The ideal of a universally accessible “open internet” is increasingly under stress. China is striving to assert more control of the internet by buying up international data centres, while Russia is more determined than ever to foster instability in the global system. Smaller and developing countries are growing skeptical that the vision of the open internet promoted by liberal democracies is in their interest.

At the same time, the Internet of Things — billions of connected consumer devices with questionable security — is posing risks not only to network infrastructure but to other infrastructure increasingly reliant on the internet, such as the power grid, water supply, telecommunications and financial services. Any reasonable response will require broad international cooperation — something becoming more difficult to achieve.

In March 2017, CIGI and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School brought together 28 academics, diplomats and other specialists for a one-day workshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to discuss and search for effective approaches to these and other international cyber security challenges. These essays provide a report on that workshop and the ideas that emerged.

The need to develop a coherent strategy for Internet governance ensuring that difficult trade-offs between competing interests, as well as between distinct public values, are managed in a consistent, transparent and accountable manner that accurately reflects public priorities guides the members of this research project, launched in 2012. In aiming to develop this strategy, project members will consider what kind of Internet the world wants in 2020, and will lay the analytical groundwork for future Internet governance discussions, most notably the upcoming decennial review of the World Summit on the Information Society. The Internet Governance paper series will result in the publication of a book in early 2014.