Letter from IBO President: The History of IBO & World Legal Summit

Today is World Legal Summit Day.  IBO has organized representation of legal hackers groups in Denver, Nashville and Houston to join together and commit to work to build the Justice Layer with our projects:  World United in Song, the Invisibles, and the Justice HUB Innovation Lab.  


Fourteen years ago this summer, we were just about to hold IBO’s first board meeting.  We jumped on the back of the American Bar Association annual meeting and convened the Board of Directors of IBO for the first time.  


Though I don’t remember exactly what I said – if memory serves, I talked about WHY we needed to create a new bar association – just for the internet, and who should be involved and how to get it on its path.  


 We talked about the need for a new way to get all the people of the world into one virtual community and work on the issues and problems facing us all.  We believed that history had taught us that the rule of law orders society according to its norms of acceptable behavior.  What is acceptable behavior for a global community???  Never before had there been a technology which could connect us all to each other in real-time.  In actuality, time stopped to matter nearly as much.  From a legal liability standpoint,   we could anticipate what the transparency of digital conduct could do – existing rules would always be behind new ways to do thing. 


At the start, we knew our job was to raise awareness to our own group – lawyers, judges, bar associations, governments, international rule making bodies of all types – essentially anyone who might have some interest in envisioning the norms for a new society emerging online.  In the beginning,   IBO’s vision was to be a resource for all of the “justice” discussions and associated resources, training in how to use trusted virtual platforms for all. 

Our mission was to shape an online justice working globally with people from all disciplines and ages to shape fair and free models for interaction.  Vincent Polley, who was on this first board, made a very practical suggestion which, in retrospect, resulted in creating a defining attribute for all time – our tradename – IBO!  We are redesigning the IBO logo in commemoration of the beginning of our 15th year.  We joined for forces with Ethan Katsh and the University of Massachusetts led National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution. With them, we joined the planning committee of NCTDR’s annual Cyberweek and put together an extensive series of virtual presentations by leading figures on topics which would be affected at the intersection of law and technology.


Coming back in my mind to today’s World Legal Summit and IBO’s role 14 years later.   I am truly gratified to report that we are still on track. Our Invisibles project is laying the justice layer foundation for secure identity and trusted interaction on important content (for example, executed documents, e-mails, texts which document legal facts when they are created if they may be needed later on for any legal reason, and more). More importantly, the Invisibles’  pilot project begins with the refugee population in Bangladesh, and, will expand to others in harms way very quickly.  Our breadth of outreach depends on how many people get that we are on track to scale this outreach to be the best practice for serving the migrant population and meet key SDGs. 

We are building teams to tackle specific areas in both law and technology to lay down governance principles on how identity and contracts work on the Justice Layer and are secure and trustworthy. We are using private international law contracts as the terms of service for the online community. Each team will recommend a set of best practices for specific topics which will affect countries or possibly entire industries.  We will all learn and benefit from each other by interacting with us on IBO’s first iteration of the justice layer.  For more information or to join forces, stay updated on internetbar.org.

Next up, IBO’s first years – 2005-2007    

Jeff Aresty, Founder of IBO

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