Disclaimer: I serve as the Co-Chair of the IGF-USA, along with my Co-Chair Melinda Clem.
The Internet Governance Forum USA (IGF-USA), which can be found online at igfusa.us, is a community-driven initiative that brings together participants from industry, government, civil society, academia, and technical experts to develop programming that promotes and advances dialogue on the most important issues facing the Internet in the USA.
The IGF-USA is the best opportunity in the US to participate in open, inclusive and transparent discussions around the issues facing the future of the Internet. Every year the IGF-USA community kicks off its work by surveying the Internet policy community to identify major issues that should be addressed and discussed at its annual conference every July. Following the survey, the community works together in a bottom-up process to develop programming, in the form of panels of experts that address the topics that were identified as priorities.
It is also an opportunity for businesses and organizations with an online presence, both big and small, to learn about the technical and governance environments that they operate in.
The annual conference is happening July 25, in Washington, DC. Below is a list of topics, based on community feedback, that will be presented during the conference. It is free and open to all participants. For those that cannot attend in person, Livestream will be made available.
Based on the input of the community, the IGF-USA Steering Committee selected the following topics for the program:
A discussion on the various approaches to privacy frameworks and their potential impacts on business, tech and Internet governance.
A discussion about Techlash and the impact of the Internet and new technologies to improve our communication, collaboration, and commerce, while potentially exacerbating the worst aspects of human behavior.
A discussion about the costs and benefits of regulation, as policy makers and key federal agencies examine whether there is a need for an antitrust intervention.
A discussion about the current threat environment around Internet infrastructure and the effort to harden and smarten this infrastructure, with an emphasis on US internet infrastructure assets that are high-value targets for cyber attacks.
Diverging paths for platform liability – the impact of Section 230 and the choice for America’s digital future.
A discussion about the role of Section 230 in the evolution of net 2.0 and the attempts at taking it away or modifying it. This will include an assessment on the impact of Section 230 and a dialogue about the path forward in the US for the liability of online platforms for the moderation of user-generated content.
An exploration of creative and effective solutions for broadband access and digital literacy, and suggestions and next steps for those looking to implement their own digital inclusion efforts.
A look into the upgrades to networks that will be made possible by 5G and different approaches that address benefits, challenges, and concerns about the next generation of wireless.
This panel will bring together policy makers, industry and civil society experts to discuss how maximizing the benefits of AI, while addressing its limitations, risks and harms.
A Special Year
The IGF-USA 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the IGF-USA. During this span, it is fascinating to think about all that has changed. Innovation has integrated the Internet into nearly every aspect of our lives and this has come with incredible benefits and serious risks.
With everything that has changed since 2009, the key issues that were discussed at the inaugural IGF-USA are still relevant today and being discussed at the IGF-USA 2019, such as cybersecurity, internet infrastructure, privacy, freedom of expression and digital inclusion. However, this year’s event also takes on several emerging issues, including artificial intelligence, 5G, and the applicability of Antitrust to tech companies.
With a healthy balance of new and perennial topics, the IGF-USA demonstrates that it has successfully identified the most important issues and developed programming that facilitates critical dialogue since the beginning.
A Growing National Presence for a National Initiative
The IGF-USA has had a strong national and international presence over the course of the last 10 years, holding its own annual conferences in Washington, DC and participating in global conferences across the globe. In recent years, we have focused on facilitating discussions across the US.
Last year, I took a road trip across the US, from Washington State to Washington, DC and launched the IGFUSA On the Road series, by partnering with groups in Portland, the Bay Area, Phoenix, New Mexico, Detroit, and New York to add stops for events and discussions that emphasized local perspectives that could ultimately influence the discussions at the national level. This year, I followed that up with events at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Harvard University in Cambridge, with more trips in the works this fall.
Ultimately, with the role as a national initiative and the use of a .us domain name, the IGF-USA is committed to making the Internet better for all Americans and that means providing a platform for local and diverse voices across the entire US.
Learn more about the .US Town Hall
As sponsors of the IGF-USA, Neustar will be raising awareness for the .US Town Hall Webcast at the IGF-USA.
The Town Hall will provide a rundown of the current state of the domain industry and .US specifically. It will also include policy considerations for domain growth and community outreach to establish top civic priorities for future direction. It will take place on October 24, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT. Learn more here.