thanking everyone for the time he was given to speak at the podium.

The next speaker who took the podium was the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, who looked over at a now- seated Vinton Cerf and joked, “So, no technology is perfect, Vint.”

I noticed Berners-Lee was reading his prepared remarks from a laptop computer.

He went on to talk to the audience about his creation of the Web, and how it was introduced to the public 25 years ago.

Berners-Lee also said he was thankful the US had released its oversight of ICANN.

Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee’s presentations, including the NETmundial’s first- day morning sessions, can be viewed on YouTube at: http://tinyurl.com/bits-NET1.

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