UK to lead discussions on future of the internet in Rio

The UK is likely to lead discussions on internet security as part of an international debate on the future of the internet.

The UK is likely to lead discussions on internet security as part of an international debate on the future of the internet.

However, UK delegates will also address access, diversity, openness, and critical internet resources at the Internet Governance Forum meeting in Rio de Janeiro this week.

Emily Taylor, director of legal and policy matters for Nominet, the domain registry for .uk internet addresses and an advisory board member for the IGF, said the talks are aimed at developing consensus about the future direction of the internet as it becomes more and more part of everyday life.

She said the very design of the net means that no one is in control of it. That meant partnerships and consensus are needed to address issues such as cross-border legal jurisdiction and user profiling based on their use of the internet. "It would be wrong to manage it centrally," she said.

A preparatory meeting last month attracted more than 100 delegates from all sectors, including parliament and government. Government representatives included the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, which has nominal jurisdiction for internet matters in the UK.

Top of their agenda were security and best practices. Taylor said the security discussion was in two parts one is how to protect consumers online in terms of identity and safety, the other is how to work with law enforcement.

"Privacy is a cross-cutting issue," she said. "It does not have its own space (at the Rio discussions) but I expect it will be part of most of the talks."

Taylor said Nominet had helped sponsor a competition of best practices on the net for security, access, openness, diversity. She planned to take these forward to Rio for discussion and possible adoption by others. The winners were announced last month.

Bath-based Netcraft won the security prize for a free, downloadable anti-phishing toolbar. Computer Aid International won the access award for its work to distribute refurbished computers to developing countries.

Child-Net took the diversity award for its Know IT All (KIA), a multi-media interactive learning resource for parents to equip them in getting the most out of the Internet and keeping their children safe online. mySociety, which builds websites that aim to improve communications between citizens and the public sector, took the openness award.

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