A debate between administrations, technology companies and operators
The annual event of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Spain took place on 16 and 17 November. Under the topic “Technology and people more united than ever”, specialists, public decision-makers and companies in the digital economy were able to share their points of view in a series of presentations and round table discussions, with the aim of finding new ways of Internet governance to connect people through technology.
Thus, the Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, stressed that “Thinking about governance gives us the opportunity to resolve the issues raised by the Internet: business models, content, privacy and security”, essential pillars from 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 stressing the importance of an inclusive debate. After the pandemic, many things have changed; it brought a change in mentality and a transformation of our economies and societies, driving digitalisation forward.
But, in a polarised world and “at the gates of a new internet era”, the opportunity arises to overcome the challenges of a global internet, which contrasts with regional regulations, to reduce digital divides and to rethink the rules. Overcoming the infrastructure investment gap requires both addressing market fragmentation and enabling new models for a fairer contribution to network sustainability.
Multi-stakeholder collaboration for Internet governance
In the face of the current challenges, there is a unique opportunity to think about how we can move towards a more sustainable and balanced Internet, where all actors contribute more fairly, and to reflect on what rules should govern this new Internet.
In the third session of the IGF Spain, the debate on “The contribution of OTTs to the financing of European telecommunications infrastructures” took place. As Jorge Pérez, director of the Internet Governance Forum in Spain, pointed out, this is the “first time in Spain that this debate has been raised in a shared round table” with the participation of technological companies that generate traffic (Google, Meta, Netflix) and operators (Telefónica, Orange, Vodafone). Gonzalo López Barajas, Manager of Corporate Regulation at Telefónica, presented the need for a fair and proportionate contribution to the sustainability of the network by digital platforms responsible for 57% of Internet traffic, in a context of imbalance in bargaining power and in the value chain and growing demands for network investment.
Innovation in a 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 the operators’ concern about regulatory fragmentation and the problems that technical and regulatory fragmentation can bring in an international context of geopolitical fragmentation.
Young people in shaping the internet of the future
Finally, one of the events of this IGF was the creation of the Youth IGF, sponsored by the United Nations, which will lay the foundations for the Forum in which young people will have the opportunity to present what the Internet of the future should be 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 such as this one are particularly positive.