IGF 2023: What is the nature of the internet? Different Approaches

Event start date
Event end date
Event venue
Online/Kyoto, Japan
Organiser details

Internet Governance Forum

Nandini Chami was a speaker at session titled 'What is the nature of the internet? Different Approaches' held at the Internet Governance Forum in Kyoto, Japan on 11 October 2023.

While the scope of internet governance, and all internet-related policy and regulation grows, and spaces where these matters are discussed proliferate, one topic appears to be, at worst missing, or, at best under emphasized. What is the internet itself? How has it changed? What are its fundamental characteristics? The UN High Commissioner For Human Rights affirmed that “It may be time to reinforce universal access to the Internet as a human right, and not just a privilege.” Growing recognition of the direct relationship between access to the internet and the exercise of both civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights, has been evident in global human rights standard setting spaces. In the 2023 Geneva Declaration, the internet is referred to as a “global facility available to the public”.

The Global Commission On The Stability Of Cyberspace put forward the idea of the internet having a “global public core” and proposed the protection of this core as a norm, critical to a secure and stable cyberspace. The UNSG, in their report Our Common Agenda, refers to both the global commons and global public goods, also referring to the internet itself as a global public good. The report addresses the twin concepts of the global commons and global public goods, pointing out that even without fully “agreed definitions they represent a useful starting point for a serious review of where the global community stands with regard to shared natural or cultural resources”. Are these positions mutually exclusive?

This speakers at the session compared and contrasted different pros and cons of each of these approaches. Speakers debated the specific and very concrete policy implications of these different concepts in order to contribute to key global debates concerning the governance of digital issues and technologies and the role of the internet and meaningful connectivity in promoting social, environmental and gender justice.