RIGF 2016: ‘Internet has become more important to us than other conveniences’


Moscow is hosting the 7th Russian Internet Governance Forum

On April 7, the 7th Russian Internet Governance Forum (RIGF 2016) got under way in Moscow. The event is organized by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU in cooperation with Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, ICANN, RIPE NCC, Kaspersky Lab, APTLD, the Regional Public Center of Internet Technologies, the Internet Development Institute, and Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC). Over 800 participants from 15 countries registered for this year’s RIGF.

In his opening remarks at the forum, Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU Andrei Vorobyov congratulated the delegates on the anniversary of .RU domain's birth. “We are opening the 7th Russian Internet Governance Forum on .RU’s birthday,” he said. “By now, it has almost 5.2 million registered domain names. The domain-based namespace, too, is among the forum’s highlights, along with Internet governance, ways of building interrelationships between all participants in the Internet network, security, and many other topics, which experts from various countries will discuss today.”

Lyudmila Bokova, a member of the Federation Council, underscored the significance of Internet governance forums have for the development of the Internet. She stressed that the international Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which was first held 10 years ago, contributes to promoting understanding between all participants in the global Internet network, enabling them to speak one language. In her view, RIGF has also been working towards that goal. She thanked the Coordination Center for TLD .RU for holding information security classes among school students. Dmitry Chernov, director of the High Technologies Department at the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, dwelt on the progress of the Internet in Russia. “Russia now ranks fourth in the world by the number of [Internet] users, preceded only by China, the United States and Japan. We have 80 million Internet users in our country. Our main task today is to ensure Internet access to people living in remote regions and people with disabilities,” he said.

Dirk Van Eeckhout of the Council of Europe described the Internet as a basic human need in the modern world: “Earlier, when checking into a hotel, I used to inquire first if hot water and a shower were available. Now the first thing I want to know is whether or not it has Wi-Fi. The Internet matters more to us than water. But since it matters so much and we all need it so badly, it should be properly governed and regulated. I have no ready answer on how to do that. But I am sure it can’t be governed solely by any one side. Everyone in the Council of Europe shares this view. We fully support a multistakeholder Internet governance model.”

ICANN Vice President Mikhail Yakushev informed the RIGF 2016 participants on how the procedure of handing over control of the IANA [Internet Assigned Numbers Authority] functions is moving forward. One of its phases will be completed in September 2016. Simultaneously, ICANN is moving to make its work more transparent. “We are getting closer,” Mr Yakushev said. He unveiled the upcoming start of the second stage for applying for new gTLD registration. According to Mr. Yakushev, Russians are represented in many international Internet organizations and even head some, which is a signal of the Russian community’s greater involvement in Internet governance bodies.

The opening ceremony was followed by the signing of the TLD .RU Registries Memorandum on the Development of the Runet Address Space. The document was signed by gTLD .RU registries – the Coordination Center for TLD .RU (.RU and .РФ domains), the Internet Technologies and Infrastructure Support Fund (.МОСКВА and .MOSCOW), the Coordination Center for the TLD of the Republic of Tatarstan (.TATAR), the Smart Internet Web Initiatives Support Fund (.ДЕТИ), the Internet Development Fund (.SU), and the Russian Names company (.РУС).

Other events included a ceremony to award the winners of the 1st IP&IT LAW All- Russia Youth Contest in the Information Technology and Intellectual Property Laws. Dmitry Afanasyev, coordinator of the Expert Council of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications, introduced the awardees — both university and school students. The main prize — an ASUS laptop computer — went to Anton Blinov, a student at the Higher School of Economics. The winner joked that he felt a little bit as though he were Leonardo DiCaprio but promised not to leave his prize behind during a coffee break. Two other laureates — Oleg Ksenofontov and Anastasia Shatilina — received certificates of merit, prizes and gifts.

Opening the traditional awards ceremony for the Order for Merits to the Internet, APTLD Director Leonid Todorov acknowledged that, busy as he was, he insisted on personally introducing the recipient to the forum as soon as he heard his name. The award was bestowed on Wolfgang Kleinwachter, a professor at Aarhus University and a many-time RIGF participant. Following the award ceremony, Professor Kleinwachter delivered a lecture, “The Microcosm and Macrocosm of Internet Governance.” He recalled how the goal of creating new Internet governance mechanisms was first formulated 14 years ago. “Together with several other representatives of the scientific and technological community, I attended a meeting with then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,” Mr. Kleinwachter said. “I was highly impressed by Mr. Annan’s words. He said: ‘The Internet is an innovation in technology. But it calls for a political innovation as well. For 1,000 years, politics has stood on the same principles, while Internet governance requires new ones.’ And it seems to me that the idea of multi-stakeholderism, which I helped elaborate, has become just that very innovation in politics.”

According to Professor Kleinwachter, this Internet governance model is very close to the initial idea of the Internet – to share. “In the Internet we share information. Technically, it is based on the distribution of resources. Similarly, Internet governance should be distributed between various parties – technical experts and representatives of the governments, business and civil society,” he said.