Internet Governance Forum in review

Written on 16 October, 2012 by Verity Meagher
Categories DomainsTags domain namesgovernment

Held at the Hotel Realm, Canberra over the 11th and 12th of October, the Internet Governance Forum represented a significant milestone for the Australian internet industry. The event brought together online business owners, government bodies and major players such as Google, Facebook and AusRegistry in an effort to foster collaboration and inquiry into pressing digital issues and to pave the way for further growth. Here are some of the top takeaways from the event.

The federal government’s proposed data protection legislation is unlikely to deter cyber criminals

In early September, the federal government announced controversial plans to track and retain data related to Australians’ online activities for a two-year period. The move is part of a wider effort to reduce the threat of virtual attacks and better leverage our online footprint as a tool to solve crime. However, privacy and legal experts speaking at the Internet Governance Forum universally panned this idea, highlighting that internet criminals often use IP proxy techniques and encryption to fly under the radar online.

Cheryl Langdon-Orr, a board member for auDA (.au Domain Administration) said that these proposed laws denied individuals the right to informed consent and compared the solution to over medicating a patient. “This is the same rationale as ‘we think there might be a disease so we’re going to treat you with absolutely everything’.”

Investing in online accessibility is the first step towards improving digital inclusion

Although access to the internet plays a major role in economic and social privilege, online accessibility fluctuates dramatically across the country. The forum’s digital inclusion panel called for the government to improve online accessibility by December 2012 and make the internet more affordable to marginalised communities.

According to Keith Besgrove, the First Assistant Secretary for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, permanent regional investment in technical infrastructure is the first phase in the process of bridging the digital divide.

Relentless innovation is central to a healthy digital economy

The need for innovation and collaboration was the overarching theme of the forum. All the panellists agreed that fostering alliances across the online sector and focusing on mutual goals would help create a rich and profitable digital economy that could compete on an international scale. The forum also advocated the benefits of a multi-stakeholder model where government and industry were equally accountable for driving long-term goals.

The event shed light on the most urgent issues facing the Australian digital economy and served as an important catalyst for the sector’s evolution. Did you attend the event? What did you learn?