Wuzhen summit: states must play leading role in Internet governance


The Internet is in need of new principles of governance that would recognise the key role of the state. Such was the main conclusion of the 3rd World Internet Conference that took place last week in Wuzhen (China). Attending the conference were some 1600 people from 110 countries: heads of state, leading Internet companies, international organisations and research institutions. The theme of the event was ‘Innovation-driven Internet Development for the Benefit of All — Building a Community of Common Future in Cyberspace’.

’The Internet is now the fastest growing industry sector that has changed the lives of all peoples and formed the basis of economic development. Its influence now and in the future can hardly be overestimated. With this in mind, we must seek a more equal and fair model of Internet governance, one built on honouring the interests and sovereignty of all its participants’ said President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping in his video address to the conference. In his speech he called on all states to ‘optimise the existing rules of Internet regulation’. The Chinese leader said that the Internet was already a ‘community of common future’, and that therefore it was important to increase international cooperation in matters of its governance.

According to Safe Internet League Director and WIC governing committee member Denis Davydov, who was representing Russia at the event, the Wuzhen conference might become the platform for developing this new model of Internet governance. ‘The role of the state in Internet regulation must be a key one. Internet of Things, driverless transport, smart cities, and the onslaught of transnational Internet giants abusing their market dominance — all these developments impose very stringent demands on security standards. The smallest mistake can lead to industrial disasters and human losses. The only institution capable of protecting its citizens is the state’ said Denis Davydov in his keynote speech. ‘We need new international treaties on the future of the Internet that would place the interested parties on the same footing by handing the key role over to the state. I believe that during these Wuzhen meetings we will find the perfect solution. Indeed, we are very close’.

The recommendations made by the 3rd World Internet Conference were reflected in its concluding report. In particular, this document says that the dialogue about the future of Internet governance must involve as many states, companies, and international organisations as possible, that we need to join our efforts to bolster the Internet infrastructure, to ensure online safety, and to create a fair system of Internet governance based on the UN Charter and international law. ‘All of this is necessary for Internet technologies to be serving the society, stimulating development, and driving the world economy’ says the report.