The first Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held at the Houses of Parliament last week, with the group unveiling plans to tackle online crime by sharing information between law enforcement, ISPs and charities.
The UK is the first nation to have set up its own forum on internet governance. It will work with the IGF international forum, which was established in 2006 by the United Nations to give companies, governments, organisations and individuals the opportunity to debate how the internet is changing and developing. Representatives from Nominet, the Specialist Crime Directorate, MPs and a British ambassador attended the first meeting.
The forum is independent of the government, even though it involves collaboration from public sector figures including individual MPs. Representatives from parliament, charities such as Amnesty International and the internet industry are involved in the IGF.
Alun Michael MP, who is a chair at the forum and played a key role in setting up the UK IGF, told PC Advisor's sister title Computerworld UK that it was a crucial step in internet governance nationally, allowing Britain to take steps relevant to its culture in tackling the problem.
"It's important to have our own forum and to take ownership of issues in the UK rather than following others," he said. Waiting for the government to legislate would have meant the process was "haphazard, as is anything at parliament level".
"'Let's do it first' was our thinking, so it's not necessary for the government to legislate," said Michael. "We have to make the IGF work, otherwise we'll end up with a bureaucratic straightjacket."
Initial projects will include mapping the principal partners of the UK IGF and deciding how they will work best together. In December, the next annual international IGF event will be held in Delhi, and the winners of a new best practice challenge, launched by national domain name registry Nominet as part of the initiative, will take a leading role at the preparatory meeting for British delegates going to the forum.
Detective superintendent Charlie McMurdie, Scotland Yard's head of e-crime, reiterated calls for a specialist online crime unit. "Internet crime does not sit comfortably around current policing," she said. "We need somewhere to set standards on how we report crime and coordinate our response, and how we share information."
Markus Kummer, executive coordinator at the international IGF, said that in setting up a national forum, the UK was a "shining example" of internet governance.