Maxwell student spearheads involvement in Internet Governance Conference

Students from across the University are participating in the online event, November 10-13.

Risser, Kevin.jpgSyracuse University is serving as a “remote hub” of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an international, online conference focused on current topics in public policy related to the Internet. The conference is now under way in João Pessoa, Brazil, and will run through Friday, November 13. Campus access to the sessions will be offered in Maxwell’s Global Collaboratory and at SU’s iSchool (see below).

Among key organizers of SU involvement is current MPA student Kevin Risser, whose degree work is concentrated on Internet governance. Other students organizing and participating in the event represent Maxwell, the iSchool, and the College of Law. Risser says he chose to attend Syracuse University for its deep connections to Internet rights and policy. He explains that “not a lot of young people are aware of, or are working on, the decisions being made. It is our hope that [this remote hub] piques students’ interest with regard to Internet governance and policy . . . and serves as a resource for people who might be interested in learning more about the significance of their rights on the Internet.”

Established by United Nations mandate, the IGF is a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy issues related to Internet governance, such as its stability, security, and future expansion. Topics this year range from education, freedom of expression, gender, and privacy on the Internet.

All sessions of the IGF conference will be streamed at the remote hub headquarters, staffed by student volunteers 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. in 121 Hinds Hall. In addition, two sessions with SU-student participation will be held in Maxwell’s Global Collaboratory.

One of those sessions, taking place November 13, pertains to the Charter of Internet Rights and Principles, a document (already translated into 22 languages) describing proposed rights that many hope will become the prototype for cyber rights in the future. Syracuse University students are submitting comments on this document and developing a “study guide,” the latter intended as a more accessible companion for those who wish to begin understanding this emergent, crucial issue. As one of the relatively few young people involved in this work, Risser hopes that the study guide will help to involve more of his peers. Risser adds, “The choices that are made, even within the next year, with regard to Internet policy will have a huge impact on young people for many years to come.” This session will run 7-8:30 a.m. on November 13.

Also, on November 12, students will participate in a workshop on the “Right to be Forgotten,” a privacy concept widely accepted in Europe but not currently part of the Charter of Internet Rights and Principles. The session begins at 7 a.m. on Thursday, November 12, and is open to the public.

Risser is undertaking, with iSchool master’s student Winston McCarty, an independent research project concerning the Right to be Forgotten and how it might emerge in the United States with its unique legal system. Having come to Maxwell by way of Phoenix, Arizona, Risser grew fascinated with the work of Internet policy when he worked on — and began to examine — social media for Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. Since that time, he has interned at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation and worked as a research intern for the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University. These positions developed his interest in the governance aspect of Internet policy and eventually motivated his decision to join the Maxwell School. In the future, he hopes to continue this work, either at the federal level or at a think tank that focuses on Internet policy issues. 11/10/15