Interview with Lynn St. Amour, Chair of the Internet Governance Forum Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group

News item | 07-12-2016

A decade of IGF: achievements and challenges ahead

In March 2016 Lynn St. Amour was appointed as the new Chair of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group of the Internet Governance Forum. The Multistakeholder Advisory Group advises the Secretary-General on the programme of Internet Governance Forum meetings.  It comprises 55 members drawn from Governments, the private sector and civil society, including representatives of the academic and technical communities. St Amour is the first Chair who does not represent the government and also the first female in this position.

Ms. Lynn St. Amour

Q: Looking back since the IGF was established in 2005, what has been achieved?

“The IGF has evolved over the last decade in response to community needs – and it is still true to its roots as a forum for multistakeholder policy dialogue. Following this multistakeholder approach the IGF has delivered some tangible outputs such as the IGF Best Practice Forums (BPFs) and their reports, and the ‘Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion’ (CENB) project. The IGF community has grown tremendously and continues to bring in new stakeholders from across the globe.  There are now over 60 National and Regional IGF Initiatives (NRIs).  Annual meetings have evolved from including 30 workshops in the first years of the IGF to more than one hundred today.”

Q: How do you see the internet developing in the next decade?

“The Internet will become more mobile centric, and will become increasingly diverse and rich as the remaining 50% of the world comes online.  The advances being made in connecting virtually every device to the Internet (the “Internet of Things”) means vastly more data will be collected and available.  Growing acceptance of blockchain technologies and appreciation for what they can enable means they will have impact beyond financial markets.”

Q: How is the IGF going to respond to these challenges?

“In the IGF, we are working to support the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) vision “to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information Society”, respecting fully the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is anticipated that the IGF community will continue to support a continuous set of topical inter-sessional community-led activities. The IGF will make a meaningful contribution to a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the objective in Goal 9 to ‘build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’.

Certainly, security and privacy will remain key topics for the IGF. There will continue to be challenges in the areas of security as some of the recent DDOS attacks using IoT devices such as DVR’s, etc.  have shown.  Security awareness is still only minimally present in most computing environments and there is a long way to go before we can impact security in such everyday items as our TVs, refrigerators, etc.”

Q: What do you regard as the main challenges in cyber capacity building, especially in the global south?

“Capacity Building at all levels continues to be a major challenge in the global south.  While cyber security capacity building continues to be a challenge in virtually all countries, additional barriers exist in the form of economic and infrastructural challenges as well as in digital literacy.  The IGF has a special responsibility to increase participation in global Internet governance processes, and could contribute to or lead related capacity building initiatives in this area.”

This article first appeared in the second issue of the Global Cyber Expertise Magazine – November 2016.