World discusses internet future
Emily Taylor, the legal director of Nominet, the UK body in charge of the .uk domain name, said the forum was important to internet users because it would be tackling issues that matter to them.
"Issues around spam, cybersecurity, openness, what are the blocks to freedom of speech? - they speak to all internet users directly." She added: "Everybody has an experience of spam, sadly a lot of people have an experience of phishing attacks. "People have got experience of viruses. They might be aware that internationally there are different approaches to freedom of speech - not just the obvious examples of regimes cracking down on content. "Within Europe there are issues around dealing with content that is perhaps not illegal but distasteful to some countries and not to others.
"These are issues that matter."
The IGF was borne out of the World Summit on the Information Society meetings, the last of which was held in Tunis.
Some felt that the aims of WSIS were overshadowed by debates around the control of the internet and controversy over internationalised domain names - ie giving countries which do not use or understand the Latin alphabet the ability to navigate the internet in their own script. The move towards internationalised domain names is being overseen by Icann, the body appointed by the US Department of Commerce to oversee domain names such as .com and .org. Tina Dam, director of Icann's IDN program, said the body had taken a "huge step forward" in resolving the issue. It has recently started testing internationalised domain names with its engineers. "People have been waiting for us to start testing for some time," she said. Ms Taylor said the forum was there to debate issues that relate to the use and misuse of internet.
"I know, from speaking to ordinary users, that these issues are much more on their minds than discussions about who manages the internet and what is exactly the role of the US government." Mr Desai said the forum was important because it gave people the chance to discuss how the internet was evolving. "The net has outgrown its origins as a network run by and for computer specialists. "The forum is about the future, the net as it will be some years from now and how we can give a voice to all who use it." Ms Taylor said: "The key thing is that anyone who is interested can take part - whether they rock up in Athens or take part via blogs.
"That's a major change of process from the past."