An open Internet platform for economic growth and innovation

24 October 2013 - A Workshop on Access in Bali, Indonesia

Internet Governance Forum 2013

Workshop # 209 Report

An open Internet platform for economic growth and innovation

Organizer Name 

Weber Verena

Organizer Entity 

OECD

Workshop Theme 

The Internet as an Engine for Growth and Advancement

Consise description 

 

Universal growth and social progress can be achieved through a global and inclusive Internet economy. Since its beginning, the Internet has been an extraordinary open platform for innovation. It has enabled information to flow between all stakeholders in dynamic ways, has increased transparency and opened new territories. As a consequence, it has lowered entry barriers to markets, provided tremendous business opportunities and fostered the creation of new business models.

 

The remarkable growth of the Internet and the limitless variety of Internet applications that have been developed follow directly from the open model of Internet connectivity and standards development. Any individual, organization, or company can develop and distribute a new Internet application and service that can be used by anyone.

 

To be a key driver of economic growth, the Internet must continue to develop in an open way that allows industries to compete on a level playing field. Any unnecessary restrictions, such as trade barriers, can inhibit growth.

 

Policy questions that will be addressed include the following:

  • What are the main economic benefits of the Internet being an open platform?
  • What societal benefits can be obtained from an open Internet?
  • How do we ensure on an international level that the Internet remains an open platform for innovation and how do we best make sure to involve all stakeholders?
  • How can open and voluntary standards serve as building blocks for services and products targeted at meeting the needs of the economy and citizens, thereby driving innovation?

 

Agenda 

Agenda: 1. The Internet as an open platform: What are the different dimensions of an open Internet? How do different stakeholders understand openness? 2. What are the main economic benefits of an open Internet platform? 3. What social benefits can be obtained from an open Internet? 4. How do we ensure on an international level that the Internet remains an open platform for innovation and how do we best make sure to involve all stakeholders? 5. How can open and voluntary standards serve as building blocks for services and products targeted at meeting the needs of the economy and citizens, thereby driving innovation?

Moderator 

Constance Bommelaer, Senior Director, Global Policy Partnerships, The Internet Society

Remote Moderator 

Verena Weber, Economist, OECD

Have you organized workshops at previous IGFs?

No

Workshop format 

Panel

Workshop Transcript 

Transcript

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions 

 

Since its beginning, the Internet has been an extraordinary open platform for innovation. It has enabled information to flow between all stakeholders in dynamic ways, has increased transparency and opened new territories. As a consequence, it has lowered entry barriers to markets, provided tremendous business opportunities and fostered the creation of new business models.

 

The workshop addressed the key question of how an open Internet can be preserved and designed to maximise the benefits for all stakeholder groups while limiting the risks. It was discussed from the perspective of the OECD Recommendation on Principles for Internet Policy Making (http://www.oecd.org/sti/ieconomy/49258588.pdf). More particularly, the panel focused on the following three principles of the OECD Recommendation:

 

1. Promote and protect the global free flow of information;

2. Promote the open, distributed and interconnected nature of the Internet;

5. Encourage multi-stakeholder co-operation in policy development processes;

 

Panellists from government, business, civil society and the technical community discussed how they perceive openness from their perspective and its value for further economic and social development.  

 

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments 

 

Overall, there was strong agreement that the openness of the Internet needs to be preserved but stakeholders also pointed to areas where more has to be done in terms of openness or where full openness might not always be the best solution.

 

Technical community: Openness from a technical perspective crucial for a flourishing Internet

 

From a technical community perspective, the Internet has flourished because of its open nature. On a technical level, this can refer to the free, end-to-end movement of packets across the network, but it can also be seen in the development of open standards and the technical community's open policy development processes. The exhaustion of IPv4 addresses was highlighted as a current risk to the Internet's open nature. 

 

Civil society (I): Support of openness, but not blindly

 

Civil society agrees with the substance of the recommendation, especially when it comes to open standards, open source and open government. However, there are also cases where openness might not be the best way forward. Illustrative examples include the delegation of the topic of online tracking to the World Wide Web Consortium where openness did not lead to an effective and fair multi-stakeholder process or the case of discussions around the free flow of information whereby some bodies seem to attribute more importance to the free flow of information than to the protection of privacy.

 

Civil society (II): The Arab spring and challenges towards more openness

 

 

Civil society also highlighted that positive trends towards more openness in Arab countries have been reversed in a couple of countries lately which is a phenomenon that can also be observed offline. Examples include an increasing blocking of websites and services such as what’s up and tango, more difficult licensing schemes and the prosecution of bloggers. When it comes to e-commerce in these countries, challenges to openness include online payment schemes and the fact that only a fraction of credit cards are accepted for online payment transactions. Local hosting of content is an additional challenge.  

 

Business: An open mind for openness needed

 

From a business perspective, openness should be preserved in the entire and complex ecosystem of the Internet since restraining openness in selected areas can have significant impacts on the whole systems. When developing policies, policy makers should develop frameworks and adaptable guidelines instead of focusing on too many details since this can hamper further innovation. When it comes to the free flow of information, we should be aware that digital information underpins the online ecosystem and that artificial constructs keeping information in one location do not have benefits.

 

Government: Openness means inclusion and transparency into how those decisions are taken

 

From a government perspective, openness is a very important concept and means inclusion and transparency into how decisions are taken.  In that context, a multistakeholder process should be envisaged whenever possible. In the cases where it is not possible, transparency, which is the eight principle of the OECD Recommendation, becomes key. In the US government, the OECD principles are well reflected in political processes and wherever possible, consultation is undertaken with business and the civil society in the development of US positions.

 

Conclusion: Strong support for the OECD Recommendation and the preservation of openness

 

 

Taken the different dimension and perspectives on openness together, it became clear that there is strong support for the three OECD principles around the theme of openness and that all stakeholders should aim at fostering an open and inclusive Internet whenever and wherever possible. 

 

 

 

 

 

Reported by 

Verena Weber, OECD

Estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session 

About half of the participants were women

To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment? 


It was mentioned briefly in the presentations and discussions

Discussion affecting gender equality and women's empowerment 

 

Workshops Staticals 
Number of FEMALE participantsNumber of MALE participantsNumber of Young participantsNumber of Developing Countries ParticipantsNumber of Developed Countries ParticipantsNumber of LDCs participantsNumber of TOTAL Participants
0 0 3 0 0 0 0