Internet governance is a set of principles, norms, rules, decision-making processes, and activities. At the 2005 Information Society Summit in Tunis, the following definition was agreed upon: “It is the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and common programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.”
There are five sectors that participate in Internet Governance under what is known as the Multistakeholder model. These are the technical community, the private sector made up of companies, governments, civil society that represents all citizens, and academia, made up of universities. It can be seen how the public sector is one more actor, and not the only one. At a national, regional, and global level, these sectors that makeup what is known as the Internet Ecosystem coexist organically and represent the various interest groups of the community in general. Much of what the actors do is debate, dialogue, and seek consensus that can later take the form of recommendations, declarations of principles, and programs, among others.
At a global level, the key groups are:
- ICANN is an internationally operating non-profit organization responsible for allocating Internet Protocol (IP) numeric address space, protocol identifiers, and generic top-level DNS (gTLD) and code management functions. Every year, 3 meetings are held in different regions of the world to discuss topics of interest.
- Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF): This group is responsible for developing protocols to maintain a secure and stable Internet
- Internet Governance Forum (IGF): This is a space for multiple stakeholders that allows the discussion of public policy issues related to the Internet today and in the future. These meetings are held once a year and, in addition, prior preparatory meetings are held at the national and regional levels
At the regional level (Latin America and the Caribbean) the key organizations are:
- LACNIC, the Internet Address Registry for Latin America and the Caribbean, is one of the five Regional Internet Registries in the world. Manages IP address space and other associated resources for the benefit of the Internet community in the region. Its meetings are configured as spaces for the exchange of experiences and knowledge among the various regional actors that are part of the Internet Ecosystem.
- LACIGF – Latin American and Caribbean Internet Governance Forum: this is the preparatory meeting for the Internet Governance Forum at a global level. It is a regional meeting space for dialogue between the different sectors: government, private sector, technical community, academia, and civil society. It addresses those issues that have an impact on Latin America and the Caribbean.
- LACTLD: It is the regional organization that brings together the ccTLDs of Latin America and the Caribbean. Its main objective is to coordinate joint policies, as well as development strategies for domain names at the regional level. In pursuit of this, it organizes technical, legal, political, and commercial workshops in order to deal with the various topics of interest.
Nationalization of the Internet and Net Neutrality
One of the discussions that have gained more importance in the region is the nationalization of the Internet. Some key actors consider that these government initiatives allow them to have greater surveillance of the population in general. Recently, the executive director of LACNIC, Oscar Robles, during a panel on Security and Privacy warned that: much of the personal information of citizens collected by governments remain at the mercy of cyber hackers due to the weakness of computer security systems.
Those who support this initiative argue that the internet, like water or electricity, is a necessary service to function in the contemporary world and that nationalizing it would allow more people to have access to said service.
Another topic that is frequently discussed in these forums is that of Net Neutrality, in which it is argued that internet providers should avoid distributing content more frequently than others and that suggestion algorithms harm critical thinking. You can find out more about the ethics of algorithms here.
These problems are some of the issues that currently affect Internet governance and that can affect us all as citizens.