[discuss] My current understanding of scope and why

Chris Disspain ceo at auda.org.au
Tue Jan 7 04:56:17 UTC 2014

Andrew + 1.


Chris Disspain | Chief Executive Officer
.au Domain Administration Ltd

On 07/01/2014, at 10:59 , Andrew Sullivan wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> Over the past couple weeks I have made rather a nuisance of myself, I
> think, in pressing certain questions like a crazed 5 year old asking,
> "Why?"  I want to thank you for your indulgence as I tried to
> understand. 
> In this note, I want to outline what I now believe to be the goal of
> this effort.  (You may have your own pictures of the goal of our
> activity.  This is mine.)  Absent corrections of this outline, I plan
> to use these principles for understanding what we are trying to do,
> how I (at least) should respond to certain kinds of questions, and
> what limits I should expect to be placed on the scope of activities
> from this group.  I welcome replies and comments, of course.  I gather
> there is some concern about the volume of mail to the list, so if you
> want to send me a response off list, I am prepared later to summarise
> such responses for the list.  If you want your remarks in that case
> _not_ to be acknowledged, please tell me.  Otherwise, I'll assume you
> want to be acknowledged.
> As always, I speak for myself; I'm participating here as an individual
> and not an IAB member or a representative of my employer.  I will, of
> course, use my own lens (outlined here) in discussion with my IAB
> colleagues and my employer when focussing on these topics, but they're
> wise enough to ignore me (or tell me I'm wrong) when I speak to them
> foolishly.
> 1.  The goal of this activity
>    The goal of 1net is not necessarily to create new institutions,
>    nor even to create the founding conditions for any new
>    institution.  It is instead to provide a forum in which the
>    interplay of various institutional relationships may happen.  One
>    result of this is possibly the discovery of a scope for new
>    institutional relationships.  This could take the form of
>    determining that a given topic correctly belongs in the scope of
>    some existing institution we have, or could take the form of
>    determining that a new institution of some sort is in fact
>    necessary.
> 2.  On the meaning of Internet governance
>    "Internet governance" is an enormous topic that links together
>    diverse topics, which may not in themselves obviously fit in the
>    same discussion.  What links them is the technical impingement of
>    the Internet upon them.  To those who are technically minded, this
>    may seem to be a hodgepodge category, because it is plain that
>    the technical implications of (say) international trade in child
>    pornography and (say) the details of how ranges of addresses are
>    allocated to RIRs are at best distantly related.  Nevertheless, if
>    only by virtue of these topics having been treated under the same
>    rubric for some time, it is necessary to engage across all these
>    issues.  At the same time, it is beneficial to make clear,
>    well-delineated distinctions as we go, in order not to muddle
>    topics that can properly be treated distinctly.  By way of
>    analogy, local schools and the department of national defence may
>    both be "government activities", but they are plainly different
>    divisions.
>    Governance need not entail a new overarching role for governments,
>    and the thing to be governed need not be controversial.  For
>    instance, the mere fact of decision-making about IP address
>    allocations to RIRs is a kind of governance.  It is small and it
>    really only needs some reasonably fair if possibly arbitrary
>    convention to which everyone can subscribe.  This is not like a
>    large and controversial topic (such as, say, child protection on
>    the Internet), which may also involve a kind of "governance".
>    Many of these simpler cases may in fact ne adequately governed
>    already, and the main need may be to communicate what that
>    governance is and show it is adequate.  Of course, in such
>    discussions, we may discover that such governance actually is
>    inadequate after all.
> 3.  On the need for this exploration
>    There are three reasons that existing forums and institutions are
>    inadequate to the purposes of our activity.  One is that it is
>    nearly impossible for someone unfamiliar with the various topics
>    to learn how they relate to each other or even where a given topic
>    may already be treated.  We can function as a clearing house for
>    such questions, hooking interested parties into existing
>    structures that already treat the issue of interest.
>    A second is that trust in both the technology and in the good
>    faith of existing institutions has been shaken by some reported
>    actions in recent history.  Only by facing such behaviour and
>    discussing what can be done can any trust be restored.  When
>    facing those facts, we must acknowledge that the answer might be,
>    "Nothing can be done.  To make this better would require that no
>    bad people exist, that perfect knowledge was universal, and that
>    sovereign states will have to give up chunks of sovereignty."  It
>    is the discussion in an open forum of many actors that is at least
>    as important as the outcome.
>    A third is that everyone acknowledges that there have been "orphan
>    issues" even in the narrowest meaning of Internet governance.
>    This activity provides an opportunity to uncover these gaps and
>    either identify where those orphans fit, or to identify new
>    institutions that should be created.  
>    In general, we could say that our activity functions as a
>    facilitator for the "tussle" necessary for continued global
>    scaling of the Internet, without the creation of global or local
>    hegemons, and in service of the minimization of any perceived
>    existing threat from hegemony.  In the end, we hope to converge on
>    something that most people, including people of very different
>    backgrounds and interests, will agree is legitimate even if
>    imperfect.  We do not seek merely something that is effective.  We
>    do not aspire to universal happiness, but we do aspire to wide
>    acceptance across different types of interests and experiences.
> Acknowledgements
>    I particularly want to thank Brian Carpenter, John Curran, Avri
>    Doria, Jeremy Malcolm, Milton Mueller, Suzanne Woolf, and some
>    people who contacted me only off-list (and who, I therefore
>    assume, don't want to be associated with the public debate) for
>    detailed remarks that helped inform my thinking.
> Best regards,
> A
> -- 
> Andrew Sullivan
> ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
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