W3C and Internet Governance

I’d like to take the opportunity of my (but not W3C!) leaving a “board seat” on the UN/IGF MAG after 5 years of service to make a short report on our presence in this forum, and introduce our new W3C rep for IGF, Wendy Seltzer.

W3C, IETF, ISOC, ICANN, and other players in the Internet/Web technical ecosystem share similar views on the governance of these platforms, which are so important to humanity. At the heart of our activities since day one are important principles such as neutrality, multi-stakeholder and balanced participation, open and due process, consensus based decisions, open deliverables, and online accountability/transparency.

In order to educate the growing number of policy makers interested in ICT about the importance of these principles, W3C has participated for many years in global discussions about Internet Governance. We bring to the table expertise about global ICT standards development for the Web and the Internet, including the relationship between technology and society in areas such as privacy, internationalization, security, and accessibility.

In the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) we have long supported an open, inclusive, and highly international forum to discuss the future direction of Internet growth and governance. Our role as technical community leader is to foster, as part of a sound Internet and Web governance framework, the development and deployment of interoperable and open ICT standards, such as ours for the Web, leading to more innovation and better communications. Our participation is also a way to expand the W3C network and awareness internationally, as well as an opportunity to share with others our experience in running a successful consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder forum on a worldwide scale.

As a member of the IGF steering board (the MAG, Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group), along with other representatives from the technical community, governments, civil society, private sector, and as a representative of W3C, I helped review proposals, gave opinions on programs, workshops for the plenary meeting, selected the topics of discussion, and I also chaired several sessions. I was also at the origine of one of the first Dynamic Coalition of the IGF, DCOS, a subcommittee to focus on the specific topic of Open Standards to raise the topic profile within the Internet Governance community.

W3C’s involvement in accessibility effort at the IGF is also worth mentioning. Our Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) organized the first accessibility panel at the first IGF in Athens, and since then, we’ve been one of the core participants of the IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD), with Shadi Abou-Zahra active since its inception. Judy Brewer, head of the WAI, was involved early in the pre-WSIS preparations with me, and was one of the main speakers on accessibility at the WSIS itself in Tunis.

Those IGF working group efforts will continue, and in 2012, after resolving within the MAG that rotation of individuals was a good thing, we’re happy to announce that Wendy Seltzer becomes our new UN/IGF/MAG representative.

Wendy is a member of the W3C Technology & Society team, and an expert in intellectual property, privacy, and free expression online. She speaks and writes on open standard, copyright, patent, open source, and the public interest online in general, and will be a strong addition to the 2012 IGF MAG, as one of the Internet technical community expert.

Wendy’s initial focus will be to prepare for the seventh IGF yearly gathering, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in November 2012.

We anticipate a number of important topics will be discussed, such as the effects of new technical and political instruments or regulations on the free flow of information, or the right balance between IPR protection, freedom of expression, and sharing of content and culture.

Tell us what you think are the most important Net governance topics in 2012 and if you think the current IGF program will cover them.

You can either send your input to team-liaisons@w3.org to share only with the W3C staff, or leave a comment below to share with everyone.