Below is the relevant part of the EC new Internet Governance policy2 as it pertains to Technical issues.


Technical details of Internet protocols and other information technology specifications can have significant public policy implications. Their design can impact on human rights such as users' data protection rights and security, their ability to access diverse knowledge and information, and their freedom of expression online. It also affects other stakeholders, including companies conducting business online, whose security concerns also need to be taken into account.

The Commission welcomes the efforts of the technical community to establish approaches to specification setting based on public policy concerns. Positive examples include technical guidance for privacy considerations in new protocols, the recognition of multilingualism for internationalised domain names, or accessibility standards for persons with disabilities. Such efforts are especially important as IP-based technologies are increasingly used in traditional economic sectors such as energy, transport, finance and health.

However, even where the technical discussion process is open, key decisions are frequently made by technical experts in the absence of broad stakeholder representation. An effective multistakeholder approach to specification setting on the internet will be based on efficient mutual interactions between technical and public policy considerations so that technical specifications more systematically take into account public policy concerns. This is particularly important when legal rights of individuals, especially their human rights, are clearly impacted. At the same time, the distribution and administration of Internet resources follows rules that are created in multi-stakeholder processes.

The implications of this evolution in norm setting in relation to the Internet require an open public debate with all concerned.

It is also important to support the implementation of open standards by the European Internet industry and the involvement of the European Internet industry in the development of open internet standards.

The Commission, together with interested parties, including the European Internet industry, proposes to convene a series of workshops with international experts in law, ethics, social sciences, economics, international relations and technology. This expected output will be concrete and actionable recommendations to ensure coherence between existing normative frameworks and new forms of Internet-enabled norm-setting.

The Commission encourages all stakeholders to strengthen (and where appropriate create) structured mechanisms to allow regular, early and truly inclusive upstream participation, review and comment in technical decisions. These structured mechanisms should also strive towards consistency of technical decisions with human rights.