Internet Governance Forum 2017

The IEEE Internet Initiative participated in the 12th Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 18-21 December at the United Nations Office in Geneva.

“Shape Your Digital Future!” was the theme for this year’s multi-stakeholder event for dialogue regarding internet policies, initially convened in 2006 by the UN General Secretariat. With the UN’s renewal in December 2015, the IGF provides a platform to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet.

While there is no negotiated outcome, the IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors. At this annual meeting delegates discuss and exchange information and share good practices with each other.


The Institute – Discussions in Geneva addressed shaping future policies: Blog post recounts IEEE’s diverse perspectives in IGF discussions that addressed shaping future policies.

UN Press Service Report—Internet Governance Forum Explores Socio Economic and Labor Impacts of Digital Transformation: Karen McCabe represented IEEE in this Main Session’s segment on Digitization, Automation, and Employment Issues.

Video interview by Imagining the Internet: Karen McCabe from IEEE addresses “Do multi-stakeholder efforts like IGF have any impact on the processes they are created to positively influence?”

IEEE representatives participated in the following sessions. See full descriptions below and see links to available recordings and reports.

IEEE Day Zero in Collaboration with World Economic Forum—Working Toward Universal Access: Educate, Engage and Empower
17 December: 09:00-13:00 CET in Salle 21 & 22 Session Report
Including Vint Cerf, People Centered Internet

*Bytedance Workshop—Social Responsibility and Ethics in AI
18 December: 09:00-10:30 CET in Room XII-A Video Recording, Session Report

*USCIB Workshop—Realizing SDGs through Policies Enabling Digital Trade
19 December: 16:40-18:10 CET in Room XXVI-E Video Recording, Session Report

*IEEE Workshop—Internet Inclusion Solutions: Shaping the Digital Future
20 December: 09:00-10:30 CET in Room IX A Video Recording, Session Report

IEEE Workshop—Two Networks Will Shape Your Digital Future
20 December: 16:10-17:40 CET in Room XII Video Recording, Session Report

Workshop AI: Intelligent Machines Smart Policies—OECD
20 December: 16:40-18:19 CET in UN Palais de Nations Room XI Video Recording, Session Report 

*IEEE Open Forum—Building Blocks of Trust for a Sustainable, Evolving Internet
21 December: 09:00-10:00 CET in Room XXIII E Video Recording, Session Report


IEEE Day Zero in Collaboration with World Economic Forum
Working Toward Universal Access: Educate, Engage and Empower
17 December: 09:00-13:00 CET
Salle 21 & 22

Opening remarks from IEEE, ITU, and WEF, followed by Vint Cerf, People Centered Internet, presentation: Setting the Stage—The Internet Today and Tomorrow

The potential for economic, civil and societal benefit that the internet can bring to communities around the world is indisputable. We can see the positive impact of the internet on world citizens when they gain online and mobile access to information, community and services, and more so when they are empowered by access to innovate as they work toward opportunities and solutions for themselves and their communities. But how to realize universal internet access to enable these benefits still remains a challenge. Addressing these challenges takes unprecedented transparent collaboration and coordination across stakeholders, disciplines, industry sectors and technical domains, and across geographic and political borders, cultures and economies.

This working session brings together several global working groups working in the space of universal access—including those working on digital literacy, public access and community networks, innovative and alternative business models, finance and investment, evidenced-based research and digital equality so that IGF participants can engage with them. Participants will join the groups where they will contribute their ideas and help inform the work of these groups, pose questions and collaborate on answers. They can then take their findings, new information and concepts with them into their communities, work places, schools, etc., to help progress programs and initiatives; and they can use what they learned at the Day Zero event throughout their participation in the overall IGF program sessions.

Working Groups that will be at the session:

  • Community Networks (Lead: Roger Baig Vinas,
  • Connectivity and Energy (Lead: Nilmini Rubin, Tetra Tech)
  • Digital Gender Divide (Lead: Ursula Wynhoven, ITU)
  • Digital Literacy (Lead: Melissa Sassi, Microsoft)
  • Evidence-Based Research (Lead: Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania)
  • New Models for Financing Connectivity (Eric White: WEF)
  • Public Access (Lead: Stephen Wyber, IFLA)

This Day Zero event will be highly interactive, using World Café techniques to inspire open conversation, new ideas and collaboration. Our intent is to create a welcoming environment where participants feel comfortable and energized. We will lead in with a welcome and introduction, sharing café etiquette and putting participants at ease. Then we will move into the core of the workshop, setting the stage with a rapid-fire state of internet inclusion and an “ice-breaking” segment where participants will share why they think we have not yet solved the internet inclusion challenge. From here we will go into two rounds of World Café-type sessions, where there will be questions with 2-3 rounds where after 15 minutes of discussion in a group participants will switch to another group. After World Café Session One and World Café Session Two, there will be a harvest session where individuals will be invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group.

Bytedance Workshop
Social Responsibility and Ethics in AI
18 December: 09:00-10:30 CET
Room XII-A Video Recording

AlphaGo of Google Deepmind beat Li Shishi, autonomous vehicles Uber and Tesla are testing on the road, Xiao Ming robot of Bytedance wrote sport news in 3 seconds, artificial intelligence (AI) and our lives are getting closer.

The breakthroughs in AI will rapidly transform digital society and greatly improve labor productivity, but also will raise a host of new and difficult issues concerning e.g., employment, ethics, the digital divide, privacy, law and regulation. In consequence, there is a growing recognition that all stakeholders will need to engage in a new and difficult dialogue to ensure that AI is implemented in a manner that balances legitimate competing objectives in a manner that leaves society better off.

While engineers may share technical ideas within transnational expert networks, broader public discussions about the social consequences and potential governance of artificial intelligence have tended to be concentrated within linguistic communities and civilizations. However, many of the issues that AI raises are truly global in character, and this will become increasingly evident as AI is incorporated into the functioning of the global Internet.

There is therefore a pressing need to establish a distinctively global discourse that is duly informed by the differences between Eastern and Western cultural values, business environments, economic development levels, and political, legal and regulatory systems. For example, to the extent that we need to embed machines into social matrices reflective of human values, how do we do this in a manner that can be accepted by both Western and Eastern societies? Does artificial intelligence require a minimum layer of common standards and practices that are globally consensus-based? Who would play what roles in which institutional setting in order to promote a measure of consensus? Is it possible to construct an open multistakeholder process for this purpose? Should there be any role for intergovernmental cooperation alongside such an effort? The objective of this workshop is to begin an exploratory conversation about these and related questions.


  • Urs Gasser
  • Ping Lang
  • William Drake
  • Zhang Hongjiang
  • Irakli Beridze
  • Karen McCabe
  • Chwee Chua

USCIB Workshop
Realizing SDGs through Policies Enabling Digital Trade
19 December: 16:40-18:10 CET

The internet-enabled transformation to the global economy has advanced cross-sectoral development, commercial opportunities for small businesses in developing countries, innovation, exchange of knowledge and opinions, and greater societal inclusion. The power of ICTs and digital innovations have the potential to help realize many of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the coming decade if they can be effectively utilized.

This promise depends on stakeholder opportunities to invest and compete, sufficient infrastructure, and cross-border flows of data and information. These essential elements have been challenged by some government measures that aim to promote domestic industry, innovation, and/or privacy and security, but have the potential to limit growth of the digital economy—acting as barriers to the use of the internet and ICTs to advance global development. A key task with respect to internet governance, therefore is to identify policies that enable digital trade to serve as an engine for realizing the SDGs and societal inclusion goals.

Trade stakeholders should draw upon expertise in the internet governance community to map and understand these potential enablers and barriers to digital trade. Internet governance stakeholders, for their part, should engage in constructive dialogue with the trade community to discuss how trade policy might be deployed to address internet barriers. An important complement is to build user trust in the online environment through interoperable privacy and security frameworks aimed at optimizing the benefits of digital trade. In addition, business acknowledges a responsibility to channel its digital innovative advancements and trade-related benefits into initiatives aimed at bridging global development gaps.

Speakers will address the following agenda:

  • The Evidence Base: What research tells us about the economic developmental benefits of digital trade
  • Digital Trade Rules: Instruments for economic development and societal inclusion
  • Localization Rules: Impact on Realizing the SDGs
  • Fostering Users’ Trust in the Digital Economy: Addressing privacy/security concerns while optimizing digital trade benefits
  • Business Responsibility: Channeling trade benefits to education and economic opportunities
  • Best Practices in Internet Governance: Making the connection between internet governance and digital trade to realize sustainable development and societal inclusion


  • Hosuk Lee-Makiyama
  • Chris Wilson
  • Audrey Plonk
  • Christopher Yoo
  • Makoto Yokozawa
  • Ellen Blackler
  • Esther Peh
  • Helani Galpaya
  • Karen McCabe
  • Carolyn Nguyen

IEEE Workshop
Internet Inclusion Solutions: Shaping the Digital Future
20 December: 09:00-10:30 CET
Room IX A

From a collective of initiatives and programs dedicated to an internet for all, we see definitive opportunities to accelerate progress in connecting the estimated 60 percent of the global population who remains unconnected around the world. We also see that closing the gap of the digital access divide is multi-faceted and requires working across various domains, as well as locally, so that the digital future of communities and citizens is meaningful, impactful and sustainable. 

Online access is a main channel to connect to services, learning, entrepreneurship and opportunity that leads to social and economic growth and development. But in working to make the internet for all vibrant, affordable and valuable, there is a mix of inter-related aspects and needs that must be holistically and locally addressed. These include helping communities remove barriers, improving communications infrastructure and services, determining what technologies to deploy, new innovative business models, building skills and capacity, education, effective policy making, trust and privacy protection and empowering people. 

At this interactive roundtable, speakers will share and discuss regional perspectives and current, real-world case studies on meaningful and sustainable internet inclusion solutions that are shaping the digital future of communities. The speakers will openly dialogue on what worked and what did not, lessons learned, the importance of networks of communities, and what is needed to initiate, launch, build and sustain projects that ultimately transition to and are integrated into a local community’s daily life.


  • Moderator: Deepak Maheshwari, IEEE Internet Initiative Vice Chair
  • Jane Coffin, ISOC
  • Sonia Jorge, Web Foundation and A4AI
  • Roger Baig Vina, Guifinet
  • Samar Baba, IEEE SIGHT
  • Christopher Yoo, University of Pennsylvania

IEEE Open Forum
Building Blocks of Trust for a Sustainable, Evolving Internet
21 December: 09:00-10:00 CET

As the value of the Internet and ICTs in all areas of global community and economy grows, issues of trust, ethics, and privacy can become barriers to achieving global benefit, particularly for underserved countries and communities. As individuals and businesses increasingly rely on digital platforms to communicate, collaborate and transact, the trust we put into the internet and modern technology is becoming one of the most important drivers of our future economic growth, shared prosperity and societal progress.

Modern platforms are powering innovation and gains in productivity with profound impacts on people’s lives, and the internet and ICTs will play a critical role in accelerating achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Trust is a key element for a sustainable and evolving internet, especially in an increasing inter-connected world and it is increasingly becoming a key asset in an ever more complex digital world. Equity of access to data and resources on the internet is core to social and economic progress. But how do we ensure the benefits of the Internet and ICTs when trust boundaries are changing? 


  • Moderator: Greg Shannon
  • Jia He, Chengdu University of Information Technology
  • Arisa Ema, University of Tokyo
  • Danit Gal, Peking University
  • Marina Ruggieri, IEEE Technical Activities