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The 2013 Canadian Internet Forum


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Byron Holland's slides from the Canadian Internet Forum. …

Byron Holland's slides from the Canadian Internet Forum.

The graphic on the second slide is from the Internet Society.

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  • [Christopher on stage] [Christopher] We have heard from some very accomplished people today, and have had some lively discussions as well – there has been a lot of great dialogue on a wide range of very relevant topics. Now, we are going to hear from CIRA’s President and CEO, Byron Holland. He will update us on the Internet governance activity since the last CIF. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for Internet governance, Byron’s leadership has brought CIRA to the forefront of innovation. At CIRA, Byron has led a wholesale rewrite of the .CA registry and related policies and business rules. More recently, Byron led the first-ever new product launch for .CA, the implementation of French-accented characters in .CA domain names. Byron has developed a strong international profile for CIRA and the .CA top-level domain. He is vice-chair of the Country Codes Name Supporting Organization, the body that represents the interests of all country code top-level domains and leads policy development initiatives at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Byron is also an active participant in the United Nations co-ordinated Internet Governance Forum, and other Internet governance fora.Byron maintains a world recognized blog, Public Domain. On his blog, he provides leading insight into issues of importance to Canadians on Internet-related matters. Byron can also be found on Twitter at @CIRA001.Byron received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University. He also holds his ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.Byron? [Holland makes way to stage][Comeau exits stage][Holland]Thank you, Christopher. This morning, Paul talked about how important the Internet is to Canadians. This point cannot be understated: the Internet has become an integral piece of our domestic infrastructure. The fact is Canadians are among the world's most engaged and savvy online users.The Internet accounts for 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP, and it’s growing. The Internet’s value in Canada is expected to grow by more than 7 per cent every year through 2016 to a value of approximately $75 billion.Let’s put that in perspective. That’s more than twice as much as the value of forestry to the Canadian economy. It’s more than tourism. That is significant.Think about what that $75 billion represents. It is jobs, both in the tech sector and in spin off industries. It is wealth that is created in this country. In terms of the Internet’s social impact, we are all aware of how it has affected our day-to-day social interactions.Who here uses Twitter or Facebook? Who here uses email? Or, let’s put it another way. When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? The kind that you put in an envelope and send through the mail? The Internet has fundamentally changed how we communicate with each other, and we Canadians are among the heaviest users of it in the world. Fact is, the Internet is the greatest driver of social and economic change the world has known since the steam engine. Fundamentally, the Internet is the great equalizer – it brings voice to the voiceless, it brings opportunity to those who have been excluded from the global economy. And, as Canadians, we have a love affair with the Internet. Canada is, let’s face it, a digital nation. Forget the images of Canada that are mountains or forest or tundra. The image that represents CANADIANS is a smartphone. Yet, Canadians rarely engage in discussions about who really controls the Internet and how it is governed.I believe that the Internet has become such a ubiquitous part of the everyday lives of Canadians that we just don’t think about it very much. Think about the last time you gave serious thought to who is behind the pipes and plumbing that make up the infrastructure of the Internet.Likely it was one of two scenarios:Your Internet service went down.Or, you received your first Internet service bill after getting Netflix and realized you should have signed up for unlimited Internet service , even if it cost a little more. And that’s okay, for some of us.But it is my opinion that that the Internet is too important to leave the decisions about how it develops to people behind closed doors. That’s exactly why CIRA created the CIF. It is the venue for Canadians to talk about Internet-related issues that are important to them. Why is it important to discuss these issues? Because the Internet as we know it is under threat. Not to engage in fear mongering, but there are actors in this space who would like to see fundamental changes to the way the Internet operates. Why has the Internet been so successful?I contend that a good part of the Internet’s success can be directly attributed to how it is governed.The term ‘Internet governance’ is a bit of a misnomer. The Internet is governed by the people and organizations that have a stake in its success. This governance model, called the multi-stakeholder model, works, and I would argue is the reason for the Internet’s continued egalitarian landscape and success. It is the model that has successfully put two billion people online in the past decade.Why does it work? Because a myriad of stakeholders, including engineers, marketers, coders, civil society, security experts, and so on, have an equal voice to nations or NGOs or corporations. It’s a complicated web of stakeholders. And although it may appear to be chaotic, it is a success. To give you an idea of what that web looks like, check out this diagram from our friends at the Internet Society.
  • [Holland]You likely can’t make it out, but that’s really my point.It’s a complicated web, but it shows that the people and organizations who need to be at the table when important decisions are made are present. It shows that the power in decision-making is decentralized – all stakeholders are equal. Decisions can be made by a group of informed stakeholders at a rapid pace and relatively free of undue political interference.And now it is in danger. In the Internet governance world, 2012 was nothing short of incredible:The year started off with the Stop Online Piracy Act, commonly known as SOPA, in the United States.A global public backlash, including a number of high profile websites – Wikipedia included – going dark for a day, resulted in the bill getting dropped.In Canada, we had the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, or Bill C-30, which Steve Anderson spoke about this morning. It was quietly killed earlier this month. The government cited public opinion as the main reason. ICANN, the organization at the heart of the Internet governance ecosystem, appointed a new CEO, FadiChehadé. He brings a new vision to ICANN, one of openness and transparency. An ICANN committed to meaningful discussion. 2012 was the year the Internet governance world came to Canada when CIRA hosted ICANN 45 in Toronto. It was one of the largest ICANN meetings in history. Finally, the World Conference on Information Technology, or WCIT-12, was held in December. WCIT-12 was a meeting of member nations of the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, to discuss the International Telecommunications Regulations, or ITRs, the agreements that regulate global telecommunications traffic. A number of proposals were put forward at WCIT-12 that would extend the reach of the ITRs over the Internet.The potential to have the Internet put under the control of the ITU brought international Internet governance into the mainstream. Let me explain why I think that this is one of the most dangerous threats the Internet has ever faced. There are a growing number of nation states who believe the Internet needs to come under the authority of a multi-lateral organization like the UN. Some don’t like the fact that the United States plays a large role in the operation of the Internet. There is dissatisfaction with the seeming inability of the current folks in charge of the Internet to curb crime online. And there are other states whose interest lies more in their ability to control what their citizens have access to online. I was at the WCIT as a member of the Canadian delegation. There were a number of proposals put forward, and in the end, member states voted on a new set of regulations.That set of regulations included provisions that may be interpreted as extended the ITU’s authority when it comes to areas like spam, among others. In the end, consensus wasn’t reached, but there was agreement among a group of countries – a majority of nation states signed the updated ITRs. At CIRA, we compared the list of countries who signed the ITRs with the Democracy Index, a ranking of nations based on a number of categories to measure their democratic state.There is a clear correlation between a country’s ranking on the democratic index and the likelihood they supported the revised ITRs.Take a look at this info-graphic.
  • [Holland]I think this is very telling. 91 per cent of countries that are identified as ‘full democracy’ and voted at WCIT-12 did NOT support the ITRs. This number steadily declines as a country’s democratic ranking declines, to the point where only 8.6 per cent of ‘authoritarian regimes’ did not support them. What does this show? The more democratic a nation is, the least likely it is to support the ITU extending its reach over the Internet.What would happen if you replaced the current multi-stakeholder model with a treaty-based one like the ITU?You would be removing the ability of those key stakeholders to make decisions in the best interest of the Internet. You would move the Internet into a decision-making framework that is not free of political influence. You would put the Internet in the control of nations who may not value human rights as much as we do, as is evident in out info-graphic. This is just one example of the threats facing the free and open Internet, albeit an important one. The Internet is really for the people and by the people. It is a true bottom up, organic entity. The people who use the Internet – all two billion of them – have a voice.And I believe that the days of decisions about the Internet getting made in closed or isolated rooms without public knowledge or participation are clearly over. That’s why SOPA was killed. That’s why Bill C-30 was killed. That’s why the majority of the world’s democracies did not sign on to the new telecommunications regulations at WCIT-12.We are at a turning point in the development of the Internet.I think about it in terms of a global paradigm shift.A few of us in the room are old enough to remember what it was like growing up in the 1980s. It was more than cheesy heavy metal bands and big hair.We also had the Cold War, a showdown of ideologies.Things were black and white – it was us, NATO, versus the Soviet bloc. But the showdown played itself out offstage, if you will, in places like Afghanistan, where we supported the Taliban and other non-state actors, in their fight against the Soviets. It played itself out in the Middle East, where the United States threw its support behind Iraq in their conflict with Iran. If we knew then what we know now, I think our course of action would have been different. I think we would have carefully considered our actions, had we known where those parties the west supported would have turned their attention to once the Cold War was over. The fact is, as a civilization, we don’t have a lot of experience thinking globally. After all, the United Nations was only created in the late 1940s, a result of the Second World War.As the Internet is global, so must our thinking be. We must therefore consider the global impact of our decisions in the long-term. And, we must make sure that it is the people and organizations on the front-lines of the Internet that are informing the debate around the Internet’s development. And, it is clear that the broader Internet community is also ready to use its voice to influence its development.Fundamental issues facing the Internet today are more basic than they’ve been in the past, and they have never been so important. We are looking at issues of human rights, of wealth creation in the developing world, and of the most fundamental right of all – the right to communicate freely. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Internet is growing. Each year, more and more people are accessing it, and all of the social and economic benefits it comes with. And the next two billion people – and we count them in billions – will not be from North America or Europe. They’re in India and China. And they’re in Africa.The point is, they are are not in the West, and stand to gain the most from the Internet. We need to be sure that, moving forward, the Internet will be the robust entity we know; that it will provide EVERYONE with economic and social opportunities equally. That is why it is so critical to discuss these issues. To get involved in fora like this one. In November 2012, I attended the United Nations-coordinated Internet Governance Forum or IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan. While there, I had the opportunity to share the results of the 2012 CIF. The methodology for the CIF is widely viewed as innovative, and as a result, it is quickly becoming a model for grassroots participation in a national governance forum. I will be sharing the results from this Forum at the IGF in Bali later this year.In a few minutes, Christopher will share the results of the 2012 Canadian Internet Forum with you. First, however, let me leave you with this. It has never been so critical to understand how strong your voice is. And, it has never been so important to use that voice. If you believe in the rights of all citizens of this world to enjoy the economic and social benefits the Internet brings, it’s time to get involved. Heck, if you believe in your right to free expression, your right to tweet, post, blog what you want, when you want, where you want, it’s time to get involved. Get informed about the issues. Get involved in the debate. Be heard. Thank you.[Comeau on stage]Thank you, Byron. [Byron to couch][Christopher]
  • Transcript

    • 1. 2013 Canadian Internet Forum Update on international Internet governance Byron Holland Canadian Internet Registration Authority#CIRAif
    • 2. 2013 Canadian Internet Forum#CIRAif
    • 3. 2013 Canadian Internet Forum Who supported the ITRs at WCIT-12?#CIRAif