Last year Internet governance discussions culminated in December with the review of the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society by the UN General Assembly in New York, where Commissioner Oettinger presented to the rest of the world our European vision of an open, free and safe Internet. 2016 also promises to be a critical year in shaping clear, fair and inclusive rules to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of the Internet. With a new ten year mandate for the Internet Governance Forum decided in New York, a new cycle starts with great opportunities for all European stakeholders.
On the global front, a number of hot issues are being addressed in several venues and processes, including the ongoing reform in the way some of the Internet's core technical functions are managed by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
In the EU, landmark developments are taking place with the current EU data protection reform, the first net neutrality rules included in EU law and the introduction of EU legislation on cybersecurity for all Member States. All these initiatives, and the many others in the pipeline, will contribute to delivering the Digital Single Market Strategy, unlocking new opportunities for citizens and businesses alike.
The importance and relevance of Internet governance has never been so high on the political agenda and it is important to raise awareness about these discussions and to involve new stakeholders and industry sectors. No single business or citizen using the Internet is unaffected.
During the Internet Governance week at the end of January 2016, key stakeholders from all over Europe and beyond will gather in Brussels for an intense round of events, meetings and debates.
On Tuesday 26 January a Planning meeting of the Pan-European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) will set the agenda for the annual event of 9-10 June in Brussels. EuroDIG provides a platform where everybody can contribute to defining the programme and to shape the issues to be addressed. EuroDIG offers the ideal space to develop pan-European perspectives on Internet governance.
That day will conclude with a Dinner Debate in the European Parliament organised by the European Internet Forum (EIF) on the topic of Digital Service Platforms. Members of Parliament will discuss with expert professionals and high level officials of the European Commission the results of the recent public consultation on online platforms, carried out under the Digital Single Market strategy, and next steps.
On Wednesday 27 January, Members of the European Parliament will have an early start with a breakfast debate on Access of Vulnerable People to Information Society, a topic that regularly appears in Internet governance discussions and where the EU should play a leading role. A
That day the so-called Internet "technical community" will also gather in Brussels for a RIPE NCC Roundtable with Governments and Regulators. RIPE NCC is one of the five Regional Internet Registries in the world that distributes Internet number resources and provides registration services and coordination activities for Europe and the Middle East Region. The agenda will address subjects such as the ongoing IANA transition, cooperation towards trust and security on the Internet, and the challenges of the Internet of Things.
On Thursday 28 January, the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission will host a meeting of the recently created Public Safety Working Group of the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN. This whole-day meeting will bring together law enforcement and public safety organisations as well as private sector representatives to advance cooperation on the expanding number of matters related to ICANN's policies that have an impact on public safety. Topics include the security of the Domain Name System, accuracy and privacy rules for the WHOIS registry and consumers' safeguards for new Top Level Domain Names in regulated sectors (like .doctor or .bank). Representatives of Europol, the UK National Crime Agency and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation will be among the panellists.
And finally, the same day, EU Member States will join a meeting of the High Level Group on Internet Governance to review recent developments and coordinate on the way ahead.
I look forward to another exciting year and to great progress in digital governance.