[discuss] Why oversight? (was Re: Opportunity for input on the development process forIANAoversight transition plan)

John Curran jcurran at istaff.org
Wed Apr 2 18:23:10 UTC 2014

On Apr 2, 2014, at 5:47 AM, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net> wrote:

> In this attempt to appropriately address the current 'constitutional moment' with regard to the technical/operational governance of the Internet , we may need to employ some political concepts and corresponding 'political fictions' . In that sense, though no one at present delegates technical standards making role to the IETF (although it is delegated by the US gov in the case of ICANN), it is normally accepted that technical functions of public importance, although often undertaken by expert technical bodies, must be subject to larger public oversight through appropriate institutional forms. It is in this sense that the political/ public administration concept of 'delegated authority' was used by me, which is admittedly fictional in the present context (it is simply hoped/ imagined that IETF does its work as per wider public interest, and per the public policies developed to that effect).

  Fiction indeed.

> The fact that, using the new Internet context, IETF crowd-sources expertise in a very effective way, which enables it to undertaken its technical functions in a much better manner, does not obviate the need for public oversight. Expertise of whatever kind does not replace political legitimacy, and we know, and, Stephen, you will agree, that IETF almost exclusively deals with expertise and technical merit.

  Neither IETF nor the operators of its parameter registries (ICANN, RIRs)
  displace political authority or legitimacy.  On the other hand, I do not 
  concur that the activities of these groups require political validation 
  in any form; they deal with the publication of standards and registry 
  information; these publications are voluntarily followed by those who 
  find value in doing so, just as some find value in following a particular
  technical standard in automobile manufacturing, or a book regarding how to
  worship in a particular religion.

  There may be a small number of cases where the standards and associated 
  registries intersect with well established global norms (e.g. regarding
  privacy of personally identifiable information), but those cases should
  be few and far between, and easily accommodated when technical standards
  or accompanying registry policy is developed by having good liaisons with
  governments, so they can be aware of the potential developments and offer
  potential intersections for consideration, just as other participants in
  the registry policy development process do.

  If indeed there is a need for actual regulation due to clear global scope
  consensus on a public policy matter, then so be it, but recognize that 
  such actions do not require nor constitute "oversight" of the technical 
  administration of the registry or its users, but simply lawmaking just
  as it occurs today.  Such activities are anchored in existing authority
  that governments claim today, and standards organizations and industries
  develop relations with the governments for efficiency of communications;
  this is very different than the structural linkage that you keep trying
  to create between the Internet technical bodies and your often proposed 
  "Internet Political Oversight" body.


Disclaimer: My views alone - not cleared by any Internet Political Oversight body.

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