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Why Civil Society Should Care about Internet Governance Issues? Series of Events in Washington Address Question

1 March 2016

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Members of civil society in the Washington, D.C. area were treated to a series of events aimed at enhancing capacity building and raising awareness of key Internet governance issues in the first two months of the year.

The Global Knowledge Partnership Foundation and the Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-DC) collaborated to co-host three events in the city:

  • "Security and Privacy: Internet Capacity for Non-Profits and NGOs"
  • "Internet Capacity for Social Good"
  • "Nonprofits and the DNS: Why It Matters"

I had the pleasure of presenting during the third session. I delivered a high-level overview of ICANN and its position in the Internet ecosystem, followed by a brief overview of the status of the IANA Stewardship Transition and Enhancing ICANN Accountability processes. The presentation was capped with reasons why civil society should be involved at ICANN, and highlighted recent civil society successes in ICANN's work.

So, why should civil society be involved at ICANN? There is no one correct answer to this question, but I feel some of the most important reasons are the following:

  • ICANN's multistakeholder model is a system where civil society organizations don't just stand and observe. They are in the middle of initiating and negotiating policy, and making decisions jointly by consensus with other stakeholder groups.
  • Civil society has expertise in holding governance entities accountable, experience in understanding and explaining the public interest, and the ability to be innovative and propose solutions.
  • Groups interested in areas as diverse as consumer protection, privacy, corporate social responsibility, free expression, and other topics can find areas where domain name and Internet addressing policies intersect with their causes.
  • Civil society already plays a key, integral role in ICANN, however, increasing participation is crucial to ensure that civil society voices are many and are heard, to ensure excellence in policymaking and to strengthen a model of governance that is fit for the present and future.

Want to learn more about how your civil society organization can be involved at ICANN? Send an email to civilsociety@icann.org. Recordings of all the events are available from ISOC-DC's Internet Policy Forum site.

Joe Catapano is Program Manager, ICANN Global Stakeholder Engagement, North America


Joe Catapano

Joe Catapano

Stakeholder Engagement Director - North America & Global Academia