Policy Proposals Industrial Technology Statement of Opinion for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Vilnius Meeting
Subcommittee on International Affairs
Committee on Information and Telecommunication Policy
Nippon Keidanren, Japan's largest comprehensive economic organization, is composed of approximately 1,300 leading Japanese companies. Nippon Keidanren endorses the objectives of the IGF, a forum for free multi-stakeholder discussion toward the sound development of the Internet and has continued to send out opinions since its first meeting.
On behalf of the Japanese industrial and business community we wish to express the opinions set out below in anticipation of the scheduled holding in September this year of the fifth annual IGF meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania.
1. Contributing to new society and growth
All countries, having recovered from the worst aspects of the global economic crisis that began in the autumn of 2008, share the same goal of regaining sustainable growth. In many countries and regions, they are reviewing traditional ways and planning and implementing new growth strategies. Information and communication technology (ICT) functions as social infrastructure of all industries and so, in the economic policy of each industry, strategic application of ICT is essential. Therefore, consistency between ICT strategy and Growth strategy will have a synergistic effect. The Tunis Commitment of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which led to the establishment of the IGF, emphasized the importance of the role played by ICT to economic growth. Investment in the Internet and ICT will make a major contribution to future socioeconomic developments, and it is incumbent upon all countries to continue making such investment, even during the economic crisis, from a long term viewpoint.
2. Contributing to the resolution of global environmental problems
Some societal problems cannot be solved by a single country, and are common among many countries. The viewpoint to build new social system corresponding to major changes in social structure is required. To solve these problems of common interest to humanity, such as global environmental issues and energy problems, the Internet and ICT can play a major role. For example, it is possible to create a reduction in CO2 emissions by reducing the energy consumption of ICTs themselves and by adoption of ICT. There are many possibilities for CO2 reduction through the use of ICT, starting, for example, with smart-grids and smart communities, which aim at the improvement of energy efficiency for entire regions, including buildings and traffic networks.
It is to be hoped that the gathering, analyzing, and visualizing of data concerning global environmental problems and the effects of countermeasures will be conducted by means of ICT and the Internet, and that the information will be shared globally with common metrics, thereby realizing equitable and effective measures by all countries to counter global warming.
In the increasing energy conservation of ICT themselves, it is important to ensure low energy consumption of ICT equipment as well as data centers where power consumption is expected to increase because of cloud computing diffusion.
3. Emergence of cloud computing and its opportunities
(1) Areas of ICT solutions expanding through cloud computing applications
The foundation for cloud computing is being prepared through the expansion of the Internet and the evolution of ICT. Cloud computing is a type of computer use whereby users do not own their computers, but instead access necessary applications and resources through networks in an on-demand basis. From the user perspective, initial investment and operation cost will be lower. Therefore, it is possible to expand the field of ICT applications in places where utilization is delayed. Active discussions should be devoted anew to promoting the use of ICT in such fields as e-government, the environment, healthcare, agriculture, disaster prevention, education, transportation, and also the creation of new cross-industry business services by utilizing and analyzing data stored in the cloud.
(2) Strengthening of cyber security and its relationship to openness and censorship
More complicated problems are emerging in security, privacy and the contracts, especially in the area of cloud computing.. Under a cloud computing environment, computing resources are not perceived and technically data can be stored in any foreign country. In order to encourage, and not inhibit, the development of new business models through extensive distribution of information, international standardization of technology is required, as well as development of various rules balancing treatment of digital products and digital content, intellectual property right protection such as copyrights, and ensuring of information security and privacy and protection of consumers.
Given that cyberspace transcends national borders, it is difficult to prevent Net-based crime by using the laws of individual countries. To counter abuses such as the dissemination of harmful or unlawful information, the fraudulent obtainment of information, and cyber terrorism, it is important for individual countries' experts to join together to create globally harmonized norms. It is essential, also, to improve the education of youth with regard to the desirable forms of wholesome Internet usage.
It is also desirable that concerned parties in different countries deepen their collaboration with regard to the development and dissemination of filtering and other technologies, and make continuous efforts to enhance the safety of the Internet.
On the other hand, to ensure that censorship or excessive action on security does not harm Internet openness and privacy, the parties concerned should join together to continue their dialogue concerning the sound development of the Internet society.
4. Countermeasures concerning exhaustion of IP addresses and IPv6 diffusion
The number of devices connected to the Internet is explosively increasing due to the growth of smart grid, "an internet of things" and smart phones. Coupled with the rapid increase of internet users mainly in developing countries, the imminent exhaustion of IP addresses is an issue that must be addressed urgently, and for that reason we hope to see the rapid spread of IPv6. The industrialized countries should take the initiative in accelerating IPv6's spread and the lead in disseminating new usage methods and other supportive measures.
5. Internet governance: Retaining an Internet management structure led by the private sector
Today, the Internet has become an indispensable societal infrastructure for the activities of both people and companies. In order to ensure that it remains flexible enough to address changes in society and technical innovation in a prompt and flexible manner, and that a free, efficient, and highly convenient Internet environment is maintained, it is essential that the Internet's current private sector-led management structure be maintained. The healthy growth of the Internet should be expanded by utilizing the dynamic coalitions of various interested parties collaborating together that have come into being as a result of IGF activity. If the governments of individual countries and international institutions intervene excessively in the management of an Internet that by its very nature transcends time and geography, we fear that its growth would be obstructed by individual countries' political conflicts of interest, and that would have a major negative impact on the global economy and society.
6. International cooperation in improving access for developing countries
Since the Internet is a fundamentally important societal infrastructure, it is essential to foster infrastructural development in developing countries. Many effective ICT applications such as telemedicine and e-learning are only available through a high-speed Internet connection. A challenge to connect more people online is the limited availability of broadband networks. The introduction of high-speed wireless broadband networks is expected to be the countermeasure to this problem.
A digital divide exists between those who enjoy fast access and use dial-up links.
Improving access to broadband internet will provide job and education opportunities and help alleviate poverty, and it will contribute the growth of world economy. To that end, investment-friendly deregulation and international cooperation should be encouraged to attract investment from industrialized countries and private sectors. In parallel with infrastructure development, support at the personal level should also be undertaken, such as the provision of education on the healthy and wholesome use of the Internet.
7. Regarding the future of IGF
At the fifth IGF meeting in 2010, IGF will come to the end of its original five-year mandate. We applaud IGF. IGF has made great achievements as a free discussion space by multi-stakeholders on global issues of common concern related to the Internet. Nippon Keidanren supports the document on the recommendation to extend the mandate of the Forum by Secretary General issued on May 2010 and appreciates the efforts toward adopting cloud computing as an emerging agenda item. For the participation goals of industries, governments and academia, it is desirable to achieve global consensus so that the discussions and activities reflect a wide range of stakeholders' opinions.