The Internet is a network of networks. A suite of technical protocols and an array of communications technologies give the Internet its form. This ecosystem of technologies, on which the Internet depends, has evolved over time to maintain and improve the security, stability and resilience of the Internet. The governance of this ecosystem is an international issue, with implications for us all.
Central to our interests in a peaceful and stable cyberspace is preserving the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. The multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance is a decentralised governance model. It places individuals, industry, non-commercial interests and governments on an equal level and allows for community-based policymaking.
The multi-stakeholder model recognises that all stakeholders have a valuable contribution to make to Internet governance discussions and decisions. It is a proven model for responding to complex policy and technical challenges associated with the development of the Internet. Current policy challenges include security, consumer protection, maintaining legitimate competition and managing cross-border data flows. This approach, by design, prevents any group (including states) from exerting undue influence over the Internet.
The multi-stakeholder model has guided the evolution of the Internet into a global network that has created significant economic opportunity and growth throughout the world. Changing this approach to allow any stakeholder to dominate the governance of the Internet puts at risk the connectivity and interoperability that is at the heart of the growth and utility of the Internet.
Continued evolution within a multi-stakeholder model
Like the Internet itself, the multi-stakeholder model must evolve to meet the challenges of administering this increasingly vital piece of global infrastructure. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the multi-stakeholder model is sustained as the basis of global decision making for governance and technical policy issues related to the management of the Internet. While opposing government control of the Internet, we recognise that governments have expertise in public policy and are uniquely placed to bring a broad range of considerations to discussions about the future of the Internet.
Not all states support the multi-stakeholder model, and many would prefer to limit the ability of non-government stakeholders to influence decisions on the future of the Internet. This would enable the creation of an Internet that is more easily controlled by states, restricting Australia's ability to ensure cyberspace is safe and secure.
Australia opposes all attempts to bring governance and technical management of the Internet under the control of governments or into the multilateral system. Australia will support consensus-based forums such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, in promoting open, voluntary standards for the Internet.
Australia advocates for continuing, consensus-based improvement of existing mechanisms of multi-stakeholder Internet governance. We welcome increased discussion on how existing multi-stakeholder mechanisms can evolve, rather than advocating for the establishment of new mechanisms.
Raising the capacity of stakeholders
To achieve these objectives, all stakeholders must have the capacity to meaningfully engage in multi-stakeholder Internet governance mechanisms. We will continue to raise awareness of Internet governance issues across the Indo-Pacific, and build the capacity of our regional partners to engage in multi-stakeholder mechanisms and forums. We will seek to raise awareness among international stakeholders about the unique Internet governance and cooperation challenges faced by Indo-Pacific countries.
Australia will also continue to strengthen and promote the capacity of civil society and industry to engage in Internet governance mechanisms. These groups play a fundamental role in the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, which is particularly important as this model continues to evolve. We will continue to engage with civil society and industry to ensure all stakeholders have the capacity to actively engage in these forums, and their voice is represented in international discussions on the future of the Internet.