Who rules the Internet?

With this article I would like to bring to you closer one topic which affects us every day; it is the magical Internet. Did you ever ask yourself the question what is behind the phenomenon that makes you be able to connect with all your friends across the world? Now I don’t refer to a technical point of view, which is out of reach and focus of AEGEE, but I’m wondering if there is somebody behind this phenomenon, some institutions or government. Are you interested?

Let me introduce you to the Internet Governance (IG), which is according to definition of United Nations:

Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.

And what is the connection between IG and AEGEE? You might be surprised that there is a strong connection, especially in the field of young participation on big international events which discuss aspects of IG. In 2011 AEGEE organised, together with YEU, YFJ, JEF and Youthpress, an event in Belgrade prior to the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG). This partnership continued with last year’s edition of EuroDIG which took place in Stockholm and the Internet Governance Forum held in Baku and organised by UN.

European Youth representation at EuroDIG Stockholm 2012

What is behind these abbreviations like EuroDIG and IGF? IGF and EuroDIG are multi-stakeholder platforms aiming for discussions with all involved parties and this is the reason why they are so important. There are not so many places where you meet representatives of governments, CEOs of internet companies, human rights activists and youth. This was one of the reasons why this event was organized; to raise youth’s voice on a topic that is very important for our generation called “digital natives”, the generation that was born with internet access as a thing as common as TV.

This year our cooperation with other NGOs will include several activities and mostly the creation of a common platform which is called Network of EurRopean Digital Youth (NERDY), which gathers the aforementioned organisations and increase their cooperation in the field of IG. This year under this umbrella several activities will take place. The first one will be a workshop about IG at SpringAgora Rhein-Neckar, which will be followed by a  week-long capacity building training in Vienna at the beginning of May, and result in participation at EuroDIG 2013 in Lisbon.

Youth event prior to IFG 2012 Baku

You might think that these conferences are full of technology experts and geeks who use words that normal people don’t understand, but it is not like this. Topics which are discussed are more in policy-level and touch upon matters like copyrights, privacy, child protection, freedom of expression.

Furthermore, any member with an interest in the topic has the opportunity right now to apply for the event in Vienna.

Nobody has absolute control over the internet, as a global network is a living organism, however we can see that governments are trying to get control or try to apply laws which are currently used for classical media also to the internet. AEGEE is invited to express the opinion of European Students on this matter and it is on us to use this opportunity right, because it could infulence us all.

Written by Pavel Zborník, European Institutions and Communications Director