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How to overcome IG policy silos on global and national levels

Take data protection and privacy as an example. In Geneva alone, within a distance of 2 kilometres, this issue is discussed in a number of international organisations and forums from a number of angles: the Human Rights Council (had its historical first session on online privacy), the WTO (digital economy aspects), the ISO (standards), the ITU (telecommunications policies), WIPO (intellectual property rights). And they're discussed without these organisations necessarily talking to each other.

Discussion on such a comprehensive topic is kept inside policy silos. And this is only one example. On every level of policy-making from global to local we face the similar challenge of overcoming policy silos. Some of the questions that we will cover in this forum include: To what extent is it possible to overcome policy silos? What practical approaches can be used to create IG policy coherence - examples, case studies, anecdotes?

Please share your views in the forum and participate in our survey to map your experience. The online discussion builds on the first preparatory webinar for the Geneva Internet Conference.

Tunisia has portrayed itself

Tunisia has portrayed itself as a model of Internet governance (IG) in the MENA region by holding various IG debates with multiple stakeholders (WSIS 2005). By engaging in the Open Governance Partnership (OGP) initiative in 2011, Tunisia sought to promote transparent governance by committing to respect and deliver the action plan of the Open Governance Declaration.
To establish a new road map for more inclusive IG in Tunisia, policymakers must devise institutional reforms that target the lack of transparency and bureaucratic state deficiencies concerning the government’s information sharing. The OGP initiative is a step toward new and inclusive modalities of IG processes in Tunisia.
At the state level the previous revolutionary government launched an open data portal for publishing its documents. In 2011 it ratified Decree 41 on the right to share administrative documents. Further, the newly drafted Tunisian constitution emphasizes investigating corruption in the public and private sectors to achieve an inclusive, accessible, and non partisan IG agenda in Tunisia.
After the social uprising in Tunisia, two private telecom operators “Tunisiana” and “Orange” will no longer have to go through the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) for their Internet traffic, thus lending them greater autonomy. Under the Zine el Abidine Ben Ali regime, ATI was the principal Tunisian ISP provider, run by the Ministry of Communication. However, for decades the state abused its mandate to promote just Internet usage in Tunisia.
To improve IG and services to citizens while encouraging competition, the state and private sector should improve IXP digital technologies nationally through a reform strategy. This should include the proliferation of fiber-optic networks, regenerated submarine cables, and upgrading IXP physical infrastructure for more inclusive, independent, and unfiltered Internet traffic between different operating networks at the national and international level.
I want to highlight the structural dependency that exists between IG and open governance. This relationship enables us to understand that in order to achieve a good index of IG in Tunisia, state transparency and accountability efforts must go hand-in-hand with efforts to allow citizens to monitor their governments for corruption, bribery, mass surveillance, filtering processes, and abuse – both online and off-line – of human rights.
A Tunisian society with an independent inquiring press, printed or electronic, can help guarantee transparency and IG legislative checks and balances. It can also generate independent interest in providing more access to information and protecting citizens’ privacy so they are not exposed to retributions or negative repercussions.
The Open Government Partnership is a promising platform for opening Tunisia to the world, showcasing IG savoir-faire, and learning about best practices. The government and private sector should engage in concerted efforts at the regional and international level through an innovative approach to the management of public affairs. It is essential that this collaboration embraces both the promotion of IG governance as well as the fight against institutional corruption. By securing such cooperation, Tunisia will better seize the formidable opportunity it has to build a genuine democracy.


Perspectives from Malta

From our country's perspective, Malta has a very ambitious National Digital Strategy (2014-2020). The so-called Digital Malta is an initiative set up to implement the national strategy, and involves a number of stakeholders, including the regulator, the government's ICT agency, and business groups, making this initiative a good multistakeholder model. The stakeholder group lagging behind - and not only when it comes to the national strategy - is civil society, possibly because representatives who are active in the IG process in Malta 'belong' to other stakeholder groups (academia, business, tech, government).
When it comes to the term Internet governance, this is a fairly unknown concept, even among active stakeholders. Perhaps, terms like 'digital policy' or 'digital economy' are more commonly used in a local setting.
With regards to specific areas like data protection and IPRs, mapping the process on a local level is an interesting and useful exercise, one which this discussion has prompted me to undertake.

All the main issues are

All the main issues are really multi facated indeed, however we have to take into cognisance of what is actually on the ground and how are IG issues dealt with in each country, I belief as governments mainly work on policy and deal with certain bodies like ITU directly, through the line ICT ministry the important thing is for them to be galvanised to act as a go between or "referee" for all stakeholders on IG, because at the end of the day, what reaches a consensus can turn into policy, for the benefit of all at National level.  In a lot of developing countries especially in Sub Saharan Africa, issues of Data Protection anmd privacy are becoming more important with the growth of access of the Internet through mobile phones, issues such as this can only be well advocated through IG forums, where government take a lead in galvanising stakeholders to understand better and have an equal footing based on best practics that exist.  Its not a one hat fits all situation, how the underlaying factor is in what context are we going to engage especially based on the National dynamics of the country.

The level of awareness among

The level of awareness among Internet users on legal matters and socio-economic impact is really low.
Am very delighted to have gone through salient and insightful contributions from you all.
Given that IG is still relatively a very concept in the world may be that is the reason why we do not yet see full participation from all stakeholders. However i strongly believe that there is not enough communication from governments.
In Cameroon where i belong, IG policies are been determined by a government office who are not even very active in the process. I remember having given my reports to them to integrate in their activities in a bit to convince others that they were current as far as the IG process is involved.
My question is how possible is it for us civil society to thrive in this kind of atmosphere?
My interventions in our national radio and Television always makes me saddened at the degree of ignorance of the audience.

In the Netherlands, internet

In the Netherlands, internet governance issues are mostly dealt with within the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which also decides on telecommunication issues. It primarily focuses on net neutrality, as well as data protection and privacy on the internet. Cybercrime, however, is dealt with within the Ministry of Safety and Justice, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decides on matters related to the freedom of internet globally, condemning censorship and supporting internet dissidents and bloggers outside of the Dutch borders.

All internet governance issues are also discussed at the NL IGF, in which the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Dutch Foundation for Internet Domain Registration (SIDN) and the Electronic Commerce Platform (ECP) cooperate. They encourage discussions between all stakeholders in the internet governance scene. One of their goals is to embed the outcomes of IGF forums in the Dutch national legislation, and with the Ministry of Economic Affairs being heavily involved, the NL IGF might be a good opportunity to overcome policy silos in the Netherlands. However, it is unclear to me whether the NL IGF has already had some concrete achievements, as well as what attempts are made to close the gap between IG-issues (Ministry of Economic Affairs) and cybercrime (Ministry of Safety and Justice).

The level of awareness among

The level of awareness among Internet users on legality and socio-econmic impact is really low.

I strongly support Ginger's veiw "The Internet is a complicated phenomenon. Maybe we need all of these silos to address individual issues, rather than one huge silo where we will only get suffocated if the grain spills down on us all at once. But then we need to open connecting doors and pathways between these silos, with a system for clear communication and discussion. That, to me, is why the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a valuable space for for discussion without commitment. We need to take this risk-free body seriously, and improve it to become an organised sharing and updating resource for Internet governance strategies and priorities."

...... most people are using and consuming without understanding!

I think among the major stakeholders (Government, Technical, Business, Civil Society and Academics) we need roles in the coordination of the Internet of things or we may end up in the perfect storm.

How to overcome IG policy silos on global and national levels

The multi-stakeholder approach to begin to take coprs and give encouraging results. NetMundial is one such evidence even if this approach is not yet well established in some countries.

Multisectoral consultations within a framework which brings together all stakeholders at the national level are crucial and help identify various problematic concerning Internet governance at the various components of the platform.

Common key questions can be then discussed at the regional level. Which can give rise to justified proposals of themes to be submitted to the Global GF.

It is clear that the realities are not the same from one country to another, from one region to another, from one continent to another.

Each group of stakeholders have different concerns containing the place and the role they fulfill in their institution, company or association. However, we have as main actors: government, private sector, civil society, academic, media, regional and international organization ... Each stakeholder group has a precise role.

When it comes to the problem of ICT infrastructure, for example, the government facilitates a provision or construction of infrastructure as required telecoms companies by setting up a appropriate legislative and regulatory framework; companies are obliged Government to supply, quality service; the academic involved in the production of content; media contribute to the promotion of ICT (Internet); users (civil society) make proposals on the quality of service or DENOUNCE finds some abuses; the regional and international organizations support initiatives and best practices in digital technology for the benefit of all etc. .. These are just tracks that we try to build our national platform to avoid the polemics, internal conflicts in some concepts ...

The process of the IGF must be very well anchored at national level to be much improved at the regional and global levels.

In the USA, the Federal
In the USA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seems to have the largest silo, but the Department of Commerce (DoC) has direct supervision over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN - a private, non-profit), through its The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The federal government has passed the most comprehensive protection law: the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), but there are other federal and state laws. Some would say that in addition, Internet users need protection from, not only by, governments, and the US National Security Agency (NSA) is an often-used example. Add other stakeholder guidelines and needs, and we have a forest of silos. (And let's not compare them to missile silos, please).
The Internet is a complicated phenomenon. Maybe we need all of these silos to address individual issues, rather than one huge silo where we will only get suffocated if the grain spills down on us all at once. But then we need to open connecting doors and pathways between these silos, with a system for clear communication and discussion. That, to me, is why the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a valuable space for for discussion without commitment. We need to take this risk-free body seriously, and improve it to become an organised sharing and updating resource for Internet governance strategies and priorities.
In Cameroon the government

In Cameroon the government became aware  of the need for legislation in  the cyberspace after the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector . There were many reported cases of cybercrimes involving both national and international victims. Youth unemployment contributed to the rise in cyber crime, with many of them using the internet to commit crimes that can generate them wealth. Most of the crimes were related to e-commerce activities.  The government in it's responsibility to protect the ctizens and  also to maintain national reputation decided to create  a government institution  that will take care of internet actvities called  the National Agency for Information and communication Technolgy (ANTIC). This agency functions under the supervision of the MInistry Posts and Telecommunications and in collaboration with the Telecommunication Regulatory board.

This Agency so far has done alot in the domaine of internet governance since the other stake holders are almost dormant. presently there are  laws on cybercriminality and cybersecurity and laws governing e-commerce activities. Also a public key infrastructure (PKI) has also been put up with the assistance  Korean government to secure online transactions.

From my own point of view the Agency (ANTIC) is doing much in the domain of internet governance but their main weak point is because they have failed to adequately involve other stakeholders in the process.  They need to understand that internet governance is a multistakeholder affair and so they need to encourage and consider the participation of other stakeholders.

On a global level, the IGF

On a global level, the IGF appears to becoming (again) a space for bridging policy silos. Yet even there, the officials are mostly from the ministries and institutions related to telecommunications and information society - as the Macedonian Minister said at the opening of the IGF in Istanbul, it would be great to also see the Ministers in charge of education, health, culture, foreign affairs. local government, finances...

On a national level, I can bring some experiences from Serbia. The IG is still widely an un-known term, in spite of the fact that Belgrade was the host of the European Dialogue on IG back in 2011. We did see two meetings of the Serbian IGF afterwards, but those were mainly initiated by the at-the-time proactive Ministry of telecoms and information society, wish support of several other partners, and have never lived to turn into a more continuous process but remained ad-hoc disconnected meetings. Nevertheless, the IG-related issues are heavily present in the national political life: data protection and privacy is backed by the national Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection; media freedoms and pluralism have, to some extend, been dealth with by the former Ministry of Culture and Media (within which one or two individuals involved as experts in Council of Europe work pushed the whole thing); infrastructure and services are on the agenda o the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Regulatory Authority; e-payments and e-commerce - and recently the cases of models or PayPal and for BitCoin - are dealth with (ie by default prevented by) within various institutions related to financial sector, primarily the National Bank; discussions on net neutrality are, for instance, almost non-existant; the issues about domains are naturally (and almost exclusively) under the work of the national ccTLD managers RNIDS; security is most widely spread though probably the least developed: within Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Telecommunications, with one existing team working on the new national law on information security, but not progressing well for the time being. 

Apperently, there is no coordination among all these institutions. There are occasional thematic events organised by either some of the institutions or by NGOs, but again not linking various topics and institutions. The strong and continuous IGF with intersessional dialogue and bottom-up shaped agenda is much needed, as well as the national multistakeholder body - like CGI in Brazil, or similar - that would help internal mapping of issues and who does what and how, and help the information exchange within public institutions and among all stakeholders. It is lack of general understanding among the public officials (ie government leaders and all political parties) of the potentials and risks of the Internet, however, that prevents a creation of such mechanisms.

Vladimir Radunovic


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The Geneva Internet Platform is an initiative of the Swiss authorities


Members of the Steering Committee are FDFA, OFCOM and the Canton of Geneva

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