Geneva Internet Conference – Internet Governance at a Crossroads

17 Nov 2014 to 19 Nov 2014 | Geneva

The Geneva Internet Conference (GIC) addressed critical issues, gaps, and future developments in Internet governance (IG) and digital politics. The conference provided a neutral and inclusive space for debates as it paves the way to 2015, building on the main events and developments in 2014, including announcement of the transition of the IANA oversight of Internet functions, NETmundial and the Internet Governance Forum. 

Check the Programme tab for sessions’ recordings and notes.

Geneva messageMediaBuild-upProgrammeRemote participation

Strengthening Internet Governance: the message from the Geneva Internet Conference
17-19 November 2014

  1. Mapping Internet governance in a comprehensible and dynamic way
    The mapping of Internet governance (IG) – identifying the issues and who deals with them – should be comprehensible and dynamic in order to facilitate easy access to IG for newcomers and improve coordination of activities among stakeholders.
  2. Bridging policy silos
    Professional and institutional policy silos exist from local to global level, both within and between institutions. Bridging them, with their different practices and vocabularies, is essential in designing and implementing effective and inclusive IG policies. These silos can be traversed using a mix of structured and ad hoc approaches, ranging from joint working groups to informal exchanges. 
  3. Harvesting and harnessing IG complexity
    The complexity of IG can be both a threat and an enabler. As a threat, complexity may trigger policy paralysis. As an enabler, if complexity is harvested, it can enrich the IG space with diverse ideas and initiatives. If harnessed, it can help actors to address their IG priorities without losing sight of the broader policy picture. Efforts to deal with complexity should not lead to oversimplification; flexible forms of cooperation should be encouraged. 
  4. Developing innovative legal approaches to the Internet
    Legal rules and jurisdiction on the Internet evolve through reinterpretation, adaptation, and expansion of existing laws. In some cases, the creation of new legal mechanisms for online space (e.g. the right to be forgotten, e-signatures) is required. Innovative solutions should be informed by the cumulative wisdom of the legal profession.
  5. Strengthening genuine participation in IG processes
    Full inclusion and genuine participation in IG processes increases the quality and also the acceptance of the policies adopted, building on the diversity of views represented. Strengthening inclusive multistakeholder participation requires a sense of community around which online participation can be implemented. E-participation requires good planning and considerable social engagement. An effective interplay between in situ and e-participation can be achieved through changes in the organisation of meetings, adjustment of procedures, and training.
  6. Ensuring holistic capacity development
    Capacity development for IG should be holistic, going beyond simply training individuals. To be sustainable, capacity development should support the emergence of functional and robust institutions which are essential for facilitating innovation, rule of law, and protecting human rights on the Internet. Capacity development requires a smart mix of training, coaching, and the introduction of policy mechanisms adjusted to specific local and national contexts. 
  7. Aiming for full transparency, accepting occasional translucency
    Transparency is a necessary condition for trust, and for the accountability that all IG processes need to adhere to and, where possible, institutionalise. Occasional translucency – being transparent about what we cannot be transparent about – can be accepted when the risks posed by disclosing information are greater than the overall benefits, in particular if they affect those in a vulnerable position. 
  8. Using subsidiarity effectively
    While the Internet is a global network, policy implications are often local and national. As the Internet as a network of networks allows for a diversity of local technical solutions that are interoperable, this approach should also be used more at policy level. While adhering to globally shared basic principles, there should be room for diversity of policies responding to different local and regional needs and priorities. Using the principle of subsidiarity to address IG issues at the appropriate level will make IG more effective. It will improve trust in, and ownership and acceptance of, Internet-related policies. When it is not possible to solve a problem locally, ‘policy elevators’ should bring the issue to the optimal level. 
  9. Drafting IG policies in open consultation
    Inclusive and participatory multistakeholder policy drafting should start with open consultations. Procedures should facilitate the involvement of diverse actors in collaborative drafting, reflecting a multitude of approaches (diplomatic, technical, civil society, business, etc.). Transparency, with checks and balances, can maximise the potential for broad consensus and minimise the risk of a few actors hijacking the process. 
  10. Prioritising evidence and data collection
    Evidence and data should contribute to more solid and sustainable IG. Evidence-based IG typically starts with identifying a full range of possibly diverse needs and aims on all levels. It collects relevant data using appropriate tools and methods, measures and assesses impact, and presents findings in an understandable way for policymakers. Priority areas for evidence-based approaches are cybercrime, and monitoring the level of digital divide. 

[Update] Press release: Geneva Internet Conference’s first edition delivers powerful recommendations and questions for the future of Internet governance, 20 November

The objectives of the Geneva Internet Conference were:

  • to provide concrete proposals for the future IG arrangements
  • to promote an evidence-based approach in global Internet policy-making
  • to articulate the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, including governments, companies, and civil society
  • to ensure cross-fertilisation between Internet governance and other policy processes

The main themes:

  • How to ensure genuine and robust IG processes?
  • How to promote the proper participation of various actors in IG?
  • How to overcome policy silos?
  • How to make decisions and generate concrete outputs in IG multistakeholder processes?
  • How to ensure effective implementation and compliance in IG?

The Geneva Internet Conference (17-19 November, 2014) was organised as a process with a number of preparatory and follow-up activities. Users and communities worldwide participated in interactive sessions via e-participation and remote hubs. Before the conference, substantive discussions focused on key themes to inform the design of the conference and to facilitate dialogue between the IG and other policy communities (security, migration, climate change, etc.). Each theme was introduced in an hour-long webinar with open participation, followed by three-week long online discussions, whose outcomes fed into the conference. 


16 September – 3 October
# 1: How to overcome IG policy silos on global and national levels? 

Policymakers across different sectors face similar issues, yet follow or adopt very different perspectives. A cross-cutting approach is more the exception than the rule in organisations and institutions dealing with Internet-related topics. What can be done to achieve coordination among different actors on the national and international levels? How can we avoid turf battles and foster constructive dialogue? To what extent is it possible to overcome policy silos? What practical approaches can be used to create IG policy coherence – examples, case studies, anecdotes?

[Update] The webinar to introduce this first theme was held on 16 September. The webinar recording and digest are now available here.
[Update] A survey on policy silos was conducted. Its purpose was to study how organisations and departments deal with cross-cutting Internet policy issues such as human rights and security. View the survey questions here.
[Update] The summary of the forum discussion on this question is now available:  How to overcome IG policy silos on global and national levels


6 – 24 October
# 2: Whom do I contact if I want to raise my Internet governance (IG) concern?

IG is a highly complex policy space with hundreds of actors addressing more than 50 different policy issues in a wide range of forums. Few actors, if any, have a complete grasp of its full complexity. This challenge has triggered many small and developing countries to request a one-stop shop for voicing their concerns. The design of this one-stop shop, or clearinghouse, is key: Should it be a new international Internet organisation, a global multistakeholder IG clearing house, a distributed governance system, or…? What other properties/functions should it have? What are the particular needs of your organisation/institution? Which of the models should it follow?

[Update] The webinar to introduce this second theme was held on 6 October. The webinar recording and digest are now available here.
[Update] The summary of the forum discussion on this question is now available:  Whom do I contact if I want to raise my Internet Governance concern


28 October – 12 November
# 3: Evidence and measurement in IG: What sort of data and numbers are we talking about?

Paradoxically, although the Internet is an engineering artefact, we have very little data relevant for IG. In cybersecurity, we are still in doubt about the number of threats and the size of the losses incurred. The same applies in other IG fields. Without understanding the scope of the problem, it is difficult to discuss possible solutions. What can be done to bring more evidence in IG, using what concrete tools and techniques? How should an IG observatory, which would gather and prepare such evidence, function?

[Update] The webinar to introduce this third theme was held on 28 October. The webinar recording and digest are now available here.
[Update] The summary of the forum discussion on this question is now available:  Evidence and measurement in IG – what sort of data and numbers are we talking about


DAY ZERO – 17 November 2014
14.00 ‒ 17.00 Introduction to Internet governance (pre-conference workshop) –
[Update] Workshop report
17.30 ‒ 19.30 Keynote address by Fadi Chehadé, Session recording
President and Chief Executive Officer, ICANN
[Update] Session notes

Inauguration of Geneva Digital Landscape IG 360° followed by a receptionWMO Attic

DAY ONE – 18 November 2014
The Internet governance landscape
09.30 ‒ 10.00
Welcome and opening remarks
Amb. Jürg Lauber, Head of Division, UN and International Organisations Division, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
Ruedi Noser, National Counselor, President of ICT Switzerland and an initiator of the Geneva Internet Platform
[Update] Session notes
10.00 ‒ 11.00
FORUM: One Internet – many policy angles Session recording
Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General elect & Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU
Yi Xiaozhun, Deputy Director General, WTO
Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR
Christian Wichard, Deputy Director-General, Global Issues Sector, WIPO
[Update] Session notes
Preserving one Internet involves different policy processes. More than 50% of global Internet policy is discussed and decided on in Geneva: telecom infrastructure, human rights, e-commerce, digital intellectual property are just a few of the areas. This high-level panel will discuss different policy angles, and ways in which cross-cutting Internet policy can be developed. High officials from the ITU, the WTO, and WIPO will discuss potential synergies among their activities of the relevance for the Internet.
11.00 ‒ 11.30
Coffee break and conference photo
11.30 ‒ 13.00
FORUM: Mapping the Internet governance landscape ‒ actors, processes, and issues Session recording
Moderator: Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation and GIP
Louis Pouzin, expert in computer communications (one of the fathers of the Internet)
William J. Drake, International Fellow and Lecturer, University of Zurich & Chair, Noncommercial Users Constituency, ICANN

Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Managing Director, Compass Rose Sdn Bhd & Member of the Board of Directors, ICANN
Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, Multilingual Internet Group, London

[Update] Session notes

Internet governance is a highly complex policy space with hundreds of actors addressing more than 50 IG issues through more than 1000 mechanisms (conventions, standards,events, experts groups, etc.). The more Internet impacts all spheres of our life, the more complex and broader Internet governance will become. Very few actors, if any, have a full grasp of the complexity of IG. The risk of incomprehensible IG could lead towards the marginalisation of some actors and, ultimately, a risk for legitimacy of Internet governance. In addition, good mapping of Internet governance will increase the efficiency of policy processes and reduce duplicate efforts in various forums. The session will discuss the challenge of mapping Internet governance and ways and means of making it more accessible to all concerned. The panellists will address the following issues:

  • What does Internet governance include?
  • What are the criteria for mapping Internet governance issues and their relevance?
  • How can we create easier access to Internet governance?
  • If a one-stop shop is a solution, what functions should it have and how should it be organised?
13.00 ‒ 14.30
Lunch break
14.30 ‒ 16.00
Same issues, different perspectives: overcoming policy silos in privacy and data protection Session recording
Moderator: Vladimir Radunovic, DiploFoundation and GIP
Brian Trammell, Senior Researcher, Communication Systems Group, ETH Zurich
Nick Ashton-Hart, Executive Director, Internet &Digital Ecosystem Alliance (IDEA)

Amb. Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations, Geneva
Carly Nyst, Legal Director, Privacy International

[Update] Session notes
The omnipresence of the Internet in modern society makes most Internet policy issues transversal. For example, cybercrime cannot be addressed only as a security issue or e-commerce only as trade issue. Yet, a transversal approach is more an exception than a common practice in Internet governance. This session will discuss ways and means of introducing a transversal approach using the example of data protection and privacy, addressed from standardisation, human rights, diplomatic, security, and business perspectives.
14.30 ‒ 16.00
Legal framework, jurisdiction, and enforcement in Internet governance Session recording
Moderator: Jacques de Werra, Professor, Law School, University of Geneva
Rolf Weber, Professor, University of Zurich
Joe Cannataci, Professor, University of Groningen
Mira Burri, Senior Research Fellow, World Trade Institute & Lecturer, University of Bern
Konstantinos Komaitis, Policy Advisor, Internet Society
Xianhong Hu, Program Specialist, Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, UNESCO
[Update] Session notes
The Internet does not function in a legal vacuum. Increasingly, it is perceived that what is (il)legal offline is (il)legal online. The UN Human Rights Council made this principle explicit: ‘The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.’ Thus, most Internet issues are already regulated in the offline environment (e.g. jurisdiction, copyright, trademark, labour law).The main challenge is how to apply these rules to Internet transactions, particularly in view of transborder aspects and the speed of Internet activities. At the preparatory seminar for the Conference, the idea of legal innovation with wisdom was suggested. It means that there is a need for innovation for the Internet, which should not ignore the wisdom of the legal profession gathered over centuries in regulating conflicts and ensuring order in human society.

The session will focus on the following questions:

  • Is there any area where the ‘offline/online principle’ cannot be applied and there will be a need for new substantive rules for the Internet?
  • What are the specific challenges for applying existing legal rules on the Internet?
  • How do we innovate with wisdom? What are the possible innovations?
14.30 ‒ 16.00
Inclusion in digital policy: e-participation and capacity development
Moderator: Pete Cranston, co-director, Euforic Services, Oxford
Chengetai Masango, Programme and Technology Manager, Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum
Ginger Paque, Director of IG Programmes, DiploFoundation
Anders Norsker, Head of Information Services, ITU
Marília Maciel, Researcher and Coordinator, Center for Technology and Society, FGV Brazil
Anne-Rachel Inné, Vice-President, Government Engagement, ICANN

[Update] Session notes
Inclusive digital policy depends on e-participation and capacity development. E-participation ensures participation of all those who cannot participate in situ. It is not surprising that e-participation in global governance is most advanced in the field of Internet governance. The session will discuss the four most relevant experiences in digital policy: the IGF, ICANN, the ITU, and NETmundial.
The session will provide concrete input based on the following questions:
  • What practical techniques are there for making e-participation more effective?
  • How can we ensure proper synchronisation between two dynamics of the event: in situ (in the conference room) and remote (via e-participation)?
  • How do we deal with different time-zones in e-participation?
  • How do we ensure capacity development for e-participation?
16.00 ‒ 16.30
Coffee break
16.30 ‒ 17.30
Wrap-up and discussion Session recording
[Update] Session notes
19.00 ‒ 20.30
Cocktail dînatoire (Maison de la Paix, Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2)
DAY TWO – 19 November 2014
The complexity of Internet governance: sustaining innovation while ensuring equality
09.00 ‒ 10.30
FORUM: How do actors cope with Internet governance complexity? Session recording
Robert E. Kahn, CEO and President, Corporation for National Research Initiatives (one of the fathers of the internet)
Hon. Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, Malta
Richard Samans, Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum
Parminder Jeet Singh, Executive Director, IT for Change, India
Marília Maciel, Researcher and Coordinator, Center for Technology and Society, FGV Brazil
[Update] Session notes
With more than 50 Internet policy issues addressed in hundreds of various forums, many actors face difficulties in following Internet governance. Some governments, such as China, the USA, and Germany, have introduced cyber and Internet ambassadors as a way of covering foreign digital policy. Many countries started a national Internet Governance Forum in order to integrate the wider technical, academic, and business communities in Internet policies. For business and technical communities, following IG requires covering non-technical issues such as human rights (e.g. privacy). For civil society, in particular small organisations, covering the IG field is becoming very difficult. At the same time, due to the inter-connection of IG issues, many actors cannot afford not to use a comprehensive approach including technical, legal, and human rights aspects among others. Panellists will present different experiences in covering Internet governance and suggest some practical solutions. The session is planned to end with a list of concrete suggestions that should help various actors to deal with the complexity of IG.
10.30 ‒ 11.00
Coffee break
11.00 ‒ 12.30
Aim for full transparency – accept exceptional translucency Session recording
Moderator: Pete Cranston, co-director, Euforic Services, Oxford
Veronica Cretu, President, Open Government Institute (Moldova)
Nigel Hickson, Vice-President, UN and IGO Engagement, ICANN
Avri Doria, Principal Researcher, Technicalities
Kari Tapiola, Special Adviser to the Director-General, ILO

[Update] Session notes
Transparency is essential for robust and effective Internet governance. It is particularly important in multistakeholder spaces that typically do not have procedural mechanisms to ensure procedural transparency and due process. While full transparency should be a default operational mode, in some cases a ‘translucent’ approach could be considered (e.g. limited public participation in deliberation with full publicity of results of deliberations). This session will aim to establish criteria for determining the level of transparency needed (e.g. full transparency with transcription, access to documents, etc.). It will rely on experiences from the Open Governance Partnership and ILO communities.
11.00 ‒ 12.30
Subsidiarity: how to make Internet governance decisions at the appropriate level, building on lessons learned from Switzerland Session recording
Moderator: Thomas Schneider, Deputy Head of International Relations Service, OFCOM
Peter Gruetter, Chairman, Swiss Telecommunications Association
Norbert Bollow, co-founder and co-convenor of the Just Net Coalition
Michel Veuthey, Vice-president of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, San Remo
Hanane Boujemi, Manager, IG Programme, MENA Region, HIVOS
[Update] Session notes

While global solutions are preferable for global issues (e.g. IG, climate change), they are often difficult to achieve. After the failure of the Copenhagen summit (2009), the climate change community focused more on local, national, and regional initiatives. The same tendencies are noticeable in IG (most cybercrime conventions are regional, protests against IG policies are regional/national – SOPA, ACTA).
IG issues should be addressed at the policy level which is closest to the cause of the issues (e.g. cybercrime) or the impact a specific policy may have (e.g. access, net neutrality).
The main challenges will be to ensure that ‘policy elevators’ move both ways (up and down) among local,national, regional, and global levels. The session will also discuss the practice of ‘forum shopping’ (inserting policy initiatives on the most favourable policy level). Swiss academics and practitioners will present the country’s long experience in using subsidiarity principles.

The panel will address the following specific questions:

  • What issues could be addressed effectively at a lower level than a global one (e.g. regional and national levels)?
  • How can we ensure synchronisation among different policy levels while avoiding the risk of ‘forum shopping’?
11.00 ‒ 12.30
Evidence in Internet governance: measurement and data-mining Session recording
Moderator: Vladimir Radunovic, DiploFoundation and GIP
Aaron Boyd, Chief Strategy Officer, ABI Research
Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, Editor of Global Innovation Index & Senior Economist, WIPO
Eliot Lear, Principal Engineer, CISCO Systems
Kavé Salamatian, Professor, University of Savoie, France
[Update] Session notes

Although the Internet is an engineering artifact, we do not have sufficient technical data of relevance for Internet governance. For example, one of the major problems in cybersecurity is the lack of data about threats and losses. Policy-makers and, increasingly a more engaged general public, are looking for data such as: the impact of digital innovation on economic growth; the quantity of digital assets and their distribution worldwide, etc. The session will focus on three main issues:

  • Mapping of available data and measurement of relevance for IG
  • Survey of data and measurement for specific issues.
  • Techniques and approaches to improve evidence and measurement of relevance for IG.

Background: Cognitive technologies: mapping the Internet governance debate by Goran S. Milovanović provides a simple explanation of what cognitive technologies are and presents an example of applied cognitive science (text‑mining) in the mapping of the Internet governance debate.

12.30 ‒ 14.00
Lunch break
14.00 ‒ 15.30
Lessons learned from other multistakeholder processes Session recording
Moderator: Anne-Marie Buzatu, Deputy Head of Operations IV, DCAF
Andy Orsmond, Executive Director, International Code of Conduct Association
Michel Quillé, Vice-President, International Forum on Technologies and Security
Michele Woods, Director, Copyright Law Division, WIPO

[Update] Session notes

The different stakeholder communities remain divided over the legitimate carrying out and enforcement of decisions. Consequently, compliance remains a test case for IG processes. How can we ensure effective implementation and compliance of decisions, in particular those that require the participation of multiple actors with different views on legitimacy and accountability?

  • Why did you see a need to adopt a multistakeholder approach?
  • What challenges were you facing and how did the multistakeholder approach address them?
  • What were the three main lessons learned and take-aways from the process, and what would you do differently?
14.00 ‒ 15.30
Drafting in policy processes: how can we best nurture the socialisation of policy texts in multistakeholder contexts? Session recording
Moderator: Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation and GIP
Alex Sceberras Trigona, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Malta and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta
Richard Hill, President, Association for Proper Internet Governance
Avri Doria, Principal Researcher, Technicalities

[Update] Session notes
One of the fathers of the Internet Jon Postel said ‘Group discussion is very valuable; group drafting is less productive.’ The more people involved, the greater the complexity of the process. The drafting process is not individual writing; it is highly social. Thus, ‘socialisation of the text’ is essential for successful negotiations. All involved should be aware of how the final draft was negotiated, what was included, and what was left out. Participants should know that their voices were heard, considered, and adopted… or not, accordingly.

The panellists will address the following questions:

  • How do we harvest and harness a wide range of inputs in the drafting process?
  • What types of procedures are needed to ensure that the drafted text can have legitimate acceptance by most actors involved in the process?
  • How do we deal with conflicting situations in the drafting process?
14.00 ‒ 15.30
Funding, accountability and trust in Internet governance
Moderator: Pete Cranston, co-director, Euforic Services, Oxford
Markus Kummer, Member of the Board of Directors, ICANN

Désirée Miloshevic, Senior Adviser of International Affairs and Public Policy, Afilias International
Jean-Marie Chenou, Lecturer, University of Lausanne

[Update] Session notes
Funding, accountability, and trust are closely inter-related and are necessary for a legitimate governance system. Funding contributes to accountability, which in turn creates more trust in IG space. This session will address various approaches to fundraising in Internet governance. It will also discuss the question of accountability and trust.
15.30 ‒ 16.00
Coffee break
16.00 ‒ 17.00
Closing session: wrap-up and concluding remarks Session recording
Philipp Metzger, Director-General, OFCOM
[Update] Session notes

Please check the Programme for session recordings and notes.


The GIP and GIC assign significant importance to the reach and contributions made available by remote participation in the GIC. Geneva as a global hub welcomes the energy of those who make an effort to attend conferences in spite of timezone and other difficulties. Sessions are designed to include input from remote participants, either individuals, or through remote hubs, with in situ participants. Comments, feedback and suggestions are welcome to

Build-up before the conference was all e-participation

Please review the conference build-up tab, to review the build-up and all pre-conference activities. These discussions formed the foundation for sessions during the conference.

The interactive platform

WebEx was used as a platform to facilitate remote participation, and a webcast was provided. Remote moderators in each session assisted remote participants who wanted to intervene when interventions, either in situ or online, were invited by the panel moderators.

The remote platform page with the platform chat was projected on a screen in the conference rooms. Remote participants were invited to post written interventions/comments, to be read into the meeting by the remote moderator. The GIC emphasises the role of the remote moderator as an advocate for each remote participant so that comments or interventions will be included when comments from the audience are invited.

Chat comments are not considered to be interventions, but are a normal part of ongoing discussion between participants, as happens between in situ participants in the audience or in corridors. This is an important part of conference interactions, and for this reason will be projected in the conference rooms. Comments that are meant to be included as oral interventions should be indicated as such in a specific request to the remote moderator.

View image on Twitter

However, the WebEx remote participation screen was projected on a screen in the conference room, and were visible to in situ attendees. In the photo on the right, and the WebEx projection shows a remote panelest speaking (upper left quadrant of the screen), the session slide, the participant list, and the chat screen in the other quadrants.


Twitter gives us the opportunity to interact with each other, and with those who cannot attend in situ or remotely. According to, the #IGeneva hashtag had 1 727 tweets from 17 November to 24 November (with over 100 photos). The Storify collection below shows tweets from or about remote participation at the GIC. Storify collections of the conference proceedings as a whole are available on the main GIC webpage.

Remote hubs

The following remote hubs were registered for the GIC.

Location of registered remote hubs

Msida, Malta
Buenos Aires
Calabar, Nigeria
RUG Netherlands
Cave Hill, St. Michael, Barbados
Chicago Virtual Hub*
Bayelsa, Nigeria
San Francisco
St AugustineTrinidad and Tobago

*Note: the Chicago hub was a virtual hub, meeting online, not in situ.

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