Event Recap and Key Takeaways: The Conference on Internet Governance and Cyber-Security #SIPACyber

Last week, the GovLab participated in the Conference on Internet Governance and Cyber-Security, held at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in collaboration with The Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG). The event spanned two days and covered several pressing topics in Internet governance, including privacy, freedom of expression, cross-border data flows, and cyber-risks in critical infrastructure. The conference brought together representatives from academia, industry, government, the technical community, and civil society, stating that “only by convening these diverse interests is it likely that effective policy frameworks can be developed over time.”

During the first and second plenaries, panelists discussed the future of the Internet and multi-stakeholder Internet governance. Some key narratives from these panels include:

  • There is a need to preserve the global reach and integrity of the Internet, and the “Universal Internet” isn’t a function of a particular set of technologies but of choices we make
  • The network is becoming fragmented, and we must answer questions such as “if there is a move for increased regulation, will it enable innovation?” and “where should governments and different actors place themselves?”
  • The conversation should shift from data security to data integrity, which includes security but also reliability and authenticity
  • Kathy Brown of the Internet Society called for a “collaborative model” as decisions cannot be made in a vacuum
  • Fadi Chehade, CEO of ICANN, stated that the logical infrastructure of the Internet is safe and resilient, and that the real issue will now be what is happening on the Internet, not the logical layer, as expressed in the President Ilves report


In face of these challenges in governance, Beth Noveck, the director of the GovLab, discussed how the Internet is allowing us to transform the ways in which we govern. According to Noveck, we have new tools that allow us to reach out and pinpoint people based on desired characteristics, such as level of expertise or representation or status. Through these tools, there is potential to evolve multistakeholderism from a dated concept into something that allows us to be more legitimate and effective. In emphasizing the need to become informed about who is involved in the space, she asked participants to check out the NETmundial Solutions Map, a tool the GovLab is working on to aid greater collaboration in the field of Internet governance.

The second day focused on issues specifically related to cybersecurity, including the cyber-risks of critical infrastructure and the new threats posed by the Internet of Things. Some key messages include:

  • Michael Chertoff, GCIG Commissioner, stated that it is not clear to identify those behind cyberattacks, and thus responsibility lies with enterprises themselves
  • It is not enough to be secure, but organizations also have to effectively communicate to the market that they are secure
  • Some of the big challenges with the Internet of Things, according to GCIG Commissioner Tobby Simon are 1) security of the device itself, 2) the platform the device is built on and its vulnerabilities, and 3) how and where the device is used
  • One of the main threats presented by the Internet of Things lies in the fact that any given device is connected to the rest of your network; as Rima Qureshi of Ericsson explained, the device is a backdoor into the larger system

To read or watch more about the event, check out the transcripts and session videos here.

To stay informed about developments in the Internet governance space please check out our weekly SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net Governance. Also check out our recent curation of Internet governance calendars to stay informed about upcoming events and conferences in this space.

Finally, if you are interested and want to find out more about how to contribute to the NETmundial Solutions Map, please contact Stefaan Verhulst (stefaan at thegovlab.org).

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