APNIC supports the first Australian IGF

The first Australian Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) was held in Canberra, Australia, on 11 – 12 October 2012.

The first Australian Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) was held in Canberra, Australia, on 11 – 12 October 2012. It is an initiative supported by a number of organizations including the .au Domain Administration (auDA), the Internet Society of Australia (ISOC-AU), the Internet Industry Association (IIA), the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), and the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC). Industry members who participated include Maddocks, AusRegistry, Google, and Facebook. Their funding support ensured the conference was accessible to the wider Internet community.

The conference was well attended with around 180 participants from the Internet community including various Australian government agencies, network operators, content providers, civil societies, and academics. Attendance at the forum included a contingent from InternetNZ, the organizers of the New Zealand NetHui meeting and the New Zealand counterpart of these governance forums. The conference was organized around five major topics including the global IGF landscape, security, openness, privacy, accessibility, and digital inclusion.

The auIGF is based on a global multi-stakeholder model originally established during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process in 2003.  The objective of this model is to bring “government, industry and community members together in an open, apolitical forum, to discuss Internet-related policy issues, exchange ideas and best practices, and help shape the future of the Internet”.

Senator, the Hon. Kate Lundy (Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation) opened the conference, emphasizing that multi-stakeholder organizations like the IGF needs to remain as open, transparent, and responsible as possible to ensure that all sides of the debate and all views are represented. The Senator also mentioned the need for the Australian government to collaborate with various international organizations such as ICANN and the ITU. The Senator explained that while ICANN needs to be accountable and transparent in its decision making and maintain its responsibility to stakeholders, the Australian government believes the ITU has strength in developing common technical standards and protocols. The Senator said the ITU does not need to take on the role of Internet governance and concluded her remarks by encouraging the auIGF participants to provide feedback collectively on the outcome of the two-day discussion for wider distribution within the Australian government.  She emphasized that the government cannot develop effective policies without getting meaningful feedback, and well constructed thoughts and ideas from credible sources.

Senator Scott Ludlam (Senator for Western Australia and Australian Greens’ spokesperson on Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy issues) also provided opening remarks.  The Senator commented on privacy protection issues for Australian citizens and encouraged participants to raise their voice, not just the technical community, but ordinary Australian citizens as well.

APNIC supported the conference by participating in the following panel discussions:

APNIC also supported the Workshop, “The UN and Internet-related policy activities - World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF)”.  Given the timing of the WCIT conference in Dubai this December to review the current International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), this session attracted diverse stakeholder participation.

This workshop examined topics such as the ITU’s roles in Internet Governance, the Australian government’s position towards WCIT, and efforts made by regional and international Internet organizations such as APNIC and ISOC to encourage closer collaboration between the technical community and other Internet stakeholders including government agencies. Paul Wilson presented the Internet technical community’s views and mentioned that no single organization can be entirely responsible for managing the Internet. He further mentioned the necessity for a multi-stakeholder approach for maintaining dialogue among different stakeholders.  APNIC will keep supporting the collective process as a technical community and Paul mentioned his support in hearing how to assist with this process.

Geoff Huston commented that the ITRs are related to the regulation of circuit-switched international telephony services and have been largely irrelevant to the Internet. The Internet is an outcome of the progressive deregulation of the telecommunications environment, and in their place, support a competitive environment that is responsive to market-based constraints. In such market-based environments, regulatory intervention is conventionally based on the recognition of market failures and the form of intervention is generally minimal to restore market focus on outcomes that support the public good. Trying to generate international regulatory instruments before any such recognition of an instance of a market failure can often produce highly negative outcomes.

Other panel sessions and workshops included “Access and digital inclusion”, “The role of Government in Internet policy development”, and “Internet and the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC).”

At the end of the two-day conference, Paul Wilson emphasized that APNIC is part of the Internet community that develops ideas collectively on several issues. He encouraged participants to assist with distributing those messages to the global IGF and also to people who are negotiating on our behalf at the upcoming WCIT.  Paul concluded his remarks by congratulating the auDA and other organizers, and also participants for making the first auIGF a success.