Who’s at the UN Internet Governance Forum? We are!

By Solana Larsen | Nov. 26, 2019 | Internet Health Report

Mozilla at the UN Internet Governance Forum in Berlin

Mozilla's booth in the "Global Village" at the UN Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, November 26, 2019

This week in Berlin more than 6,000 people representing governments, companies and civil society organizations have registered with the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to discuss the big challenges and opportunities surrounding the internet worldwide.

The Internet Health Report team is here with colleagues from the Mozilla Berlin office meeting people from around the world who research and work on internet issues in countless contexts. One of them is Ilja Sperling (@fubits) who works for Ranking Digital Rights. On his personal website, he has built a rudimentary search engine of registered attendees listed on the IGF website.

Together, we did some quick analysis of the registration list. You can try it too.


Who is here?

It’s raw data, so keep in mind that even basic differences in spelling can throw off numbers. The list is from the morning of November 26, so numbers may increase later in the week. After filtering out venue staff and others unlikely to be participants, we estimated the number of registrants to be 6,462.

What is the balance between government and civil society?

People registered

  • Of the 6,462 registered participants this morning, roughly 43.5% (2,811) people directly indicated they are representing civil society, and 18.5% (1,199) have registered as “government" or “legislator”. People representing private companies amount to 17.2% (1,113). The number of people who say they represent the United Nations or Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) combined is 4% (249). And finally, 6.1% (394) list their affiliation as “other”.
A table showing number of people registered at IGF according to affiliation (eg. civil society 43.5%, government and legislators 18.5% and private sector 17.2%)

Entities registered

  • There are roughly 1,926 distinct civil society groups (50.1%) listed on the IGF website and roughly 870 different companies (22.6%). Entities associated with governments and legislators amount to 227 (5.1%). Each of these groups or companies are represented by one or more people. Roughly 2.5% entities are listed as IGO branches and UN agencies.
Table showing the number of entities registered at IGF (eg. civil society 50.1%, private sector 22.6%, Technical community, 10.1%)


Who are the most well-represented organizations registered in terms of numbers?

  • Many of the biggest delegations here represent governments –– and these are governments from the entire world, including countries where internet access and freedoms are limited. As the host of the IGF this year, the German government is the most represented in terms of number of registered participants, with a delegation of more than 160.
  • We searched for various tech companies and found that Microsoft has 26 people here. Google has 19 people. Facebook has 16, Twitter has 7, Amazon has 5, Tencent has 2.
  • Mozilla (including community members and fellows) have 26 people registered for IGF.


What does it mean?

  • A registration doesn’t necessarily mean that people are actually here, nor does it amount to any specific quantity of influence. But we find it interesting to see who shows interest in having a voice in this process. How internet governance evolves, and what balance of power is struck between governments, civil society and corporations will be key for striking decisions that genuinely lead to a healthier internet for all. Attendees of many years, say they are impressed with how the IGF has grown and how much respect the forum is offered now.

What are your questions, or what did you discover yourself? Feel free to share reflections in comments below.