14 September 2020
Person looking at computer screen with hand on keyboard and a mobile phone in other hand

Today’s blog post focuses on the role of Internet governance and NetThing 2020, which is now only 16 days away! Register your attendance today to join in for an inspiring, informative event on October 1-2!

NetThing is Australia’s reinvigorated Internet Governance Forum (IGF). It offers an inclusive, open space for everyone who is interested in participating in discussion surrounding the Internet within Australia including policy and the rise of digital platforms, trust and misinformation, the power of online expression and cybersecurity and the Internet infrastructure.

You can participate in NetThing from anywhere in Australia, as the event will be hosted online. If you’re in Brisbane, you can also choose to attend in person. NetThing is FREE to attend, and all are welcome.

What is Internet Governance?

The most widely accepted definition of Internet governance was drafted in 2005 at the UN’s  World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2005. The WSIS definition states:

"Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet."

It refers to the framework in which the policies, strategies and vision relating to the community’s use of the Internet and how it is structured comes together. The Internet Society (ISOC) defines it more simply as the processes that impact how the internet is managed.

If it sounds like Internet governance is only about technology, think again. Published in 2016, the book The Working Group on Internet Governance 10th Anniversary Reflections explains that  Internet governance includes two areas: 1) the technical (governance on the Internet), and 2) political aspects relating to public policy (governance of the Internet). While it’s understandable that technology is the first aspect that comes to mind for most people, the second aspect is far, far broader, encompassing areas such as the economy, society and culture, and therefore touches on many more people’s lives. For more information, refer to the full text, available here.

We have compiled a list of helpful Internet Governance resources on the NetThing website if you are interested in learning more.

Why do we need to discuss Internet governance? It sounds complicated.

The early Internet was mostly the creation of people and organisations in the USA and Europe, so they made the decisions about how the Internet would run. As the Internet became more important to the whole of the world, it became clear that everyone needed to be able to have a say. As a result, the WSIS agreed to create a UN-hosted Internet Governance Forum (IGF), where all governments, and all stakeholders could discuss issues together. As a way of feeding into this global discussion, more localised community discussion forums started to emerge. This is the function that NetThing performs within Australia. Before NetThing, there was the auIGF. NetThing, as auIGF’s successor, aims to be more grassroots in its work, with a program curated in a bottom-up fashion by a community of Australian Internet governance enthusiasts.

An open and inclusive dialogue

Internet governance fora around the world, and NetThing in particular, offer open, inclusive and diverse spaces to have robust discussions about the future of the Internet, and help to define the agenda of mainstream Internet policy issues in a multi-stakeholder fashion. If all affected stakeholders can have a say, then decisions about the Internet are more likely to be of benefit to everyone, rather than just a few.

As event sponsors Afilias Australia is proud to attend and if this is something that is also of interest to you please join us, online or in the Brisbane hub, 1-2 October, to help shape the future of the Internet in Australia.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Register your attendance today or email info@netthing.org.au if you have any questions.