The IGF was set up to help the bodies that govern the internet become more democratically minded and more globally focused
The internet is currently unpoliced. The nearest it has to a governing body is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) of stakeholders - carriers, ISPs, academics, civil society, governments and international organisations - which is more like a parliament than an executive.
The IGF meets once a year and deals with topics such as: openness (the free flow of ideas and information); security (protecting users and networks); e-criminals (child abusers etc); cultural and linguistic diversity; and issues of access, particularly in the developing world. It takes no votes and makes no decisions but advises bodies that run the internet day-to-day, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).
The IGF was set up in 2005. At this time, there were several sets of would-be lawmen, all with very different ideas of how the internet should be governed.
Some, such as the US, saw the internet as too fast-moving, amorphous and international to be able to police properly or bureaucratically. Other governments, such as China, disagreed. They recognised the economic benefits of the internet, but wanted to build great firewalls around their countries, which were censored mercilessly.
Many countries, particularly developing nations, were unhappy that the US had so much online clout. They saw Icann, originally set up as an offshoot from the US Department of Commerce, as a tool of western colonialism. They wanted to see it administered by the United Nations in a top-down fashion.