Visiting Policymakers Tout IETF Policy Programme Experiences

By: Carolyn Duffy Marsan

Date: July 1, 2014

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The Internet Society continued to engage regulators in discussions about the technical underpinnings of the Internet and the challenges facing this global network-of-networks by sponsoring policymakers to attend IETF 89.

ISOC’s IETF Policy Programme facilitates exchange between government policymakers and IETF leaders by providing visiting policymakers with an overview of how the IETF works and key issues affecting the Internet’s continued growth. Since 2012, the ISOC programme has hosted 69 regulators from 53 countries to attend IETF meetings.

In London, IETF leaders and policy guests explored such issues as mobility, bandwidth constraints and the emergence of new applications with the meeting’s 16 sponsored policymakers. The group examined critical issues facing the Internet, including the frequency of pervasive monitoring by government agencies, the need for tighter security through encryption-based protocols, and the ongoing transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

Ihsan Durdu, an advisor to the head of Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Communications, said he didn’t know much about how Internet standards were developed prior to attending IETF 89. He added that it is important to understand how Internet policy and technology are related to each other in his role as a government advisor.

“Internet policy development activities and its regulation are very much led by technological progress, and linked so much to technical standards as well as changing limitations and improved capabilities that this progress brings,” Durdu said. “The dynamic and fast-changing nature of Internet technology is both improving Internet infrastructure and operations and affecting our daily life, including the way our economy, communications, banking, finance, social, and political life work and operate.”

Durdu said attending IETF 89 was an “excellent chance to see how the IETF and its standards development activities work.”

He said he wished all policymakers could attend the IETF Policy Programme.

“This program could help open up their vision,” he said. “A policy is good and healthy only if it is flexible: open to technological developments, inclusive of new standards, dynamic, and forward looking. Otherwise, it can do more harm than good to society.”

Durdu said he left IETF 89 more convinced than ever that the Internet should continue to be governed by a multistakeholder model.

“It is amazing that all of these activities take place on a voluntary basis,” he added. “I don’t think such dedication and enthusiasm would be possible elsewhere, even under paid conditions.’’

Salam Yamout, the National Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Strategy Coordinator at the Lebanese Presidency of the Council of Ministers, said she wanted to attend an IETF meeting so she could understand how the Internet’s leading standards body works.

I wanted to understand the charter, mandate, and structure of the IETF that … [have]issued thousands of policies and protocols that made [the Internet] usable by millions of users around the globe,” she said.

She said having direct access to Internet experts at IETF 89 helped her better understand emerging technologies and related issues. “They shared with me their years of experience as insiders,” she added. “I couldn’t have gotten the same benefit if I had attended the IETF on my own.”

Yamout said that all of the IETF Policy Programme sessions were interesting and relevant to her policy work, but she especially enjoyed visiting the London Internet Exchange Point.

“It gave me a perspective on the scale of Internet operations/transactions driven by the Internet,” she said, adding that the Internet is powering entire sectors of the economy. “I also appreciated the session about pervasive monitoring as it answered many questions about what really happened in the National Security Administration case. Governments are always interested in the issues of security and monitoring.”