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

Brian E Carpenter brian.e.carpenter at gmail.com
Thu Apr 17 23:07:09 UTC 2014

I have to say +1; this is exactly the point I've been trying to
make for a while now.


On 18/04/2014 10:40, Alejandro Pisanty wrote:
> 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
> penalty.
> 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
> ITU.)
> Yours,
> 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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