IGF-USA 2020 Session

COVID-19 and Internet Governance: Where do we go from here?

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the world, it is clear that the Internet has played a critical role in the pandemic response and our ability to proceed with our lives. We have witnessed an acceleration of services, applications and essential aspects of life that rely on internet access; a reality for which we were not totally prepared and necessitated urgent responses. This raises important questions about Internet and its governance: How do we balance a response to urgent needs without sacrificing the benefits of multistakeholder input and analysis?  What are the risks? Are there other approaches and models that offer more effective means of guiding and regulating Internet use and development? Is Internet governance itself ready for an evolution or revolution?


Deji Olukotun


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Deji Olukotun is legal counsel for policy and social impact at the audio technology company Sonos. He leads policy on antitrust and privacy and runs Sonos's philanthropy. Before joining Sonos, he managed global advocacy at Access Now and established the digital freedom program at PEN America, the writers advocacy organization. He is also an award-winning science fiction writer. He graduated from Yale College, Stanford Law School, and holds Masters degrees in Justice & Transformation and Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.


Laura DeNardis

Professor and Interim Dean of the School of Communication at American University

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Dr. Laura DeNardis is a Professor and Interim Dean of the School of Communication at American University and a Faculty Director of the Internet Governance Lab. Among her six books are The Global War for Internet Governance (Yale University Press 2014) and The Internet in Everything: Freedom and Security in a World with No Off Switch (Yale University Press 2020). She has received grants of more than a million dollars to support her work. In 2018, she received American University’s highest faculty award, Scholar-Teacher of the Year. She is an affiliated fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project and previously served as its Executive Director. Her expertise and scholarship have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Wired, Market Watch, the Washington Post, Science Magazine, The Economist, National Public Radio, New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Slate, Reuters, Forbes, and The Atlantic, among others. She has served as a State Department advisor and the Research Director of the Global Commission on Internet Governance. She holds an Engineering Science degree from Dartmouth College, an MEng from Cornell, a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech, and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from Yale Law School.

Fabrizio Hochschild

Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary United Nations Secretariat, New York

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In his current role Mr. Hochschild is heading the Secretary-General’s vision for a global citizen conversation ahead of the UN@75 anniversary in 2020. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hochschild served as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (2017-2019).

Previously, Mr. Hochschild served as Deputy Special Representative for the UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in 2016, UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Colombia from 2013 to 2016, and as Director of the Field Personnel Division for the United Nations from 2010 to 2012. He started his careen in 1988 with UNHCR and served in various field settings.

A graduate of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, he has published studies and articles on leadership, on the protection of civilians, on transitional justice and reconciliation among other topics.

Larry Irving

President and CEO, Irving Group

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Larry Irving is the President and CEO of the Irving Group, a consulting firm providing strategic advice and assistance to international telecommunications and information technology companies, foundations and non-profit organizations. From September 2009 to July 2011, Mr. Irving served as Vice President for Global Government Affairs for the Hewlett-Packard Company. Prior to founding the Irving Group in 1999, Mr. Irving served for almost seven years as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), where he was a principal advisor to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international telecommunications and information technology issues. Mr. Irving was one of the principal architects and advocates of the Clinton Administration's telecommunications and Internet policies, and was a point person in the Administration's successful efforts to reform the United States telecommunications laws. Those efforts resulted in passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the most sweeping change in America s telecommunications laws in 60 years. Similarly, in international fora, Irving was an ardent advocate of regulatory reform. He represented the U.S. government as Sherpa (lead coordinator for the U.S. Government) at the G-7's first Ministerial meeting on the Global Information Society in Brussels, and at the Information Society and Development Conference in South Africa, the first Ministerial meeting between developing countries and developed countries to discuss the emerging global Internet. Mr. Irving was also a key member of the U.S. team that negotiated the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on basic telecommunication services. Mr. Irving is widely credited with coining the term the digital divide and sparking global interest in the issue. In large part due to his work to promote policies and develop programs to ensure access to advanced telecommunications and information technologies, Mr. Irving was named one of the fifty most influential persons in the 'Year of the Internet' by Newsweek Magazine. Mr. Irving currently serves as a member of the board of ReliabilityFirst Corporation. He also serves on the Board of Visitors for Stanford Law School, the Board of Councilors for the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California, the Board of Visitors for the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences of Northwestern University and the Director’s Circle for the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University, and is a recipient of the University’s Alumni Merit Award for distinguished professional achievement. He is also a graduate of Stanford University School of Law, where he was elected President of his graduating class. He is married to Leslie Annett Wiley and resides in the District of Columbia. He is Chair of the PBS National Policy Advisory Committee and serves on the Nominating and Corporate Governance and Station Services committees and the Working Group on Unserved Areas. He previously served on the Finance Committee and Strategic Planning Advisory Group. He also served as Co-Chair of the Funding the Vision 2 Panel.

Daniel J. Weitzner

Founding Director, MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative

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Daniel J. Weitzner is Founding Director of the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative, Principal Research Scientist at CSAIL, and teaches Internet public policy in MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. Weitzner’s research pioneered thedevelopment of Accountable Systems to enable computational treatment of legal rules.

Weitzner was United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy in the White House. Where he led initiatives on privacy, cybersecurity, copyright, and digital trade policies promoting the free flow of information. He was responsible for the Obama Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and the OECD Internet Policymaking Principles.

Weitzner has been a leader in Internet public policy from its inception, making fundamental contributions to the successful fight for strong online free expression protection in the United States Supreme Court, and for laws that control government surveillance of email and web browsing data.

Weitzner has a law degree from Buffalo Law School, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Swarthmore College. His writings have appeared in Science magazine, the Yale Law Review, Communications of the ACM, the Washington Post, Wired Magazine and Social Research.

Weitzner is a founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology, led the World WideWeb Consortium’s public policy activities, and was Deputy Policy Director of the ElectronicFrontier Foundation. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration,recipient of the International Association of Privacy Professionals Leadership Award(2013), the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award (2016), a member of the Councilon Foreign Relations and a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

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