Q&A with Netnod’s Technical Director on the ITU Plenipotentiary 2018

Netnod’s Technical Director, Patrik Fältström, will be attending the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary taking place in Dubai from 29 October to 16 November.

Held every four years, the Plenipotentiary is the highest policy-making body of the ITU, and is where Member States decide on the future role, focus and activities of the ITU. With a range of policy discussions and resolutions on a variety of subjects, some of the most important decisions taking place at the Plenipotentiary are related to the ITU’s role in matters of Internet governance.

Patrik will be attending the ITU Plenipotentiary as part of the Swedish delegation. We caught up with him before the conference for a quick Q&A.

1. The ITU is a very large and complex organisation, and the ITU Plenipotentiary has a packed agenda with many different proposals under discussion. How do you decide where to focus your attention?

Apart from being able to help in the many parallel discussions that will be going on, my specific task is to interpret suggested changes in the Internet-related resolutions, for example numbers 101 and 102. And, of course, to interpret new text in other resolutions to see whether they might have a direct or indirect impact on Sweden’s view on Internet governance.

Resolution 101 (“Internet Protocol-based networks”) is available at:

Resolution 102 (“ITU's role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses”) is available at:  https://www.itu.int/en/action/internet/Documents/Resolution_102_pp14.pdf

2. What policy discussions taking place at the ITU Plenipotentiary 2018 do you think are of most interest?

We do not expect many drastic changes to the current resolutions, but there are different views on how other organisations, like ICANN, should be referenced in the ITU documents. We also of course remember the WCIT conference (also in Dubai) where for the first time a large number of Member States (including Sweden) did not sign the proposed treaties. There are also, as always, areas of topical focus that will be discussed, like AI and IoT.

3. You have a long history of involvement in issues related to Internet governance. What do you see as the key mechanisms today enabling cooperation between the public and private sectors when it comes to matters of Internet Governance?

The Internet is not governed by top down decisions. Instead a coordination process is needed so that everyone dealing with Internet related matters can agree on, for example, what IP addresses and domain names they use, and what standards to reference when choosing protocols. Those coordination processes are managed by a multitude of organisations where the ITU is one of many, and the entities that have the need for coordination are not only states, but also the private and civil sectors. We call this Multi-Stakeholder Coordination, or the Multi-Stakeholder Approach to governance, as originally agreed to in the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (https://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.html).


About Patrik Fältström, Technical Director, Netnod
Patrik has been involved in high-level discussions on Internet governance for more than two decades, starting in 1997 as a member of the gTLD Policy Oversight Committee discussing the gTLD process, that later turned into ICANN. After the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a UN summit from 2003-2005 that included Member States, Civil Society, NGOs and experts from the technical community, Patrik was involved in the creation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). He was a member of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group in the IGF for three years and then advisor to the Chair for two years. He was an appointed advisor to the Swedish IT Minister 2003-2014, member of the ICANN Security and Stability Committee since 2005 and it's Chair 2011-2017. In 2014, he was appointed to the Research Advisory Network of the Global Commission of Internet Governance.

For more information about Patrik, see: https://www.netnod.se/staff/patrik-fältström