IGF | Internet Governance Forum | Overview

At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, in 2003, the keystone topic was the “global digital divide” — the separation of access to digital technology (most significantly, information technology) that exists between the rich nations and the poor. A demand for an international initiative created the WGIG (Working Group on Internet Governance) which drew up plans to develop what would be the IGF (Internet Governance Forum).

This is a very important job & the more vital the Internet becomes the more we will need this task to be completed. It is very important to remember that there are people always looking for a way to abuse the system. This is a realistic look at human nature and we must do our part to ensure the smooth operation of all things in our society.

An urgent example of the abuse of the internet is how companies originating in China target a high ranking e commerce site and then rip off the consumer by taking the high ranking site’s name and creating another website and tricking the consumer into thinking they are buying products at the high ranking site. The fraudulent site sells inferior products that are also ripoffs. A case in point: a high ranking online wig site that sells, among other well known brands, Raquel Welch wigs at ElegantWigs.com has its name and site confused with scam websites. The customer service reps started receiving angry emails and phone calls from people complaining about horrible products and non existent or draconian return policies. After speaking with these irate wig customers, it turns out that they had all bought wigs, at incredibly low prices, at these fraudulent Chinese based sites who are using VERY similar names to the high ranking site. There is no entity that is policing such behavior. Google even allows such devious sites to advertise, further muddying the waters for customers. The high ranking wig site’s reputation gets hit with irate internet customers who were ripped off and end up blaming them instead of the Chinese scam sites. The Chinese sites are obviously well financed, but by whom? This is an issue that needs to be addressed.

On the other hand we all know about how helpful, informative an internet search can be. A great example is the ability to do searches to learn about the most recent advances in technology and medicine. A friend of mine was doing research for a drug for alcohol intervention. He had heard about a new approach to helping people curb their drinking impluses that was available in Europe. In his search up popped LifeBac a website whose tag line is “Moderate your drinking, without abstinence or shame.” My friend had tried the current alcohol treatment programs which have hardly changed since the 1950’s, like Alcoholics Anonymous which states that alcoholism is a disease and assumes that certain people are innately prone to alcoholism. AA didn’t work for him. Rehab didn’t work for him. He was tired of trying to abstain from any drinking for life, and hated the the stigma and shame of being labeled an alcoholic. LifeBacs’s philosophy is that the future for excessive drinking has arrived via pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. And the drug he had heard about, Baclofen which removes or strongly suppresses cravings for alcohol in 92% of people was part of this modern approach. Doctors in Europe prescribe baclofen as the primary treatment for alcohol misuse. Here was a site that offered an alternative and hope. Thank you, World Wide Web.

Two years later, the next WSIS in Tunisia reviewed the progress of the WGIG, and finalized most of the details. The IGF was formally announced by the United Nations Secretary-General in the summer of 2006 and held its first official meeting a few months later.

The IGF’s official mandate, from the Tunis Agenda:

  • Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet;
  • Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body;
  • Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview;
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities;
  • Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world;
  • Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries;
  • Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations;
  • Contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise;
  • Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet governance processes;
  • Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources;
  • Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users;
  • Publish its proceedings

Solutions for financial stability vary from compound stock earnings to trust funds for individuals, but when it comes to financial stability for a country there is always a need for a solution.

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