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Tech Report: U.N. Internet Governance Forum Wraps Up

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(CBS)

(CBS)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
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NAIROBI, Kenya (KCBS) – Discussions at the 6th annual gathering of governments, companies and non-profits in Nairobi, Kenya concluded with a call for the United Nations body to begin issuing non-binding resolutions.

The U.N. Internet Governance Forum has brought together both public and private participants to share views on highly technical issues as well as political changes brought on by an increasingly wired world.

But some at the 3-day forum that concluded Friday were dissatisfied with the limited role the forum plays in setting Internet policy.

“Unlike most U.N. bodies, it has no power. It doesn’t really pass resolutions or even make recommendations. It’s just a place where people can talk,” said KCBS technology analyst Larry Magid.

So the workshops on how to implement proposed .xxx domain names for adult-oriented websites, or a domain exclusive to one corporation such as .hilton sometimes amount to just talk.

Yet most participants value the ability to share ideas without the pressure of having to reach consensus on policy.

KCBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid:

Magid said this year’s forum offered a venue for privacy advocates from the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation to share ideas with youth activists from Finland and other countries about the power of the Internet both to encourage free speech and to squelch dissent.

“We all remember, for example, what happened in Egypt, where a revolution was partially fueled by the Internet, Facebook and mobile phones. But a government tried to shut it down, in fact did shut it down,” he said.

A current running through many of the workshops involved how to ensure free speech would be protected not just in the United States and Western Europe, but throughout the world.

At the closing session, participants debated whether the U.N. Internet Governance Forum should issue non-binding policy recommendations at the end of its next meeting, or at least formally document some of the positions various participants present over the course of the meeting.

The 2012 U.N. Internet Governance Forum will take place in Baku in the republic of Azerbaijan.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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