Last updated on 22 December 2020
Born in Torino (Turin), Italy, on 12 September 1974
E-mail: vb [at] bertola.eu
Family status: Single
Military status: Exempted
Open-Xchange - Head of Policy & Innovation
I coordinate Open-Xchange's activities in two related sectors, policy and innovation, to pursue the company's long-term strategic objective of building an open, secure and privacy-friendly Internet infrastructure.
As head of innovation activities, I coordinate a team of developers devoted to the analysis of interesting technologies and ideas, and to the implementation of proofs of concept and prototypes for possible new features and products. I imagine, define and/or lead projects around these ideas, up to the point when management can take a final decision and they can be handed over to product engineering. When necessary, I also deal with communication, standardization and evangelization activities to promote these ideas and involve other parties in their development. I also work to promote innovation throughout the company.
As the company's policy officer, I monitor ongoing consultation and policy development activities in relevant venues, and when necessary I draft and release statements; and I contribute to the definition of internal policies and related company guidelines, particularly in terms of licensing and intellectual property. I also take care of relationships and activities within the free software community and towards the customers and users of our products, to promote the ideal of a free and open Internet and to foster the adoption of best practices in terms of security, privacy and openness.
Professional experience: ICT professional
Open-Xchange - Research & Innovation Engineer
I was the leader of projects to create new Internet products and services based on open standards and architectures, by fostering the collaboration of several companies and community members, fitting Open-Xchange's long-term strategic objective to build an open, secure and privacy-friendly Internet infrastructure.
My activities included exploring new technologies and concepts to address unfulfilled Internet user needs; transforming them into tentative product/service ideas; gathering consensus and participation around these ideas; defining the possible business models, policies and use cases; formalizing the technical and service specifications; working with industry groups, governmental institutions and standards organizations to get appropriate support and vetting; developing, deploying and testing proofs of concept and prototypes; promoting public awareness and adoption through communication activities; and managing these projects up to when they were mature for release to the Internet community and for consideration as additional features, products and services in Open-Xchange's portfolio.
Over time, given my experience with Internet governance matters, I also conceived and started the company's policy activities and representation in relevant venues.
My professional activities as an engineer were mostly on hold due to my position as a Turin city councillor. I still continued to develop and maintain sites, web platforms and software applications that I had previously developed for my customers, and use my skills for my political activity (e.g. by developing all the local web infrastructure for my party and contributing ideas to the national one).
The Internet - Interconnected Human Being
I worked as an independent professional on a broad range of projects and activities, usually through my sole proprietorship venture (Onyac).On the policy and governance side, I served in voluntary positions in several national and international bodies taking care of the administration and development of the Internet, attending the major conferences in the field, often as panelist or invited speaker; I wrote papers when requested, and participated actively in several global discussion forums.
As a start-up expert, I offered consultancies and supported new business ideas. As an engineer, I dealt with technical projects, such as designing and developing complex Web applications and services, or creating websites from scratch to finish, from user experience design to technical architecture and coding, using Wordpress and/or a custom CMS that I developed over the LAMP architecture.
Novajo - Founding partner
Novajo is an Internet start-up focusing on the online production and distribution of local news, starting with Quotidiano Piemontese, an online newspaper for Turin and Piedmont. I was one of the founders and dealt specifically with the business and strategy of the company. However, I had to hold off participating in the project after being elected as a town councillor.
The Innovation Group - Associate Partner
The Innovation Group is a "boutique consulting" firm that gathers some of the most expert and high-level consultants in Italy to provide advice to the top management of international corporations. I was specifically involved in projects related to digital marketing and communication and to the optimization of internal processes and of customer relationships thanks to the innovative use of information technologies.
Glomera - Founding partner
The company dealt with the development and provision "as a service" of an Internet television platform; it was born as a Dynamic Fun spin-off. I came up with the business idea, designed the initial architecture of the platform and contributed to early technical developments, but I was never involved in day-by-day operations.
Dynamic Fun - Founding partner; President & Chief Technical Officer.
I founded the company, of which I own a significant share, together with the current CEO, working on the business idea and the business plan, which was awarded a prize in the "Premio Galileo" 2002 for the most innovative ICT business plans. The company is a leader in Italy in innovating through the use of wireless, Internet, digital TV and mobile phone technologies, putting them to use to improve logistical and commercial processes in corporations and to enhance public services. Among its customers, there are top corporations such as Ferrari, Barilla, Fiat, Mazda, DHL, Lycos, Beiersdorf, Mastercard, Cartasì, Panini, and public entities such as Regione Piemonte. In just a few years, the company became a national leader in its market and technical niche.
Apart from general and strategic management of the company, I dealt specifically with the planning, management and implementation of the technical part of the business, an Internet and GSM service platform written in programming languages such as Perl, PHP, Java, C#, supported by databases and by custom communication and application protocols that I designed and developed personally.
After leaving my position in September 2006, I was a partner and consultant in the company until April 2011.
Co-founder and Director of E3C, a company which dealt with Linux-embedded hardware projects.
Co-founder and Director of European Domain Registry, a European non-profit entity bidding to manage .eu domain names, which ranked second in the tender and then dissolved.
Vitaminic (now Buongiorno Vitaminic) - Vice President for Technology.
The company was possibly the most famous "dot com" in Italy, dealing with Internet music distribution and sale in digital (MP3) format. I joined the company on foundation as head of the Technical Department, being responsible for planning and developing the music distribution platform on Internet and mobile networks, for the technical (initially also editorial) development of websites and B2B services, for office automation and internal processes support. I reported first to the CEO and later to the COO.
Up to May 2001 I took care personally also of the selection, organization and mangement of the Department's human resources, which reached the number of 15 persons; of sales support, meeting clients all over Europe; of project and supply management for the biggest projects; of representing the company in conferences and technical bodies, including SDMI; of preparing and giving presentations about technical assets and strategy during the company's funding and IPO process; of evaluating similar assets in view of potential acquisitions.
After May 2001, following some acquisitions and subsequent reorganizations, I kept responsibility for day-to-day management and operations of the Turin technical department; I specifically dealt with the project management and the technical architecture for the company's new data centre in Turin, which required a
Omnitel (now Vodafone Italy) - Network engineer at the Network Planning Department in Ivrea (TO).
I dealt with technical and economical planning of fixed networks (switch and backbone connections) and with interconnection agreements and policies towards other fixed and mobile operators.
Responsible for the students' ISP service "Politecnico a casa", which offered Internet access, e-mail and personal web space to students and teachers of the University. In this role I planned and managed the service, coordinating a staff of 16 student workers.
I also acted as webmaster and editor for the site www.poli.studenti.to.it, which quickly reached 4 million hits per month, and was awarded the second prize in its category at the "Premio WWW" 1998 by the national business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.
Professional experience: Internet governance and policy
Member of the Executive Council (Direttivo) of Copernicani, an advocacy association of Italian leaders in ICT and innovation.
Active in a number of IETF working groups, mostly related to DNS and email.
As part of the work at Open-Xchange, regular participant in written and oral consultations at the European Parliament and Commission, and in the meetings of the Commission's High Level Group on Internet Governance.
Member of the CCNSO Review Working Group of the Board of ICANN.
Consultant to Freedom House for the "Global Internet Freedom Initiative", reporting about issues and dangers for the freedom of the Internet in Italy and Europe.
Held a workshop on "Law and the Internet" at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, as part of a voluntary cooperation project.
Vice-Chairman of the At-Large Review Working Group of the Board of ICANN.
Member of the Executive Committee of the Dynamic Coalition for the Internet Bill of Rights.
Co-founder and elective member of the Board of EURALO, the European Regional At-Large Organization, representing European Internet user groups inside ICANN.
Member of the GNSO Review Working Group of the Board of ICANN.
Non-voting member of the Board of ICANN, the organization overseeing the administration of Internet domain names at the global level, as Liaison from the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), which represents individual Internet users on a worldwide scale.
Co-leader of the Internet Bill of Rights campaign, for a better definition and enforcement of citizens' rights over the Internet. For the campaign, I promoted the "Dynamic Coalition", ran the website, participated in several international conferences, and organized and chaired workshops at the Internet Governance Forum of the United Nations (Athens 2006, Rio 2007). I have been less involved in 2009-2010.
Member of the Internet Governance Consulting Committee of the Italian Government, created by the Ministry for Reforms and Innovation in Public Administration, as civil society and users representative, on appointment by Minister Luigi Nicolais. As such, I have attended the Internet Governance Forums of Athens (2006) and Rio de Janeiro (2007) as an official member of the Italian delegation.
Member of the Policy Advisory Board of Dot Mobi Registry, the company managing the .mobi Internet top-level domain, specialized in content designed for mobile phones.
Member of the Working Group on Internet Governance of the United Nations (appointed by Secretary General Kofi Annan on a nomination by the international Civil Society Plenary at the WSIS). I was one of the most active members, contributing text and ideas, and specifically being one of the main promoters and designers of the idea of an Internet Governance Forum.
Participant to the WSIS Consultation Table of the Italian Ministry for Innovation and Technologies, upon invitation by Minister Lucio Stanca. As such, I have attended the WSIS-II PrepCom-3 and the WSIS-II as an official member of the Italian delegation.
Consultant to the Istituto di Informatica e Telematica of the CNR (the national public research institution) as member of the newly created Rules Committee for the .it top level domain.
Member of the Italian Civil Society Platform for the WSIS and of the Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) campaign.
Member of the At Large Advisory Committee of ICANN.
Member of the At Large Advisory Committee Assistance Group of ICANN.
Twice elected Chairman of icannatlarge.org (worldwide non-profit organization for potential At Large members of ICANN).
Member of the Executive Committee and of other Committees in the Italian Naming Authority (then the policy body for the .it domain). Author of several proposals to rearrange national Internet governance structures.
Italian representative in the Interim Coordinating Committee for the At Large membership in ICANN and in other similar efforts.
Coordinator of the ICANN Working Group of Società Internet.
Most voted Italian candidate (ranked 7th in the overall) in the European election for the At Large Directors of ICANN.
Member of the management committee for the i2000.* Usenet hierarchy.
Proposer or moderator of several newsgroups in the it.* Usenet hierarchy.
More experience: politics
Town Councillor of Turin and spokesperson (capogruppo) for Movimento 5 Stelle in Turin's Town Council. In July 2012 I was elected vice-chairman of the II permanent committee, dealing with town planning and building, transportation and roads. In winter 2012-3 I was appointed as a delegate for the national campaign, taking care of bureaucratic and organizational tasks related to the national elections. In my first half term I made 347 formal proposals and 698 interventions; at the end of my entire term I had attended over 3000 sessions, thus being one of the most active town councillors in Italy.
Candidate Mayor of Turin for Movimento 5 Stelle. I was the spokesperson for the entire campaign, appearing on numerous local and national television networks and other media, taking care of communications strategy, of volunteer mobilization and of organization at large. This campaign was even more successful than the previous year's one, as I was the third most voted candidate, after those of the two main coalitions and overcoming the candidate of the centrist parties; I gathered over 22.400 votes (around 5%). Thus, I was elected to the Town Council.
Candidate Councillor of the Piedmont Region for Movimento 5 Stelle. I gathered 1375 personal votes and was the second most voted candidate in Turin and surroundings. I have also taken care of the preparation of the documents to be submitted to the appropriate public authorities to allow the list to participate in the election (over 17.000 authenticated signatures were collected and packaged in the process). The campaign was an outstanding success, getting two independent candidates (external to both coalitions) into the Regional Council and making headlines on national newspapers, as the list received almost 4% of the votes (around 90.000 ballots in Piedmont, around 17.000 ballots in Turin).
Candidate President of the Province of Turin for Torino a 5 Stelle. I led the organization and communication of the entire campaign.
Co-founder of Torino a 5 Stelle, a local civic movement in the city of Turin connected with Beppe Grillo's blog.
Schools and certificates
Succesfully passes the State examination for professional Engineer qualification.
Premio Optime of Turin's Industrial Union for the best new graduates of the year.
Successfully passes the GMAT exam scoring 750/800.
Laurea in Ingegneria Elettronica (5-year-long Master of Science in Electronical Engineering) at the Politecnico di Torino with 110/110 points cum laude. Graduation thesis in Telecommunication Networks, titled "Analysis of cellular telecommunication networks for mobile users with queue network models".
Summer course in "Physics and Electronics at Cryogenic Temperatures" at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Copenhagen.
Scientific high school degree at the Liceo Scientifico C. Cattaneo in Torino, scoring 60/60 cum laude.
Conferences and public speaking
This is just a subset of my public appearances, listing some of the major events at which I was a speaker or panelist.
Incontro DevOps Italia 2020, virtual; I was the keynote speaker for the event, opening the conference with a talk on "Inside Hotel California: how the Internet giants dominate through culture and technology".
Internet Governance Forum Italia 2020, virtual; I was a panelist in the session on "Sovranità Digitale e Regolamentazione dei GAFAM: l'Italia dov'è?".
EuroDIG 2020, virtual; I chaired the session on "Should public policy priorities and requirements be included when designing Internet standards?" and was a panelist in the session on "DNS over HTTPS - What is it, and why should you care?".
FOSDEM 2020, ULB, Brussels; I gave a talk on "Open and federated identities with ID4me" in the Decentralized Identities devroom.
ISPA Policy Conference: What's next for DNS-over-HTTPS, BT Centre, London; in this special event organized by the UK's ISP association, I was one of the panelists in the final session.
OARC 31, Austin; I gave a presentation on "What's the DNS, anyway?".
Internet Governance Forum Italia 2019, Politecnico di Torino, Turin; I ran the session on "DNS-over-HTTPS: impatto su privacy, sicurezza e sovranità nazionale".
EuroDIG 2019, The Hague; I ran the session on "DNS over HTTPS - What is it, and why should you care?".
ICANN DNS Symposium 2019, Bangkok; I gave a talk on "The DoH dilemma".
ICANN 64, Kobe; during the DNSSEC Workshop, I gave a talk on "DNSSEC vs DNS-over-HTTPS: who do you trust?".
FOSDEM 2019, ULB, Brussels; I gave two talks in the DNS devroom, one on "DNS and the Internet's architecture: the DoH dilemma" and one on "ID4me: using the DNS as a directory for identities".
ICANN DNS Symposium 2018, Montreal; I gave a talk on "The DNS as a Directory for Identities".
OAuth Security Workshop 2018, Bruno Kessler Foundation, Trento; I presented a paper on "A fully distributed OpenID Connect deployment based on domain names: id4me - Challenges, lessons-learned and take-aways".
Regular attendee at the IETF, in working groups pertaining to DNS and email; every now and then, I also author Internet drafts and present them during the meetings.
Internet Governance Forum Italia 2017, University of Bologna, Bologna; I was a panelist in the session on "Internet e impresa, tra locale e globale".
Regular attendee at ICANN conferences, often presenting and being a panelist both in technical sessions (especially the DNSSEC Workshop) and in policy sessions.
Internet Governance Forum Italia 2016, Ca' Foscari University, Venice; I was a panelist or speaker in three different sessions (cybersecurity, international Internet Governance and national Internet Governance) and a rapporteur to the final plenary.
I was featured as a guest in Agorà, a two-hour talk show on the national public TV network Rai3.
La democrazia diretta vista da vicino, Circolo dei lettori, Turin; I introduced a book on participatory democracy and discussed its effects on Italian institutions.
Internet Governance Eco-System: il modello del Brasile, Camera dei Deputati, Rome; I was a scheduled speaker on the experience of the .it Policy Board.
Festival del Diritto, Piacenza; I was a panelist in the session "Uno vale uno? La politica in rete", upon personal invitation by professor Stefano Rodotà.
As part of the 2013 electoral campaign for Movimento 5 Stelle, I spoke in the main square of Turin in front of about 40'000 citizens and took part in several other public events.
I was featured as the main guest in Omnibus, a two-hour news program on the national TV network La7. I also appeared on another national TV program, Piazzapulita, and in several local TV programs before and after.
As part of the 2011 electoral campaign for Movimento 5 Stelle, I spoke in the main square of Turin in front of about 20'000 citizens, as well in several other public events, and I was interviewed by most major Italian television news programs (TG1, TG5, Sky News...) and by many other local TV and radio networks.
Internet figlia di NN, Hotel Brun, Milan; organized by MIX (the main Internet exchange point in Italy) as part of the celebrations for its tenth anniversary, the panel of which I was part discussed the issue of network neutrality and regulation; other panelists included commissioners of the European and Italian telecommunication regulators.
As part of the 2010 electoral campaign for Movimento 5 Stelle, I spoke in the squares of several cities in front of audiences ranging from a few hundred to over 20.000 people. My speeches were especially praised and made widely available in video over the Internet.
Free Culture Forum, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona; I was a panelist in the workshop entitled "Organizational Logic and Political Implications of Free Culture".
Internet Governance Forum Italia 2009, CNR, Pisa; organized by Ministero della Pubblica Amministrazione e dell'Innovazione and Società Internet; I chaired the final session on the future of the Italian IGF and participated in other sessions.
San Rossore 2009, Tenuta di San Rossore, Pisa; a high-level yearly conference organized by Regione Toscana under the auspices of the President of the Republic; I was a panelist on "Libertà e diritti nella Rete del Futuro".
"I incontro nazionale delle liste a 5 stelle", Saschall, Firenze; organized by Beppe Grillo; I was a speaker with a presentation entitled "Per un rinascimento della politica" ("For the renaissance of politics"), dealing with the risks and advantages of the new forms of politics enabled by the Internet. The presentation was possibly the most appreciated in the entire afternoon.
"Sciences en société", Palais d'Iéna, Paris; organized by MURS, CNRS and the French Ministry of University and Research as part of the events for the French Presidency of the European Union; I was a panelist in the ICT workshop, with a presentation on "Flatter power for a world of peers".
Internet Governance Forum Italia 2008, Manifattura Tabacchi, Cagliari; organized by Regione Sardegna, Ministero della Pubblica Amministrazione e dell'Innovazione, and Società Internet; I chaired the session on "Openness" (Internet freedoms, rights and free content) and reported on it to the plenary.
iSummit 2008, Sapporo; organized by iCommons (Creative Commons); speaker in the session on the Internet Bill of Rights (Internet and politics).
"Verso la costituzione dell'IGF Italia", CNR, Roma; organized by Società Internet; I chaired the afternoon session.
"Safeguarding young people in the Internet and mobile age", Smart Village, Il Cairo; organized by the Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement; speaker in the "Assuming Responsibility and Planning for Action" panel.
Internet Governance Forum 2007, Rio de Janeiro; panelist in the "Emerging issues" plenary session; Chairman of the "Internet Bill of Rights" workshop.
"Dialogue Forum on Internet Rights", Sala Protomoteca del Campidoglio, Roma; organized by the Ministry for Reforms and Innovation in Public Administration, Italy; I chaired the afternoon discussion session and presented a Chairman's summary.
"Ethics and human rights in the information society", Council of Europe, Strasbourg; organized by the French Commission for UNESCO; I presented a paper entitled "Evolving rights and duties for a society of freer expression".
"Networked Politics - Rethinking political organisation in an age of movements and networks", Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin; organized by the Networked Politics Research Caucus; I presented a paper entitled "A new beast in Globaltown".
"Open Standards International Symposium", Yale University, New Haven; organized by the Information Society Project, Yale University; I presented a paper entitled "The age of mass standards".
Internet Governance Forum 2006, Athens; Chairman of the "Internet Bill of Rights" workshop.
"Stati generali dell'innovazione italiana", Università La Sapienza, Roma; I presented a paper entitled "L'innovazione necessaria".
"Workshop on Internet Governance", ITU, Geneva; organized by the International Telecommunications Union; I presented a paper entitled "End user involvement in Internet Governance: why and how".
"Cultural and Social Impact of Mobile Technologies", side event at the World Summit on Information Society, Geneva; organized by GLOCOM, Tokyo; I introduced a presentation entitled "Value-added services on GSM networks - Impact on consumers, impact on workers".
"Workshop on Member States' experiences with ccTLDs", ITU, Geneva; organized by the International Telecommunications Union; I presented a paper entitled "A user's point of view on international and national Internet governance".
Regular attendee at ICANN conferences, usually with speaker or moderator roles in workshops and panels.
This is a summary of my publications - more documents and electronic papers can be found in the online writings archive of my website.
V. Bertola, G. Casaleggio, "Sei domande sulla e-democracy", in "E-democracy", edited by G. Giunchi, J. Marino, S. Trumpy, Società Internet, Pisa.
V. Bertola, "Power and the Internet", in "Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society", Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 323-337, Emerald Publishing, Bingley.
V. Bertola, "Una visione globale della neutralità della rete", in "Rete Internet: Le sfide di oggi le prospettive di domani", edited by L. Abba, A. Berni, Società Internet, Pisa.
Micro-essay and photo featured in J. Ito, "FREESOULS: captured and Released by JOI ITO", freesouls.cc, Taipei.
V. Bertola, "Resoconto sul workshop sulla Carta dei Diritti di Internet", in "Verso la costituzione dell'Internet Governance Forum Italia", edited by L. Abba, Società Internet, Pisa.
V. Bertola, "La governance di Internet: situazione e prospettive", in "Aspetti della società dell'informazione nell'era globale", Servizio Studi del Senato della Repubblica, Roma.
V. Bertola, "Oversight and multiple root server systems", in "Reforming Internet Governance: Perspectives from the Working Group on Internet Governance", edited by W. J. Drake, United Nations Press, New York.
V. Bertola, "La governance multi-stakeholder della rete", in "Futuro della gestione internazionale di Internet", edited by L. Abba, Società Internet, Pisa.
Author of an online guide in various parts about Web site programming and creation, for Polymath ICT.
Author of technical articles for several Italian magazines (Login and Dev by Edizioni Infomedia, Creative by Edizioni Creative).
V. Bertola, "Tutto quello che avreste sempre voluto sapere su Internet", Editrice IPM, Milano.
Editor and main writer of PoliNews, the internal newsletter of the Politecnico di Torino.
V. Bertola, "Internet & Computing Italian FAQ", e-book (http://bertola.eu.org/icfaq/); it is an Internet user's guide which had twelve editions and was used as textbook in many Italian schools and Universities.
Founder and Secretary of ADAM, a non-profit association dealing with cultural and informational activities about Japanese animation series and movies.
Member of the Board of Directors, of the Budget Committee of the Board, of the Faculty Council of the 1st Engineering Faculty and of other internal bodies of Politecnico di Torino, as students' representative. I dealt specifically with allocating funds for projects oriented to students and student services, including verifying their implementation.
Founder and member of Associazione La Sveglia, a University students' group that organized several events and services inside Politecnico di Torino, and repeatedly won elections for the internal bodies of the University.
Founder and maintainer of the FAQ Archive of the Italian Usenet newsgroups.
Vice-Chairman of the Comitato Paritetico per la Didattica (a students-professors Committee for the evaluation of teaching quality) of Politecnico di Torino. I dealt with creating and implementing final tests to check the quality of all the courses of the University.
Amateur keyboard player in rock bands and non-professional musicals.
Languages (Europass grid)
C2 (mother tongue)
B1 (reading); A2 (listening, spoken interaction); A1 (writing, spoken production)
A2 (reading, listening, spoken interaction); A1 (writing, spoken production)
B1 (reading); A2 (listening, spoken interaction, writing); A1 (spoken production)