Author: Wolfgang Kleinwachter (most popular posts)

Wolfgang Kleinwachter is a professor for Internet Policy and Regulation at the Department for Media and information Studies, University of Aarhus in Denmark.

He has followed Internet Governance issues for over 20 years. He is involved in ICANN, where he was the 2010 Nominating Committee Chair; in WSIS (the World Summit on the Information Society), where he was a member of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) and co-chaired the Internet Governance Caucus (IGC); and in the UN sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF), where he is a Special Adviser to the Chair.

Wolfgang is also founder and dean of the faculty of the Summer School on Internet Governance (SSIG), chaired for more than 15 years the Law Section of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and is a member of a FP 7 Research Project on the “Internet of Things” of the European Commission. Since 2009 he has chaired the Cross-Internet Expert Group of the Council of Europe.

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15 January 2012

In the second of this two-part review of the extraordinary year facing the Internet and its governance, professor for Internet Policy and Regulation at the University of Aarhus, Wolfgang Kleinwächter looks at the effort to develop an Internet version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the opportunities and risks presented by ICANN's new gTLD program, and the raft of over 50 "very important meetings" that will define 2012 as one of the most significant the Internet has ever faced.

If you missed part one, looking forwarding from some of the events of last year, including the eG8, India’s CIRP proposal for greater UN control, changes to the IGF, the London cybersecurity conference, Russia and the ITU, and other key events, then you can read it here.

So where is the good news?

We’ve reviewed some of the threats and fears surrounding Internet governance in 2012, but where are the options for a constructive dialogue?

In 2011, two regional inter-governmental bodies created frameworks that may provide guidance for the future of the Internet. The OECD with its 34 member states worked on a set of principles for Internet Policy Making. And The Council of Europe, with 47 member states, adopted a Declaration on Internet Governance Principles.

Both documents offer a source of inspiration for how to move toward something like a “Universal Declaration on Principles to Govern the Internet”, similar to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, developed in 1948. Both the OECD and Council of Europe documents cover more or less the same issues, propose rather similar principles but have also some interesting differences.

10 January 2012

In this first half of a two-part essay, professor for Internet Policy and Regulation at the University of Aarhus, Wolfgang Kleinwächter reviews the extraordinary year that faces the Internet and its governance, and asks: will 2012 see a cold war in cyberspace? Or will we see another spring of Internet freedom?

The Internet and the way it is governed may well become a big political controversy in 2012. Two billion people are now online. The network supports annual business transactions of several trillion dollars. And it has evolved into a strategic resource in national and international power struggles. High stakes indeed!

To make it simple, there are two options: either we continue with a free and open Internet that has historically enabled innovation, economic growth, social development and free communication. Or we take a U-turn towards a regulated, restricted, censored and fragmented Internet where national policies of governments and commercial interests of corporations reduce or strangulate individual rights and freedoms.

25 July 2011

No government took note when Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Geneva published a short summary of his WorldWideWeb project on the alt.hypertext-newsgroup on 6 August 1991. The world was busy with the end of the cold war and the Internet was widely ignored by political leaders.

Twenty years later, more and more governments are struggling how to get the consequences of Berners-Lee invention under control. The year 2011 could go into the Internet history books as the year of "Governments for Internet Principles".

The Internet has climbed up the ladder of political priorities and has now even reached the G8. When the leaders of eight powerful nations - Obama for the USA, Medvedev for Russia, Sarkozy for France, Merkel for Germany, Cameron for the UK, Berlusconi for Italy, Harper for Canada, Kan for Japan and Baroso for the EU - came together in the French sea-resort Deauville at the end of May 2011, Internet Policy was a top issue on their agenda.

18 May 2011

To clash or not to clash: that’s the question for the forthcoming 41st ICANN meeting in Singapore.

Will the booming Lion-City on the South-Asian Peninsula see a Shakespeare drama in June 2011, a shoot out between the ICANN Board and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to end the nearly 15 years of discussion on the introduction of more generic Top Level Domains (TLDs) into the legacy root of the Internet?

Agree? Disagree? Postpone?

Where we are today? ICANN is committed to start the new gTLD program on Monday, June 20, 2011. Preparations for the Big Party at the Singapore River are already underway.

However, Larry Strickling, the US Assistant Secretary of Commerce and member of ICANNs first review team on Accountability and Transparency has expressed serious doubts with regard to that timetable during a Giganet meeting in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2011.