The United Nations-backed panel studying Internet-related issues ranging from how to deal with spam – unsolicited or "junk" e-mail – to strengthening network security and fighting cyber-crime will submit its report to Secretary-General Kofi Annan by early July in preparation for a world summit on information later this year.
"Much of the report's content reflects a consensus, and the group was able to agree on priorities for future action," the Executive Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), Markus Kummer, told reporters after the Group's fourth and last meeting.
He said the report was being finalized, adding that in some areas related to government involvement WGIG had agreed to present different options for consideration. The proposals will be considered by Member States at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), taking place in Tunis, Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November.
Mr. Kummer said he could not speak about the report's contents until it was released by the Secretary-General, but there would be no surprises in it, as the process leading up to it had been very open and all the main issues addressed in the report were available on the Group's website.
During its various sessions WGIG has discussed not only spam, network security and cyber-crime, but more arcane issues such as the root server system and the administration of Internet names and addresses.
On spam, members agreed that "junk" e-mail, generally advertising sent to a wide-scale mailing list or focus group, while not yet officially on the international agenda, had to be discussed as a matter of priority.
The Working Group was established at the request of Member States at the first phase of WSIS in Geneva in 2003. It was mandated with drafting a working definition of Internet governance, drawing up an inventory of public policy issues relevant to Internet governance, and developing a common understanding of who does what. This involved defining responsibilities of the different actors, such as governments, the private sector, civil society, intergovernmental organizations and other institutions.
The 40 WGIG members, appointed by Mr. Annan last November, serve in their personal capacity and come from governments, the private sector and civil society from all the world's regions. The Group's Chairman, Nitin Desai, is Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for WSIS.