The thirteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF), hosted by the Government of France, took place at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris between November 12-14, 2018. The purpose of the IGF is to “bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the Internet” (www.intgovforum.org). The topic of Internet governance was one of the most important and controversial issues at WSIS and the WSIS+10 review, especially in light of the creation of the SDGs in 2015 (www.intgovforum.org). In an effort to promote an inclusive and responsive approach to Internet governance, WSIS “mandated the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convene IGF for multistakeholder policy dialogue” (www.intgovforum.org). IGF is important because of its unique “ability to facilitate discourse between governments, intergovernmental organizations, private companies, the technical and civil society organizations that deal with or are interested in Internet Governance related public policy issues” (www.intgovforum.org).
With that being said, the key issues at the 13th IGF included: cybersecurity, trust & privacy; development, innovation & economic issues; digital inclusion & accessibility, emerging technologies; evolution of internet governance; human rights, gender & youth; media & content; and technical & operational topics (www.intgovforum.org). In regards to the key issues, participants examine proposed responses, “including regulatory frameworks, potential risks, global trends, as well as best and worst practices that have been adopted or are currently under decision” (www.intgovforum.org). In addition, participants at IGF discuss “the impact of treaties, recommendations and other documents adopted in various international venues within the Internet governance ecosystem” (www.intgovforum.org).
The session of this year’s IGF that I tuned into was on the second day of the forum, titled, “DC Schools on Internet Governance: Schools on Internet Governance.” The session began with introductions of the various stakeholders present, and continued with a discussion of a website developed over the last year that was based on proposals for “a dynamic coalition on schools and Internet governance.” The purpose of the dynamic coalition is to create a space and network not only for schools on Internet governance to exchange ideas for best practices, but also to provide guidance for emerging schools. The majority of the meeting was dedicated to developing the website, which can be found at: https://www.igschools.net/sig/.
It is important for forums like IGF to take place, as they provide a space not only for different organizations around the world to discuss key issues, but also to create and develop innovative new ideas.