[discuss] [governance] RE: FW: Comcast undertakes 9 year IETF cosponsorship!?

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Sun Mar 23 05:47:54 UTC 2014


We may be in a hurry to pack off all canons of democratic politics, and 
of public institutions, but I dont think one has to be so surprised 
about, and pooh pooh, propositions that any organisation that becomes 
substantially involved with public governance must be insulated from 
private funding. Or would you suggest that you find it fine if you come 
to know that private companies are financing US Congressional committees 
and so on? More inline...

On Sunday 23 March 2014 05:50 AM, Lee W McKnight wrote:
> Ok Michael,
> I will take the bait; I see no problem from a global Internet governance view.
> It is normal/acceptable practice for technical standards bodies to - meet.
> Someone/some firms helping cover those costs is also - 100% normal.

No, not normal. especially if a particular standards body (1) makes 
decisions that are very  crucial to public interest, and (2) have no 
'public' oversight mechanism which itself could be ensured to be fully 
independent of private funding..... And IETF qualifies by both criteria.
> One might surmise a firm agreeing to contribute to the costs - has an interest in the topics under discussion - or at least a couple of them.

Yes, almost always.
> And this is news? Somehow controversial?

Extremely controversial - to finance in such manner a public forum 
taking decisions which implicates the financing party. A basic and well 
known principle of democratic policy and public life.
> Finally,and I hate being put in the position to have to defend the - dominant (~30% market share) cable provider in the US, but it's not Comcast's fault that the FCC implemented policies without the requisite legislative authority, according to the courts not once but multiple times. One might blame the FCC, or Congress, but the winning side in repeated court actions usually is seen as having been the aggrieved party. Which in this case, cough, more often than not was Comcast.

Maybe you consider it entirely innocent of Comcast that the FCC guy who 
allowed one of the largest corporate mergers in favour of Comcast joined 
Comcast a few months later 
Not many others do. But we have our predilections.
> As Stephen noted, noone is suggesting Comcast are angels; but the leap from Comcast attempting to garner (perhaps) some goodwill by kicking into cover some of the costs to cries of foul play is a pretty long leap.

Is it? In that case, i reckon you would see nothing wrong in Monsanto 
financing the sittings of Congressional committees on agriculture, just 
to garner some goodwill ... I will really like to know your response to 
> Or maybe, as a major broadband provider, Comcast is just acting like any number of other companies with interest in standards processes and supporting the process.

Yes, they are acting like any normal company... But I fear we have not 
be acting like normal civil society, in our overbearing desire to 
exonerate some of the most powerful and corrupt influences on how the 
global Internet is shaping today.

> In sum, we may as well be 'shocked' to learn firms pay big $$ to hang at W3C: http://www.w3.org/Consortium/fees-2013; or...well hopefully you get the point.

We have our different shocks I reckon. And In fact I keep hoping that 
you get the point of how valuable a culture and norms of democracy are, 
and how loose we are getting about them, and the dangers inherent.
> If you want an open and interoperable network of networks, and/or a world wide web, there's costs involved which do not come out of anyone's taxes or from foundations.

It should come out of public finances.... How to order such necessary 
public finances is a governance challenge. But if we are in a hurry to 
jettison democratic principles , it is isnt the best way to meet that 
challenge. But if we indeed stick to basic principles, the challenge can 
certainly be met.

> Lots and lots of volunteers contribute too; but they also appreciate having a 'free' coffee during a break I suspect.

I wont call fully paid corporate employees pursing specific objectives 
as volunteers, but yes there are genuine volunteers as well, and they 
must be supported by public finance.

> Lee
> PS: Actual tactics to try to cook/bias IETF output/RFC's...that would be a whole other thing. And given the extreme degree of transparency always practiced by IETF, a much higher degree of difficulty.  Not that it has not been tried, but buying folks a coffee or whatever, would not be the way to go about that. ; )
> ________________________________________
> From: governance-request at lists.igcaucus.org <governance-request at lists.igcaucus.org> on behalf of michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com>
> Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:18 PM
> To: 'Stephen Farrell'; 'McTim'
> Cc: 'bestbits'; '1Net List'; governance at lists.igcaucus.org
> Subject: [governance] RE: [discuss] FW: Comcast undertakes 9 year IETF cosponsorship!?
> To be clear Stephen,
> As meetings among professionals to discuss professional/technical matters,
> it makes (or should make) no difference to anyone who provides the funding.
> However, as bodies which are being identified as core mechanisms in the
> global governance of the Internet (and as central to the desired global
> stampede towards MSism) it matters a very great deal.
> Is it really acceptable for the process towards the establishment of global
> standards for sugar intake to be "(co)sponsored" by Coca Cola for example;
> or for that matter for Coca Cola to have a member on the Board of one of the
> key technical bodies making recommendations towards those standards?
> M
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Stephen Farrell [mailto:stephen.farrell at cs.tcd.ie]
> Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2014 3:28 PM
> To: michael gurstein; 'McTim'
> Cc: 'bestbits'; '1Net List'; governance at lists.igcaucus.org
> Subject: Re: [discuss] FW: Comcast undertakes 9 year IETF cosponsorship!?
> Hi Michael,
> I don't agree that there's an inherent conflict of interest involved in the
> IETF being sponsored by large companies that operate in IT/networking.
> That's in large part due to how the IETF is setup and managed openly and
> transparently etc. Again, if someone wants to go check it out, I think all
> the sponsorships are public and I know all the mailing lists are there and
> all the IETF nomcom memberships and selections etc etc. To the best of my
> knowledge you will not find any such conflict is real.
> And while I have no axe to grind for Comcast, I did in the past work for
> another large company in that space and I really would be surprised if one
> of those is that much worse or better than another. I think they all have
> their good and less good aspects, as do many large organisations, such as
> governments.
> I also think your broader point about MSism not being in your view the right
> model does not require you to try to argue that the IETF's funding creates
> such a conflict. Especially since the IETF doesn't have such a conflict. You
> would do far better to argue that the IETF setup is pretty good but doesn't
> generalise as claimed I figure.
> Oh, and if you have suggestions as to how the IETF could get other sources
> of funding, I know for sure that the ISOC folks who chase that money to
> support the IETF and RFC editor would just love to hear from you:-)
> S.
> On 03/22/2014 09:47 PM, michael gurstein wrote:
>> Tks Stephen,
>> Please note that my comments were meant for the larger audience of
>> those with an interest in how the Internet is and is to be
> managed/governed i.e.
>> all of those impacted by the Internet which by now includes most
>> everyone in the world.  It was only incidentally meant for those,
>> including those most active on this (and other IG related) lists, for
>> whom no argument that presents critical analyses or questions
>> concerning this drive towards MSism apparently can be countenanced.
>> What I said was:
>> It seems quite explicit that the IETF and ISOC, two of the major
>> pillars of multistakeholderism which is so vehemently being promoted
>> by the US Government and its followers in the tech and civil society
>> communities as a replacement for democratic governance of the
>> Internet, have long histories of accepting payments from Comcast a
>> major US corporation which is widely understood as being among the
>> least ethical and possibly most active in undermining US policy and
>> regulatory processes in support of its own narrow economic self-interests
> (increasingly encompassing the Internet).
>> So far no one has questioned the truth of this statement.
>> "We" and here I mean all of those in the larger audience I'm referring
>> to above are being asked to accept this state of affairs unquestioningly.
>> Earlier I noted some highly questionable experiences with the MS
>> process as currently being operationalized through 1Net and elsewhere.
>> I received no useful explanation or response.
>> Additionally I introduced a series of questions with respect to how
>> various "risks" associated with MSism might be handled given the
>> significance that is being given to MSism as the preferred mechanism
>> for Internet (and other?) governance arrangements. I received no
> explanation or response.
>> In this current interaction I noted what appeared to be at least the
>> potential for a significant conflict of interest in two of the primary
>> current mechanisms for MSism which as we know is being explicitly
>> described as a post-democratic governance mechanism for the Internet.
>> You have seen the quality and content of the responses to my questions
>> and comments in this area.
>> I have made no accusations either explicit or implicit concerning the
>> IETF or ISOC.  I don't know enough about either of them to have any
>> opinion in these matters.
>> However, those who do know rather more about the role that Comcast is
>> playing in the current communications policy and regulatory activities
>> in the US are raising warning flags to such an extent that one has
>> little alternative but to question the role that Comcast may be
>> playing in the quite parallel global Internet "governance" mechanisms
>> as per the IETF and ISOC. If nothing else there is the appearance of a
>> conflict of interest and given the other risks already pointed to with
>> respect to MSism and Global Internet Governance one surely must add
>> this to the list i.e. is it safe to proceed to a governance framework
>> where there are no evident or explicit boundaries between private
>> sector activities and interests and the public interest.
>> Of course, as I believe is the case for many on this list, there is no
>> belief that the Internet should be managed or governed in the public
>> interest (rather than as a concatenation of, or "consensus" among
>> private
>> interests) then this question has no meaning.  However, one hopes that
>> if nothing else, the NetMundial meeting will clearly affirm that the
>> overwhelming priority of the peoples of the world is to have the
>> Internet governed in the public interest and with the principles for
>> Internet governance being based on this fundamental value.
>> Best,
>> Mike
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Stephen Farrell [mailto:stephen.farrell at cs.tcd.ie]
>> Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2014 1:01 PM
>> To: michael gurstein; 'McTim'
>> Cc: bestbits; '1Net List'; governance at lists.igcaucus.org
>> Subject: Re: [discuss] FW: Comcast undertakes 9 year IETF cosponsorship!?
>> Hi Michael,
>> I think you're very far off base there, if you're suggesting that the
>> IETF are somehow corrupted by this sponsorship. If you're not
>> suggesting that, then making that clear would be helpful I think.
>> The IETF's funding is pretty transparent I think. Between this kind of
>> new multi-year deal and meeting sponsorships, I think it mostly does
>> come from large IT/networking companies. (But a substantial chunk
>> comes from meeting participants via meeting
>> fees.)
>> It seems to me that no large company has even been a saint. But so what?
>> That has afaik no influence on what the IETF does other than
>> individual people thank the sponsors now and then.
>> Also, I don't recall the IETF ever proposing that our way of handling
>> rough consensus would, could or should be used in any other context.
>> Maybe some people have said or think that but the IETF hasn't said any
>> such thing that I recall. So you're also conflating entirely separate
>> things I think, and in an unfair manner.
>> Anyway, sponsoring the IETF doesn't get anyone any favourable
>> treatment that I've seen in the last nearly 19 years of being involved
>> with the IETF. You can believe me or not on that, and either way you
>> can audit all the mailing lists and (since the datatracker tool was
>> developed) all the IESG comments on drafts as they become RFCs. I
>> don't believe you will find even a dubious correlation, but I'd be
> interested if you did.
>> IMO you are just barking up the wrong tree.
>> S.
>> On 03/22/2014 05:00 PM, michael gurstein wrote:
>>> I'm not sure why it might be a "snide insinuation".
>>> It seems quite explicit that the IETF and ISOC, two of the major
>>> pillars of multistakeholderism which is so vehemently being promoted
>>> by the US Government and its followers in the tech and civil society
>>> communities as a replacement for democratic governance of the
>>> Internet, have long histories of accepting payments from Comcast a
>>> major US corporation which is widely understood as being among the
>>> least ethical and possibly most active in undermining US policy and
>>> regulatory processes in support of its own narrow economic
>>> self-interests
>> (increasingly encompassing the Internet).
>>> <http://www.infoworld.com/t/cringely/corruption-distortion-control-co
>>> mc>
>> http://www.infoworld.com/t/cringely/corruption-distortion-control-comc
>>> asts-r
>>> eal-life-house-of-cards-238904
>>> InfoWorld Home < <http://www.infoworld.com/>
>>> http://www.infoworld.com/>  /
>> Notes from the Field
>>> < <http://www.infoworld.com/blogs/robert-x.-cringely>
>> http://www.infoworld.com/blogs/robert-x.-cringely>  / Corruption,
>>> distortion, control: Comcast's...
>>>   < <http://www.infoworld.com/blogs/robert-x-cringely>
>> http://www.infoworld.com/blogs/robert-x-cringely> Robert X. Cringely
>>> March 21, 2014
>>> Corruption, distortion, control: Comcast's real-life 'House of Cards'
>>> The frenzy over the proposed Time Warner merger hides damning details
>>> of Comcast's power-hungry moves
>>> By Robert X. Cringely
>>> < <http://www.infoworld.com/author-bios/robert-x-cringely>
>> http://www.infoworld.com/author-bios/robert-x-cringely>  | InfoWorld
>>> < <http://www.infoworld.com/> http://www.infoworld.com/>
>>> Let's talk about Comcast, he said, hands trembling and the big vein
>>> in
>>> his forehead throbbing like a jungle drum. I hit the FCC's Net
>>> neutrality delusion
>>> <http://www.infoworld.com/t/cringely/railroads-superhighways-and-the-
>>> f
>>> ight-f
>>> air-access-237815>  in a previous post, where FCC Chairman Tom
>>> air-access-237815> Wheeler
>>> interpreted the Supreme Court's Net neutering decision as giving the
>>> FCC even broader powers of control over the big Internet providers
>>> instead of the steel-toed kick to his crotch it really is. Complete
>>> double-talk seems to the standard for the Internet provider business
>>> these
>> days.
>>> Comcast is a perfect example of a we-don't-care, double-talking,
>>> slavering, rampaging telecom/cable monstrosity that's using this
>>> consumer-crippling legislation to topple our competitive choices like
>>> Godzilla strolling through Tokyo. It's only going to get worse. Sure,
>>> there are tinfoil hats preaching ridiculous Comcast conspiracies, but
>>> maybe the wingnuts are on to something, even if they're starting out
>>> from
>> pothead premises.
>>> The deal that's been in the news the most recently is Comcast's move
>>> to devour Time Warner Cable. You'd think Time Warner might not be
>>> superhappy about this deal, but its CEO, Rob Marcus, got up at the
>>> Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference held earlier
>>> this
>>> month in the highly industrious locale of Palm Beach, Fla., and
>>> enthused that the $45 billion merger will put all of us in
>>> happy-happy
>> land.
>>> Newsflash: It won't. Rather, get ready to be dumped into
>>> hugely-screwed-douche-broom land. The deal means that Comcast is set
>>> to service about two-thirds of the American population with both
>>> Internet and entertainment. How many of those folks are going to have
>>> an actual, practical choice?
>>> Comcast spreads it tentacles
>>> Tellingly Marcus has been Time Warner's CEO for only about two
>>> months,
>>> and recently leaked information on his compensation package shows
>>> that
>>> he stands to make robber baron money if the merger goes through -- to
>>> the tune of about $80 million
>>> < <http://bgr.com/2014/03/20/comcast-twc-merger-news-ceo-marcus/>
>> http://bgr.com/2014/03/20/comcast-twc-merger-news-ceo-marcus/> . How
>>> could he possibly be biased? I know I'm a cynical old fart, but is it
>>> loony to suspect that Comgraft may have had a hand in getting this
>>> guy
>>> a key to the executive bathroom? If there was any justice, he'd have
>>> to write a resignation letter right this minute with ink made from
>>> rectal blood and salty tears.
>>> The fate of U.S. Internet pipes isn't all that's on the block. With
>>> Net laws castrated as they currently are, Comcast can also opt to
>>> bully content providers and control what you can and can't access on
>>> what amounts to its Internet. In a recent blog post, Netflix CEO Reed
>>> Hastings sounds like he's complaining about this trend -- never mind
>>> he's
>> already validated it.
>>> Netflix complained of degraded throughput to its customers about a
>>> month ago, then paid Com-lie an exorbitant extortion fee, and presto!
>>> Its service quality was magically restored. Hastings and Comcast
>>> paint
>>> this as a big win for consumers, but they're actually saying we're as
>>> dumb as a bag of hammers.
>>> Doesn't seem very snide or insinuatory to me.
>>> And yes, most non-corrupted public policy processes are publicly
>>> funded with appropriate degrees of transparency and accountability
>>> and
>>> with clear boundaries between public interests and private interests
>>> guarded with varying degrees of ferocity by laws governing conflicts
>>> of interest and suborning of public officials and public policy
>>> processes.  What isn't made clear in the overwhelming forces and
>>> banshee howling of support for MSism is that at its heart it is an
>>> attempt to foist the generally acknowledged as corrupted US telecom
>>> policy and regulatory system on the Internet and on the world.
>>> And a question for you and all the other multistakeholderists-is this
>>> what you want for Global Internet Governance?
>>> M
>>> From:  <mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org> discuss-bounces at 1net.org [
>> <mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org> mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On
>>> Behalf Of McTim
>>> Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:07 AM
>>> To: Michel Gauthier
>>> Cc: 1Net List
>>> Subject: Re: [discuss] FW: Comcast undertakes 9 year IETF cosponsorship!?
>>> On Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 9:12 AM, Michel Gauthier <
>> <mailto:mg at telepresse.com> mg at telepresse.com> wrote:
>>> At 02:45 22/03/2014, McTim wrote:
>>> If you are trying to make an argument by quoting rfc3869 and then
>>> quoting a page from the ISOC website I think you will have to do
>>> better than that, as one is related to research and the Comcast
>>> partnership is about IETF meetings and other activities.  ISOC itself
>>> doesn't do research in the way that DNS-OARC or CAIDA or others do it.
>>> ISOC does surveys mainly and recently economic effects of IXPs, etc.
>>> If you would prefer public funding for IETF activities, then please
>>> state that, otherwise, one can't tell what your argument is all about.
>>> I only do my collection, analysis and reporting job after sorting
>>> real, tricky, naive and noisy inputs, on this and other equivalent
>>> lists or fora where real infuencing strategies are observable.
>>> So far, you are not even speculating that there is an 'influencing
>>> strategy", you are merely posting random factoids seemingly in
>>> support
>>> of the other MGs snide insinuations.
>>> To my knowledge DNS-OARC is a private club
>>> This has nothing to do with what I pointed out about them, that they
>>> do research of the kind that you suggested that the IETF does.
>>> of which the interest in users support is characterized by its
>>>   <https://www.dns-oarc.net/oarc/services/dnsentropy>
>> https://www.dns-oarc.net/oarc/services/dnsentropy page which states:
>>> "On August 7, 2008, Dan Kaminsky
>>> < <http://www.ioactive.com/kaminsky.html>
>> http://www.ioactive.com/kaminsky.html>  will release additional
>> details about these poisoning attacks. "
>>> another tangental red-herring.
>>> CAIDA membership is beyond financial access to FLOSS IUsers and
>>> corporations interested in their market, what is my focussed area.
>>> This doesn't mask the fact that they do research on 'future Internet
>> issues"
>>> My question to you still stands.
>>> How would you like the IETF to be funded??
>>> rgds,
>>> McTim
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> discuss mailing list
>>>   <mailto:discuss at 1net.org> discuss at 1net.org
>>>   <http://1net-mail.1net.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss>
>> http://1net-mail.1net.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> _______________________________________________
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at 1net.org
> http://1net-mail.1net.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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