Byron Holland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). View bio
Recently, I blogged about the ITU Plenipotentiary 2010 (PP10) conference in Mexico, here, and here. There was a lot of activity and discussion both inside and outside the ITU conference (it was not a public event, nor were any of the documents that were discussed made public) about what the future of the ITU’s involvement with the Internet would be.
For years, the ITU has been making repeated attempts at taking over the Internet, basically ignoring existing organizations, like ICANN, who are involved in running the Internet. There were some very interesting – and concerning – resolutions put forward at PP10, including one that would have seen ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee replaced with an ITU-appointed body.
In the end, the ITU plenary agreed to a number of watered down, benign (from my point of view) resolutions. There’s a good wrap up of the conference here, including the resolutions passed by the ITU in Mexico.
However, there was one resolution that sparked my interest. It related to initiating discussions to work with organizations that already work in the Internet governance arena. ICANN was named by the ITU as one of these organizations. Interestingly, the mere mention of ICANN in an ITU resolution is seen as a breakthrough. What kind of world is it when the mere acknowledgement that there are other players involved in running the Internet is considered a huge step forward?
What all of the activity around the PP10 showed me is that Internet governance is increasingly important, not just to those of us who attend ITU and ICANN meetings, but to everyone. The Internet touches all of our lives, both personally and professionally. As I stated in an earlier post, the Internet really is the greatest driver of the economy since the invention of the steam engine, and has given voice to the voiceless.
It should be, then, the goal of those of us on the ‘inside’ to do two things. First, we should start communicating what happens at these fora in a meaningful way, and second, we should listen. The Internet doesn’t belong to ICANN or IANA or the ITU. It belongs to everybody, so it only makes sense that we take the time to listen.
That’s why I’m proud to say that this week, CIRA, with some help from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Media Awareness Network (MNet) has started a new initiative, a Canadian Internet forum. Over the next month, we will be hosting regional, by-invitation consultations in Winnipeg, Halifax, Iqaluit, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
This forum will be the place to discuss, debate and propose directions for the development, deployment and governance of the Internet in Canada. In essence, we are charting Canada’s Internet future. If you are not participating in the consultation, have no fear. You will have plenty of opportunity to have your voice heard throughout the process (including via an online discussion forum), and the outcomes will be discussed at a national, open-to-the-public event in February 2011.