World Summit for the Information Society

In 2003-2005 the international community met at a pair of linked conferences – the World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) – and created a political blueprint for how to approach technology in the international community: the outcome being that 90% of the exercise was supposed to be about development, with about 10% being about politics. This was subverted by the ITU which captured the follow-up/implementation process for its own purposes.

The review of WSIS taking place between now and 2015 creates the opportunity to persuade governments that the next 10 years of multilateral IT policy should be focused on sustainable economic and social development and that this effort should be a participatory one where industry, civil society, and governments at the national level create an enabling environment in each country that leverages the borderless nature of the Internet as a strength which brings opportunity – and that UN agencies like the ITU are not to run the show any longer.

The World Summit on the Information Society review in 2015 is now almost certain to spawn a significant international conference (likely December 2015 in New York at the UN). The work process for defining that meeting, its goals and objectives, input documents and the openness of the preparatory process is under negotiation in NYC at the UN now.

It matters for India to be seen and be participative about the WSIS process both tom the government and business side because:

  • we are increasingly mixing together political issues with how the Internet’s key technical resources are managed with issues like surveillance which are really social issues
    that the Internet cannot fix. The WSIS review creates an opportunity to reframe that debate at the international level such that the two are kept more separated.
  • Inactive or Less Participation will lead to diminution in the potential of the Internet for social development generally, which is the agenda of the current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and is broadly getting reflected in the finance budget as well.
  • Incomplete ideas among the bureaucrats can also lead to a situation where there are proposals for imposing market access limitations either in products or services thereby seriously endangering the Open Internet Proposition.
  • The business rely on it and and so have a stake in ensuring that the policy debate about issues with an Internet dimension are differentiated, lest the Internet become a victim of attempts to
    solve broader social
  • If we do not engage, we can see some countries creating a block in the momentum of Internet penetration and that will be a serious blow to India’s growth plans.

    World Summit for the Information Society
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