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Date set for global net body's first meeting

Athens: 30 October to 2 November 2006

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A date has been set for the first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF): Monday 30 October to Thursday 2 November in Athens, Greece.

At the same time, the United Nations has announced a 40-strong body made up of representatives from governments, private sector, civil society and the academic and technical communities to decide on how the meeting will be run and what it will discuss.

The issue of when the first meeting will be held has been a matter of some conjecture thanks to the four-year grand meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Turkey from 6 to 24 November. For political reasons, some countries wanted the IGF to meet before the ITU meeting, others after.

The 40-strong advisory group was also a bone of contention but consensus has now been reached and submissions for group members will be taken from now until 18 April. Soon after, the group will meet for the first time.

An IGF secretariat, headed by Markus Kummer, will be based at the UN's headquarters in Geneva - something that was effectively decided when the Swiss government offered to pay for it.

It was generally agreed at a preparatory meeting in Geneva last month that the IGF will have a one-topic headline focus with another one or two main sub-topics. The UN has produced a list which it has diplomatically labelled a), b), c) etc, but which seems to be a list in order of importance, so expect to see the top three become the basis for worldwide discussion in November.

The UN list:

a) Spam
b) Multilingualism
c) Cybercrime
d) Cybersecurity
e) Privacy and Data Protection
f) Freedom of Expression and Human Rights
g) International Interconnection Costs
h) Bridging the Digital Divide: Access and Policies
i) Bridging the Digital Divide: Financing
j) Rules for e-commerce, e-business and consumer protection.

You can find out more about the IGF on its website at www.intgovforum.org. The Greek government has set up a separate website for the Athens meeting at http://igf-greece2006.org/. ®

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