NetThing has been organised by an informal group of interested stakeholders, working together to develop a plan for a sustainable national initiative for internet community and governance issues.
The Australian Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) ran for five years from 2012-2016. The idea of the auIGF was based on the Global IGF – to bring government, industry and community members together in an open, apolitical, multi-stakeholder environment, to exchange ideas and best practice around Internet governance.
The auIGF was organised, hosted and supported by .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA), with input from other key stakeholders and members of the Australian internet community. After the 2016 auIGF, auDA announced that its future facilitation of the auIGF would cease.
Everything stalled …
Planning a way forward
At a meeting of Australian Internet community stakeholders, convened in May 2017 by the Australian Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Dr Tobias Feakin, and attended by representatives from ACCAN, APNIC, EFA and Internet-Australia, there was consensus that an auIGF-type event would be of significant benefit in facilitating discussion and consultation on Internet governance issues.
In October, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officially launched Australia’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy. In it, the government notes that Australia is an advocate for a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and that the government will “Support an annual community-led Australian Internet governance and cooperation forum” (point 5.02, page 61).
During 2018, and with support from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Communications and the Arts, a group of interested stakeholders came together to figure out what an “annual community-led Australian Internet governance and cooperation forum” might look like, and how to ensure such a forum remains sustainable in the longer term. The group consisted of:
In July, a single-day workshop was held in Canberra, to develop a plan for a sustainable national initiative that will – in the future – provide opportunities for the Australian Internet community to discuss and address internet governance issues. More than 65 people across our multi-stakeholder community came together from:
- A diverse and representative of the Australian Internet community; and
- People with enough seniority, expertise and resources to take on the initiation of a national forum;
The workshop provided a wealth of information and useful guidance. In particular, it identified that a successor to original Australian Internet Governance Forum is needed, and that the revitalised forum should have the following characteristics:
- Focus on internet policy issues of interest and importance to Australia.
- Make it “everything internet” rather than “internet governance”.
- Get broad and diverse participation.
- Make it multi stakeholder.
- Create an annual event with engagement between events – make it sustainable.
By the end of the day, there was strong consensus that reinvigorating the Australian Internet governance community was important. Key outcomes were captured in a Draft Plan.
The workshop led to the creation of a refreshed Organising Committee which has worked to develop fundamental components of this revitalised forum. Following guidance from conversations that we should depart from the old name of auIGF, we are calling the new forum NetThing.
Minutes and activities in the leadup to the Canberra workshop can be found below along with a list of participants.
In 2019 the first NetThing event was held!