By Melih Kırlıdoğ
The ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2-5 September. EDRi member Alternative Informatics Association (AIA) submitted four proposals to the IGF, but all of them were rejected. As a result, AIA decided to organise a parallel event, the Internet Ungovernance Forum (IUF). The IUF attracted considerable interest among Internet researchers and activists who wished to address urgent issues, such as censorship and surveillance, in a more inclusive manner.
AIA also participated in the IGF with a booth, and spoke at some workshops. Delegates at the IGF were able to enjoy something that Turkish citizens outside can only dream of – an open and uncensored access to the internet. Turkey blocks approximately 51,000 domains .
Janis Karklins, the head of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group in the IGF contacted the AIA and requested a meeting in the IUF where he was prepared to answer “hard questions.” Despite criticism, he insisted during the meeting that the IGF is an inclusive platform where all stakeholders can participate and the selection criteria is transparent.
Edward Snowden was to deliver the closing speech by video conference in the IUF which he had to cancel last minute due to technical problems. However, he submitted a written statement.
“In an ideal world, governments would respect the free speech rights of their citizens enough to not filter their Internet communications,” he said in his message. “Sadly, we do not yet live in that world. Perhaps in time, governments will realize that the serious cybersecurity and foreign-surveillance threats posed by censorship equipment outweigh whatever supposed benefits of national stability and control that they bring,” he concluded.
Julian Assange agreed to deliver the closing speech in Snowden’s stead. He answered questions from the audience and drew attention to the strategic relationship and data transfers between the NSA and Google.
Next year the IGF will be held in Brazil. AIA plans to contact fellow NGOs in Brazil to discuss the opportunities for jointly organising or supporting a side event during the IGF – as Internet Governance remains to be an extremely important but a neglected area among those who strive for a free Internet.
Statement to Internet Ungovernance Forum by Edward Snowden (05.09.2014)
Protecting the open internet: the Internet Governance Forum in Turkey (05.09.2014)
UN Internet Governance Forum sees new challengers, from top down and bottom up (08.09.2014)
The Not-Mundial Initiative: Governance and Ungovernance in Istanbul (29.08.2014)
Internet nation? (05.09.2014)
Internet Governance Forum and Internet Ungovernance Forum (only in Turkish, 05.09.2014)
EDRi: Internet Ungovernance Forum – civil society counterbalance to IGF (27.08.2014)
Author: Melih Kirlidog, EDRi member Alternatif Bilisim, Turkey)