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Q6: Public Policy Issues

ISOC has provided a variety of services and activities related to public policy. It publishes briefings on the web for the education of its members. It participated extensively in WSIS and participates in the IGF.

Many of our members and chapters consider national ICT policy a primary focus, working with ICANN and the RIRs among others in various ways. Organizational members have the opportunity to use ISOC as an additional correlative voice in the relevant fora. ISOC members and chapters have also directly advised government entities on the relationship between requirements for forensic access to the Internet, individual privacy, and the impacts of both on commerce as a small example of areas where we have been active.

What public policy issues do you believe will need to be addressed during your tenure, and how would you recommend that ISOC respond to them?

How do you see the involvement of ISOC and of ISOC chapters and members?

This entry was posted by the ISOC Elections Committee on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 7:42 am. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 or Atom 1.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Q6: Public Policy Issues”

  1. Comment by: Jason Livingood   
    April 22nd, 2011 at 1:34 am

    From the perspective of governance and standards, it is important for ISOC to continue to educate various stakeholders and reiterate the critical role that open Internet standards and open, consensus-based organizations like ISOC and the IETF have played in the development and success of the Internet. Furthermore, ISOC can reiterate that this model is indispensible to the continued success of the Internet, and that no one party can hold sway over or govern the Internet on their own.

    I also believe that hot policy issues will include IPv4 address exhaustion and the transition to IPv6 (including underutilized address space and address transfers), expanded use of DNSSEC and the stability and security of the DNS generally, end user security (including the proliferation of malware and bot networks), end user privacy (including concepts like ‘do not track’), intellectual property theft, content and application blocking (ranging from network neutrality to government-mandated filtering and blocking), programs to improve the speed and adoption of Internet access, increased cybercrime, state and non-state cyber warfare, and wholesale country-wide Internet blocking.

    There is much that ISOC can do, but to do so most effectively it is important to engage ISOC chapters and members. This has already been happening in some regions and with organization members on critical policy issues, but the next few years we may see so many of these policy issues raised simultaneously that ISOC will need to leverage and depend upon all types of members and chapters to effectively engage the right stakeholders all around the world on the key issues. As a result, it is important that ISOC continue to develop strong chapters and a strong organizational advisory council, which it can then rely on in critical times to focus on important Internet policy issues.

    Jason Livingood

  2. Comment by: Nick Ashton-Hart   
    April 27th, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I believe that the most critical public policy issue that faces the Internet – and which ISOC should be more engaged in – is the protection of the openness of the Internet from those who wish to control what users can do, limit their ability to speak and communicate freely, and monitor them. To be clear though, this is without prejudice to the importance of the access to the Internet for those who don’t have it and the other programmes and technical activities of ISOC; since other questions in this forum address those areas I’m excluding them from my answer to this question.

    ISOC is active in this area of policy, but not as visible as it should be in my view, nor is it as active as it could and should be.

    As a Geneva-based policy person, I know at first-hand how the struggle for control of the management of the Internet is taking place at international institutions: at the ITU, in the follow-up to the World Summit for the Information Society; at UNCTAD in the meetings of the Commission for Science and Technology for Development; and last but not least ISOC should be more engaged on this issue with decision-makers in the WTO context.

    The WTO is an incredibly important forum where we can have a major impact in ensuring that Members understand that their ability to build a sustainable future in the information age is linked to the level of control they try to exert over the Internet. So far, this message is not getting through effectively enough because there are not enough stakeholders trying to make that point. This, despite the fact that WTO members have obligations not to create trade-distortions and there can be little doubt that many policy choices related to the Internet can impact Internet-based trade.

    There are many who see freedom of information as a classical human rights issue – which of course it is. Sadly, though, I think we all know that there are many countries who aren’t really very interested in human rights arguments. For those countries, we need another argument in favour of an open Internet, and trade and economics provides a compelling additional argument.

    The technical knowledge of Internet operations that so many ISOC members have is an amazing resource to assist in making the link in their countries and regions about the unintended consequences of public policy decisions impacting the openness of the Internet. I believe that a greater emphasis on defending the open Internet should engage the membership of ISOC as a critical resource and empower the members to explain why openness is not just something that’s nice to have – that it is the foundation that has driven development of the Internet for social, cultural and economic development.

    Some people may see the open Internet agenda as of primary interest to those who already enjoy Internet connectivity that’s pervasive and affordable. I don’t believe that’s true – after all, if the Internet becomes more closed and balkanised due to national decisions that impact information flows, then pervasive, global services become less and less global and features become less and less compelling – which of course means that those new users who come online due to access improvements will have an Internet that is less valuable in every sense of the word than what everyone else has enjoyed so far.

    I believe that the fight to keep the Internet open is one of the great public policy battles of the 21st century. I also believe that ISOC should be more of a leader in that battle and ISOC and its members should have a central role amongst all international NGOs in that battle; with our membership’s diversity and technical knowledge, ISOC could be almost uniquely effective in ensuring that the Internet of today remains open for all, not just those who enjoy connections now but critically for those who will get connected.

    ISOC should be more engaged in these institutions – and it should re

  3. Comment by: Theresa Swinehart   
    May 2nd, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    ISOC’s work around public policy issues and its leadership in Internet governance related dialogues is an important element of addressing emerging Internet issues and policy frameworks impacting the future. To this extent, ISOC’s leadership in numerous fora, including the Internet Governance Forum, its role in ITAC for the OECD, and other fora addressing Internet policy and governance issues has been instrumental to informing debates.
    There are a wide range of public policy issues facing the Internet today that require an understanding of the technical areas, political dynamics and policy implications. ISOC is well positioned to inform discussions around many topics, but those key to the future will be ones relevant to trans-border data flows, investment and innovation, and dialogues around governance frameworks. Issues impacting these areas involve many different organizations and entities which benefit from ISOC’s role and work and ability to bridge the technical, political and policy while also engaging in projects to inform the next generations.
    Members and chapters can provide an additional useful resource to ISOC’s work to educate and inform policy debates. Members and chapters provide knowledge on specific topics or developments, while also serving as a mechanism through which to share ISOC work to a wider community. The strengthening of dialogues within and amongst members and chapters will be an important mechanism to generate further awareness of ISOC’s work, and input to national, regional and international dialogues through different avenues. Additionally, ISOC’s work with different organizations, including other Internet related organizations such as the RIRs, ICANN, etc., has and will continue to be an important part of work in this area.

  4. Comment by: Bill Smith   
    May 17th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    The Internet Society is and should remain active in public policy fora. As the Internet becomes an evermore integral part of our lives, policy makers will feel compelled to make policy. In order to make effective policy, these policy makers will need to be well-informed and ISOC, in cooperation with others, can help to inform and educate.

    In addition, in order to be effective, “Internet policies” will need to be harmonized internationally. ISOC is uniquely positioned to help with both national and international policy. Through its regional activities, ISOC can help policy makers at the national level understand the complex issues facing them. At the international level, ISOC has the ability to influence in a variety of venues, e.g. IGF and ICANN.

    Internet Governance is a policy issue that will continue to be discussed and debated. The Internet Society should remain actively engaged in this discussion and demonstrate leadership by continuing to advocate for the multi-stakeholder model. ISOC’s voice carries significant weight as a long-lived respected Internet organization.