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Davos: Two-Year Investigation Into Future Of The Internet Announced

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Commission chair Carl Bildt says open and flexible model of the Internet increasingly under attack

A new Global Commission on Internet Governance has been announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which will look into the future of the Web and political control over it.

Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, will chair the commission. The two-year-long effort will be led by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

The announcement has come at a critical time for the Internet, with Edward Snowden revelations highlighting mass surveillance on Web denizens, whilst debates over net neutrality rage across the planet. Others have concerns around the amount of Internet infrastructure that resides in America.

carl bildt by Bengt Nyman on Wikimedia Commons In previous years Davos has seen announcements about the Internet, with Britain signing up to an Internet resilience drive there last year. This time around, “hyperconnectivity” is getting some attention,  with hyper-rich tech leaders Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Cisco chief John Chambers talking to delegates.

Davos announcement

Bildt said he believed the  open and flexible model of the Internet was increasingly coming under attack, adding that “net freedom is as fundamental as freedom of information and freedom of speech in our societies”.

“The issue of Internet governance is set to become one of the most pressing global public policy issues of our time. The Commission will work to develop ideas and propose a policy framework that enhances the legitimacy of Internet governance whilst preserving innovation,” said Dr. Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House.

CIGI Distinguished Fellow Gordon Smith, who is deputy chair of the new commission, added: “For many people, Internet governance sounds technical and esoteric, but the reality is that the issues are ‘high politics’ and of consequences to all users of the Internet, present and future.”

The group will consist of 25 members from various fields, including policy, government, academia and civil society.

Once the two years are up, the commission will have delivered a report, providing “a comprehensive stand on the future of multi-stakeholder Internet governance”.

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