Working Group on Internet Governance
Open-ended consultations

Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania

- Geneva, November 24, 2004 -

Comments on the mandate.

It so happens that the mandate of the Working Group is very clear.

1. Develop a working definition of Internet governance.

To my delegation this does not mean carving in stone an all-comprehensive and sophisticated or rigid definition that might attempt to say everything in a few quotable and memorable words. We only need to translate into a working intelligible language, one that should be understood and shared in over 190 countries, and notably by our political leaders, the fascinating and complex world that is Internet. We have to know clearly what we are talking about. As simple as that. No strings attached. We may eventually take "no" for an answer, if the judgment of the working group will be that there is no need of a definition.

As Robert Khan, the designer of the Arpanet, the first packet-switched network, warns us "we will have to struggle with the representation of ideas". He calls us in the WSIS process "to do the best under circumstances". This is perfectly feasible, if we do not apply old prejudices to a new realm, which is more dynamic than our own ability to follow it.

2. Identify the public policies that are relevant to Internet governance

My delegation may anticipate that there is an excellent chance to identify easier than expected policies of public interest. There might be a sort of reluctance of some of the players and stakeholders, with respect to the yet obscure notion of Internet governance.

On different instances, however, the same players spelled out issues that, from their perspective, are clearly issues of public interest. Those are issues on which elected governments are called to have a look and a say. Eventually, those areas are already noted by many, or they are very little disputed. Allow us to mention a number of them: content sanction, data protection and privacy, trade and e-commerce, competition policy, consumer trust, security of public infrastructure, cost sharing, taxation, spam deterrence, intellectual property protection and fair use. We do not believe that there is doubt about the need to do more in these fields. The nature abhors vacuum.

I fully agree with the caveat of Mr. MacLean on the need for a positive approach on the Internet governance. At the same time, there is no doubt about the increased misuse of Internet. Some of the criminals have never thought before that they will have such a powerful tool to perpetrate their crimes making full and often surprising use of the new "cyber" facilities. The international community cannot leave the abusers of the Internet as a global facility with the feeling of impunity.

Let us also agree with what the former American vice-president Al Gore said in 1999: "Unlawful activity is not unique to the Internet - but the Internet has a way of magnifying both the good and the bad in our society... What we need to do is find new answers to old crimes."

We need to consider any norm of behaviour on the Internet very cautiously and softly, so as not to harm the natural harmony and the enjoyable freedom on the Internet. But there should be no tolerance for crime, just because the new medium is less familiar to law enforcers. And since the cyber crimes have ab initio, global repercussions, international cooperation and efficient and transparent public policies are obviously necessary to combat them.

3. Develop a common understanding on the respective roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders.

There is a fair chance that the participants to this Working Group find at the end of the day that government control is not the answer to what we need since Internet is too dispersed and decentralized. Indeed, traditional forms of regulation may not work as expected. Effective Internet governance is likely to rely on a culture of mutual interest and upon on a sense that not only all existing actors, but also all sectors, and all regions, will have a voice in rule-making.

Pragmatic imagination is needed to agree upon a combination of legal agreements, voluntary standards, policy coordination, and dynamic guidelines, well synchronized with the various aspects of the functioning of Internet. The governance should take full benefit of the specialist roles and comparatives advantages of all protagonists, including those who are on work today. And, certainly, the use of ICTs for development is the overarching topics of the World Summit on the Information Society. Any idea in this respect form the Working Group will be more than welcome.

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