Geneva 2008 - Conclusions

European Organisations Sign Up to Declaration on the Future of the Internet

The call for Government action was the finale to the OpenForum Europe Conference “ Standards and the Future of the Internet” conference held in Geneva from 25 -27th February 2008 and organised by OpenForum Europe.

Over two days of intensive debate some 25 leading experts from across the world discussed in depth the relationship and importance of Open Standards to the Internet with an audience from industry, government, standards institutions, and consumer organisations.

The conference covered issues such as raising the quality threshold of current Standards Development, the impact on Innovation, Intellectual Property Rights, and Democracy.

In a keynote session, Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google but best known as the 'Father of the Internet' led a panel of distinguished speakers** in a wide ranging debate covering whether the current Standards process was 'broken' and no longer meeting the needs of the market, the degree of openness required to ensure the Internet was not endangered, the role of Government in providing leadership in the protection of 'Civil ICT rights', and the avoidance of lock-in to proprietary solutions.

At the end of the Conference, a Declaration was announced, signed by 17 member organisations based in Europe, representing many thousand discrete companies, organisations and individuals.

Recognising the dangers that loss of Openness of the Internet could mean, the signatories of this Declaration call upon the European Commission, National Governments, Standards Bodies, Industry, the Community and the Market:

  • To collaborate such that the Internet remains fully open, without proprietary pressure, and based on Open Standards.

  • For clarity within the role of standards bodies to ensure the avoidance of competing standards which will inhibit competition and loss of innovation.

  • To mandate the use of Open Standards for interoperability.

  • To drive up the quality, transparency and perceived independence of the Standards development and approval process, both at International and National level.

  • To establish a clear link between the public interest and work of standardisation bodies.”

In closing the Conference, Graham Taylor, Chief Executive of OpenForum Europe thanked all the participants for their outstanding contribution to the debate. Whilst recognising this was not the focus of the Conference he confirmed that because of the importance of Open Document Exchange Formats, the Conference had been called to coincide with the Ballot Resolution Meeting of ISO/IEC to discuss the ECMA 376/Microsoft OOXML proposal. He called on all parties “to ensure that non-technical as well as technical issues received equal consideration in their deliberations, and that the implications expressed in this Declaration not to be ignored”.

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