Who runs the Internet?
The Internet, the global system of interconnected computer networks, use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.
This characteristic of being a global and decentralized network comprised primarily of voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks operating in decentralized way, was the main challenge for a world used to centralizing the decision to one governing entity and raised several questions in regards who is governing the Internet?
Internet Governance definition
A working group established after a UN-initiated World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) proposed the following definition of Internet governance as part of its June 2005 report:
Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.
Professors Jovan Kurbalija and Laura DeNardis also offer comprehensive definitions to “Internet Governance”. According to Kurbalija, the broad approach to Internet Governance goes “beyond Internet infrastructural aspects and address other legal, economic, developmental, and sociocultural issues”; along similar lines, DeNardis argues that “Internet Governance generally refers to policy and technical coordination issues related to the exchange of information over the Internet”.
The Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. It brings together all stakeholders in the Internet governance debate, whether they represent governments, the private sector or civil society, including the technical and academic community, on an equal basis and through an open and inclusive process. The establishment of the IGF was formally announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in July 2006. It was first convened in October–November 2006 and has held an annual meeting since then. The IGF is structured in 2 organisational bodies : the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), and the Secretariat.
The Arab Internet Governance Forum
In 2012, participants from all stakeholder groups from the Arab region, invited by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA), in collaboration with the League of Arab States agreed to establish the Arab Internet Governance Forum (AIGF). A call for the creation of a multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) to undertake the organization and the secretariat role of the forum assumed by the the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) in Egypt.
The Arab IGF is aimed at providing a platform for dialogue on issues related to the Internet and to the priorities of the Arab region, in accordance with the outcomes of WSIS. It is also aimed at addressing a number of key issues related to Internet governance in the Arab region, including issues related to access, policies, security and privacy, openness and young people.