Elon University

ISOC 20th Anniversary Opening Keynote – Lynn St.Amour, CEO and president

ISOC 20th Anniversary LogoBrief session description:

Monday, April 23, 2012Lynn St.Amour, president and CEO of the Internet Society, aimed her keynote at Global INET 2012 at illuminating how individuals can impact the strength and well-being of human communications networks in the future. St.Amour first joined ISOC in 1998 and advanced through the ranks. She was global executive director and chief operating officer before she was named president and CEO in 2001. Before joining ISOC, St.Amour, a University of Vermont graduate, worked at General Electric, Digital Equipment Corporation and AT&T. She has experience in international sales and marketing, strategic planning, partner management, manufacturing, corporate restructuring and startup management in the United States and abroad.

Click here to read a transcript of the talk.
Click here to view video of the complete keynote.

      Details of the session:

      To conclude the opening session, ISOC President and CEO Lynn St.Amour took to the podium to remind conference attendees where ISOC has come and where its leaders hope they will go in the future.

      “At the Internet Society,” she said, “we are very excited to be celebrating 20 years as a mission-based organization. Our mission is to support the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for everyone on earth.” She said people were also participating in Global INET via webcast and at 13 remote-participation hubs around the world. She noted the roles of support for the IETF and other aspects of ISOC’s involvement in global efforts. She reflected on the Internet Society’s singular goal of building a global, open Internet for all.

      “One of our greatest challenges is getting all people connected,” she said, “specifically the four and a half billion people around the world who are not currently on the Internet. For many of them, Internet access has been prohibitively expensive if it has been available at all. While this is improving through smartphones and other technologies, there is no telling what will happen if we empower the creativity of those four and a half billion people.”

      Throughout her talk she emphasized the core principles of the Internet Society.

      Amour“Everything that is good and right about the Internet reflects this approach,” she said, pointing out that ISOC promotes a multistakeholder model without a governing heirarchy and encourages that “permissionless innovation” be sustained as an architectural principle of the Internet. “What enabled all of this was a collaborative, community-based, open process,” she said.

      St.Amour talked about the state of the Internet at the time ISOC was founded.

      “Twenty years ago the idea of a data network with a global reach was something that hadn’t penetrated the consciousness of most people,” she pointed out. “And 20 years ago the Internet was not on the radar of the general business community. And 20 years ago it wasn’t something governments treated as central to their economic or social progress. In fact, many countries were not even connected. Finally, 20 years ago who would have imagined that governance over the Internet would be such a polarizing debate, that the core values that would make the Internet’s growth possible and that remain absolutely essential to its future were already visible.”

      She went on to say that when the Internet Society was founded the concept that the use of the Internet is a “fundamental human right” would probably have been seen as a fringe idea. Since then, organic growth online has led to a commonly held belief by many that perhaps access to communications networks should be a human right.

      St.Amour, who joined ISOC in 1998 after working in the fields of global IT and international business, highlighted the positive economic impact of the Internet. She noted that the Boston Consulting Group reported that Internet contributed $2.3 trillion to the world’s biggest economies in 2010, adding that if the Internet were a soveriegn nation it would trail only the United States, China, Japan, Germany and France in economic clout.

      She tackled the fact that the Internet has been a distruptive influence in regard to 20th century business models, saying the consulting firm McKinsey reports that in France the Internet has added 1.2 million jobs in the last 15 years, more than double the 500,000 jobs that have been displaced there due to the digital revolution. Reports show 75 percent of the value added by the Internet worldwide has been in traditional industries.

      She spoke out against “obstacles with the potential to impede progress,” citing as examples the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Protect Internet Protocol Act (PIPA) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and said, “the challenges keep coming.”

      “This year there are a number of international proposals that threaten to jeopardize some of the core principles of the Internet,” she warned. “These proposals could result in countries assessing higher fees for data traffic, resulting in higher costs for everyone, and raising the likelihood that some people would not use these services because they are more expensive. Clearly this approach would not advance economic development and would harm those who can least afford it. The language of some of the other proposals would compromise privacy or impact citizens’ rights or allow nations to restrict the free flow of content that passes over their networks. If this happens the Internet will become a series of checkpoints and would become balkanized.”

      She said everyone must work to protect the Internet, to “do everything possible to make sure people everywhere reap the economic and social benefits of the network.”

      St.Amour, who was recognized with a lifetime achievement award at the conclusion of the 20th Anniversary Gala later, on Monday evening, reminded the audience that an open and accessible Internet will only increase the amount of creativity and innovation that can be unleashed, echoing Jimmy Wales’s earlier statements.

      “We have all worked hard to create a free, open and accessible Internet, one that is not walled, not censored, not fractured and we have to keep on working,” she urged. “Given the challenges of today and those coming we must be vigilant in defending the Internet’s principles and continue to support the multistakeholder model and the institutions that have so clearly contributed to its growth to date. We all have a stake in preserving the Internet, and this should be our global call to action.”

      – Reporter: Rachel Southmayd

      Return to home page for Imagining the Internet’s
      coverage of the Global INET Conference 2012
      Imagining the Internet Home
      Internet Society Home Page

      Twitter Logo A selection of Twitter Reports from this ISOC 20th event:

      Lynn St.Amour, @InternetSociety CEO, to highlight individuals’ responsibility to advance the Internet. #ISOC 20

      ISOC promotes Core Values of the Internet in many ways. List of Values and Principles #ISOC 20  #GlobalINET

      ISOC has discussed Core Values in many venues #ISOC 20  #GlobalINET

      Envisioning the omnipresent, benevolent future of the Internet @LynnStAmour #ISOC 20  #GlobalINET

      St.Amour: “20 years ago many countries weren’t connected. The Core Values that remain essential were already visible.” #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

      St.Amour: “Based in a multistakeholder process, Internet has always grown organically with permissionless innovation.” #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

      St.Amour: “There is emerging consensus that the Internet must become a fundamental human right; we have a long way to go.” #GlobalINET

      St.Amour: “There are 2.4 jobs created for every job lost” through disruptive innovation brought about by Internet.” #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

      St.Amour: Core principles of Internet are threatened by proposed legislation all over world. Restricting rights, innovation. #GlobalINET

      St.Amour: There’s no telling what will happen if we empower all of the people who are not yet online and equal to all. #GlobalINET #ISOC 20

      St.Amour: “The job is not done…We have worked hard to create a free, open, accessible Internet and we have to keep working.” #GlobalINET

      The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at the Internet Society’s 20th Anniversary Global INET Conference included the following Elon University students, faculty, staff and friends: Jacquie Adams, Dan Anderson, Janna Anderson, Kacie Anderson, Nicole Chadwick, Jeff Flitter, Addie Haney, Brandon Marshall, Brian Meyer, Caitlin O’Donnell, Rachel Southmayd and Rebecca Smith.