Elon University

The 2010 IGF Survey: How can IGF change the world? What are the approaches, issues?

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Researchers from the Imagining the Internet Center conducted a video survey of Global IGF 2010 participants, recording interviews with more than 60 stakeholders from all sectors of society about the evolution of the Internet. Use the video viewer to see their responses. Click on the first video to begin a player that will cycle through all visible on this page or click on those you wish to view. To see additional videos, click on the numbers at the end of the video column to display additional videos – there are dozens more than you see here. The question in this video set was: “With an extended mandate to 2015, how can the IGF change the world? What are the top goals, the issues, the approaches, the differences that might be made?”

      Links to 2010 questions: 
      >Q1: Cloud computing
      >Q2: The mobile Internet
      >Q3: Human right?
      >Q4: Influence of intermediaries
      >Q5: Influence of the IGF
      >Q6: Greatest hope for the Internet
      >Q7: Greatest fear for the Internet
      >Q8: Future in 10 seconds

      To get an accurate representation of all responses in full, watch all of the videos. Each clip is brief, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Some respondents gave extended answers; some may be edited for brevity if necessary but the majority should include the full response.

      Most of the people surveyed noted that the open discussions conducted at IGF are important because people can speak freely about the challenges and opportunities of the Internet.

      Print transcript of the comments made in the video on this page:

      Alejandro Pisanty, longtime Internet Society, IGF and ICANN leader, National University of Mexico: I think that after five years experience, one of the reasons I chose to be interviewed [for this research project] at the end is to absorb what is happening at this fifth IGF meeting. Definitely, the only thing that’s assured that the IGF can do is to bring people together, allow space for them to talk to each other, listen to different conversations, and learn what else is going on.

      The layers of knowledge and specific values that come together are very different but in all cases a rather long time lags when that knowledge was first identified as something necessary or as some kind of problem and when some solutions have been built.

      You can’t start the IGF changing the world and making decisions under the ceiling of the IGF when you’re bringing together – I will give a couple of examples from this last meeting – you bring together people who have been organizing and publishing science data for decades under a very bureaucratic but effective framework which has been the ICSU framework of UNESCO for a number of data centers, which has a whole tradition of structuring – they are now moving to open data, to open access to journalists and so forth – that’s a very long tradition, and some people are meeting it for the first time at IGF, and I don’t mean 17-year-old students from a completely different context, I mean experts, scholars are finding out these things because data are not part of their type of scholarship. You put this together with [people with expertise in] domain names, you put this together with [people with expertise in] clouds, you put this together with everything else, security, privacy.

      Let’s say that all privacy discussions they may have had two years ago are liable to have become out of date because there was [the passage of] the Madrid Protocol in the middle and if some of those discussions were not in alignment with the framework that happened in Madrid, they are lost. Also by the time people meet here, discuss privacy, learn – “Oh, there’s this Madrid thing! And I try to use it in my company, my government, as a citizen” and push for my government to enact a law, as a minister of parliament or a legislator try to enact some action in this way, it’s going to take several years.

      We cannot assume that we can just take a slice of time here and make some agreements. So the value here will be in the education in this very broad sense. It’s not experts coming to learn from experts, it’s experts coming to learn from experts and non-experts.

      Bertrand de La Chapelle, leader in WSIS, member of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, elected to ICANN board: It may sound grandiose but the IGF does have, with other processes, the potential to change, indeed not the world, but more the way humans organize themselves in communities and interact to govern themselves.

      I often say history is about the constant effort of mankind to find new ways and better ways to organize themselves. So the IGF is one of the two laboratories for the, so-called, “multistakeholder” interaction, the other one being ICANN. The IGF deals with the format for agenda setting, issue framing and initiating thematic networks around issues. ICANN is a very specific domain providing one of the first regimes, I would even say, the first multistakeholder agency at the international level that deals with a specific sub-domain.

      So one is able to make decisions in ICANN, and one is basically shaping the decisions. And the reason why I mention this is because I believe the Internet governance space is the laboratory for a broader applicability for this new interaction format between government, civil society and the private sector. I expect this to progressively migrate to other institutions in the UN system and outside the UN system which are connected to the IGF. It means UNESCO, the ITU, maybe WTO and WIPO. But when this will be established it will also percolate in other fields because if it works here it can work for other global issues.

      The second dimension is that it will also spread at different levels. And the development of national and regional IGFs is creating the embryo of a global Internet governance network that will be structured on an issue-by-issue basis.

      Hanane Boujemi, DiploFoundation, Malta: The future of the IGF, I think we’ve learned many lessons from Athens to now and I hope the next five years if it’s going to be approved – the mandate of IGF to be extended – I hope that the format will reinforce more participation from developing countries and more fragmentation of the topics according to the needs. The need eventually will arise to have new issues. There should be room to tackle new issues. We should be always open to bring on to the discussion anything new in the ICT field and Internet governance in general.

      The way I see it evolving, I really expect the discussion to be fruitful as it is now. At the first IGF we were just trying to expand on the issues and the main themes and every year we saw a new theme added on the discussion. It gives you an idea of what’s happening at the global level. Obviously the IGF as well is a process that helped tremendously at establishing local IGFs.

      We don’t want to forget that now we have more special IGF additions which are being held at the local level, at the regional level and obviously new regions are being added in the future as well. There will be more concentration on what the people actually care for about on the local level or at the regional level. And obviously the global discussion is always important. It’s nice to be involved at the regional level because you concentrate on the issues that are mostly relevant to you, but then you need to stay in the loop when it comes to the global level as well.

      Patrice Lyons, senior legal counsel, Corporation for National Research Initiatives, US: I think they have ways of doing demonstrations about alternate dispute resolution. I saw a wonderful one at Carnegie-Melon once a few years ago where people actually acted out what they might do something. This can get into remote participation as well so it might be between the different official sessions that there might be some experiments. I’m a great one at pilot projects. I saw how the basic technology evolved over all of these years.

      As I’ve said, I’ve been counsel to Bob [Internet protocol co-inventor Robert Kahn] and his colleagues for a lot of years now and trying things out doing pilot projects. For example, a pilot project on alternate dispute resolution, where you could engage, maybe, the university community with support from the governments because I think, a lot of times, the money to do these things is a very basic consideration, and companies these days whether they’re going to come up with that on their own because they probably have their own products to sell, so what would be the incentive? So there might be some ways that you could coordinate things and maybe the companies then would become involved to offer services and help out. Donations in kind are always welcome.

      Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Fiji Telecommunications: Resources, multi-stakeholdership and collaboration. With collaboration you have all sorts of dynamics happening and people impacting policies. Talks in corridors, coffee chats. This eventually goes back – they go back to their homes and they’re richer because of the relationships, the networks, the exchange of resources, the shifting of paradigms.

      Lisa Horner, head of research and policy at Global Partners & Associates, UK: I think the main value of the IGF is mainly as an open space where people can come together. We can meet people who we don’t usually come into contact with in our professional and our personal lives. So that’s the real difference that the IGF can make. For me it’s a bottom-up process of norm creation, of sharing values and hopefully fostering shared values of what the Internet’s about and what it can support. So if we continue this process down the line, I think we will be in a much better place than if we didn’t have this space and this opportunity.

      Fouad Bajwa, Pakistan, member of the civil society group the Internet Governance Caucus: Well the world is always changing when new ideas come, when new perceptions come and they are accepted by the majority of like-minded people, and those people collectively take action and the world starts changing. In my perception at the moment we [at IGF] are a grouping of various stakeholders coming from various cross-sections of society. We come with different perceptions, different needs, different agendas, and as a collective everyone wants the Internet to be sustainable, everyone wants the Internet to be productive.

      But the level of outcome is different at every stakeholder level. The governments want to regulate it, the private sector wants to make more money, squeeze the consumer, get as much money as they can through having as much freedom [as possible] to control the customer through net neutrality violations – a violation in the sense not of an international treaty but a violation in the sense of a general perception of the network, that an open network has been confined, say in India, companies are providing, say access to Facebook for a dollar a month but the rest of the Internet services are being charged at a higher rate. So some companies are bundling some of the applications like Google, Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia and so forth and giving them for a dollar or so and charging more for the Internet so that’s closing down the network – this balancing how the network actually provides access and open information.

      So when we come to the user, the basic perception – because I conducted a workshop earlier, and my participants all shared this concern – is to ask, “Why are we being dubbed as ‘consumers?’” We are individual users, we are human beings, we are people. We should be dubbed as a person, and as a person we have rights, but those rights are different in every region because sometimes we have constitutional rights, in some places they accept the Universal Human Rights declaration, there are different ways to accept that.

      For example, in my country [Pakistan], my constitution provides me basic human rights with the provision that I will be regulated and I will be given permission for certain things and I won’t be given permission for certain things. So that is really important as well. So these three segments bring their own set of agendas, and problems and issues. To find synergies between them is going to keep the Internet going.

      To find another synergy between them is that, yes, the individual will always be the consumer, the individual will always be the one who is regulated most of the time, and there are rights. There may be different understandings of the rights, but there are rights. Net neutrality, yes. I think, and I still stand on this, I’ve been standing on this for the past decade, that as long the Internet stays open, and as long as there discussions about keeping it open, and as long as there are proponents of the open Internet, I think that will be the way forward for the IGF for a long time.

      Garland McCoy, founder of the Technology Policy Institute, US: I think it’s running very smoothly. I love the multistakeholder, flat architecture where, you know, prince or pauper kind of thing. Vint Cerf vs. Garland McCoy or anyone else, I mean obviously, he’s got a following, but in terms of how we are all allowed to have a voice and allowed to participate in this thing, I think is just outstanding. In compared to something like the ITU, which is still very much the old hierarchical, you know, you become the president and you get a house and you get a car and it’s all command and control top-down type of thing. This is very much the architecture of the Internet, it’s very much appropriate setting for discussing issues within the flat architecture of the Internet. So I think it is much more appropriate than the sort of old twisted-pair, copper-switched hierarchical way. I think it is very important to have this, very important to continue this.

      Yassine Charif, High Authority of Audiovisual Communications, Morocco: The discussion gives new ideas, a new vision, new ways of doing things. So the IGF can give so many things. So what I see is that until today all of the IGFs were concentrating on the technical aspects – ICANN, ISOC. So now, last year and this year, they are beginning to talk about diversity, gender, pluralism, about content. Because before they had that idea about neutrality of the network, which means that we don’t have to regulate contents. Now it’s changing. Even the providers, even the big firms like Google and Facebook, are understanding that the regulation of content must be done.

      Jyrki Kasvi, member of Parliament, Finland, representing the Green League: I think that if IGF were to be discontinued we would have to invent it again because there is no other place where these multiple stakeholders can meet. We have government meetings, we have this speaker, we have industry meetings, we have NGOs meeting about the Internet. It is the same problem as we have in the parliament, because there are part of these questions that fall into the legal committee, and part of it falls into the transportation and communications committee, and part of it falls into the finance committee.

      So in most countries you don’t have a committee where you are able to access the whole. In Finland we have a committee for the future but that’s another story, I have a stake in that quite by accident, but I am quite happy to do that. We need this kind of place where we can discuss it from multiple points of view, and the funny thing with the IGF, as we have discussed with quite a few friends here, is that the IGF has evolved. For example, when you think about Athens, people were not talking about crowdsourcing, they were not talking about cloud computing, they were not talking about social media, and if you look at the program now it is only about these things.

      The IGF is quite informal and unformulated, so it is also flexible and agile enough to react. The thing I would avoid is to define it too strongly because that would mean it would lose its best reason for existence.

      Juan Carlos Solines Moreno, Solines & Associates, Ecuador: Well after the first five years I think that we should step back and evaluate, besides the political decision of extending the IGF, the players that we have had intervene in this process have to step back and be very honest and see what are the flaws and what are the advancements we have done and create whatever amendmentss that the process requires and particularly identify what exactly is of public value that is created because at the local level, and the regional level and the global level, like the IGF, these efforts only make sense when they are creating value for the people, real value. From an academic standpoint it could be very interesting to have discussions, but that is at the academic level. The academia and the universities will create papers and provide many tools of analysis, but in terms of a multistakeholder approach in which very rich experiences are on the table, I think we should see if this mechanism is creating value for the people.

      Belhassen Zouari, CEO of Tunisian Computer Emergency Response Team: I think the IGF is a good thing because it is a space where different people from different cultures, from different roles [gather]. We have people from the private sector, public sector, associations and NGOs, and this is a good thing. This is a good thing. So it’s a good forum for meeting, for networking. But I think the negative point is that there are no resolutions. So we cannot decide anything, we can discuss. So the IGF is not complete. We have to complete it with other things to come and to obtain the resolutions and engage everyone.

      Mike Sax, president of sax.net, US: Well, I think that’s what people are trying to figure out here. One of the great things about IGF is that people are sharing ideas and talking what they feel passionate about without negotiating a specific text or limiting their words based on how it might affect their positions, their power positions, or influence. So this free exchange of ideas is what makes IGF unique and also valuable.

      Vasil Pefev, telerik.com, Bulgaria: I think IGF is making a difference. This is my first IGF meeting, but I do remember the IGF five years before, in the past, and it has moved a long way in the past five years. I believe IGF being in this open format where people can sit down and exchange ideas, what worked what didn’t work, will make the Internet better in the future so, bearing in mind the difference the Internet has made in the past five years, I believe it has a bright future.

      Joonas Makinen, Pirate Youth of Finland: I didn’t know about this until one random person who knew of it told me about it and asked me if I wanted to come along. There’s a huge resource of ideas here, and it should be for everyone. Everyone should know about it and be able to use it. It’s not just that some people who think they’re important can come here and discuss a little bit, although it might be very fascinating that they would discuss it themselves and make a memo of it that no one ever reads. People have to be told that this is a place where you can actually get your voice heard and where – if not decisions – at least some sort of, wishes aren’t enough either, anyway, we have to show definite will to change things according to ideas that are here.

      Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and Internet evangelist for Google: So first of all I do applaud the IGF’s continuation. I believe that it has been very useful forum, and, as it has been said in the past few days, that the fact that it is not a decision-making body is actually helpful because it is not necessary to express yourself in a way that tries to force your opinion on someone else. We don’t have to hammer out compromises that we don’t like. We need, however, to listen to what other parties have to say and be thoughtful about what we hear.

      IGF has been set up as a multistakeholder activity, which I strongly endorse; I think it should continue in that way. I think that if you come to the IGF meeting recognizing that your views may be different from those of others and if you come with an open mind, you may not be persuaded but the fact that you listen is important. So I would, certainly, hope that the IGF would continue to serve as a place where these issues, and ideas and opinions in all their diversity are expressed, and cause us to go home and think more carefully about what our objectives are, maybe to cause policies to be developed along lines that the IGF suggests. So it’s a very, very useful forum in which you can carry on these kinds of non-deterministic discussions. So I certainly will support it as long as I am able.

      Andrew Mack, founder, AMGlobal Consulting, US: The IGF should do what it does well and not do what other people are already doing. One of the concerns that I have is that the IGF has a tremendously important function right now. It is really the one place you can go in the world where you get people from all different walks of life, from all different countries, from all different sectors and perspectives in one room to talk about some of these big overarching issues.

      One of my concerns is that we don’t want the IGF as we know it to go away. There’s some concern about it being pulled more into the UN system and, while I understand the arguments behind it the downsides are much greater than the upsides because when it comes down to it the UN system works on the basis of countries. Countries vote, countries talk, countries have rights, really nobody else does because that’s the way that they are organized, which is fine for what it is, but we want a system where everyone, the NGO sector, the private sector, the government sector can all get together in one place. Changing that fundamental piece of the IGF, I think, would be a mistake.

      I think, fundamentally, the IGF as a voting body doesn’t make any sense. There are already other voting bodies that do that relatively well. This is a unique space and has unique value. I learn something every time I come here.

      Qusai Al-Shatti, Kuwait Information Technology Society: IGF is a policy dialogue platform. It is an independent policy dialogue platform on how to govern the Internet. In the last five years changes happened and the IGF contributed to that. We may differ in how much or what was the size, but it did change, and it will continue and with the multi-participation of people, which made it successful, changes will continue.

      Andrey Shcherbovich, Moscow State University Higher Economics: I would like to say that the IGF’s mandate should be extended not only for five years, but maybe permanently because the IGF represents the core of the exchange of opinions between different stakeholders involved in Internet governance, and this is the important point, the most important enterprise, the most important entity that could be the platform for finding a solutions for Internet governance. The major issues for the following IGFs could be providing a policy regarding Internet governance, to make Internet safer, more accessible, and maybe technically faster and cheaper for people anywhere in the world.

      David McGuire, vice president of 436 Communications, US: What’s nice about the IGF is it’s unique in the global Internet governance framework. There are a lot of treaty making organizations, there are, obviously, a great many national governments, there are standard setting bodies, and they all have a role to play, but IGF uniquely brings people together and allows stakeholders to participate equally at the table with one another.

      You can come from the smallest country and the smallest company in the smallest country and when you get to IGF, wherever it happens to be, you can participate on equal footing, sitting at the table. What that allows for is a great deal of frank interaction because IGF is not a decision-making body, which I think is a really critical aspect of its nature. People are able to have the sorts of discussions that they don’t or can’t have in an environment where everything has to be boiled down to an outcome.

      Kurt Lindqvist, CEO of NetNod, Sweden: Well I think the IGF is a fantastic forum for having all of these multi-stakeholder groups come together and talk about this. I think that will continue as we go forward, in the coming years in the new mandate. I think that we will have to find ways of having these open discussions and continuing with that, but I think already in the five years that we’ve had the IGF has changed a lot due to discussions, and I think that’s going to continue.

      Henry Judy, counsel, K&L Gates, US: I don’t think that the IGF can change the world. I don’t think that it has that kind of power, that it has that kind of force. It is one of many forces, I think, trying to keep the Internet open, trying to keep it accessible, but I don’t think that it has the power to change. As to what it ought to do as a priority matter, I think that it should do two things. Constantly bring pressure to bear to keep the Internet open and free, and that is largely, I think, a matter of fighting governments – certain governments – and to some extent, some business interests, but mainly the enemies of freedom, I think, are principally governments.

      I think the second thing that it can do is just kind of make noise. It can just keep the word out there, and provide a venue for organization and collaboration. I think that it is really its major contribution. I think I would put it that it can contribute in a major way simply though process.

      Vytautas Butrimas, Ministry of National Defense, Lithuania: I think my impression of the IGF so far during this conference is this emphasis on the goodness of the Internet. Freedom, no restrictions on net freedom, to not let the governments become too involved. It needs to recognize security. The security issue, if it’s not recognized in time, is going to ruin all of the good intentions of the IGF.

      Marjolijn Bonthuis, adjunct director at ECP-EPN, The Netherlands: Well, I think because it has no real mandate, and I’ll speak for the Netherlands, it is very important that a lot of people join the IGF, people who have enough influence in the countries itself because everybody is over here and you can influence the position of policymaking in every country. Speaking for The Netherlands we are not in a delegation with enough [seniority] so let’s hope with the extra mandate that more people with more influence join the IGF to make it bigger.

      Xu Jing, Peking University School of Journalism, China: I think it’s important for people to just be curious about the IGF. They may find what are the characteristics of the technology, and then people find it’s the media maybe social media or something, but now I think Internet really reconstructs our societies so we need to understand what society we are in. It’s totally different than the past. The issue I am interested in most is the Internet and social development because we really find the application of technology it really changed China a lot. But the ideas along with the use of Internet have also changed society, our values, our culture and, of course, our lifestyles.

      Robert Guerra, Canadian and project director, Internet Freedom, Freedom House: I don’t think IGF will change the world but I think the people involved with the IGF might change the world. The big success of the IGF has been that working together, and not having to come to decisions, not having formal badges that go on desks, and people being able to access each other in a really informed way has really been helpful. The moment you formalize anything it is going to put in procedural roadblocks that might make it a lot harder.

      I hope that the IGF continues to be an information-sharing venue, but I think ultimately what’s going to help the world think what the Internet, five, 10, 15 years from now is able to provide, and that really depends on it really reaching the next 2 billion people.

      Tracy Hackshaw, Internet Society ambassador to IGF from Trinidad & Tobago: If it is extended, and we hope it will be, there’s always been a debate about, “What can this bring to the world?” It’s multistakeholder and full participation – I disagree that it’s full, but there’s an attempt to make it full. There’s more participation now but there still lacks – at the end of it – something to take it forward.

      I’m not saying decisions as one would say there’s decisionmaking [at IGF], but there should be something that is powerful enough that people listen to it. I don’t know what to call it – a communiqué – just that there’s some sort of statement by the people who are here – that we believe these are the things we should be focusing on, and you should listen to it.

      I think that in the five years that have passed it has not been that much listened to, and I also think the developing world’s participation has been very weak. It’s growing now with remote participation and funding by Internet Society, DiploFoundation, the ITU and so on – funding people to come to these IGFs – but still I can count on my hands and fingers and toes the people who are not European or from America here.

      We need to have more of that to make it truly global and have a true impact on the world stage.

      Fernando Botelho, F123.org, Brazil: In terms of the issues that people with disabilities have to face, we find excellent examples of how sectors, be it the governmental sectors, the civil society organizations and the private sector, when they operate alone they rarely deliver solutions that actually work in the day-to-day lives of people. So the IGF can definitely change the world, but it has to ensure that you have a dialogue of constructive interaction and even conflict, but as long as it’s constructive conflict, this interaction between the three sectors of society because otherwise the private sector may not consider human rights, the government sector may not be able to allow innovation, and the NGO sector may not be able to have sustainability, because the strengths of each area would be profitability and effectiveness in the private sector, scalability and large-scale impact in the government sector and human rights and kind of an overall vision of society’s needs in the NGO and civil society sector.

      You need to have all of those layers in order to have effective change.

      Rafid Fatani, PhD student at the University of Exeter, UK, from Saudi Arabia: I really think that the IGF is a brilliant forum to discuss, and have dialogue and an exchange of ideas. I honestly believe that with this exchange of dialogue different stakeholders can talk to each other, and express their opinions, express their fears, and with that I think it helps the Internet become a more inclusive for everyone.

      – Interviews were conducted by Samantha Baranowski, Kirsten Bennett and Drew Smith, researchers from Elon University’s School of Communications, under the supervision of Glenn Scott, associate professor, and Janna Anderson, associate professor and director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon. 

      – The transcript of these video interviews was prepared by Lindsay Fendt,
      a student researcher with the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University

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