Think of the Internet's value to your business or organization; think of all the ways you rely on it. You need the Internet, but the reverse is also true -- the Internet needs you. The Internet is incredibly valuable and its governance is complex. With billions of devices and trillions of dollars at stake, the Internet needs innovative governing bodies that incorporate the views of all stakeholders and adapt to changing circumstances.
Businesses can get involved at venues that work on any level of Internet governance – the technical coordination level, where organizations such as ICANN operate, the economic and societal level, or even the infrastructure level. Take a look at our "Three Layers of Digital Governance" infographic to learn more about the bodies involved at all of the levels. The key is for business to take its seat at the table to balance the views of other stakeholders that may have views that run counter to the needs of one, single, global, interoperable Internet.
According to Boston Consulting Group, the Internet contributes USD 4.2 Trillion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the G20 economies, can add 2.7% GDP to a country, and give a business 6-7% more revenue. Embracing the global Internet is becoming necessary for global economies and businesses to compete.
Managing and innovating the Internet's delicate infrastructure has always been a "bottom-up" enterprise. Entrepreneurs and visionaries make suggestions in one corner of diverse communities, and if everyone agrees – it becomes a standard or policy available to all. These standards and policies have developed the Internet into the global economic force you see today. ICANN, similarly, runs on people and ideas that can adapt to changing economic and social tides.
I recently spoke at an event in Toronto that gathered many interested Canadian stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss the benefits of this approach and the drawbacks of others, such as multilateral decision-making that is based on a "one country, one vote" system.
What is important to note, and that I emphasized during the event, is that unlike most governing bodies, ICANN's work in formulating policy and standards and innovations is done by volunteers. There are businesses involved, civil society organizations, technical experts, government officials, academics, and individual users from around the world. They work virtually and remotely year round in working groups and policy committees, and meet three times a year in an open, free, and public meeting - the next of which takes place this month in Marrakech, Morocco
This open and inclusive system is unique in its ability to craft good policy without marginalizing any one stakeholder group. However, the continued success of this system is dependent upon a growing, thriving, and diverse stakeholder base. If the Internet's stakeholders can't make progress on policy issues, frustrated governments may see no choice but to legislate or regulate, with little regard for technical side-effects or global ramifications.
This is where you come in:
Are you interested in participating?
- Business stakeholders can visit icann.org/forbusiness to get started
- Civil society stakeholders can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected with dedicated ICANN Staff
- Any stakeholder can take a free ICANN Learn course, or email email@example.com to ask questions and learn more
In Toronto, my fellow panelists and I emphasized that the fight to keep this system of governance alive is part of a broader fight to save the global Internet. I encourage you to get involved today to help keep our vibrant Internet growing and succeeding. Remember, the Internet is counting on YOU.
Christopher Mondini is VP, Stakeholder Engagement, Global Business and North America Region