Updated: Oct 25
The internet is a fascinating place. Since the 1980s, the internet has given netizens access to data and information they would otherwise not be privy to. The internet has rendered traditional research tools and forums like libraries almost extinct. With a press of a button, a 10-year-old kid has access to trillions of information from his iPad or mobile device.
The internet has also allowed inter-connectivity among peoples of all races, socio-economic backgrounds, cultures and traditions. But it has not all been sunshine and rainbows. The internet, with all its advantages, has also become a breeding ground for predatory behavior like abuse, cyberbullying, unwanted surveillance, data leaks and more.
What is internet governance?
We need Internet governance to combat this. So what is internet governance? Plainly, internet governance is the development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programs that shape the evolution of the internet.
It is the process whereby cyberspace participants resolve conflicts over these problems and develop a workable order.
How internet governance works
One thing to note is that no one person, company, organization or government runs the Internet. It is a globally distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks. It operates without a central governing body, with each participating network setting and enforcing its policies.
This is an important factor as it ensures that no one entity, organization, enterprise or country has monotonous rule over the internet. Everyone must have a voice. A decentralized and international multi-stakeholder network of interconnected autonomous groups drawing from civil society, the private sector, governments, the academic and research communities and national and international organizations conducts its governance.
These sectors work cooperatively in their respective roles to create shared policies and standards that maintain the internet's global interoperability for the public good.
A network built on principles
Internet governance is founded and built on principles that govern its members. It advocates for:
Media freedom: The internet should continue to be a globally coherent, interconnected, stable, un-fragmented, scalable and accessible network-of-networks,
Freedom of expression: the right to hold your own opinions and to express them freely without interference,
Also, freedom of information: The internet should be open to all individuals and the public-at-large to access information that is pertinent to their interests.
The internet belongs to everyone and since its inception in 1979 by DARPA; the internet has fostered a community of like-minded netizens hungry for information and seeking connectivity above all. Unfortunately, it has also wrought greed and stakeholders who want nothing but power and control.
Internet governance was created to combat this and while there’s still a long way to go in eliminating the antagonists, we are certainly headed in the right direction.