[discuss] Ambiguity is the enemy of the Internet governance debate [Was: we need to fix what may be broken]

Alejandro Pisanty apisanty at gmail.com
Thu Apr 17 22:40:50 UTC 2014

Joseph, all,

exactly the point IMO.

Further damage is done by conflating a large number of issues as "Internet
governance": people lose sight of the actual, specific Internet aspects of
the problem at hand. Conflation brings obfuscation.

this is understood among experienced practitioners in many fields. For
example in "cybercrime" there is an extreme position that states that there
is actually no such thing as cybercrime; only crime committed through or
against "cyber" assets or media. Phishing is but fraud, online sale of
child abuse is only child abuse, and so on.

The conduct of representing oneself as a bank and abusing the credibility
of its image for obtaining resources through this impersonation is simply
impersonation and fraud; the conduct that produces images of sexual abuse
of children is sexual abuse of children. The Internet specifics have to do
with amplification, crossing jurisdictional borders, obfuscation and
hiding, and thus in some jurisdictions make the crime worth a heavier

Fiddling with the technical infrastructure may help block some attacks (a
worthy goal in most cases) but most valuable is the ability to use traces
for forensics which, if and when well done and appicable, may actually help
convict criminals. The crimes remain crimes. In child abuse you have the
quintessential unijurisdictional crime: victim, perpetrator, media, motive,
location, all are under the nose of the same (possibly bribed) law
enforcement agency; they are breaking not only the same national laws but
even the same county ordinances.

I remember explaining this to authorties which were establishing a
cyber-police force in 2000 and it was already old hat (and it helped a lot
to focus their efforts appropriately.)

Same analysis applies to many other "hot" issues of today - what has
Internet governance to do with cellphone wiretapping? That is fully
regulated in telephony governance (nationally by law and law-breaking
law-enforcement agencies, internationally under the ITRs deposited in the


Alejandro Pisanty

On Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 4:54 PM, joseph alhadeff <joseph.alhadeff at oracle.com
> wrote:

> Kudos on a very interesting and informative discussion.
> As we look at what some have called the governance on the Internet or what
> you have termed Cluster 2 issues, I wonder if these aren't just societal
> issues of which the Internet is a seamless facet of those issues?  Can we
> really delineate these issues as being online as opposed to societal?  If
> we recognize that there is a societal issue on a specific topic, we can
> look to how to address that issue in online environments, but that is
> different than calling it an online issue...
> Best-
> Joe
> On 4/17/2014 5:37 PM, Shatan, Gregory S. wrote:
>> This is a wise post.  I would only add (consistent with my earlier email)
>> that "Class 2" problems may only be IG problems to the extent they are
>> particular to the Internet or that the Internet raises peculiar solutional
>> challenges.
>> Greg
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On
>> Behalf Of George Sadowsky
>> Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 5:16 PM
>> To: Dr. Ben Fuller
>> Cc: discuss at 1net.org
>> Subject: [discuss] Ambiguity is the enemy of the Internet governance
>> debate [Was: we need to fix what may be broken]
>> Ben,
>> I think that you are absolutely right. When Internet governance was first
>> defined in a UN context by the Working Group on Internet Governance in
>> 2004, there was significant discussion and it took awhile to get agreement.
>>  There was in fact a short definition that won, and a longer definition and
>> a much longer report that I believe was essentially a minority report.
>> The problem with the short definition, was that in order to gain
>> acceptance, it was a compromise, and in order to get to the point of
>> compromise, the text was reduced to the level at which people could agree.
>>  This is sometimes called a lowest common denominator solution.
>> Now politicians and diplomats often refer to this as ‘constructive
>> ambiguity.’  The term implies that the wording of the agreement is
>> sufficiently vague that proponents of different opinions can all go home
>> and, each interpreting the ambiguous text in a manner consistent with their
>> position, can claim victory.  In some political and diplomatic contexts,
>> that exercise may have some merit, but in the context of operation of
>> indicate technical systems, it can be destructive.
>> In particular, people’s inability to dissect what Internet governance is,
>> and to differentiate between various things that are sloppily called
>> Internet governance, is badly hurting not only conversations on this list.
>> Our inability or unwillingness to be analytical rather than jingoistic
>> about Internet governance threatens significantly the success of Net
>> Mundial.  The current paper, planned as a draft of the conclusions of the
>> meeting, refers to Internet governance many times, yet never defines what
>> it means for the purpose of this particular discussion.  And then, in the
>> various statements about Internet governance, is is often not possible to
>> understand specifically what part of Internet governance, or what actors
>> are targeted by the statements and by the recommendations.
>> Ambiguity has invaded this document, with the result that clarity of
>> intent is missing.  it could be characterized as Non-constructive
>> ambiguity.   That leads different stakeholder groups to make assumptions of
>> what is meant, sometimes out of self-justification, and sometimes out of
>> fear by a group regarding how other stakeholder groups interpret this text
>> as it applies to that group.  In essence, ambiguity has become the enemy,
>> serving to block a clear understanding of what people mean.
>> It is my sense, as you can see from previous postings, that all of the
>> stakeholder groups have much more to gain by working together than by
>> attacking each others’ position.  We have a lot more in common than what
>> separates us.  My earlier example is that many if not most of the technical
>> community finds no fault in and is sympathetic with a large majority of
>> positions taken by civil society organizations.  When I read the points
>> clearly introduced by civil society, I find myself saying, “yes, … yes, …
>> OK … .”   The reciprocal situation may be the same, I don’t know for sure.
>>  What I do know is that unless we can talk with each other clearly and
>> precisely about what is really of fundamental importance to us and why,
>> with reasoned discussion, then we will continue to swim in this swamp of
>> ambiguity and argue past each other to no benefit for anyone.
>> Ben, that’s why your argument above makes a lot of sense.
>> At present, we have people enumerating ‘Internet governance problems.”
>>  These problems are all over the map, and they are characterized as
>> internet Governance problems, as if there were a complaint window somewhere
>> with an “internet governance" sign above it, and somehow the people behind
>> the window have the obligation to take each problem and do something with
>> it.  At the technical level, the system of administering the Internet, as
>> well as slightly related systems of, for example, writing and vetting open
>> source software, are complex, intertwined, represent a melange of technical
>> cultures, and operate under very different professional and monetary reward
>> systems.  There is no one window to which to bring concerns; there are
>> hundreds of such windows.
>> The best place to address a problem is as close to the area that caused
>> it as you can get.  I think that is called the principle of subsidiarity.
>>  When a problem arises, one of the most effective things to do is to ask,
>> “whose problem is this?”  If that question can be answered correctly, then
>> you are well on your way to dressing the problem effectively.
>> The current Net Mundial document does not begin to do this effectively.
>> I propose that we cluster issues in Internet governance into two main
>> clusters:
>> 1. issues that primarily or totally concerned with the technical
>> operation of the Internet, including communications infrastructure
>> management, standards setting and adoption, and identifier management.
>> 2. issues that concern use of and behavior on the Internet that is of
>> public interest and concern, such as consular protection, privacy,
>> confidentiality, cybercrime and the like.  This is clearly not an
>> exhaustive list
>> Now the description of the above groupings can be refined, and there are
>> clearly some links and overlaps, but they are IMO less important than
>> recognizing that the two clusters contain problems that have fundamentally
>> different character and belong to fundamentally different organizations an
>> processes.
>> Should we give them names that are descriptive, so we can identify easily
>> what we are taking about. My first attempts are (not very good, but it’s a
>> start):
>> 1. Internet administrative collaboration and operation (ICAO, with
>> apologies to civil aviation) 2. Internet governance of societal issues
>>  (IGSI)
>> Or we could just call them class 1 or class 2, or differentiate them by
>> color, really anything useful to disambiguate them.  Maybe there are other
>> classes of issues that exist; we’ll try to recognize them as they appear.
>> Please give some thought to this argument for clarifying the term
>> “Internet governance” into manageable digestible chunks that can help us
>> understand and solve the problems with which we are faced.
>> George
>> On Apr 17, 2014, at 4:16 PM, Dr. Ben Fuller <ben at fuller.na> wrote:
>>  George,
>>> Thanks to Bertrand de la Chapelle for coming up with the idea and you
>>> for expanding on it. I hope someone is taking notes ...  Internet
>>> Governance needs to focus on both governance of the Internet and governance
>>> on the Internet with a lot of attention paid to where, when and how these
>>> two areas interact.
>>> We know a lot about governance of the Internet, IETF, IAB ICANN and
>>> others make certain that the packets get to where they are supposed to get
>>> as efficiently as possible (over simplifying here). Governance on the
>>> Internet can include matters like security, Angela Merkel's phone,
>>> censorship, murder, crime. We on this list may not know much about the ins
>>> and outs of these issues, but there are lots people out there who do. It is
>>> more a matter of linking up with them and learning a bit about their
>>> concerns, modes of operation, and the role, if any, the Internet can be
>>> used to address their concerns.
>>>  From my perspective these two areas will be largely two different sets
>>> of people with different sets of skills. There will also be two sets of
>>> organisations that are active in each area. It might even be useful to
>>> initially separate our discussions into one sphere or the other until each
>>> is developed enough to start thinking about how they operate in relation to
>>> each other. For me the fun and creative part will be to define and create
>>> the conditions for those inevitable and necessary times when these two sets
>>> must intersect.
>>> A useful way to go forward might be to look at governance of the
>>> Internet; governance on the Internet, and; when, why and how the
>>> intersections occur.
>>> Best,
>>> Ben
>>> On Apr 17, 2014, at 2:38 PM, George Sadowsky <george.sadowsky at gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>  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.
>>>> George
>>>> (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
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> **********************************************
>>> Dr. Ben Fuller
>>> +264-61-224470  (O)    +264-88-63-68-05 (F)
>>> ben at fuller.na             http://www.fuller.na
>>> skype: drbenfuller
>>> **********************************************
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