[discuss] What is MSism?

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at cis-india.org
Wed Apr 16 08:20:38 UTC 2014

Dear Alejandro,
Thank you for your detailed comment.  My responses are inline.

Alejandro Pisanty <apisanty at gmail.com> [2014-04-15 18:34:14 -0500]:
> the IETF makes no distinction for participation or leadership based on
> whether participants work in businesses, government-run research
> laboratories, academic institutions (in turn, private or public.) This has
> been explained in detail.

I just want to note that have known this for years, and understand this 
quite well.  It is not for a want of knowledge that I am harping on this.

I seem not to be making my point well (so let me repeat my previous 
mails in different language): that the IETF, until recently, has never 
called itself "multistakeholder" (while it has referred to ICANN as 
"multi-stakeholder").  In the absence of stakeholder groups, the usage 
of the word "multistakeholder" is a bit strange.

If one traces the history of the word "multi-stakeholder", as I have 
been in the course of my research, it's been used in setting where 
governmental or intergovernmental processes are going beyond the public 
sector and involving the private sector as well.  If you have any 
citations for the usage of that word to refer to open processes like 
IETF's, that would be much appreciated.  (I'll provide a special mention 
in the paper I'm working on, if that's an incentive :)

> The ITU has a formal structure in which its highest decision-making body,
> able for example to change the Constitution and elect the leadership, is
> made up of governments only.
> It distinguishes between governments and sector members. Sector members are
> almost exclusively companies, with pockets deep enough to pay at least
> 65,000 Swiss Francs a year (they may buy more seats.)

On fees:

As you note, ISOC is a full sector member, as are AfriNIC, APNIC, ARIN, 
RIPE NCC, and the Internet Systems Consortium.  The Centre for Internet 
and Society, one of the organizations I'm affiliated with, is a sector 
member.  Consumers International, the DAISY Consortium, and other 
influential civil society bodies.  Of course it is mostly corporations. 
  But I would argue that the largest amount of representation in ICANN 
is that of corporations.

Are there many in the Internet "technical community" whose participation 
is funded by the public sector / non-profit sector?  There are from my 
reckoning, but mostly from academia (both publicly-funded and 
privately-funded, as you note).  (ISOC's a non-profit, as is PIR -- 
ISOC, according to Brian Carpenter is a civil society org, not 
'technical community'.)  Sure there are many who participate in the 
"technical community" only in the spare time, but I'd love to find some 
actual numbers.  Has there ever been a survey in this regard?  In many 
of the free / open source software communities of which I'm part, the 
participation tends to be very mixed, especially in the larger ones.  As 
is well documented, the Linux kernel's development is mostly 

>The rest of the
> sector members are almost exclusively trade associations of the same
> companies, i.e. they get double dips.

How is this not true of the business community and the technical 
community in IG in general, especially if the "technical community" is 
limited, as S. Moonesamy highlights in one of his recent mails, to the 
community that does protocol-and-parameters work, and presumably DNS 
registries and registrars and those who provide tech support for those. 
  (He seems to exclude OpenSSL devs from the technical community, even 
though some OpenSSL devs take part in the IETF process.)

>Individuals are not welcome.

Would you say that being open to individuals is a requirement in being 
"multi-stakeholder"?  (As an aside, the submissions process for IGF does 
not list "individual" as one of the categories in its drop-down box, nor 
does, IIRC, the MAG for the IGF.  Incidentally, it doesn't list 
"multi-stakeholder" either, so folks from ICANN, like Nigel Hickson are 
required to fit themselves into a stakeholder category.)

>Many sessions are closed.
> Documents are not freely available (locked behind "TIES" accounts) so no
> external accountability is possible. There are a few more details but they
> don't substantially change this picture.

These are excellent points.  So would you argue that the 360 degree 
reviews that are done in ICANN also ought to be public documents?  Also, 
see my comment below about RFC 6852.

> That is why most people who have followed broad participatory processes
> consider the claim that the ITU is "multistakeholder" hollow.
> As far as I understand Reddit and Wikipedia don't make decisions that
> determine others' conduct or resources in an equivalent way so that part of
> the argument may be less relevant.

I don't understand this point.  Are only processes that have strong 
externalities on other entities' conduct qualified to be seen as 
multistakeholder?  I've never seen this in any definition I've come 
across, so would you have any citations?

Imagine if no one followed IETF's recommendations, it would cease to be 
a multistakeholder body?

>They provide valuable services but are
> not technical coordination bodies.

Similarly, are only technical coordination bodies fit to use the label 
'multistakeholder'?  Conversely, why don't IETF, IAB, IEEE-SA, W3C, and 
ISOC think 'multistakeholder processes' is an important component of the 
modern paradigm for standards as encapsulated in RFC 6852?  They instead 
use the word "openness".  Are "openness" and "multistakeholder 
processes" equivalent?

>Plus, to the best of my knowledge, they
> also don't make strong distinctions based on this kind of stakeholder
> classification.

Wikipedia's governance seems to embody all aspects of the Open-Stand 
principles, as does the IETF, and both are bottom-up processes.   Yet 
we're insisting on calling one multi-stakeholder but not the other.

Pranesh Prakash
Policy Director, Centre for Internet and Society
T: +91 80 40926283 | W: http://cis-india.org
Access to Knowledge Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
M: +1 520 314 7147 | W: http://yaleisp.org
PGP ID: 0x1D5C5F07 | Twitter: https://twitter.com/pranesh_prakash

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