[discuss] [bestbits] Re: Draft statement on making IGF permanent

Barry Shein bzs at world.std.com
Fri Sep 5 02:36:19 UTC 2014

The problem is really one of set theory.

You have the planet and all its people.

Right now a common covering is nation-states.

Another would be multi-stakeholder groups at least in theory.

They overlap, they divide the world differently. Importantly they
yield different voting units.

They're not exclusive. You can and almost certainly will be a member
of more than one.

People connected to the internet, people who manage web sites, control
domains, IP address space, men, women, race, rich, poor, literate,
illiterate, etc.

The United Nations is an expression of viewing the world as being
covered (almost) entirely by a set of nation states. They form
transnational entities (e.g., WHO) but only as an expression of
nation-state cooperation.

The internet is not particularly bound by nation states even if there
are internet details which nation-states can affect.

When nation-states affect the internet they can't limit their effect
to those nation states. If a country blocks Twitter then I, in the US,
can't get a message to someone in that country via Twitter. They've
affected me also.

This is not entirely unique to the internet, similar could be said
about telephony or air and other transport. But it is remarkably
pervasive and fluid in the case of the internet.

This indicates why an organization involved in internet governance
based on a multi-stakeholder model is going to conflict with a
structure designed to model the world as nation-states.

For example one is likely to see an emphasis on bilateralism, internet
issues which involve two (or a few) nation-states because those are
the units which the UN is comfortable with. Country A is upset about
content (etc) in Country B, let's get Country A & B to the table and
work something out before they just start blocking each other.

But the internet squirms under such limitations.

It often tries to escape those limitations, often succeeds. There's no
customs, coast guard, border patrol, etc which is effective. No
passport to be shown to post or read. Only some sledgehammer methods
to control content such as website take downs or firewalls which tend
to be porous if not futile, regulatory regimes. Or threats of
reprisal, of course.

This would seem to be doomed to tend towards a least common
denominator, the intersection, of the various nation states' cultural,
political, legal, and moral values probably weighted by mutual
compromises (i.e., politics.)

What would that be? Probably very limited.

And governance itself by a multi-stakeholder organization would be in
conflict with an organization which generally has (various subsets of)
nation states vote on matters, where the voting unit is the nation

This begs more thought and less tradition.

P.S. Why was there never any Telephone Governance organization much
beyond settlements, connectivity, numbers, etc.? But none that
particularly concerned itself with content which is where all this has
certainly gone with the internet.

        -Barry Shein

The World              | bzs at TheWorld.com           | http://www.TheWorld.com
Purveyors to the Trade | Voice: 800-THE-WRLD        | Dial-Up: US, PR, Canada
Software Tool & Die    | Public Access Internet     | SINCE 1989     *oo*

More information about the discuss mailing list