In the first 16 months since the launch of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition), we established ourselves as the leading public policy voice for the Internet infrastructure community in Washington, D.C. While our success within the United States has been important, as a group we have determined that to truly help the Internet grow and prosper we must make sure that we are not myopically focused on the U.S. Our goal is to be the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, not the Internet Infrastructure Coalition of America.
This critical broadening of our focus is an obvious one, as we operate in a global economy. It comes at a vital time for global Internet governance, when there is a vital need for governments and stakeholder groups to better understand how the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the Internet work. The companies we represent are responsible for building those infrastructure services that sit above the telco layer. It is an ecosystem that is predominately made up of small to medium businesses. We want to ensure that it continues to be safe for small to medium sized businesses to drive innovation on the Internet around the world.
To support this goal, the i2Coalition has been increasingly engaged on the global stage, in a variety of settings, with several goals in mind, including supporting the technology that represents the core of our industry and integration into the global Internet advocacy community. But beyond all else we engage on the global stage in support for the multistakeholder process, particularly as it relates to Internet governance.
As we kick off 2014, we seek to reach out to groups and associations with aligned goals to engage them in the spirit of multistakeholderism, which must be a part of how we foster and grow the Internet in our every interaction, even and especially outside of iStar community meetings.
i2Coalition and eco – Memorandum of Understanding
In this spirit, the i2Coalition is pleased to announce the signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Germany-based eco, the Association of the German Internet Industry. With approximately 700 member companies, eco is the largest trade association for the Internet industry in Europe. By signing this agreement, i2Coalition is signaling its commitment to continue its involvement on the global stage. This is an important agreement for both organizations. We will each share information that is within our organizational goals, exchange information about policy developments that the groups are following and collaborate on events and seminars. Our organizations have aligned interests in several policy areas including privacy, surveillance, data transmission and trade. Collaboration on these issues is essential in advancing the interests of the global Internet.
We have agreed that our initial priorities are:
- Criminal use of the Internet and collaboration on Child Endangerment issues;
- Strengthening our collaboration on policy issues;
- Ensuring that Internet infrastructure industries continue to have a voice on discussions about changes to the global Internet Governance structure.
The signing of the “Memorandum of Agreement” with eco allows i2Coalition to start 2014 building off of our active global efforts in 2013.
What i2Coalition Learned in 2013
The i2Coalition has long held the position that a multistakeholder process is critical in ensuring that the Internet continues to be an engine for economic growth and innovation. In 2013 we focused our attention on involving ourselves in the processes at ICANN, IGF and the WTO Ministerial.
Decisions made at ICANN over the next several years are likely to fundamentally alter the structure of the Internet. For example, there is increasing demand from law enforcement for access to information maintained by registrars and registries, as well as some type of verification of this information. Infrastructure companies have deep experience with the burdensome nature of these obligations, and we seek to have input into ICANN’s decision making process. The coalition had a presence at the meetings in Beijing, Durban and Buenos Aires, and has joined the Internet Service Providers and Connectivity Providers (ISPCP) constituency, and is a observer in the Business Constituency, in an effort to give a voice to the parts of the Internet infrastructure community traditionally underrepresented at ICANN.
In addition to our ICANN engagement, in October Co-Founder David Snead traveled to Bali, Indonesia to attend the Internet Governance Forum. The main mission of the Internet Governance Forum is to fulfill the directive from the World Summit on the Information Society in establishing a multistakeholder discussion on Internet governance. The broad spectrum of participants is an important reminder that the Internet is borderless and all players should have a voice when debating how it should be governed.
The i2Coalition continued our global conversation on multistakeholder processes when Rackspace’s Perry Robinson traveled on behalf of the coalition to Bali for the WTO Ministerial Conference. The Ministerial Conference is the highest supervisory authority of the WTO and meets every two years to unite its member countries to discuss multilateral trade agreements. The WTO was established in January 1995, largely from negotiations stemming from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and aims to settle trade disputes and maintain consistent rules for international trade policies with the ultimate goal of open trade. One of the main goals for this conference was to reinforce the importance of a mulitstakeholder process for determining the rules and regulations in governance.
Looking Forward To Learning Together
The Internet is borderless. The multistakeholder model of Internet governance has built it into one of the most powerful, disruptive and awesome resources that the world has ever known. We seek to serve and protect that, but to do that we need not only to fight for this model but to live it. Connecting with our colleagues on a global scale is critical to developing a sustainable course to help maintain Internet freedom. The i2Coalition has learned from our experiences that when we have help from allied organizations such as ECO we have a better chance of achieving common goals. We look forward to working with ECO, and other aligned groups, as we move forward with our goal of protecting and growing the Internet infrastructure community worldwide. I am proud to be entering 2014 with a solid year of introductions under our belts, and plan to open new doors in 2014 – to make our voices heard, and to help the Internet prosper together.