I have recently been selected to participate in the 2017 Youth@IGF programme, a programme that aims to educate young leaders about internet governance. Last week we completed the first module in the online course which introduced us to the field of Internet Governance by means of a working definition of the concept, an overview of the different classification frameworks for issues within internet governance and a methodology for analyzing such issues.

This post is a summary of my experience and what I have learned during module 1.

I think the course material provided a very brief overview, but provided enough resources to assist further reading into the details. We were encouraged to debate and share our understanding of the course material on a dedicated Facebook group. I learned a lot from the discussion and my peers shared some very interesting links such as Mozilla’s Equal Rating research and how the US handed over control over the internet’s domain name system (DNS) to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

What is Internet Governance?

In this section of the module I learned that the “internet” part of the term “Internet Governance” generally refers to the networks of devices and hardware that communicates with each other using the Internet protocol, also sometimes called TCP/IP and every application, business, communication, etc. that is made possible by this protocol and network.

In 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) defined a very helpful working definition of Internet Governance as follows:

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

Overall, we have to keep in mind that no definition of Internet Goverance is complete and any such definition only serves to further mutual understanding rather than to enfore an authorative definition.

What types of issues does Internet Governance address?

The course showed us that there are many different classifications of issues within Internet Governance, including classifications set out by the Working Group on Internet Governance, the DiploFoundation, The UN Commission on science and technology for development (CSTD) and the Internet Governance Forum.

I think the CSTD’s seven clusters provides a good structure:

  1. Legal
  2. Security
  3. Sociocultural
  4. Development
  5. Economic
  6. Human rights
  7. Infrastructure and standardization

How can issues within Internet Governance be analysed?

The DiploFoundation has designed an illustrative “cube” that can help us understand the different interplays in Internet Governance.

The DiploFoundation internet governance cube