On Wednesday, May 30, CADNA attended a seminar hosted by the Free State Foundation, titled “The Multi-Stakeholder Private Internet Governance Model: Can it Survive Threats from the UN?” The seminar addressed threats to the survival of the current multi-stakeholder privatized Internet governance model, posed by competing government-control models put forward in the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union and other international venues.
The seminar featured an impressive panel of speakers: Richard C. Beaird, Senior Deputy United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, State Department; Robert M. McDowell, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission; Randolph J. May, President, the Free State Foundation; Jacquelynn Ruff, Vice President, International Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Verizon; Gigi B. Sohn, President, Public Knowledge; and Richard S. Whitt, Director and Managing Counsel for Public Policy, Google.
Many of the remarks from the speakers focused on the connection between the Internet and the economy, with Dr. Beaird opening by remarking that the Internet is vital to innovation and economic growth. Commissioner McDowell was in agreement, stating that light regulation has allowed the Internet to flourish and that the creation of an international body to regulate the Internet would actually be counter-productive, as the Internet has become an essential tool for commerce, economic growth, and development.
There was also broad consensus across the speakers that the issue of Internet governance is a bi-partisan issue and one that can only be solved with public and private sector cooperation. In his statement, Mr. Whitt remarked that global engagement will be the key and this can’t become “the U.S. against the world”. Ms. Sohn urged the audience that we must work with our allies, while Ms. Ruff stated that Verizon is already participating in this type of cooperation in an effort to ensure that the Internet remains globally seamless and unimpeded.
The seminar also focused on the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to be held in December 2012, at which Internet governance issues are expected to be addressed. Such preparations in advance of this conference will be vital to successfully making a case in defense of the preservation of the Internet’s current multi-stakeholder model, despite its flaws. As evidenced by this seminar, letting control fall into the hands of a group like the ITU would be far worse.
To watch a video of the event, please go here.