IGF 2017 – Dynamic coalition on core internet values

29 Nov 2019 11:30h - 13:00h

Event report

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The Dynamic Coalition (DC) on Core Internet Values session focussed on the coalition’s position paper followed by a discussion of next year’s activity. The session concluded with discussion of the DC’s leadership structure and development, with an invitation to the participants to engage further.

Mr Olivier Crépin-Leblond, Chair of the European Regional At-Large Organization (EURALO), started the session by presenting the agenda and inviting the speakers to remark briefly. Starting first, Mr Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, elaborated on the ‘freedom from harm’ phrase in the position paper and cautioned that the phrase might be abused by governments which oppose open and free networks. He added that there is a need to refine the idea and achieve some of the objectives, which are mostly associated with making the Internet a safer place than it is currently.

Mr Matthew Shears, Representative and Director of the Global Internet Policy and Human Rights Project, suggested spending some time to discuss the evolution of core values and in particular, the notion of ‘secure’, which connects to freedom from harm.

Adding to the discussion, Crépin-Leblond pointed out that the core Internet values are clearly technical values. The core values don’t deal with rights and principles. The Internet is global, interoperable, open, decentralised, end to end, user-centric, robust, and reliable. He added that the core values are also discussed by the Internet Society and in the ICANN accountability thread. He further added that net neutrality could be a breach of the core Internet values.

Cerf pointed out that the term ‘secure’ implies freedom from interference and involves multiple technical applications, behaviour, and poor practices. He raised the question of how to interpret the term secure because it is not an act of a single layer, but a series of layers, and a correct interpretation is necessary for best benefit.

Shears responded that users must assume responsibility for cyber hygiene, and security must be built into Internet of Things (IoT) devices. He raised the question of whether being secure should be discussed from the perspective of users or as part of the technicalities. Cerf responded that users don’t have any tools to detect irregularities, and the responsibility lies at the early stage of the components and devices that form the Internet and this requires a substantial amount of effort to work across parties.

Crépin-Leblond added that the core values of the early Internet didn’t take into account new advances like the IoT and asked if there is a need to update the core values and to create an observatory to ensure that the values are respected.

Mr Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, President of the Internet Society Chennai Chapter, commented saying the inherent values such as freedom, openness, or universality don’t need to be altered and further added that the core values are inherent, and these values need to continue.

Crépin-Leblond made the point that the Internet is no longer just a group of people who know each other, and the complexities around the Internet have increased. Hence, there is a need to evolve beyond the current points that are being discussed. Shears added that the core values can be used as a scorecard, which can serve as a measurement tool and provide a reference point for assessing firms. Agreeing with Shears, Crépin-Leblond added that there is also a need to reach out to other coalition groups and see work on areas where the interests overlap.

Wrapping up the session, Crépin-Leblond invited participants to get involved in the dynamic coalition and participate in the conversation via the mailing list.

By Krishna Kumar Rajamannar