Surveillance a major concern at conclusion of UN-backed forum on internet governance

Participants at the Internet Governance Forum, known as the IGF, in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: IGF

25 October 2013 – While reaffirming the need to strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, the United Nations-backed forum on the issue, known as the IGF, concluded today in Bali, Indonesia with an acknowledgement that surveillance is the major emerging issue of the year.

Over four days, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), set up to support Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in carrying out the mandate of the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis (WSIS), debated actions taken by Internet actors on a host of issues related to domain names, censorship, security and other issues.

Referred to as “the elephant in the room” in the opening session, however, the issue of surveillance cast a long shadow over the discussions at the forum, an annual meeting that drew more than 1,500 representatives of Governments, civil society, technical community and private sector from 111 countries, with hundreds more participating remotely.

The four-day IGF 2013 meeting was capped by a closing ceremony that reaffirmed the participants’ belief in maintaining and strengthening the multi-stakeholder approach to discussing governance on the Internet, as opposed to a Government-led multilateral approach.

It also focused with a wider lens on emerging issues in Internet governance, beyond the surveillance issue.

“New cybersecurity threats and revelations of widespread Internet surveillance are only two of emerging issues that the multi-stakeholder community must address,” said Elia Armstrong of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA),

He underlined the need for Internet governance discussions to feed into the broader processes for global agenda for sustainable development post-2015 and the “WSIS +10” review.


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