NetMundial: The Internet must be Inclusive, Transparent and Accountable

30/04/2014


According to a final document issued at the end of the meeting held in Brazil, the NetMundial summit called for multistakeholder Internet governance as a step towards reducing the United States’ dominance over the Internet.

The final document agreed by the parties concludes that Internet governance must be “inclusive” and “transparent” and allow “the participation of multiple actors.” It also condemns “mass and arbitrary surveillance” over the Internet.

For the more than one thousand participants who attended the two-day meeting in San Pablo, the Internet “must be inclusive, transparent and accountable, and its structures and operations must follow an approach that enables the participation of all stakeholders.”

Raúl Echeberría, LACNIC CEO and Co-Chair of the organization responsible for the meeting, remarked that Internet Governance must work towards establishing a global, stable, resilient, decentralized, secure, and interconnected network, “available to all.”

According to the final statement, Internet standards “must be consistent with human rights.”

During the summit’s opening ceremony, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff noted that no country “should outweigh other countries” and asked for greater participation of developing countries in Internet governance.

Broad and representative participation in Internet management was a cross-cutting theme during the two-day meeting, where participants reaffirmed the idea that not only governments but also civil society, academia and the private sector should have the right to speak and vote.

NetMundial also condemned surveillance. According to the final document, “Mass and arbitrary surveillance undermines trust in the Internet and trust in the Internet governance ecosystem. Collection and processing of personal data by state and non-state actors should be conducted in accordance with international human rights law.”

Echeberría noted that NetMundial participants made it clear that they want the Internet to be managed transparently by multiple global stakeholders.

More than 80 countries were represented at the meeting, including the UN, NGOs, private companies, members of the technical community, and academics.

The summit also highlighted the recent announcement that Washington will transfer control of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the international body responsible for domain name allocation, to a multistakeholder body.

One of the issues that sparked controversy among civil society was the decision to leave “net neutrality” for future debates.

This refers to how operators handle traffic, for instance, the possibility of blocking access to voice services such as Skype or regulating connection speed in exchange for higher fees.

According to the United Nations, 1300 homes worldwide still do not have Internet access. Most of these homes are located in developing countries.

“This may not be a perfect document; it is, however, the result of a bottom-up process with many contributors from the four corners of the world,” noted Virgilio Almeida, NetMundial Chairman and high-ranking official with the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology.

For the first time, a meeting about the Internet issued a document agreed by consensus that includes principles and recommendations for Internet evolution. The text proposes that the agreements reached in Sao Paulo should be followed in future meetings.

“This meeting is an important step, but it is not the end of the story,” said Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the Internet. “We now have a basis,” he concluded.

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