Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min
The Internet Society Open Forum is dedicated to IGF participants and to our own ISOC community members (chapters, orgnanizational and individual members) that have tirelessly advocated for protecting the Internet from becoming the splinternet. There have been signs of a looming splinternet for years. However, the war in Ukraine and recent geopolitical events have led the Internet closer than ever to a tipping point. The Internet Society has focused much of its work to protect and defend the Internet on studying and advocating against various threats that could lead to this worst-case scenario. This includes producing research on different paths to a splinternet, including Internet Impact briefs studying the impact of various threats related to the war in Ukraine, studying how different national approaches to digital sovereignty could impact the Internet, and launching a long-term community-driven campaign to protect the Internet. A splinternet would set back decades worth of connectivity efforts to make sure the open, globally-connected global Internet is for everyone. This Open Forum will bring an opportunity to promote an interactive and collaborative session to showcase and continue discussing how together we can protect the Internet as we know it today.
The roundtable format will guarantee enough time for discussion (30'). Interventions from both online and onsite participants will be encouraged. The online and onsite moderator will coordinate interventions to allow all attendees to share their insights. The organizational team has experience in hosting hybrid and online sessions, and they will make sure that participation is encouraged and respected by speakers.
Agustina Callegari, Internet Society, Technical Community, LAC Natalie Campbell, Internet Society, Technical Community, WEG
Andrew Sullivan, CEO, Internet Society
Adugna Necho Mulatu, Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter Leader
Emmanuel Ogu, community member, #deargov initiative
Mirja Kuehlewind, IAB Chair
Natalie Campbell, Senior Director, North American Government and Regulatory Affairs, Internet Society
Noelle Guzman, Senior Advisor, Policy and External Engagement, Internet Society
Mark Carvell, Internet governance consultant, WEG
Agustina Callegari, Internet Society, Technical Community, LAC
Agustina Callegari, Internet Society, Technical Community, APAC
Targets: The Internet has been recognized as a powerful enabler for the Sustainable Development Goals. The Internet Society works to grow and strengthen the Internet, directly contributing to SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure). In addition, increasing Internet access can actually contribute to reducing inequality (SDG 10). As ISOC's work it's done in partnership with its community and other organizations, there is also a link to SDG 17.
Internet fragmentation is a theme for good reason, this year we have seen an increasing number of government decisions on geopolitics that are bringing greater concerns that could lead to the splinternet.
We all (stakeholders) have a responsibility to protect the Internet from fragmentation
Join the Internet Society movement to protect the Internet
Augustina and Andrew introduced the topic and speakers.
Panelists' discussion on the topic:
- Referred to knitting as an analogue to appreciate the efforts put to build the internet and making it such an incredible source. She emphasized that stakeholders could work together to build a bigger, stronger and more resilient internet by following a simple pattern that is bigger than anyone as it brings value through global connection.
- We all have a responsibility to protect the internet from fragmentation.
- The internet has seen concerning trends on the splinternet that can lead to a future we do not want (splinternet).
- The internet is made of the foundation of critical properties that all together form the internet’s way of working. She compared it to being a business model for the internet. It is the simple foundation that the internet exists, it is what separates it from other types of networks like an office internet.
- Referencing the knitting analogy, the internet is a simple pattern that enables any network to become a part of the global sweater that benefits all.
- The internet is not just about technology, every network that wants to participate on the internet must adhere to the foundation that enables us to be globally connected.
- The splinternet is the opposite of the internet. It is the idea that the open globally connected internet that we all use that splinters into a collection of islands that do not connect to each other.
- We are worried about the splinternet because businesses, governments and organisations are increasingly making decisions that can undermine how the internet works. And unknowingly or knowingly starts to unravel the incredible resource that we have put so much effort into creating.
- Internet fragmentation is a theme for good reason. This year we have seen an increasing number of government decisions on geopolitics that are bringing greater concerns that could lead to the splinternet.
- The splinternet would complicate our ability to communicate with each other by fragmenting the internet to separate networks that do not work together so easily. Having zoom calls will be difficult, and people may have to pay to work on a shared document.
- There many causes of the splinternet including:
- Internet shutdowns- When the government tries to disconnect the networks within its borders from the internet has serious consequences for its citizens. It's like unravelling the sleeve from the sweater and disconnecting from the global resource (internet).
- There are political decisions that could lead to the splinternet. For example, in the Ukraine war there have been calls to disconnect other networks from the internet. This goes against the principles that make the internet thrive.
- Threats to mitigate policies and business decisions that do not protect the internet and its existence. With governments tackling hard and complicated issues like misinformation, disinformation, and online harm. In trying to mitigate these harms, governments are proposing decisions that do not understand the impact on the internet and what makes it thrive.
- To protect the internet, the Internet Society has created an impact assessment toolkit which is like the environment impact assessment but for the internet. The toolkit is based on two white papers:
- The critical properties of the internet’s way of networking which establishes the internet; and
- The enablers of a globally accessible, secure, and trustworthy internet.
- The Internet Society has been using the tool kit to analyze decisions and proposals around the world to understand how they impact the internet and educate businesses and governments on how to mitigate these harms. This has allowed the Internet Society has collaborated with the community and led to engaging in conversations with the said governments and businesses.
- Heads the #deargov organization in Nigeria.
- He indicated he had applied the Internet Society toolkit, which is easy to understand the incentives and motivations for those governments around the world, particularly in Africa continue to seek pathways for consolidating interests and control around the internet and data resources.
- The concern of bits of the internet being controlled without recourse of the long-term effect and the impact will be on the open model of the internet.
- They have been supporting the Nigerian government through policy recommendation. Recently they worked on two policy recommendations or regulations that the government sought to propose they include:
- The Social Media Bill which we recommended the government to address the impact of the regulation on an interconnected model of the internet.
- 2021 Twitter Ban. They looked at the economic implications in the long run on the ban.
- Governments usually have genuine intentions and interests in tackling internet issues e.g., cybercrimes, child pornography, hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation. However, the approach is the problem there is a disconnect between the intentions and the drafting of policies and laws. This leads to stakeholders feeling their interests and concerns are undermined in the drafting or proposals of the regulations. Thus, the Dear gov organization works with governments and stakeholders to try and build a multi-stakeholder perspective that allows all stakeholders to see the entirety of what the regulation proposes in terms of human rights, and accessibility of the internet and does not favour certain players more than others.
- The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is one of the three leadership groups of the IETF, the main organization tasked with developing and maintaining some of the internet protocols.
- The role of IAB is to provide architecture oversight, not just the protocols, but it tries to get the big picture of how everything works together and whether there are gaps and trying have conversations with the organisations to fill the gaps.
- It's also a contact point for STOs.
- The IAB is a group of experts who sometimes have differing opinions, but the group is monitoring and discussing the global development of internet governance and its impact on the internet and the quest for digital sovereignty.
- The IETF’s mission is to make the internet better. But is you look at its mission statement, it defines ‘better’ in terms of where the internet comes from. The mission statement states, ‘We want to make the internet useful for communities that share our commitment to openness and fairness.’ It is what the internet is based on and what the IETF is committed to.
- The success of the internet is based on how we design it based on a set of principles and create building blocks that you can use in different ways together, which has provided the success and innovation on the internet that you can see so many services that have bloomed over time. It is one of the base principles for maintaining the protocols and technology that provide the internet.
- Deployment of new technology (protocols) gets blocked in the name of digital sovereignty. This is concerning, especially if the protocols are supposed to provide better security and user privacy. It is also concerning that the blocking is happening on the internet infrastructure, thus fundamentally affecting internet connectivity and interoperability. Further, it limits innovation.
- The internet is designed as a global network of networks, and trying to enforce measures that set national boundaries on it goes against some of the basic design principles and puts the future of the internet at risk. Thus, we should all work together to keep it as one, open and globally connected internet.
- On the topic of there being many paths of internet fragmentation and focused on one path. The one has been driven by governments that want to exercise their sovereignty over how the internet works within their borders. It is referred to as digital sovereignty or internet sovereignty, or tech sovereignty.
- This has been a subject of the Internet Society this year. Digital sovereignty means a lot of different things to different people in different countries. Thus, it's unwise to equate internet sovereignty to internet fragmentation. Some may be well-meaning people who are using this term (fragmentation) and expressing support to digital sovereignty.
- There is one approach to digital sovereignty that could fragment the internet. One of the reasons a government or State wants to assert sovereignty in the digital space is when it is worried about its national security. Thus, its reasons for wanting to secure the digital space within its borders are a way of making the country more secure. This becomes a threat to the internet because a State wants to implement it by giving itself the power to control how the internet works locally. It wants to have a greater hand in managing the internet infrastructure or directing how networks operate; for example, when a government through its agency wants to control the flow of traffic within the country or to and from the country, it comes up with its own routing policies.
- Another example is when a government tells everyone to synchronize their clocks in their ICT system to only one source at a time (the government servers). Typically, systems synchronize their clocks with multiple time sources to minimize the risk of getting the wrong time. It's part of what makes the internet robust and resilient.
- From the above examples, we can see an attempt to centralize the processes and mechanisms that are decentralized and distributed on the internet.
- A final example is one country requiring operators to use the DNS reservoirs that are controlled by the government. This allows governments to change how name resolution works in the country or creates an alternative to the global DNS. This would prompt fragmentation in the global network of networks. Imagine if all governments were doing this.
- Invitation to read the Internet Society’s upcoming report called, ‘Navigating Digital Sovereignty and Its Impact on the Internet’ coming up on Thursday, 1st December 2022.