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The points discussed in this document represent W3C's position on the topic of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in November 2005.

General Statement of Support: W3C Principles Align with WSIS Principles

W3C recognizes the importance of the WSIS Declaration of Principles and strongly shares the vision of an Information Society in which everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge. As we "collectively enter a new era of enormous potential", to quote the last article of the declaration, we are convinced that the W3C mission of "leading the Web to its full potential" aligns with the goal of building this new knowledge society.

Primary Issues: Digital Divide, Internet Governance

The two primary issues that WSIS faces today are:

  1. the Digital Divide
  2. Internet Governance, broadly speaking

W3C has a strong stake in both of them.

1.1 Digital Divide: W3C Process and Actions Promote Inclusion

Articles 44, 48 and 49 of the WSIS Declaration of Principles are particularly important for us. They state that:

Standardization is one of the essential building blocks of the Information Society." and that "International organizations have also had and should continue to have an important role in the development of Internet-related technical standards and relevant policies.

W3C process and actions illustrate W3C's international stature and commitment to inclusion:

1.2 Internet Governance: W3C Focus on Broad Issues

W3C develops the foundation of the World Wide Web. We build on Internet technology and other parties, in turn, build on the Web standards published by W3C. In a sense, Web technology development places us in the "middle" of the Internet Governance discussion, somewhere between underlying protocols and overlying social issues. Consequently, W3C's position on Internet Governance, or on Internet Coordination more generally, is that:

Because of all these reasons, and because W3C feels responsible for keeping the management of low level layers of the Internet open and unfragmented, we have accepted to sit on the ICANN board and follow up on any potential IG Forum started in this area.


For W3C, the WSIS was an opportunity to increase participation, and hear new views, from organizations and individuals not yet involved in the development of Web standards.

W3C, much like IETF, has primary responsibility for important layers of Internet and Web standardization, and as such, it needs continuous participative support of both governments (given its public service nature), and industry (for competitive market growth and utilization reasons).

ICT standardization, even though not yet on the agenda of WGIG per se, has lots of policy implications (e.g., W3C WAI guidelines and legislation) and we welcome in particular more cooperation with UN affiliated groups (UNESCO, ITU, UN Information System) and with eGovernment/Public agencies worldwide.

Appendix: Missions of Various Organizations

Explanations from various Web sites.

Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. These services were originally performed under U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs the IANA function. Read more general information.
Information Society Technologies (IST)
The Information Society and Media Directorate General supports the development and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for the benefit of all citizens. See mission statement for more.
WSIS World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
Phase I: The objective of the first phase [Dec 2003] was to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and take concrete steps to establish the foundations for an Information Society for all, reflecting all the different interests at stake. See Basic information about WSIS for more.
Phase II: The road to Tunis [Nov 2005] entails a process of monitoring and evaluation of the progress of feasible actions laid out in the Geneva Plan and a concrete set of deliverables that must be achieved by the time the Summit meets again in Tunis in November 2005. Efforts are now being made to put the Plan of Action into motion and working groups are being set up to find solutions and reach agreements in the fields of Internet governance and financing mechanisms. These working groups will provide inputs to the second phase of WSIS in Tunis. Also, measures will be taken to bridge the digital divide and hasten the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals with the help of ICTs.
Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG)
The main activity of the WGIG was "to investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of Internet by 2005." The WGIG was asked to present the result of its work in a report "for consideration and appropriate action for the second phase of the WSIS in Tunis 2005." See About WGIG for more.

Daniel Dardailler, W3C
Last updated: $Date: 2005/11/21 15:15:41 $