Vint Cerf: Humanity’s main challenge is preventing internet fragmentation


On December 18, the twelfth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) began at the Geneva UN Office. All stakeholders who contribute to the development of the internet are in attendance: representatives of international organizations, administrators of communications systems in various countries, the academic and technology communities, and civil society and business institutions.

This year’s agenda includes several pressing issues: connectivity and equal internet access for all users, information security and cybercrime as well as international cooperation and new technologies.

The opening ceremony started with remarks by Swiss President Doris Leuthard. She welcomed the participants and noted that Geneva can be rightfully considered the birthplace of the term “internet governance”: “Headquarters of the largest international organizations are located in our city, and we understand very well what it is like to have to take all stakeholders’ opinions into account in your work. In addition, CERN, where Tim Berners-Lee invented the worldwide web, is only several kilometers away.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a video message recorded especially for the forum participants, in which he wished them successful work and noted that the global digital economy already was as large, if not bigger in some regions, as the traditional economy.

At the opening ceremony, special attention was paid to countering discrimination in the use of high technology. President of the International Telecommunication Union Houlin Zhao noted: “Today almost three billion people access the internet from nine billion devices. However, we must remember that more than a half of the planet population is not connected yet, and it’s our core mission to make it right.” Frank La Rue, Special Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, agreed: “We cannot give privileges in accessing and using the internet to any nation, part of the world, gender or a social group. We should build an open and easily accessible global net.”

Andrey Vorobyev, Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ, had this to say: “It is worth noting that the 12th forum is taking place in Geneva: this is where, back in 2003, the concept as well as basic principles of the global internet governance process were formed for the first time as part of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum.” He also noted that global internet governance forums set the agenda of national and regional events, which take place in various corners of the world.

The opening ceremony concluded with a speech by one of the founders of the internet, Google Vice President Vint Cerf, who made several predictions about what the internet will look like in 2027. He believes that at least six billion people will have access to the internet, that information security and internet stability will become hot topics and that supporting a cohesive internet and preventing its fragmentation will be the main challenge facing humanity.