21 April 2005

Third Meeting of Working Group on Internet Governance Focuses on Internet Use, Spam, Other Key Public Policy Issues

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 20 April (UN Information Service) -- The third meeting of the Working Group on Internet Governance, which met at the United Nations Office in Geneva 18 to 20 April 2005, made headway on assessing the adequacy of present governance arrangements and started looking at possible recommendations for future action. Discussions focused on key public policy issues related to the use of the Internet, such as spam, network security and cybercrime, as well as on issues related to the administration of Internet names and addresses and the root-server system.

Participants agreed that the topic of spam, while not yet officially on the international agenda, had to be discussed as a matter of priority. The question of how to deal with it and protect the Internet yielded much discussion, with a great emphasis on the need for a multifaceted and multilayered approach, involving all interested parties. Various proposals were put forward, ranging from drafting model legislation to more informal models of collaboration.

With regard to logical infrastructure issues, the Working Group looked at various proposals on how to improve present arrangements.

The meeting also addressed the two other key public policy areas the Working Group had identified at its last meeting -- issues that are relevant to the Internet, but have a much wider impact; and issues relating to developmental aspects of Internet governance, in particular capacity-building in developing countries.

The meeting started on 18 April with one day of consultations open to all interested parties. Chairman Nitin Desai opened the consultations pointing out that their main aim was to assess strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Based on this assessment, there would be a need to look at the changes that may be required. The Working Group should, therefore, clarify areas that governments were expected to decide on at the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in November, and discuss the roles of the various actors involved in governance arrangements.

Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in his capacity as WSIS Secretary-General, reiterated the main tasks that the Working Group needed to address -- to find a working definition of Internet governance, to identify public policy issues, and to define roles and responsibilities of all actors.

Some participants at the open consultations wanted Internet governance arrangements to be rooted in the United Nations framework, which in their view would give legitimacy to the system. Others stressed the importance of private sector leadership, which they saw as more suited to deal with the issue due to the nature of the Internet.

At a closed meeting on 19 and 20 April, the Working Group decided on how to move forward and draft its report. It reviewed the report's structure to bring it more in line with its evolving discussions, as well as with the mandate of the Working Group, as defined in the documents adopted at the Geneva phase of the WSIS in 2003. The Working Group decided to produce a text for online discussion, with the goal of finalizing the draft at the next meeting of the Working Group to be held from 14 to 17 June. The Working Group agreed to present various options for possible decisions to be taken by the Tunis phase of the WSIS in November. The final report of the Working Group should be submitted to the Secretary-General in July this year.

Chairman Desai stressed how well the group had functioned, and expressed his hope that its final report would fulfil its mandate and produce recommendations that would provide a solid basis for the negotiations in the WSIS context.

The 40-member Working Group is not a negotiating body, but a working group with the task of preparing the ground for the negotiations to be held in the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society.

For information, please contact Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator, Secretariat of the Working Group, tel.: +41(0) 22 917 54 88, e-mail: mkummer@unog.ch. Complete information about the Group's purpose, meetings, list of members and documents is at: www.wgig.org.

* *** *