LACNIC 10 YEARS: An Interview with Lynn St. Amour
“We all participate in the Internet ecosystem, there are no hierarchies”
Preserving the Internet for Future Generations is the title of the presentation by Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO of the Internet Society (ISOC) at the Lacnic 10 Years event. She spoke with the Lacnic Newsletter about her organization’s vision and mission
By Pablo Izmirlian.
To Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO of the Internet Society (ISOC), meetings like the one held by Lacnic in Montevideo are “essential.” “Sometimes when we say multistakeholder it can seem just like any other word, but in fact it is essential, these meetings are essential,” said St. Amour. According to the expert, the importance of these discussion forums lies in the fact that “everyone gathers for a thorough, informed and constructive discussion.”
Before joining ISOC, St. Amour was director of Business Development and Joint Venture Operations for AT&T’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division. A graduate of the University of Vermont, St. Amour began her career in information technology with the General Electric Corporation. During her interview with the Lacnic Newsletter, she spoke about her organization’s goals and the Internet “ecosystem,” where ISOC coexists with other institutions that also oversee the development and future of the Internet.
What is the ultimate goal of the Internet Society as an organization?
Our vision is that the Internet is for everyone, so our ultimate goal is to get individuals across the world connected, in a way where they really understand and can reap the full benefits of the Internet, in a thoughtful, informed, and responsible way. We obviously work with policy makers both in the private sector and in civil society to ensure that everyone understands as best they can the implications and some of the challenges that come with implementing a global communication medium that puts so much power in the hands of individuals – the power of choice.
How does that vision translate into your daily activities as president and CEO of ISOC ?
Well, we split our time between development issues, technical issues and policy issues. The Internet is distributed and decentralized by nature. I try to lead the organization by focusing on principles, both principles that support the Internet’s development and principles of our own engagement. I always want us to be constructive. The only way this is actually going to scale is if we continue pushing that information, that awareness out to the edges. Our regional bureaus have a lot of autonomy and independence, there is a core set of activities that are important to be deployed globally.
What is your relationship with an organization like ICANN?
ICANN is one of the Internet organizations, and all of the Internet organizations – whether it’s regional Internet registries, such as LACNIC, or the IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force] – participate in this Internet ecosystem, there is no hierarchy. Various organizations provide support. The IETF, for instance, determines the policy behind protocol parameters, and provides standards for naming and numbering. Some of the linkages between the organizations are operational, others are just sharing a vision that the Internet should be for everyone. Between ISOC and ICANN there’s not a direct linkage per se. The Internet Society did bid some years ago to run the .org registry. We set up a separate company called Public Interest Registry [PIR] to run the .org on top of the domain. So PIR, which is a supporting organization of ISOC, has a contractual relationship to ICANN. ISOC and ICANN are peers in this Internet ecosystem, the same as we are with LACNIC or any of the other regional registries.
What’s your background? How did you become involved with the Internet?
When I was at university I was studying physics and computer sciences – that was a long time ago. I actually ended up with a business degree in accounting and a minor in all these technical subjects. But I did computer science, I was a computer programmer in digital equipment for 16 years. I just moved back to the US a year ago, but I lived in Europe for 27 years, and I was looking for something new to do and the Internet Society needed a consultant for something, in 1998 [laughs]. I just fell in love with the mission, the people, and the difference you could make in people’s lives, so I took the position with them and have been extraordinarily happy. It’s a great mission.