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Internet Rules Should Be Made by All, Not Only by Governments

  • The internet's future may be at stake as some governments want to take over governance
  • A mechanism is needed to allow multistakeholders, not just governments, to decide the future of the internet
  • China welcomes all internet companies, but they must respect the country's laws
  • For more information about the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014, visit

Tianjin, People's Republic of China – A governments-only International Telecommunications Union conference in October may let governments set the rules of the internet and push other stakeholders to the side, US official Lawrence Strickling warned participants at the eighth Annual Meeting of the New Champions that is taking place in Tianjin, China, on 10-12 September 2014. More than 1,900 participants from 90 countries are taking part.

“What has driven the internet is the absence of government in much of the process,” said Strickling, who is Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), USA. “We need to find a way to keep governments participating, but must take great care to avoid having governments take over.”

China, which now accounts for one out of every five internet users worldwide, supports multistakeholder decision-making, said Lu Wei, Minister, Cyberspace Administration of the People's Republic of China. “We must seek common ground while serving our differences.” But national sovereignty must be respected. While China welcomes all internet companies, they must respect its laws, protect the national interest and safeguard the rights of consumers.

“Freedom and order are twins,” he said. “But your freedom should not come at the pain of others. We need to have public security. We need to respect the laws and regulations of host countries to ensure the orderly development of the internet.”  

Fadi Chehade, Chief Executive Officer, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), USA, urged governments, civil society, the business community, technologists and other parties to come together. “We don't need 15 years to finalize a treaty,” he said. “Some solutions are local, some are global. We have to accept and understand this reality.”

Paul E. Jacobs, Executive Chairman, Qualcomm, USA; Mentor of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014, floated the idea of a “Differnet”, another network that encrypts packets and routes them only when authenticated. It will allow people to control their data and preserve anonymity, but will also permit tracing of communications. This trust-based alternative will not replace, but work alongside, the current internet.

The reality is that the internet, as we know it, brings great benefits, but also poses security and other threats. “The internet is not one thing,” said Anne Bouverot, Director-General and Member of the Board, GSMA, United Kingdom. “There should be a certain set of rules and governance for access to information, another set for ecommerce, still another set for healthcare. If an internet-connected medical device is controlling my insulin level, I don't want anyone to hack into that.”

A select group of business leaders from the Forum's Member companies will act as Mentors at the Meeting. They are: Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President, European Research Council, Belgium; Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services, India; Dong Mingzhu, Chairperson and President, Gree Electric Appliances of Zhuhai, People's Republic of China; Paul E. Jacobs, Executive Chairman, Qualcomm, USA; Max Levchin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, HVF, USA; Young Global Leader; Kevin P. Ryan, Founder and Chairman, Gilt Groupe, USA; and Subra Suresh, President, Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

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