Net Mundial gets underway in Brazil to discuss future of the internet

23 Apr 2014

The first discussions on the future governance of the internet have gotten underway today (23 April) as part of the Net Mundial forum being held in Brazil.

The two-day event was organised by Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, to not just coincide with the internet’s 25th anniversary, but also coming a month after the United States government announced that it was to relinquish its sole control over the governance of the internet from 2015 having previously distributed web addresses and internet codes from its National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) department.

Now it is hoped that the 850 government officials, academics and influential members of the internet community can come to a shared global system in place by the end of next year.

The original decision by the US to move total control away from themselves was originally greeted with optimism given their recent history of data-mining and accusations of spying on millions of people across the globe under the umbrella of the National Security Agency (NSA).

The event, which will include speakers and guests including the man associated with founding the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has also released initial guidelines for internet governance that will be debated and either agreed upon or amended over the next two days including articles such as human rights, unified and unfragmented space and the security, stability and resilience of the internet.

While initial understandings indicate that most governments are in favour of the proposed charter put forward, there appears to be major disagreement over how the charter should be governed on an international scale.

Countries including Russia and China want the charter to be protected and enforced under the framework of the United Nations (UN) but many of the western nations including the US, the UK and
Australia want an entirely separate organisation to create a system of governance on the internet.

In a statement released on Monday, the US Department of State said that the document’s focus should not be entirely on a system of governance: “The document should focus on promoting cooperation to deal with cybercrime and cyber-security instead of advancing controversial treaties or international agreements.”

Global internet governance image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic