ICANN’s Chehade and Crocker Bring New Season to WCIT
It was announced this week that Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, and Dr. Steve Crocker, ICANN Board Chair, accepted invitations from the International Telecommunications Union(ITU) to attend the opening ceremony of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) December in Dubai.
This is the first WCIT Conference that ICANN has received an invitation to attend, and Chehadé said he plans to arrive early in order to communicate and collaborate with attendees. He said, “Our mission there is clear, it’s a time to engage. And in this new season of engagement [and] cooperation, we and the other organizations – the ISOC, the IETF, W3W, and the Registries – engage with the community that needs to hear from us and understand the role we play in building Internet governance in a multi-stakeholder environment.”
Dr. Vinton Cerf, widely known as one of the “fathers of the Internet” and Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, has voiced concerns about closed-door meetings. He does not agree with some other’s proposals that would allow governments to censor online information. He said, “Transparency and openness are keys to informed participation in policy making.”
There has been controversial news around this upcoming WCIT conference where the ITU, an agency of the United Nations made up of 193 governments, is allegedly once again considering imposing government control of the Internet rather than the multi-stakeholder process which governs much of the Internet today. The current multi-stakeholder model allows those who use the Internet – governments, private companies, businesses, civil societies, and Internet users – a voice in Internet governance for the Global Public Interest.
“These persistent attempts are just evidence that this breed of dinosaurs, with their pea-sized brains, hasn’t figured out that they are dead yet, because the signal hasn’t traveled up their long necks,” Cerf said.
The ITU’s top official, Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, explained that updates to the treaty could be approved by a simple majority, yet in practice would not be adopted without near-unanimity. “Voting means winners and losers. We can’t afford that in the ITU,” said Touré
ICANN’s acceptance to the conference seems to indicate that this WCIT conference will be an opportunity for visionary Internet leaders and organizations to collaborate in a transparent manner, and bring topics surrounding Global Public Benefit to the forefront of discussions. The conference focus is international interconnection and interoperability of information services, and widespread public usefulness and availability. These issues can have a major impact on economic and social development, so the opportunities at this conference are profound. ICANN is the multi-stakeholder model of governance that is responsible for coordinating the stable operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems to maintain one Internet for all across all nations and borders. While ICANN may not agree with everything presented in Dubai, it makes sense to engage at the table of WCIT.DotGreen understands that an open Internet is at the heart of the global public’s interest and freedom of expression. Access to information promotes innovation and social justice on a local level. DotGreen looks forward to progressive WCIT dialogue and conference outcomes that support the multi-stakeholder model and prioritize benefit for all Internet users in nations around the world.
Another recent ground breaking event involving ICANN and the ITU was the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, Azerbaijan, which yielded some important discussion regarding Internet access, and the role of women in Internet governance and leadership. Read DotGreen article here.