Europe: Hold my wine glass, I've got an internet govt to build

Like ICANN's NetMundial but with an actual goal and without the boycotts

The European Commission has signed a contract to create a system that will gather up the world's policies on governing the internet, and put 'em all under one roof. That way, people can look over them and work out how to best run the 'net.

If that sounds familiar, it's because ICANN has been trying to create the exact same thing for the past month with limited success with its NetMundial Initiative (NMI).

The EC-funded effort, called the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), has been under development since July when it published a feasibility study into automatically collecting and analyzing data on internet-related policymaking and then categorizing it for search and easy data visualization. Alongside the 123-page study [PDF] came a demo site.

In August, the EC published a tender to build the design, and today awarded the contract to three companies: P.A.U. Education, Fundacion CTIC, and Open Evidence.

The GIPO is taking the opposite approach to the NMI: build the platform first and then approach stakeholders to get them involved. According to the EC, the details of that outreach will be published "as soon as possible."

By contrast, the NetMundial Initiative, which the three organizers have committed $600,000 to, has yet to start development of its rival platform, and has spent the past six months developing a "coordination council" that has been rejected by the Internet Society, Internet Architecture Board, International Chamber of Commerce and parts of civil society. Regardless, it is expected to be announced at the upcoming Davos annual meeting of the world's business elite in January.

The GIPO platform is expected to "address the main challenges of the multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet: a combination of topic complexity, information overload and fragmentation of information between policy silos and in different institutional levels."

Its stated aim is to "increase expertise and understanding among all actors, including countries, NGOs and interest groups which may have so far been marginalized in Internet debates and decisions."

With ICANN's effort mired in allegations of top-down control, misleading descriptions, efforts to seat its organizers as permanent members, a lack of financial or decision-making transparency, and catering to the elite crowd at the World Economic Forum rather than embracing the multi-stakeholder model, the EC's new contractors should not find it difficult to pick up broad internet community approval for its platform.

Doing the exact opposite of the NMI would be a good starting point. ®


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