The main activity of the WGIG was "to investigate and make proposals for action, as appropriate, on the governance of Internet by 2005." The WGIG was asked to present the result of its work in a report "for consideration and appropriate action for the second phase of the WSIS in Tunis 2005."
It was asked, inter alia, to deal with the following issues:
- Develop a working definition of Internet Governance;
- Identify the public policy issues that are relevant to Internet Governance;
- Develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, existing international organizations and other forums as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed countries. A few weeks before the release of the WGIG Report the U.S. reiterated its claim over ICANN and stated that it wished to "maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file"
The 40 official members are listed in the final report; in addition, there were many people attending the meetings to contribute their views.
The proposed models were:
|December 2003||WSIS meeting in Geneva|
|21 September 2004||WGIG formed|
|23 November 2004 – 25 November 2004||First meeting|
|14 February 2005 – 18 February 2005||Second meeting|
|18 April 2005 – 20 April 2005||Third meeting|
|14 June 2005 – 17 June 2005||Fourth meeting – finalisation of the WGIG Report|
|September 2005||Prepcom3 - Negotiation on Internet Governance|
|November 2005||WSIS Phase II Summit meeting in Tunis – Agreement signed to create the Internet Governance Forum|
Fears that increased "governance" will bring with it more regulation and fees have been expressed. IT experts have expressed doubts that a U.N. body that does not necessarily know enough about the Internet will effectively coordinate the Internet technologically. The head of ICANN has expressed concerns that some of the proposed changes represent a government-focused "top-down" approach, and that this is incompatible with the "bottom-up" structure of the Internet, where people are in the center. The U.S Government's negotiating position in Tunis Prepcom 3 was flexible on the principle of global involvement, very strong on the principle of multistakeholder participation, but inflexible on the need for US control to remain for the foreseeable future in order to ensure the "security and stability of the Internet". This generally showed itself in U.S. support for proposals allowing other governments to have a larger role in the management of their ccTLDs, but no change to the management or control of the root zone file.
The majority of stakeholders want to avoid a politicisation of the Internet, and some see the effort of the WGIG as launching a set of alien and dangerous terms and ideas. Others believe that it has been an important forum for discussion of the often contentious issue of Internet Governance, as well as a model for multistakeholder cooperation.
Some feel that either of the alternatives is better: a split-up of the Internet or a defense of the status quo. The United States has traditionally seen its role as a defender of citizens' rights worldwide, which is one reason it wants to keep the Internet free for private individuals rather than overly regulated by governments or international organisations. Some of the options presented in the WGIG Report may be seen by some as too government-oriented, while one option reflects the status quo, and may be seen as being too US-centric. The final agreements reached in Tunis The Tunis Agenda (paras 29-82 concern Internet Governance) and the Tunis Commitmentinclude the formation of the Internet Governance Forum. No agreement was reached on the oversight function.