29 October 2019

Image 1: Welcome to NetThing 2019, Panel 1 Plenary - Policy

Today’s blog post provides an event recap of NetThing 2019, and looks at how this community forum has the potential to shape Australian internet governance into 2020 and far beyond. 

On Monday 28th October 2019, the reinvigorated au Internet Governance Forum ‘NetThing’ was held at the University of Technology, Sydney. Pat Donaldson, Country Manager and myself, Greta Adamo represented Afilias Australia, proud to be sponsoring the event.

The internet matters

Attendees were welcomed by Michael West from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, who explained that Australia first participated in foreign trade well before the internet. Michael passed around a boomerang, explaining the cultural representation behind each painted symbol. Sandra Davey, NetThing Chair provided a rundown of the day and thanked attendees and sponsors for their involvement. Sandra emphasised that communication is critical at forums like this, inviting us all to “enjoy and stay curious”. 















Image 2: Welcome from Civil Society and Government, Dr Tobias Feakin and Ian Peter

Dr Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ian Peter from the Association for Progressive Communications gave a ‘Welcome from Civil Society and Government’, explaining that they would be using insights gained at NetThing across international forums.

The format of the day included 7 main sessions with 3 simultaneous panels/workshops. The first panel attended by Afilias looked at how participants navigate the regulations that govern the policies in place to protect the Australian internet. The importance of civil rights in a civil society was highlighted, and it was agreed that we need to treat our personal data with respect so that the government will act in the same way. 















Image 3: Newcomers to the Australian internet, Bronwyn Mercer

We then looked at ‘Newcomers to the Australian internet’, in a workshop that was broken into three areas including the history of the internet, how it all works, and internet governance and Australia’s internet governance ecosystem. Internet Governance specialist, Samantha Dickinson, Youth IGF Ambassador, Brownwyn Mercer and Chief Operating Officer at auDA, Bruce Tonkin provided an introduction to the digital landscape and an overview of how it all comes together.

The human aspect

An afternoon breakout session discussed the rise of digital platforms and the impact this has on privacy, posing the question ‘Are we humans or are we data?’ Discussion centred around social inequalities derived from online platforms and the gaps in understanding how and why data is collected. It was agreed by panelists that people don’t care as much as they would if they knew more about how their information was being used.

Attendees then grouped back together in the main auditorium to discuss ‘IGF engagement in action: Cyber Norms’, with the goal of gathering feedback to help in preparing Australia’s position to best practice implementation of the 11 norms proposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Looking ahead 















Image 4: Panel 5 Plenary - The Future

The final panel focused on ‘The Future’, and looked at the nature of online platforms and the future of journalism. Jordan Carter, Chief Executive of Internet NZ explained how the Christchurch attack went viral at an unprecedented speed. Jordan spoke about the need to moderate content, but made clear that we should also be wary of “over-censorship”.

At the conclusion of the forum auDA provided an opportunity for people to continue the conversation on internet governance at a nearby member networking event at UTS. If you would like to find out more about the perks of becoming an auDA Associate Member, visit joinauda.org.au today. 

The key themes of NetThing 2019 were governance, inclusion, security and data protection/privacy. An active discussion demonstrated that we are generally in agreeance that while the internet isn’t perfect, we are working towards a common goal and forums like this only strengthen our position. Afilias Australia is proud to support community initiatives such as NetThing and would like to congratulate everyone involved.

Have some feedback, question or idea for a future blog post? Email us at blog@afilias.com.au    

Posted in Blog