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Thursday, 17 October 2013 06:10

An Internet community ‘call to arms’ Featured


There is continued debate over how the Internet should be governed. The Australian Internet Governance Forum has been told the situation is ‘nearing a crisis point’.

The International Telecommunication Union’s World Conference on IT in Dubai last December ended acrimoniously when 80, mostly Western, countries refused to sign a new treaty which would have subjected the Internet to the same sort of international control as conventional telecommunications.

The issue has not gone away. “The Internet community must come together to preserve an open and stable Internet future,” says Chris Disspain, the CEO of the .au Domain Administration (auDA). He laid out what he describes as a ‘clear call to arms’ at the opening of the second annual Australian Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) in Melbourne.

“The struggle between supporters of the current multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance and those who seek more centralised control continues,” said Disspain. “The Internet’s informal support frameworks, built on co-operation and trust, have been potentially weakened.

“We need people to actively join the global effort to ensure the Internet remains open and interoperable. We need to coalesce to promote the concept that decisions about Internet governance must be made within the multi-stakeholder model.”

Disspain is also a member of the board of ICANN, the global manager of Internet naming resources, and a member of the UN’s Internet Governance Forum’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group. He is a strong critic of the ITU stance. “The challenges that we face are real and immediate. Government-centric organisations like the ITU are desperate to fill a vacuum for a range of ‘orphan issues’ confronting policy-makers and all internet users.”

Disspain and auDA are hosts to more than 300 international and national Internet industry leaders, governance experts and community members attending the second year of the auIGF. One of the Internet’s founding fathers, Dr Stephen Crocker, delivered the keynote address. Dr Crocker is the Chair of Board of Directors of ICANN.

The auIGF is based on a global multi-stakeholder model established by the UN. It is presented and hosted by auDA, with the support of partners including Google, the Internet Industry Association, Facebook, Macquarie University, Linux Australia, ACCAN and the Internet Society.

The event brings government, industry and community members together in an open, apolitical forum to discuss Internet-related policy issues, exchange ideas and best practices, and help shape the future of the Internet in Australia. Many of the attendees will move on to the global Internet Governance Forum will be held in Bali next week.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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