[discuss] [I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet governance?--

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Mon Jan 6 02:00:44 UTC 2014

Hi Bertrand,


Thanks for your very useful and important question
 Those aren’t my words or
my formulation and as you know this isn’t my area of interest or competence

However, a very distinguished group on a private email list concerned with
telecom/Internet policy matters has just concluded critically discussing
that (and associated) issues from our Declaration, at some considerable
length (250 or so emails in the string). I hope to be able to share an
edited version of that fascinating commentary with you folks and the Brazil
prep process by the end of the month. 


There is of course, also some debate/commentary on that within the Community
informatics community but this has been postponed until the current NomCom
and related “formalization” processes are concluded. But I’ll re-introduce
that for discussion within the community as soon as those are concluded,
probably by the end of this week.


(And by the by perhaps you could fill Milton in a bit on the Community
Informatics “foundation myth” since you were there at more or less the
beginning and it is largely your responsibility that I personally found my
way murkily into the pathways and byways of Internet Governance. I guess you
have a lot to answer for J


Best for the new year,




From: Bertrand de La Chapelle [mailto:n at gmail.com] 
Sent: Monday, January 06, 2014 5:52 AM
To: michael gurstein
Cc: Mike Roberts; discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] [I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet


Hi Michael,


Interesting Declaration by the Community Informatics. Could you elaborate on
the following concepts:


We aspire to an Internet effectively owned and controlled by the communities
that use it and to Internet ownership that evolves through communities
federated regionally, nationally and globally. (...) The access layer and
the higher layers of applications and content should be community owned and
controlled in a way that supports a rich ecology of commercial enterprises
subject to and serving community and public interests.


What do you concretely mean?







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On Sun, Jan 5, 2014 at 7:36 PM, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Mike,


And of course, I could be wrong, but my understanding of the task/desired
outcome of the Brazil meeting at least as articulated by Pres. Rousseff, was
a set of high level principles to govern (or perhaps better, orient the
governance) of the Internet
 i.e. in what directions should those who are or
may be in a position to have such impact, as for example through public
policy, be (attempting to) direct these developments


So, to go back to my initial point, following on from the Baack and Rossini
analysis, in what areas could/should there be “principles” developed which
aren’t being currently covered by the 20 or so statements of principles that
they reviewed in their work?


A few that I pointed out were:

                * how should the overall societal benefits being derived
from the Internet be distributed—so as to increase or decrease social and
economic inequality?

                * what should be the overall direction for the evolution of
the Internet—towards increasing centralization/concentration or towards
decentralization and empowerment at the edges; 

                * should there be interventions so as to reduce the
likelihood of the evolution of the Internet towards being the underlying
platform for a global “Surveillance State”

(the first two of which were prominent in either or both WSIS and the WGIG I
believe, but which evidently have fallen off the agenda for an artificially
narrowed (and dare I say ingrown) civil society


The Community Informatics community has adopted a Declaration
<http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/article/view/1099/1065>  which
attempts to address some of these. The 12 points listed there may not be
perfect but I/we believe they are rather more comprehensive and inclusive of
the interests of all of those impacted by the Internet either directly as
users or indirectly including those who are not yet or currently users than
the, dare I say “consensus” principles being artificially promoted here as
elsewhere, which overall are simply a reflection of an increasingly
unacceptable status quo.







From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf
Of Mike Roberts
Sent: Monday, January 06, 2014 12:21 AM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] [I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet


The arrival of each new generation of communications technology enables and
expands the power of various social, political and economic interests.  The
Internet is just the latest such arrival, although the conjunction of the
technology of moving bits with that of stored logic in computers has raised
the bar considerably on deus ex machina considerations.  Jousting occurs as
these interests attempt to reshape the landscape to fit their diverse
visions of a better future.


The Internet itself is amoral.  It neither advances nor retards human
activities except through the actions of its users (including those who use
the technology to provide services).  This list seems to be excessively
caught up in debate and value judgments over what humans are or are not
doing with use of Internet technology.   In the early days of ICANN, we used
to refer to this as special interest groups attempting to seize the ICANN
agenda for their own purposes, whatever they might be, including those who
favor a nihilistic "hands off the Internet" agenda.


Given the very limited sphere of potential influence of the Brazil meeting
on Internet evolution, it might be helpful to focus on a pragmatic
assessment of what outcomes of the meeting are feasible and useful and how
the list members might advance them, emphasis on feasible and useful.


- Mike



On Jan 5, 2014, at 6:15 AM, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net> wrote:


The issue Mike raises goes to the heart of the matter...

If the present phase (post-Snowden?) is about some real change in global
Internet governance, then it has to be of coming out of narrow ideologies
that the Internet and Internet governance remain stuck in..

After a very good start in the hands of early pioneers  of the Internet, the
original sin of course was committed when the US establishment characterised
the Internet's primary identity  as a global marketplace, which identity
forms the basic philosophy and rules of its current governance ... This
over-rode the primary role of the Internet in global community building,
social mediation, access to knowledge, p2p production models, and so on,
which certainly was a very political act if shrouded rather well in
'technical neutrality' and such things. 

Next layer of political clothing for the Internet came, a few years later,
as a narrow set of negative rights - mostly, just freedom of expression, no
doubt a very important right, but being just one out of many, and often
rather meaningless without the larger set of rights. This struggle of what
makes FoE meaningful was precisely the struggle that civil society did in
the form of communication rights movement, but all those advances seem to
have been simply rolled back, unfortunately even by much of IG related civil

Interestingly, the needs for an Internet for global extension of digital
trade, and, through digital networks, other forms of trade, seemed to share
a lot of points with the conception of an Internet for global freedom of
expression, and a very strong alliance of Internet free trade-ists and free
expression-ists got built, which has its good points, but very huge
limitations as well. Snowden spoiled this party a bit, but the alliance
seems rather resilient.... That is the political reality of the Internet
that we have right now. 

Well, to come back to Mike's point, if we have to make progress, we have to
come out of these safe and comfortable spaces. There is a huge world out
there, and the Internet is simply not serving its interests in its full
potential. In many ways, it can begin to make things worse for them, unless
the interests of disadvantaged people are specifically recognised and
articulated in IG spaces, and also judged as often being different from
those of the dominant classes. Such an exercise must be the most important
thing to do in this current phase of revisiting Internet governance. In
default, it would just be  a lot of window dressing, which dominant groups
are known to resort to whenever strong challenges to their domination
emerge. And that would be such a waste of everybody's time. 


On Sunday 05 January 2014 02:39 PM, michael gurstein wrote:

My apologies if this is a bit out of sequence
 I’m only now getting around
to reading the fascinating document that Alejandro and George pointed us
towards by Baak and Rossini.


And it is excellent and fascinating work. It is quite remarkable I think in
surfacing the pre-occupations and directions that have guided the Internet
Governance discussions including those on most lists, the IGF and even the
academic research.


One can only marvel at the strong measure of coherence and convergence that
the paper demonstrates so clearly and concisely.


But I must say I’m struck in reading that document by (as Sherlock Holmes
would say) the dogs that aren’t barking.


Where in the collection of themes/principles is there any reference to
(responding to) the distributional impact of the Internet—in terms of
wealth, power, position, influence; or where are there proposed principles
that deal with the increasing concentration/centralization of power that is
such a characteristic of the current Internet and away from what was a
fundamental element in the design of the Internet its decentralization,
distributed governance and control migrating to the edges; or (and of course
most of these documents are pre-Snowden), where is there any reference that
even hints at the rise of the Surveillance State and what if anything that
can/should be done about this.


So perhaps the convergence and coherence rather than something to be
celebrated should be seen as a problem to be addressed. 


Is this perhaps a reflection of a false and narrow, even artificial
consensus, among those proposing IG principles. Moreover is this “consensus”
something that can truly provide the range of principles that would respond
to Pres. Rousseff’s call to “harness the full potential of the Internet”
including in ensuring universality, diversity, democracy, development and
human rights in and through the Internet and its governance.




From: i-coordination-bounces at nro.net [mailto:i-coordination-bounces at nro.net]
On Behalf Of George Sadowsky
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 2:25 AM

To: Nigel Hickson
Cc: I-coordination at nro.net
Subject: Re: [I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet governance?
[Was: Europe at a tipping point?]


It really worth looking at the paper that Alejandro suggested:


in http://bestbits.net/wp-uploads/2013/10/ChartConceptNote_MB_CR.pdf
Jeonghyun Baak and Carolina Rossini present a compilation of principles (for
Internet freedom, mostly). They have also made public tables with a
detailes, issue-by-issue compilation of statements from a very broad set of
organizations. Very high quality work.





On Dec 17, 2013, at 2:01 PM, Nigel Hickson wrote:

Nick; great idea; we have some from OECD; Council of Europe and European
Commission. A coordinate input to Brazil would be great! 


From: Nick Ashton-Hart <nashton at ccianet.org>
Date: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:45 PM
To: William Drake <william.drake at uzh.ch>
Cc: "I-coordination at nro.net" <i-coordination at nro.net>
Subject: Re: [I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet governance?
[Was: Europe at a tipping point?]


To Bill’s point in the first instance it would be useful to identify those
principles that exist to date and their source and scope. Perhaps 1net could
host a wiki environment or the like where those with knowledge of one or
more could get a list together? 


On 17 Dec 2013, at 18:34, William Drake <william.drake at uzh.ch> wrote:

Hi George

On Dec 17, 2013, at 6:24 PM, George Sadowsky <george.sadowsky at gmail.com>



You say: "Do we really have nothing more important to be doing here at this
point than redefining the wheel as just a round thingy?  I thought this list
was supposed to be for coordination of multistakeholder dialogue on Sao
Paulo and beyond, but it seems to alternate between being a troll paradise
and the site of a lot of meandering debates on points that are generally
being addressed more systematically elsewhere.  Or am I alone in this


I agree that we need to address points systematically.  Can you provide a
list of systematic points (dare we call them issues?) that it would, in your
view, be useful to discuss?


Well, why not start with the question of principles?  The initiators of the
SP meeting have been saying from the outset they’d like to have a sort of
multistakeholder declaration of principles.  Presumably it’d be helpful if
1net participants were to provide some input on this, and presumably we’d
like it to be more than just nice fluffy words.  Why not discuss the range
of options to make this a useful exercise, and see where there’s
cross-stakeholder consensus and where there’s not?  It’s something concrete
that needs to be done, and they want input by 1 March.






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