Elon University

An interview transcript from the first Internet Governance Forum, Athens, Greece Oct/Nov 2006: Vincenzo Vita

IGF 2006 LogoThis is a transcript from a series of video interviews designed to assess major issues tied to the diffusion of the internet. It is the record of one of many interviews conducted in 2006 with international internet stakeholders from 18 different nations at the world’s first Internet Governance Forum in Athens, Greece. The Athens IGF was the first of five annual global events administrated by the UN to focus on discussion of the overarching issues tied to the future of information and communications technologies. More than 1,200 participants shared information, experiences and best practices.

Vincenzo Vita – Director of Information Infrastructure for the Province of Rome; Deputy Minister in the Italian Ministry of Communications; an original signer of the International Internet Bill of Rights. Based in Rome, Italy.  


Q: Who are you representing at IGF 2006?

A: I am here for culture and media of the province of Rome. In Italy a province is more or less a district. Six years ago – for five years – I was vice minister of the governor for communications and new media.

Q: Why are you at IGF? 

A: This conference is very important, because after the [WSIS] conference of Tunis and the Conference of Bilbao which was a precedent conference two weeks before Tunis. This is a conference of all of the municipalities of the world. And so we are here because the governance of the network is also a problem of the municipalities. It is important, the role of the local municipalities, which I represent, for the future of the governance of the network.

Q:How are you representing Rome at this conference – as a learner or a messenger?

A: I am here to learn because one conference is important in discussing a civil society of networks, many networks that are more famous and less famous. It is very important to learn and to see the habitat. And the message is “one” in building the governance between the age of ICANN and the age of a new conference of stakeholders of the world. We think that not only administrative education is important for municipalities but also experience of territory. I think that the problem of territory is one of the most important issues for governance.

Q: How do you see the role of stakeholders in Internet governance?

A: We are in a transition this year because the problem of Internet governance in Geneva 2003 in Tunis 2005 and in Leon and Bilbao (the two conferences of local municipalities). The same things have remained, largely, unsolved. There is no conclusion because it is not simple; it is not clear where the power is. I think that icon is an important experience but now it is separated from the new age of Internet of new media of digital era. We need a conference that is not the same but similar: a multilateral conference, not the same but similar because Internet, in general, is very different. It is interactive; it provides freedom of expression. And so it is impossible to govern with the traditional methods. But a light, multilateral, international organization is important. Stakeholders: governments, parliaments, local governments, community and a constant milling between one another will be a new experience of democracy, another kind of democracy I think.

Q: What is your greatest hope for the future of the Internet?

A: It is difficult to imagine the future because there are two connected problems, linked problems. One is trying to concentrate trust to power; for example Google and many major advertisements linked with multinational power. Another problem is the many people interested in navigating and staying in the Internet and so we have a new problem in construction of democracy. We know the traditional democracy: parliament, government and local conference; now we are near a new problem for the policy of territory. This conference is interesting because there are many, many people, many countries, and many experiences and there is a digital divide but I am sure this conference is a step.

Q: How should policy makers approach the problem of digital divide?

A: This is very, very important. The proposal of Rome promised in Tunis and Bilbao admitted a zero to one percent in the public faction for the digital divide.

Q: Do you know if any other countries plan to do a similar thing and if not, why would you tell them they should do this?

A: There is a beginning of a trust between municipalities for this objective.

Q: Describe the future impact of the Internet in one word.

A: Participative democracy.

This video transcript is offered for use under a Creative Commons Noncommercial License allowing no derivative works. Executive producers, Erin Barnett and Janna Quitney Anderson; chief engineer, Bryan Baker; videographers, Barnett and Baker; editor, Barnett.