A new stage in the Internet governance

A debate between administrations, technology companies and operators

On November 16th and 17th the annual event of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place in Spain. Under the topic “Technology and people more united than ever”, experts, public decision-makers and companies in the digital economy were able to exchange ideas in a series of lectures and panel discussions to find new ways of Internet governance to connect people through technology.

Thus, the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, emphasized that “thinking about governance gives us the opportunity to solve the problems that the Internet raises: business models, content, privacy and security”, essential pillars of a technological humanist perspective.

“Telefónica has been committed to the Internet Governance Forum for more than 10 years,” said Juan Luis Redondo Maillo, Director of Digital Public Policy, also emphasizing the importance of an inclusive debate. A lot has changed after the pandemic; it brought with it a change in mentality and a transformation of our economies and societies and drove digitization forward.

But in a polarized world and “at the gates of a new Internet age” there is an opportunity to master the challenges of a global Internet in contrast to regional regulations, to break down digital divides and to rethink rules. Overcoming the infrastructure investment gap requires both tackling market fragmentation and enabling new models for a more equitable contribution to network sustainability.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration for internet governance

Given the current challenges, this is a unique opportunity to reflect on how we can move towards a more sustainable and balanced internet, where all actors make fairer contributions, and to consider what rules should govern this new internet.

In the third session of the IGF Spain, the debate on the topic “The contribution of OTTs to the financing of European telecommunications infrastructures” took place. As pointed out by Jorge Pérez, director of the Internet Governance Forum in Spain, this is the “first time in Spain that this debate has been raised in a joint round table” involving traffic-generating technology companies (Google, Meta, Netflix) and Operators (Telefónica, Orange, Vodafone). Gonzalo López Barajas, Manager of Corporate Regulation at Telefónica, presented the need for a fair and reasonable contribution to the sustainability of the network through digital platforms, which are responsible for 57% of internet traffic, against the background of an imbalance in bargaining power and in the value chain and growing need for network investments.

Innovation in the context of digital sovereignty and internet fragmentation

In the second session of the Internet Governance Forum on Digital Sovereignty and Internet Fragmentation, Eusebio Felguera, Telefónica’s Digital Policy Manager, expressed operators’ concerns about regulatory fragmentation and the problems that technical and regulatory fragmentation pose in an international context of geopolitical fragmentation be able .

Young people are shaping the internet of the future

Finally, one of the events of this IGF was the creation of the United Nations sponsored Youth IGF, which will lay the foundation for the forum where young people will have the opportunity to present what the Internet of the future should look like. Telefónica believes it is essential that young people have a voice in shaping the future governance of the internet. In this European Year of Youth, initiatives like this are particularly positive.