December 27, 2017

Sofia Messages

The ‘SEEDIG Messages’ are the main takeaways from our annual meetings; they reflect the discussions and are endorsed by participants. The Messages below reflect the discussions held at the fist SEEDIG annual meeting (Sofia, June 2015).


(S1) What is Internet governance and why should I care?

  • Internet governance (IG) should be understood as a process of dialogue, collaboration and cooperation.
  • IG is a collective effort of understanding the different interests and learning to work together for ensuring an open, global, reliable, trustworthy Internet.
  • IG is a lot about principles: multistakeholderism, bottom-up, openness, inclusiveness, transparency, equal footing for all stakeholders.
  • We must all learn to have a stake and to have a say, in order to be involved in Internet governance.
  • We need to continue strengthening the linkages between the realities in South Eastern Europe and the international work on Internet governance.
  • The way forward includes continuing awareness raising efforts, engaging actors in capacity building programmes, bringing IG to them in their own languages, building or consolidating local and regional platforms for discussions.

(S2) Multistakeholder Internet governance mechanisms/approaches at national level

  • On a global level, we need to come up with minimum standards/safeguards for guaranteeing a balanced multistakeholder model for Internet governance. We need checks and balances for people to trust this model.
  • Stakeholders do not have to know every bit of details of how policies/laws are made, but decision-/lawmakers should (and it is crucial for the multistakeholder model) spend more time on consultation with other stakeholders.
  • The creation and functioning of multistakeholder mechanisms is not conditioned by enshrining them in legislation or by having an official permission from government for putting them in place.
  • Every involved stakeholder should become more active in Internet governance: not only governments, but also academia, civil society, private sector and the technical community. For this to happen, digital skills and awareness on Internet governance should be developed and raised.

(S3) Human rights for Internet users: theoretical approaches vs. realities in the region

  • Human rights apply online as well as offline, but we need to shift the discussion from the theoretical sphere into the practical one.
  • We need to take into consideration the online protection of all human rights, not just privacy and access to information.
  • The lack of awareness over Internet users’ rights can be observed in all sectors, therefore we need to consider human rights compliance guidelines for all actors: industry, government, users.
  • Jurisdiction represents an important element for human rights enforcement – states as well as business should have efficient and comprehensive mechanisms for human rights redress.
  • Human rights compliance might have a snowball effect in the private sector – if some big companies adopt a human rights oriented conduct, they might set certain market requirements.
  • Considering all these aspects, more focus should be awarded to finding modalities for connecting the theoretical approach with the practical realities (e.g. through effective implementation and application of the law).

(S4) The domain name space in South Eastern Europe – the case of IDNs

  • Domain names are more than addressing and naming, they are content.
  • IDNs preserve national identity, while uniting cultural and linguistic diversity.
  • IDNs are about enabling the exercise of basic human rights.
  • We need to cooperate on finding solutions for the technical challenges (such as functional IDNs emails and recognition of IDNs by search engines) related to full universal acceptance of IDNs.