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The Multi-Stakeholder Open Internet: Safe for Another Year

The multi-stakeholder Internet Governance process is safe from being replaced by a government-only top down process. At least for now.

The Internet as we know it has added huge social and economic value to the world as well as to our personal lives and is governed by a broad multi-stakeholder process including the private sector, technical community, academia, civil society as well as governments. Each group has an important role to play and the success of the process is due in large part to each doing what they do best and working together when and where appropriate. For example, technical issues are best left to the technical community while national security issues are primarily the domain of governments.

This multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, process is distinct from and in contrast to a multi-lateral process that only includes governments and their multi-lateral organizations. Internet governance broadly has been, and needs to remain, a multi-stakeholder process. It’s a proven approach that created the open Internet of interconnected network of networks in which anyone can access content and use applications from anywhere on the globe.

Earlier this month, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) concluded its important quadrennial Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, Korea, where the UN organization’s 193 member countries reviewed the ITU Constitution and Convention, elected its officials and set its agenda for the next four years.

Going into the Plenipot, there were concerns that some governments would use the meeting to impose the traditional top-down, government-led multi-lateral approach and counterproductive regulation to replace the bottom-up multi-stakeholder process. Some observers expressed their concern of a “UN takeover of the Internet.” Others were concerned that heavy handed and blunt regulation, which didn’t recognize the open and global architecture of the Internet, would fragment the Internet into national government controlled Intranets.

The good news is that none of the radical, dangerous or even just counterproductive proposals (such as regulating Internet routing) introduced in Busan survived the Plenipotentiary’s consensus-based process. In fact, the broad consensus acknowledged the importance of Internet governance processes and venues outside of the ITU while, at the same time, recognizing the important role the ITU plays, especially with respect to radio spectrum, capacity building, and working with emerging economies on development agendas.

This success was not by accident. It was the result of more than a year and a half of hard work and patient consultations among policy makers from governments around the world that are dedicated to the Open Internet and multi-stakeholder process. The US Delegation (including private sector, civil society and technical community members as well as government), led by Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, played a key role in Busan, along with many like minded countries, building a consensus around the value of an Open Internet and the multi-stakeholder process. They changed the debate by understanding the importance of relationships and listening when working with other governments to address genuine concerns, while at the same time, building consensus to reject destructive proposals.

As successful as the Plenipot was, it’s not the end of the story. Governments that want to exert more control over the Internet and replace the multi-stakeholder process are not giving up. They are playing a long game and there are important international meetings in 2015 where they will try again. There is a lot of hard work and difficult discussions to come. But an important lesson learned from Busan is that successful diplomacy and policy through relationships, listening, collaboration and engagement, attributes like the Open Internet itself, can be a winning combination.

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ICT for Girls, Women in Technology and a Dialogue at the European Union

April 25 2013 is a super day for girls and women in technology and Cisco was very present!  I am so energized by the fantastic people I met throughout the day commencing with a breakfast session Women2020 platform hosted by DIGITALEUROPE with the topic of Women In Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for Smart Growth of the pillars of the European 2020 Strategy.

The morning session included a panel chaired by Ms. Cheryl Miller, Founder of Women2020, and Dr.Hamadoun Toure’, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union; Ms. Eva Fabry, Director European Centre for Women and Technology; Ms. Marietje Schaake, member of the  European Parliament for the Dutch Democratic Party; Dr. John Higgins, Director-General Digital Europe; Ms. Patricia Reilly Member of the Cabinet-Research, Innovation and Science; Ms. Linda Corugedo Steneberg, Director for Cooperation-DG Connect; Ms. Sabiine Everaet, CIO Europe Group at Coca Cola and a packed room of participants including myself.

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On Girls in ICT Day, Cisco Encourages Teens to Pursue Technology Careers

April 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm PST

Teenage girls use computers and the Internet as much as boys do, but are five times less likely to consider a technology-related career.

In the United Kingdom, fewer than 1 in 5 computer scientists are women (Women and ICT), and in the United States, women hold more degrees than men and make up 58 percent of the professional workforce, yet their representation in ICT is less than 25 percent (NCWIT).

Companies around the world will try to reverse these trends on International Girls in ICT Day this Thursday, April 25 – an initiative organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

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Cisco Gets a Gold Star for Tech-Policy and Standards Leadership

Innovation is often defined as novel technological invention. What is far less known about successful innovation efforts is that it takes a special breed of individual who possesses the rare combination of technical depth and sharp diplomatic skills. To be a successful innovator, one must be able to maneuver through political mine fields inherent with industry level leadership and standards bodies.

Cisco is fortunate to have such individuals who work in our Government Affairs, Compliance, SP Standards and Corporate Consulting Engineering teams and it makes the company a very formidable entity.

Our preparation for the ITU-T CTO meeting, the Global Standards Symposium and the World Telecommunications Standards Assembly, all held in Dubai this November, provide very recent and tangible examples of how Cisco is succeeding in this multi-dimensional world.

It is in such meetings that Read More »

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Cisco Endorses OpenStand at ITU-T in Dubai

Following the ITU hosted CTO meeting held in Dubai on November 18 2012, where I represented our CTO Padmasree Warrior, I had the pleasure to present at the ITU-T Global Standards Symposium [GSS] in Dubai on November 19 2012.

This panel was of particular interest to us because Cisco observed a number of industries brought together on the same stage.  Energy, healthcare, and transportation are important to how we live and work, and Cisco engages in each of these sectors.

While this panel demonstrated the huge technological strides each sector is taking, I noted that these advances did not occur overnight.  Each of these sectors has evolved its approach with a lot of effort, over a long period of time. Read More »

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