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Internet Governance System Working But Needs to be More Inclusive, UN Forum Told

02-04-2004 (Paris)
The current system of Internet governance seems to be working well, but the question was how to better coordinate the work of specialized bodies and ensure the involvement of all stakeholders, participants told the two-day Global Forum on Internet Governance last week in New York.
The Forum examined different areas of Internet governance, including infrastructure, electronic commerce, intellectual property, privacy issues, spam and consumer protection.

While participants stressed the need to facilitate dialogue, build capacity in developing countries and overcome technical aspects that prevent universal access - such as language barriers in the mostly English-speaking Internet - representatives from the private sector expressed the view that "If it works, don't fix it" and that "the best governance is the least governance."

In contrast, developing countries felt that the current system did not involve them enough and reflected a crisis of legitimacy not just in Internet governance but also in global governance.

In a Position Paper prepared for the event, UNESCO stressed that Internet governance mechanisms should be based on the principle of “openness”, encompassing interoperability, freedom of expression and measures to resist any attempt to censor content.

The outcome of the Forum will be submitted to Secretary-General Kofi Annan "as a platform and a helping tool," said Jose-Maria Figueres Olsen, Chairman of the UNICT Task Force, which organized the Forum.

The Forum's results will be used by Mr. Annan to help establish a Working Group on Internet Governance called for last December by the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society. Mr. Annan appointed Swiss diplomat Markus Kummer as the head of a secretariat to assist him in setting up the Working Group.
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