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RIGF-2014 comes to an end

The Fifth Russian Internet Governance Forum (RIGF-2014), organized by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ and the Technical Center of Internet, and supported by RAEC and ICANN, has been held in Moscow. The forum was attended by over 800 people, including about 50 foreign guests. Ninety-eight journalists from more than 60 newspapers, magazines, television channels and radio stations were accredited to cover RIGF-2014.

In his opening remarks, Director of Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ Andrey Kolesnikov said that RIGF-2014 starts on the day of the 20th anniversary of the .RU domain and on the first day of registration of domain names in the new Cyrillic domain .ДЕТИ. He introduced new ICANN Vice President for Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe Mikhail Yakushev, who is also a member of the CC Board, to the forum participants, and thanked Veni Markovski, who held this post until March 2014, for their long-term cooperation. Markovski has been appointed ICANN Vice President for the UN.

Petr Sikh (Council of Europe Programme Office in the Russian Federation) spoke about the Council of Europe’s vision of the global future of the Internet and the participation of the countries represented in the Council of Europe. Sikh stressed that universal values, such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law, are important both offline and online. He believes that the Internet cannot be controlled by a single country or group of people, but rather by a diverse collection of stakeholders.

TCI Deputy Director General Marina Nikerova recalled the Internet of 20 years ago. “Think about the changes over the past 20 years, how technology has changed and how we have grown up,” she said. “Over the years, we have developed .RU, and are now developing the .РФ and .ДЕТИ domains.”


Deputy Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region Ruslan Gattarov, Managing Director of RIPE NCC Axel Pawlik, Director of the National Registry of the .AZ domain (Azerbaijan) Fahik Farmanov and Director of the National Registry of the .VN (Vietnam) Domain Li Nam Trung also welcomed the participants of the forum.

In accordance with tradition, this year the Internet Merits award was presented to Olaf Kolkman, Director of NLnet Labs and former Chair of the Internet Architecture Board from the Netherlands. Another tradition has the recipient of the award deliver a lecture to the participants. This year, Olaf Kolkman spoke about Internet Architecture as the Basis of Future Innovation.

Following the opening ceremony, a panel convened, entitled, The Tips and Tricks of the Internet Economy. Moderator of the section, Director of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications Sergey Plugotarenko, presented statistics showing the rapid growth of the Russian Internet economy. The Internet economy accounts for 8.5 percent of the national GDP. The total number of people employed in Internet-dependent industries is estimated at 5 million. In 2013, more than 80 percent of all investment deals in Russia were in the sphere of IT technology. Sergey Plugotarenko stressed that the Internet economy is becoming a factor to reckon with when planning any economic and political activities in Russia.

Vice-President of Rostelecom Alexey Basov said that the government is giving a boost to the Internet economy and encourages the development of its infrastructure. Today, over 70 percent of the population of large urban areas have access to the Internet. The next step should include making broadband access available to residents of towns and villages, he said. By 2016, broadband Internet access will have become available to residents of all high- and medium-rise buildings in Russia. According to Alexey Basov, this will be a breakthrough in the development of the Russian Internet and the Internet economy.

ICANN Vice President Mikhail Yakushev, Global Stakeholder Engagement – Russia/CIS/Eastern Europe, indicated another resource – IPv6 – that can be used to promote the Internet economy. According to Yakushev, IPv6 will be a step toward creating a full-fledged Internet of Things, the economic effect of which will be so great that it can hardly be assessed now.

General Director of Ozon Holdings Maelle Gavet sees wider use of online payments and greater confidence in using payment cards as one the main drivers behind the growth of the Russian Internet economy.

The issue of trust and security was supported by Deputy Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region Ruslan Gattarov who was Federation Council member in the past. He said that trust and security must be an integral part of the Internet economy. He also noted the increased attention to the Internet and the online economy on behalf of public authorities, saying that this interest will grow as the worldwide web continues to grow. Gattarov believes that by 2016 the Russian parliament will have enough Internet- savvy deputies with good understanding of the industry who will be able to regulate it in an expert manner. Ruslan Gattarov called on the online community to actively influence political processes, cooperate with government agencies and delegate its representatives to the government.

Director of the Internet Development Fund Initiatives Kirill Varlamov spoke about the growing investment in the Russian Internet and shared his thoughts about effective business models. He said that investing in online businesses with the intention of growing and then selling them is a booming business practice in the United States, but does not work in Russia, and investors should therefore focus on the dividend model.

In closing, the participants agreed on the unique nature of the Russian Internet, or RuNet, and that in many respects, it can be considered a national treasure. They also spoke about the steps needed to promote the Russian Internet. In particular, Kirill Varlamov noted the shortage of employees with proper skill sets and stated his view that two to three times more students should be trained to meet the needs of the Russian Internet and Internet economy. Alexey Basov said that Russian services have to compete with the global giants. In many respects, they have managed to cope with this competition on the domestic market, but will need government support to survive in the future. However, Basov said that the issue is not about putting foreign companies operating on the Russian market at a disadvantage.


RIGF-2014 was held on the anniversary of the .RU domain's establishment. A news conference for the media and forum participants was held on this occasion. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, addressing them via a video call, said, “Today, the average Internet user spends over 100 minutes on the RuNet a day. Just think of it, 100 minutes a day. I hope that these 100 minutes are not being wasted.” Medvedev also said that Russia is a European leader in the number of Internet users. Alexey Volin (Ministry of Communications), Andrey Kolesnikov (Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ), Mikhail Yakushev (ICANN), Marina Nikerova (Technical Center of Internet), Alexey Platonov (Technical Center of Internet), Alexey Basov (Rostelecom), Kirill Varlamov (Internet Development Fund Initiatives), Irina Danelia (.ДЕТИ) and Alexander Panov (RU-CENTER) also spoke at the news conference.


The Forum also included themed panels. The panel, Face the Domain Space, which was led by Leonid Todorov (CC), discussed the prospects for the development of new top-level domains. The panel participants talked about the positioning of new domains and the opportunities that these domains provide to new users. Irina Danelia (.ДЕТИ) told the audience about the registration procedure in the domain .ДЕТИ and how the mission of the project to create a comfortable Internet environment for children and teenagers will be carried out. As you may recall, the .ДЕТИ domain registration began on April 7. Almaz Valliulin (.TATAR) and Fedor Smirnov (.РУС) said that both their domains are designed to unite the people who live in different countries, but share a common cultural code. Andrey Vorobyov, representing the domains .МОСКВА and .MOSCOW, stressed the importance of using existing expertise for launching new domains, citing the example of the .РФ domain. Yury Kargapolov (.УКР) noted that this domain is the oldest among those discussed, and shared the experience of launching the Ukrainian Cyrillic domain. The panel was also attended by ICANN Vice President for the UN Veni Markovski.


The panel, Fear/no/ Pardon. Privacy on the Net, was dedicated to the protection of personal data online. The panel was moderated by RAEC Head of Strategic Research Irina Levova, who spoke about the right of users to protect their personal information and the ability of the government and business to access such data.

Ulyana Zinina (Microsoft) spoke about approaches of the global technology leaders to these issues. In particular, she noted that the emergence of new services (geolocation, face recognition, etc.) continues to create new types of personal data that need protection. She also outlined the principles used by Microsoft in addressing these challenges and shared the big business views on relations with the authorities in situations involving personal user information. According to Zinina, there must be a balance between privacy and security.

Alexander Rylik (Afisha-Rambler-SUP) spoke about the problems faced by his company, as it tries to protect the personal data of its users from the prying eyes of government agencies following the adoption of the Law on Insider Information. Even public bodies that are not authorized to conduct investigative and police work are asking the company to disclose personal user data. Georgy Gritsai, an adviser at a Ministry of Communications and Mass Media department, described the position adopted by the state in such controversial situations. He did not rule out the possibility that following a certain period spent observing the situation, the state could end up amending legislation.

Ivan Zasurskiy (Department of Journalism) spoke in favor of supporting the right of users to protect their personal data as a fundamental human right. He also remarked that the likelihood of further intervention on behalf of the authorities may reduce the Russian companies’ competitiveness and hamper the growth of the online economy. Caroline Baylon of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Great Britain, supported Ivan Zasurskiy’s position, saying that the right to online anonymity is a basic right that must be respected. Ms Baylon also spoke about the difference in the European and American approaches to protecting personal data. In particular, in the European Union, the state is charged with protecting personal data from access by corporations, whereas in the United States, corporations are not considered a serious threat, and the protection of personal data implies, above all, protection against the government.


A lively discussion took place at the …and Justice for All panel, moderated by ICANN Vice President Mikhail Yakushev. According to Pavel Rassudov (Russian Pirate Party), everyone is entitled to access any information posted online. To protect privacy rights, the worldwide web must provide anonymity. This viewpoint was supported by Roelof Meijer (SIDN), who said that online information in itself is harmless, and users are perfectly capable of filtering this information and distinguishing truth from lies. In contrast, Aleksander Shepilov (Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia) believes that online anonymity has led to lawlessness, and there must be a balance between protecting privacy and protecting the rights of other citizens.

Damir Gainutdinov of AGORA Association deplored the fact that almost all Russia's legislative initiatives relating to the Internet are prohibitive, and urged everyone to pay more attention to existing international Internet standards. Madina Kasenova (Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry) said that human rights are universal and do not depend on whether a person is online or offline. Axel Pawlik of RIPE NCC suggested rethinking the business model of providing content to consumers in order to avoid frequent copyright violations.

Members of the Cybersecurity – Liquidity vs. Solidity panel discussed protecting information against cybercrime. The moderator, Oleg Demidov (PIR Center), highlighted the difference between the approaches to the concept of cyber security in the national and international doctrines. The former focus on protecting the sovereignty of their states, whereas the latter seek to implement the right to protect user information.


Elaborating upon this theme, Mikhail Medrish (Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ) and Chris Buckridge (RIPE) recommended using documents developed by the OECD, noting their high quality and the importance of their provisions. Mikhail Medrish expressed regret that the talks on Russia's accession to the OECD had been interrupted by the events in Ukraine, but expressed hope that this process will resume.

Federation Council member Ludmila Bokova focused on an important aspect of cyber security: protection of children against possible negative influence of the Internet. She described the efforts of Russian lawmakers aimed at making the Internet at Russian schools affordable and safe, and also underlined the importance of creating a safe browsing culture. Ludmila Bokova called on the Internet community to actively cooperate, referring to them as the main allies of legislators in ensuring the security of the Russian Internet.

Experts at combating cyber threats Ilya Sachkov (Group-IB) and Andrey Yarnikh (Kaspersky Lab) talked about the real danger of international cybercrime. They said that efforts to combat it at the national level are no longer sufficient, because a cybercrime can be planned in one country, perpetrated in another and its benefits reaped in a third. They suggested that an effective fight against cybercrime may require creating international organizations and documents similar to those of the IAEA and treaties limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Pavel Khramtsov (RU-CENTER) spoke about the international collaboration of the computer threat response centers. He noted that official inquiries often take too long and are inefficient in resolving important and complex issues that require immediate attention, whereas informal contacts between cyber security experts from different countries lead to much more positive results.

Ondrej Filip (NIC.CZ) supported this view. He also expressed his regret that mutual distrust between nations is too high to hope for the creation of effective international instruments to combat cybercrime in the foreseeable future.

The forum concluded with a lecture Internet Architecture as the Basis of Future Innovation, by Olaf Kolkman, Director of NLnet Labs and former Chair of the Internet Architecture Board.

At the end of the forum, all of its participants were invited to the Arena Moscow Club, where a gala show dedicated to the anniversary of the RuNet and .RU took place.