While there is a need to improve governance of the Internet, the responsibility should not be the sole charge of governments. Instead, the issue is better tackled through a partnership approach between governments, the ...
December 22, 2005
While there is a need to improve governance of the Internet, the responsibility should not be the sole charge of governments. Instead, the issue is better tackled through a partnership approach between governments, the industry and the society-at-large, according to Dr Lee Boon Yang, Singapore's Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.
The message by Dr Lee was delivered at The World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunisia last month. The WSIS event serves as a platform for global talks on a host of Internet-related issues ranging from spam, privacy issues to online security. However, in recent years, much of the discussion at WSIS has centred on the issue of Internet Management.
Specifically, countries like China and South Africa are arguing that poorer nations should have more say in how the Internet in operated, as opposed to the current structure which appears to be inclined towards the United States and wealthier countries. In addition, they have called for the United States to diversify its control over areas like the Internet addressing system to the United Nations.
In this regard, Dr Lee said Singapore supports the Joint Statement of the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN) on the issue of Internet Governance.
"We share the view that Internet Governance must be inclusive and responsive. We also accept that while there is a need to improve governance of the Internet. We should not view such governance as the sole domain of governments. The importance of continued technological Internet developments and deployment reinforces the advantage of a partnership approach whereby Governments, industry and civil society work together for the benefit of all who are touched by this wonderful invention," he stressed.
"The challenge before us is how to better serve public interests in a manner that respects the unique architecture and traditions of the Internet. Singapore believes that a top-down inter-governmental oversight structure will not be the right fit," Dr Lee said.
"Instead, we should work steadily and incrementally to enhance the structures that already exist from within. Both the Internet community and the inter-governmental community need that period of evolution and transition to listen and accommodate one another as well as to learn to work side by side," he urged.
According to Dr Lee, the answer to the debate of the Internet Governance debate is not in the creation of new oversight mechanism. Instead, existing structures should be evolved and strengthened to better respond to developments of the Internet and the interests of all affected parties.
As a positive step in this direction, delegates at WSIS have put their weight behind the formation a new body called the Internet Governance Forum under the auspices of the United Nations. This forum will be the focal point for a broad range of Internet-related issues and the first meeting has been planned for next year.