NetHui to gather internet stakeholders

Three-day event may lead to more collaborative approach among interest groups

InternetNZ is hoping a three-day conference will attract representatives of various sectors that are “stakeholders” in the internet, to discuss a broad range of internet-associated topics.

The organisation is now accepting registrants, sponsors and ideas for a NetHui, to be held from June 29 to July 1 in Auckland.

While InternetNZ is organising the conference, it hopes as broad a range as possible of other organisations will get involved.

The timetable is still open at this stage, though subject areas suggested include: internet governance and legal issues; the effect of the internet on the processes of government and its ‘openness’, the impact of future technologies and business models; access and diversity (conquering the “digital divide”, which means some users have better access to online resources than others); education of current and future generations to make good use of the internet; and “cyber-citizenship” – itself a catchall category including privacy, safety and security online and internet-related youth issues.

The multi-stakeholder format reflects the example of the international Internet Governance Forum, which, since 2006, has been bringing together those with a stake in the internet for a series of discussions.

When contributors give an account of their participation and visions for the future “then other people who are listening will be able to make connections and say ‘we’re in the same space; we can potentially support you, or you can support us.’” says Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker, who hopes the proposed conference will lead to collaborative practical action.

Cocker has attended IGF meetings and says he was initially sceptical, but now sees this kind of collaboration as productive and a good model to follow. The conference website www.nethui.org.nz hosts a number of online forums, where discussion is already taking off.

InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar says the organisers have tried to keep the cost of the conference low, to attract maximum participation, but some Twitter commentators say that at $920 (including GST) for three days – plus an optional less-structured “bar camp” on the last day – it is beyond their reach.

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