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Internet's first ever global forum outlines plans

Athens meeting open to one and all

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The blueprint for the internet's first ever global forum to be held in Athens this October has been released.

Following a meeting of 48 net luminaries from government, industry and civil society in Geneva this week, the format of the first four day meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has been decided. The forum will consist of four general sessions, each covering a main topic. Those topics will be (in order): openness, security, diversity and access.

The first day will kick off with an opening ceremony, and outline of the forum's approach. The second and third days will see each topic given three hours in the main hall. The plan is to offer a mix of presentations as well as panel and floor discussions.

Each session will be web-cast and transcribed in real-time in six different languages, and those on the net will be able to interact through both instant messaging and blog posts - some of which will be compiled and reported on at a "recap and review" session at the end of each session.

Everything will be summed up on the final day with a review, an open mic session, and closing ceremony.

The hope is that the IGF will be the global talking point for issues thrown up by the internet, and a place where the world's experts in different topics can congregate and thrash out ideas and solutions. Widely expected to get the most attention is spam and cybersecurity, although the developing nations are very keen to press the cost and availability of internet access in poorer countries.

Other topics are more controversial, so issues such as the US government's current control of the internet, free speech, and open source software have been pulled from the main agenda and will instead take place in workshops elsewhere during the meeting.

The expected location for the first IGF is the luxury resort of Astir Palace, in Athens, though the annual meeting will take place in a different country every year. This year's forum runs from 30 October to 2 November.

Contributions to the forum are welcomed up to the deadline of 15 July, so if you have a solution for a pressing internet problem and you want to draw the world's attention to it, now is your chance.

More information about the IGF can be found at its website. The Greek government has set up a specific IGF Athens website here. ®

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