Background

The Internet, with more than 3 billion users worldwide, is the most important infrastructure in the information age. It influences policies, economics and cultures global and local. Internet issues like security and stability, freedom of expression, privacy, eCommerce, new market opportunities, protection of intellectual property, cybercrime and cybersecurity, infrastructure development, digital divide, network neutrality, Internet of things etc. make its way into national and international political agendas. For some experts Internet Governance will become as important as climate change or energy today. Insofar it is only natural that the way how and by whom the Internet is governed, is a highly controversial issue in the diplomacy of the 21st century.

In its final report the UN Working Group of Internet Governance (WGIG) recognized a lack of academic research and teaching on Internet Governance. There was no international academic organisation which had Internet Governance in its focus and no comprehensive teaching courses at master level where offered by established universities.

Academic members of the WGIG – who also contributed to the elaboration of the Internet Governance definition – took this as a challenge. They established a small ad hoc working group and prepared jointly together with the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and the International Communication Association (ICA), supported also by UNESCO, an expert meeting in Rathen/Germany in June 2006. The Rathen meeting discussed a number of recommendations which included, inter alia, the establishment of a Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GIGANET) and the launch of Schools on Internet Governance (SIG).

GIGANET was formally established at the eve of the 1st Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in October 2006 in Athens. Since Athens, GIGANET has organized at each IGF an annual academic symposium and various regional expert meetings which have produced a broad body of research.

In July 2007 Medienstadt Leipzig e.V. organised the first European Summer School on Internet Governance (EuroSSIG) in Meissen / Germany. Meanwhile many regional Schools on Internet Governance (SIG) emerged and the concept is established world wide.