[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Policy ]

Modality of Internet Governance

Policy Proposals for the 2nd World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

September 20, 2005

Nippon Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation)

In recent times, developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet, mean that massive amounts of information can be freely and instantaneously transmitted across national borders. However, it is still unclear how the international community should deal with issues that have appeared since the advent of the Internet, such as the expanding digital divide and the need to ensure network security. We cannot merely apply the pre-Internet rules of the international community, and in addition, it is difficult to expect that the desired results can be achieved if individual countries act alone. For these reasons, we need new scheme and solutions that enable international cooperation.

There should be broader discussion regarding the Internet, ensuring that all relevant matters are brought up, not just technology or system-related issues. Bearing this in mind, we applaud the broad definition of Internet governance in the WGIG's final report, which stated that: "Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet." We hope that this Summit will provide an opportunity for significant discussion from this perspective.

It is no exaggeration to say today that the Internet is essential in terms of establishing a business and developing an information society. The WSIS provides a great opportunity to make progress in resolving the numerous issues that have arisen. Seeking to take advantage of this opportunity, and in the hope that all the people of the world will equally be able to enjoy the benefits that result from the development of the information society, on behalf of the Japanese business community, we would like to make the following policy proposals to all stakeholders.

1. The Information Society We Should Create

Our ultimate goal is the creation of a ubiquitous network society in which the full range of benefits of ICTs are available to anyone, anytime, anywhere in a secure manner.

In a ubiquitous network society, mutual understanding is deepened as everyone in the world becomes an information transmission entity and as communications become pervasive. Also, freed from the constraints of distance and time, improved access to information will lend momentum to high-level research and intellectual activities, which in turn will lead to the creation of new value, thereby assisting economic development and bringing newfound prosperity to people's lives.

We must draw upon the wisdom of people all over the world to allow us to swiftly create a global information society and to establish how we can apply ICTs to constantly develop that society.

2. Ensuring the Sound Development of an Information Society

(1) General Statement

When considering the management of the Internet in its role as the foundation of the information society, we need to assume the standpoint of its users when considering the economic development and enhancement in welfare that the application of ICTs can bring about. Also, there is no doubt that the private sector will continue to be the driving force for the development of the Internet. In light of this, to enable the international community to create a reliable information and communications infrastructure, at this WSIS we must discuss such issues as bridging the digital divide, Internet security measures and the protection of intellectual property rights for content distributed on the Internet. International organizations, governments, private corporations and civil society must clarify their respective roles, and work in partnership to carry out those roles.

It is to be hoped that this year's WSIS will provide a venue for discussion that will not only lead to improvement in the convenience and security of the Internet but also benefit people all over the world who will avail themselves of the benefits of ICT.

(2) Specific Points

i) Bridging the Digital Divide

The international community needs to take urgent action to bridge the widening digital divide between the advanced nations of the world that are reaping the benefits of the information age and the developing nations that are not.

The latest ICTs now offer a marvelous opportunity for the developing nations of the world to experience economic prosperity, and it is essential that international organizations and advanced nations provide the necessary support to see this happen. However, ICTs cannot accomplish everything, and so first we must utilize existing support systems to the greatest extent possible, starting from putting in place basic infrastructure for industry. From there, international organizations, governments, private corporations and civil society should work together to set up infrastructure and to foster human capital in the ICT area in developing nations. This will create a positive cycle where business opportunities are increased through the entry of new private companies, employment is created and the ability of those in the developing nations to utilize ICTs is further enhanced. To realize these objectives, the creation of an enabling environment for investment in ICTs, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, and promoting competition, is essential.

ii) Establishing a Secure and Safe Network

A secure and safe network is the basis of an information society, but the establishment and strengthening of cybersecurity measures is still at the early stages in many countries, and progress differs from one country to the next. However, in a situation where the entire world is connected by the Internet, places with low levels of security represent security holes and everyone involved in the network must cooperate to deal with such menaces.

By striving to foster a culture of security and the human capital capable of maintaining it, the government sector must enhance the awareness of those involved and improve the ability of society to take measures. At the same time it must also strengthen measures to deter those with malicious intentions and criminals such as cyberterrorists. The agreement of the international community is needed to achieve this, as are laws and treaties that set up appropriate and internationally consistent punishments to clarify what constitutes a criminal act. It is also to be hoped that the strengthening of systems for international cooperation among police organizations to ensure the arrest of criminals will improve the deterrent factor. However, we must be careful not to detract from the appeal of the Internet through censorship that might result from excessive government control.

At the same time, the private sector needs to go further than merely abiding by the law, and should contribute to increasing the level of security by undertaking initiatives such as developing new advanced authentication technologies and voluntarily instituting best practice models for cybersecurity. Policy frameworks that promote innovation and technology development will help the private sector achieve it potential in this regard. Civil society, too, needs to see this as its own problem and become actively involved at all levels. Consultation with all stakeholders is key to developing policies at the national, regional and international level that will promote information and network security globally.

iii) Management of Internet Resources

The growth of the Internet has occurred on the basis of decentralized processing and has been led by the private sector, and it is preferable that its management continues to be free from the constraints imposed by the boundaries that exist between nations. If the Internet were managed and controlled by international organizations controlled by the governments of their member states, differences of opinion would ultimately prevent swift decisions and slow reactions to changes in the environment, and as a result, the Internet's function of facilitating freedom of speech or serving as the infrastructure of business could be impaired. In addition, the full-scale spread of new technology, such as IPv6, or other changes in the environment, may require a new management regime, and so we need a system that can respond flexibly and quickly to change. For that reason, it is appropriate that the private sector, which has the ability to swiftly respond to change, should continue to manage Internet resources and technical coordination as it is.

At present, the allocation of IP addresses and the management of domain names are carried out efficiently by ICANN, which has established a thoroughly reliable record. For that reason, from the standpoint of ensuring that we can maintain the existing Internet environment, we support the continuation of current arrangements.

However, now that the Internet has become a global infrastructure resource, it is also true that we should pay closer attention to issues of transparency and fairness in the procedures involved in its management and control. ICANN should clearly identify where problems are said to exist and promote improvements in the system so it can become an organization that opens itself up to stakeholders all over the world more than has been the case in the past.

iv) Promotion of General Improvements to Encourage Further Use of the Internet

In order to create a ubiquitous network society, we need to further improve the user environment. For example, we should encourage interested parties to discuss setting internationally acceptable rules for e-commerce, and what should be done to facilitate the standardization of RFID specifications or to deal with that pressing matter of violations of copyright of digital contents.

Also, so as not to impede the development of the new technologies, governments should adopt a clearly neutral stance on technologies and ensure technology neutrality in policies to ensure user choice.

v) Post Summit

It is useful to have so many stakeholders meet at this Summit to exchange information and ideas. We are grateful to the ITU, which has organized the Summit, to those people who took part in the discussion at the 1st Summit and put together the "Basic Principles," to those WGIG members who summarized the previous discussions in preparation for the 2nd Summit and to all others who have contributed their time and effort.

This 2nd Summit does not represent the end of our discussion; we need forums where public and private sectors can come together for further talks. At such forums, in addition to wide-ranging discussion on Internet-related issues, in order to realize more appropriate Internet governance, we need to monitor the activities of organizations such as ICANN and where necessary, make suggestions for reform of Internet management.

Furthermore, with many organizations already tackling these problems and producing results, we do not believe there is any need to establish a new organization to run these forums. Also, it is important to view these forums as a place for discussion and consensus building only; there is no need to attach authority to enforce any of the agreements reached. The existing organizations should be encouraged to pursue greater cooperation, coordination, information exchange and to ensure the participation of all stakeholders from around the world, as appropriate.

vi) Role of the Private Sector

As the main player in the information society, the private sector needs to understand that it has a crucial part to play in the development of the information society, and then carry out the roles required of it. This will cover issues ranging from voluntary efforts and developing best practices to ensure cybersecurity, to research and development, to the appropriate management of the Internet. One role for the private sector to play in bridging the digital divide is the development and provision of such items as affordable ICT terminals that the people of the developing nations can readily use. Such initiatives exist and can be expanded.

We, too, will be proactive and involve ourselves in the discussion on information security measures, connection rules for home information appliances and the determination of management styles for Ipv6 generation, and in cooperation with those involved, we will look to play our part in the development of the information society.

3. Conclusion

We have discussed the issue of Internet governance with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and economic organizations of the various nations of the world, and have produced these proposals. For the most part they reflect the same basic values and key issues put forward by the ICC and the industries of the various nations of the world.

We sincerely hope that the opinions of Japanese corporate users incorporated in these proposals are reflected in the discussion at the Summit.

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