[discuss] we need to fix what may be broken

George Sadowsky george.sadowsky at gmail.com
Thu Apr 17 13:38:14 UTC 2014

Hi, Carlos,

I think that we may be talking across each other.  I am still sort of a techie, although my skills are more of the 20th century than of the 21st.  But I ally myself with both the technical community and civil society; I’ve worked in both fields, and I see the merits of both.

I consider freedom of expression very important.  I don’t argue for complete freedom of expression; neither do the Europeans, and the Americans do not permit you to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater.  However, nearly complete freedom of expression, if aI can label it that, is a precious freedom, and I support it.  

In your example, of a blogger murdered by order of a politician, how would your stand on free expression be different if it were a newspaper reporter, murdered by a politician, for exactly the same content.  I think that you would be equally angry, and so would I.  the point is that the Internet is not implicated in your example, just as the newspaper  is not implicate in my rewrite of your example.

Bertrand de la Chapelle said it best at the NCUC meeting in Singapore.  He said, ‘let’s differentiate between governance of the Internet and governance on the Internet."  It’s my belief that the vast majority of the technical community is in signifiant agreement with most members of civil society with respect to issues regarding governance on the Internet.  After all, we are all inhabitants of the planet, and we want common freedoms and liberties.

Where I think we cross paths is that the technical community sees these concerns crossing over into governance of the Internet, hoping that we subject the governance to increased control of some sort, problems of society on the Internet will be ameliorated. If so, we should be equally concerned about governance of the newspaper industry, governance of the content of school textbooks, and governance of the industry that publishes books — clearly a dangerous medium of communication.  

We are concerned because we have something that works as a technical instrument to distribute information from anyone to anyone.  Barring the interference of governments that are sovereign in their space (conveniently forgetting Ukraine for the moment), this distributed architecture and the hundreds of thousands of technical people that support it operationally — in the small and in the large — has scaled massively and works as well or better than any other knowledge distribution channel that the world has ever seen.  We do not want it compromised by having it managed by people who do not understand it, and we do not want it blamed for societal issues that mistakenly imply that the basic management of the Internet is culpable for the problems of society.

The technical community is responsive to the needs of society.  Improvements in research and education were one of the primary motivators to build and extend the network. The technical community was in large part responsible for organizational innovations such as the meritocracy-based standards approach pioneered in the IETF, which has been extraordinarily successful.  Members of the technical community are generally supportive of much of what representatives of civil society causes are espousing at Net Mundial.  I believe that we are generally very much in favor of your calls for free expression and human rights; we would like to see those calls succeed.  And, to the extent that they are consistent with the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet, with your help we can improve the services that the Internet provides.

Bet, let’s not create, even in our minds, artificial barriers to understanding, in both directions, even in our minds.

(speaking solely on my own behalf, as always in this discussion spar)


On Apr 17, 2014, at 7:16 AM, Carlos A. Afonso <ca at cafonso.ca> wrote:

> In the same vein, a blogger is murdered by order of a politician, it is
> not per se a theme of Internet governance -- but freedom of expression is.
> The point is: I am not saying that specific events are per se themes of
> Internet governance, and you may continue to build a near infinite list
> of events ending with the same phrase or question.
> My point is that the events I quoted reveal that international
> coordination related to the development, operation and maintenance of
> the net need a lot of improvement and more efficacy. Like killing
> bloggers is an indication that we need to strongly advocate for the
> universalization of freedom of expression.
> I find it amazing that some brillant techies cannot perceive that, or
> worse, that they see any diagnostics like mine as threats to the
> wonderful work they do (and it is indeed wonderful, but still the
> coordination of the "grand scheme of things" is faulty, needs
> significant improvement, it is a very relevant component of IG which
> needs to be discussed and advanced).
> fraternal regards
> --c.a.
> On 04/17/2014 01:41 AM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
>> In a word, none of those issues are Internet governance.
>> How, for example, is the USA bugging Angela Merkel's cell phone
>> anything to do with Internet governance? How is the NSA snagging
>> and analysing billions of email headers a defect in Internet governance?
>> Sounds like a problem with NSA governance to me. Was it an error in
>> telegraph cable governance that led to the Zimmermann telegram incident
>> in 1917?
>> I could continue but I won't. This business is complex enough without
>> dragging in irrelevant problems.
>> Regards
>>   Brian
>> On 17/04/2014 11:43, Andrew Sullivan wrote:
>>> Apologies for the top post, but this will be illegible if I try to interleave from my phone. 
>>> I would like to know why "governance" in particular is the answer to even one of these problems.  
>>> The OpenSSL case is a good example.  People have freeloaded on that project for years, offering it precious little support while leaving security auditing and cryptanalysis for "someone else".  If you think that trash in your neighborhood park is a problem, the answer is not to form a committee. The answer is to make like Pete Seeger and pick up some trash. 
>>> Yahoo's DMARC decision is another good example.  That is a service supported mostly by advertising. Don't like what they're doing?  Organize a boycott.  That'll change things. Ask Mozilla. 
>>> IPv6 is indeed a problem, and I will not defend the series of decisions that got us here (though it's trickier than many seem to imagine). But actually, in my experience, v6 just works now.  I use it all the time.  It's not a "governance" problem, but an economics problem. 
>>> And it seems to me that there we arrive at the issue: this is about who's going to pay. That's very well, but I don't see why it's "Internet governance".
>>> Best regards,
>>> A

More information about the discuss mailing list