Last week marked an important milestone for Internet governance in Central Europe, as the region held its first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Warsaw, Poland.
This regional IGF comes on the heels of the Polish IGF, which was held for the first time last year and supported by ICANN. The success of the event prompted the Polish Ministry for Digital Affairs and other Polish Internet stakeholders to expand this year's event to the entire region. The ministry called for institutionalizing the event, so that it would rotate between the four countries in the Visegrád group, which is made up of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.
In partnership with representatives from academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, and the technical community, ICANN was once again a strong supporter of this initiative. Representatives from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Albania actively contributed to shape the content of the meeting, which attracted over 250 participants.
The Polish Minister of Digital Affairs, Anna Streżyńska, opened the meeting, underlining the importance of Internet freedom, safety, and security, while also calling for a stronger set of online ethics.
Streżyńska's remarks were followed-up with a speech by ICANN's Vice President of Stakeholder Engagement & Managing Director for Europe, Jean-Jacques Sahel, who highlighted the importance of regional cooperation and urged regional participants to strengthen their voice in international fora. Sahel also congratulated the organizers for initiating the event and expressed a desire to see more regional IGFs in the future, as well as increased engagement from regional participants in the ICANN community.
The event covered 12 different themes, including website blocking, 5G Networks, digital based economy, digital skills, the free flow of data, and cybercrime.
ICANN is very happy to be a partner in the development of this region's IGF initiative. We are also looking forward to seeing other IGFs being held in Central Europe, and will continue to be a strong supporter of these important events.