Blog post: What to Make of the Inaugural NetThing 2019

By Quoc Pham,Senior Product Manager at Neustar Registry Solutions, CircleID, Dec 02, 2019

From the article:

NetThing 2019 felt like an auIGF but different, in a good way. The way the sessions were prepared and presented provided a more inclusive environment, which is an improvement from the “sit behind a desk panel” style quite often previously seen at auIGF. Internet governance and policy discussion can only be enhanced by active stakeholder engagement, so this was definitely a step in the right direction.

Broader scope of topics

My previous experience of the auIGF was that it usually only covered very technical topics that affected the governance of the infrastructure that supports the operation of the Internet. This was probably because the audience was typically from a technical background.

It is clear though, NetThing took inspiration from Nethui, which is held by our friends from across the Tasman in New Zealand. Nethui has a reach of topics far beyond that of a traditional IGF and NetThing set about broadening the scope of topics covered as well by exploring these five areas:

  1. Policy — the intersection of society, economics, law, politics and the Internet.
  2. Inclusion — creating an Internet for everyone, and an Internet community that is everyone.
  3. Technology — the technologies that build and use the Internet.
  4. Security — cybersecurity, cybersafety, infrastructure protection, identity and financial protection, through the lens of the Internet.
  5. The future — speculative, fun, inspirational views of the future Internet.

The Internet has grown exponentially in the last twenty years and has become core to the way that everyone lives, from entertainment through to critical functions that support our very lives. To that end, broadening the topics covered at such an event is essential to remain relevant to the current and future users of the Internet.

Read the full article via the CircleID website.

From the Media: The Australian Internet Community Says The Government Isn’t Listening

By Cameron Wilson, BuzzFeed, October 29, 2019.

At the very first panel of a brand new event hoping to bring the Australian internet community together, the mood was flat.

Speakers representing digital rights groups and businesses in the technology sector sounded bruised, not energised, as they reflected on how they felt ignored by the government in their efforts to shape recent internet policy in Australia.

“We’ve felt excluded from the conversation,” Digital Rights Watch board member Lizzie O’Shea told the room. “We often lobby to what feels like no effect.”

Another speaker lamented Australia’s lack of “tech billionaires” and blamed a lack of resources.

The panels were part of the inaugural NetThing, an event that organisers hoped would fill the vacuum left by the Australian Internet Governance Forum which last ran in 2016.

More than 150 people from across community, private and government sectors attended the forum, which was created to facilitate “robust Australia-based Internet policy exploration and discussion” on themes of governance, inclusion, security and the rise of digital platforms.

Organisers noted this year marks three decades since Australia joined the global internet via a trans-Pacific link from Hawaii.

“The internet is pervasive and it’s in all of our lives whether we like it or not,” said NetThing chair Sandra Davey. “There are complex challenges and opportunities and they’re too complex for single entities, organisations or even governments to solve.”

Read the full article via the BuzzFeed website.

In the Media: Cyber Security Strategy 2020: Civil society experts slam ‘national security’ agenda

By Stilgherrian for The Full Tilt, ZDNet, October 29, 2019.

From the article:

“The Australian government needs to drop the “national security” framing of its cybersecurity strategy, according to speakers at the inaugural NetThing, held at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Tuesday.

Australia is currently reviewing its national strategy. The Department of Home Affairs published a discussion paper last month, Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy: A call for views [PDF].

Speakers were concerned that the framing of cybersecurity had shifted from that of the original 2016 strategy issued by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“There’s two sort of narratives in cybersecurity and … states align with one or the other,” said Lucie Krahulcova, Asia policy analyst at Access Now.

One is the narrative of national security; a narrative of control, like in China and Russia, as well as in many other governments.

The other is the narrative of the internet as a shared common good and an enabler of civic rights. Under that framing, cybersecurity is about the integrity of the system and the protection of individual users.

“I think Australia teeters on the edge of those,” Krahulcova said.

“I would go as far as to say that certain parts of the government aren’t quite as aware [of] how much Australia sits with the Chinas and Russias,” she said.

“In spite of the cybersecurity objectives which were there since 2016, since 2017, the whole narrative and the way that the government views this space has been about control.”

Read the full article via the ZDNet website.

NetThing recordings – now online!

Thanks to APNIC we were able to have recordings from NetThing! Below you can see videos of panel sessions and workshops from the day.

If you are someone that likes to see moments captured in tweets check out this collation from the day.

Auditorium Sessions

(1) Auditorium / Chair’s Welcome by Sandra Davey

(2) Auditorium / Welcome from Civil Society and Government

(3) Auditorium / Panel 1 Plenary – Policy

(4) Auditorium / Panel 2 – Inclusion

(5) Auditorium / Panel 3 – Security

(6) Auditorium / Panel 4 – Are we humans or data?

(7) Auditorium / IGF engagement in action: Cyber Norms

(8) Auditorium / Panel 5 Plenary – The future

(9) Auditorium / Close of Session

Workshop Sessions

(1) Side Room / Workshop 1 – Newcomers to the internet

(2) Side Room / Workshop 2 – International activity

(3) Side Room / Workshop 3 – The Internet is mostly volunteers – what if they didn’t show up?

NetThing 2019 – Ready For Monday?!

NetThing 2019 is just around the corner – this Monday 28 October in fact! At the University of Sydney (UTS Business School), Building 8, Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, 14-28 Ultimo Rd, Ultimo NSW 2007.


Registration will open from 8:30am, with the event starting with a Welcome to Country starting the day at 9:15.

Registration lists will be ordered alphabetically by first name.

Lunch & Refreshments

Lunch will be provided, as well as tokens you will be able to redeem for tea and coffee during the breaks.

Getting there

Information on travelling to the Dr Chau Chak Building from Central Station, other public transport, and parking information can be found on the UTS website.


The program is available on the website and hard copies will be available.

NetThing Community

This is a community event, and inclusive to all regardless of tech skills or Internet experience. It’s free with over 40 panelists committed to seeing Internet governance back at the centre of Australian Internet policy.  There are tickets left, please let friends and colleagues know that they are welcome and to register.

Code of Conduct

We care about making NetThing inclusive and safe, and we have a Code of Conduct to help make this clear. Please take a read, your participation in the day means agreeing to this CoC.

We are excited!

This event has taken a lot from community members, supporters and sponsors. And it becomes a reality when you decide to invest your time and energy in coming. We thank you and look forward to seeing you on Monday!

IGF engagement in action: Cyber Norms

Join us at NetThing to explore the topic of Cyber Norms.

The following copy is provided by Johanna Weaver, Special Adviser to Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Australia’s representative to UN Group of Experts on Cyber.

In December 2018, the United National General Assembly (UNGA) established two processes to discuss responsible state behaviour in cyberspace: an inaugural Open Ended Working Group; and, a sixth Group of Governmental Experts (GGE). Australia is active in both: more info here.

A key focus of these two UN groups will be providing guidance on practical steps countries should take to implement the recommendations from the 2015 GGE report, including the 11 agreed norms of responsible state behaviour (listed below: take a look, there is a norm for everyone!).

To inform Australian engagement in the two UN processes, this session of NetThings seeks to draw on participants’ collective expertise to compile a list of suggestion “best practices” countries should take to implement the 11 norms.

As a primer, here is a document outlining the list of 11 norms and the steps the Australian government is already taking to implement them. At the session, we will seek to develop a third column to this document setting out the NetThing community’s suggested best practices for implementation of each norm.

11 agreed norms of responsible state behaviour (from the 2015 UNGGE Report)

  1. Cooperating to increase stability and security in cyberspace
  2. Considering all relevant information in the case of cyber incidents
  3. Not knowingly allowing territory to be used to commit internationally wrongful acts using cyber tools
  4. Preventing criminal and terrorist use of information and communications technologies
  5. Respecting human rights—including privacy—online
  6. Not conducting cyber activities that damage the critical infrastructure of another country
  7. Taking appropriate measures to protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats
  8. Responding to reasonable requests for assistance from another state
  9. Taking steps to protect the integrity of supply chains for ICT products,
  10. Reporting ICT vulnerabilities in a responsible manner
  11. Not harming another country’s Computer Emergency Response Team or using a Computer Emergency Response Team to engage in malicious cyber activity.

In Sydney? Love the Internet? Don’t miss NetThing!

Rebirthing something isn’t easy. For 30 years the Australian Internet has been shaped by volunteers. But when a group of Internet enthusiasts got together last year to rebirth the Australian Internet governance community, success was far from guaranteed.

However looking at the program today, how rapidly it is being shaped, how enthusiastic people are, it’s clear Internet community governance is wanted and needed in Australia.

The event is free and on October 28 at University of Technology, Sydney. If you haven’t booked, get in quickly. The speakers, and the participant list is incredible. This is your chance to connect with people from all realms of the Internet, all doing amazing things. Opportunities like this do not come along often.

Because NetThing is all about the collective conversation, knowledge and experience we all bring, your perspective matters – so come!

Still not convinced? Here are just five of the 27 speakers up on website now:

Lizzie OShea bio pic
Lizzie O’Shea
– her new book Future Histories eloquantly reminds us all that shaping an Internet future compels us to look backwards at our history. In her day job as a lawyer, Lizzie is currently working on the Uber class action against the global ride-sharing giant on behalf of people in the taxi, hire-car, limousine, and charter vehicle industry. She is a tireless campaigner for civil society and is a founder and board member of Digital Rights Watch.

Pia Andrews bio pic
Just announced! Pia Andrews
– anyone with an interest in open government has come across Pia’s work over the last 20 years in Australia and New Zealand. Within the public sector, Pia has been a trailblazer, working with teams to transform public services through greater transparency, democratic engagement, citizen-centric design, open data, emerging technologies and real, pragmatic actual innovation in the public sector and beyond.

Vanessa Teague headshot
Vanessa Teague
– Have you ever wondered if electronic voting is a good idea? Vanessa is an expert in the security of electronic voting, and known for her work on secret sharing, cryptographic protocols. The security of our systems means the data, and privacy of Australian’s can be protected. But is this in jeopardy? And how do we work through the real dangers in our society vs the imagined ones?

Jenna Price
Jenna Price
– As platforms dictate the terms, and traditional business models for media are collapsing, the future of journalism feels under extreme threat. We’ve never wanted to consume more free content, but now we are struggling with the question, at what cost? Add to the mix the pressures on press freedom that are now being hotly debated in the public and political sphere, and it’s a tough time to be a journalist. As a journalist, academic at UTS, and a seasoned digital community builder, Jenna is the perfect person to share her insight into achieving for a better future.

Heron Loban headshot
Dr Heron Loban
– the promise of the Internet is one of inclusion and access, but is the Internet in Australia accessible to all equally? And what are the costs when inclusion is lacking? Dr Heron Loban is a Torres Strait Islander woman with family connections to Mabuiag and Boigu. She is an academic, lawyer and expert in consumer protection. Through her work with the Centre for Appropriate Technology Heron has intimate insight into the cost of phones and internet and its effects on indigenous people in remote and rural area.


The event is free and on October 28 at University of Technology, Sydney. Book today, it’s free and lunch is included!

Why this Internet event is great for your career and your wallet too! – Netthing

Let’s face it, figuring out what’s worth your time when you are starting out or shaping your career is a real challenge. Conferences, workshops, networking events, there can be so much going on – and it can get expensive!

If you are interested in how the Internet actually works or how you can shape the Internet that exists today then Netthing, a FREE event on 28 October at UTS Sydney could be the event for you. 

Have you ever stopped to think about how the Internet was made? Not just the technical stuff, but stuff like how adoption happened, how the rules were formed, or even how countries work together? For 30 years volunteers have been the driving force of Internet and Internet governance in Australia. 

Getting involved has literally built careers and opened opportunities.

One of these people whose career has been shaped by participation is Sandra Davey. Sandra is the Chair of national consumer group Choice, and the Chair of the NetThing steering group. She is also runs her own company helping people and teams build beautiful things. Being involved in the Internet community has opened doors for work, travel, and networks.

“There is a value exchange in volunteering and contributing to something that positively impacts the world around you. Career and opportunity is important, but so is impact and passion. For me it’s about the give, and the Internet community understands that, people are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.” said Sandra.

If you want to understand more about the Internet, build great networks, and help shape Australian Internet and its communities for the next 30 years this is an event you should check out.  

We want people from all backgrounds, ages, and experiences join us on October 28. We do have fellowships that can help cover the cost of flights and accommodation – because finding money for this stuff isn’t easy – read how here.

If you can join us in Sydney please register for this free event today, and share this post to help us spread the word.

Fellowships to attend NetThing 2019 are open!

One of the things we’ve cared about from the start is that inclusion is at the heart of a strong Internet community. We are excited that we can provide a free event – which includes lunch! And now, thanks to the generosity of several of our Sponsors, the NetThing 2019 Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee is able to open a fellowship program to support people to attend.

Calls for Expressions of Interest for a Fellowship is now open!

To be considered  for receipt of a full or partial  NetThing 2019 Fellowship, please email a brief outline of why being a part of the NetThing event and Internet Governance community is important to you. And a little about what you’d like to take from the experience, and give back. We have limited funds and are committed to helping people who truly need it, so if you can touch on your background, work status, and location that would be great. Plus anything other circumstances or supporting information that will help the Fellowship Committee in its selection process.

Send this to us by email to by no later than 1700 AEST on September 29.

Please specify clearly if you are seeking  travel support, accommodation support or other including any combination thereof, as well as details of your physical address, and contact details. NetThing aims to reduce or remove barriers to involvement and attendance at our event from all sectors of the Australian Community interested in Internet matters, policy and governance. To that end please also note if you feel you are representative of or acting as advocate for underrepresented or disadvantaged sectors.

Help us spread the word about NetThing on October 28

We’d love your organisation to help us by spreading the word about NetThing through your comms. Here is some suggested text to get you started:

Australian Internet is 30 years old. And it still needs you.

Around the world Internet Governance Forum’s (IGF) have brought together governments, intergovernmental organisations, private companies, the technical community and civil society organisations – to work, talk, and plan together.

Over the next 30 years Australia has the challenge of sustainably maintaining a bottom-up approach to Internet governance, policy and technology.

Can you help us to shape and continue the important community led IGF movement?

On October 28, join us for NetThing – a free multi stakeholder community event. Tickets are free, please book today.

Visit the NetThing website for more and to keep in touch sign up to our newsletter on the home page or via our twitter – @NetThing_au