[discuss] [governance] FW: Internet Social Forum

McTim dogwallah at gmail.com
Fri Jan 23 14:21:54 UTC 2015

Dear MG,

Your post just provided further proof everything that Jeremy wrote was true.

On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 7:31 AM, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com>

> FWIW... Flouting normal academic/journalistic etiquette Jeremy omitted to
> reference my comments quoted in his blog which for anyone who hasn't been
> following can be found with context and elaboration in my blog
> http://gurstein.wordpress.com (key word searches on "multi-stakeholder"
> and "civil society" should turn these up--and with a bit of digging one
> might find even more fearsomely critical comments including about CS's
> unholy partnerships with and financial support from the global Internet
> elites.
> BTW, I'm looking forward to seeing the invitation from Jeremy and the
> other NMI-nik's inviting global Civil Society to their next 1% err WEF,
> ICANN, cgi Internet Governance lovefest -- perhaps it could be called the
> I(%) SF ...
> M
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On
> Behalf Of Carlos A. Afonso
> Sent: Friday, January 23, 2015 4:39 AM
> To: discuss at 1net.org
> Subject: Re: [discuss] Internet Social Forum
> Dear people,
> Below is an excellent response from Jeremy Malcolm (Best Bits, EFF)
> regarding the proposal to create a "world social forum" of the Internet.
> I am really puzzled: the call from JNC to join ISF is for governments to
> occupy the Internet??
> fraternal regards
> --c.a.
> ====
> http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/who-are-the-just-net-coalition-and-what-can-we-expect-from-the-internet-social-forum
> Who are the Just Net Coalition and what can we expect from the Internet
> Social Forum?
> Jeremy Malcolm
> Date: 23/1/2015 3:52 pm
> Today, the Just Net Coalition (JNC) [1] has broadcast (on seven mailing
> lists alone that I subscribe to) its plans for an Internet Social Forum,
> modeled on the World Social Forum, the well-known anti-globalisation
> summit. Just as the World Social Forum is held in opposition to the annual
> Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), so the Internet Social
> Forum is framed as an alternative to the NETmundial Initiative [2], which
> JNC describes (inaccurately) as a project of the WEF.
> Before saying anything more, I should clarify that I too have been
> critical [3] of the NETmundial Initiative, I too believe that the Internet
> governance status quo is overdue for reform [4], I also share concerns
> about a concentration of market power [5] in the hands of US-based Internet
> companies, and I do believe that governments have an important role to play
> [6] in future Internet governance arrangements.
> However, I won't be supporting the Internet Social Forum, because the Just
> Net Coalition's objectives are misguided, and its mode of engagement with
> the rest of civil society has been profoundly dysfunctional.
> History
> Who are the Just Net Coalition? I briefly mentioned them in my last post
> [7], but today's announcement has raised further questions among some of my
> contacts, and led others to express support the proposal despite not
> knowing much of the history of those proposing it. This post is to provide
> some of that necessary background, so that those who choose to endorse the
> Internet Social Forum will not be taken by surprise when its proposed
> “People's Internet Manifesto” takes a course with which they may profoundly
> disagree.
> The founding meeting of what became the Just Net Coalition February 2014
> was invitation-only, and invitations were issued, in the first instance,
> only to those known to by sympathetic to the views of the organisers. (A
> few key individuals excluded from the first round of invitations were, at
> the urging of the meeting's funder, subsequently approached with late
> invitations to attend; speaking for myself as one of these, the approach
> came far too late for me to make the necessary arrangements even to obtain
> a visa.) Consequently, the content of that meeting's outcome document, the
> Delhi Declaration for a Just and Equitable Internet [8], was largely
> predetermined.
> The political programme of that document (more on this below) has a long
> history in a disagreement between a few individuals who were members of the
> Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (IGC) [9], that has frequently
> threatened to tear that group apart. On some accounts, indeed, it has
> already done so – opinions vary on when or whether the IGC “jumped the
> shark”, but many count it as the day at an IGC meeting in 2013 when a
> prominent JNC member almost came to blows with a female attendee in an
> argument, ironically, over his own overbearing behaviour.
> The formation of Best Bits [10] in 2012 was (at least on my part, as one
> of its founders), partly in response to the decline of the IGC and the need
> for a more action-oriented, globally-inclusive civil society community that
> could speak on Internet governance and human rights issues, without
> requiring a full consensus which (for the IGC, at least) had become
> completely unachievable. Those who now lead JNC, at the time, also held
> hopes (as did we) that they too could make effective use of Best Bits as a
> platform for actions and statements on which a broad consensus could be
> reached, which for a time they did, but what ultimately transpired will be
> recounted later.
> So who are these individuals to whom I am obliquely referring? Although I
> don't wish to unduly personalise this post, it is relevant that they be
> identified in order to give context to the following section of this post;
> and equally, it is quite proper that as spokespersons for the group, they
> should be held accountable for their public behaviour and statements. (I
> should also add before going further that I have had a long record of
> working fruitfully with the individuals named both online and in person,
> dating back to 2004. I have even retained one of them as a paid consultant
> on a project I managed.)
> Amongst the key individuals who have spoken publicly for JNC and who sit
> on its steering committee are Parminder Jeet Singh who leads Indian NGO IT
> for Change, Michael Gurstein who is a Canadian academic and edits the
> Journal of Community Informatics, Norbert Bollow who is a Swiss systems
> analyst and FOSS developer, and Richard Hill, former senior staff member of
> the ITU, who continues to advocate for an expanded role for the ITU on
> Internet-related public policy issues [11]. Many of the groups shown as
> supporting the Internet Social Forum in today's announcement are vanity or
> hobby projects of these founding individuals. For example Centre for
> Community Informatics Research, Development and Training is Gurstein,
> GodlyGlobal.org is Bollow, and Association for Proper Internet Governance
> is Hill.
> (You might note that the majority JNC's most vocal key figures, including
> others not mentioned above such as Louis Pouzin and Jean-Christophe
> Nothias, are white men from industrialised countries.
> Now as a white man myself I'm certainly not one to point fingers at them,
> but as an organisation that purports to be “globally concerned with…social
> justice”, as JNC does [12], this lack of diversity perhaps bears
> mentioning.)
> Objectives
> The positioning of the Just Net Coalition against multi-stakeholder
> Internet governance [13], and in favour of a state-centric model, although
> now quite overt, became evident gradually. The Delhi Declaration covers
> this obliquely, stating “The right to make Internet-related public policies
> lies exclusively with those who legitimately and directly represent people”
> (ie. states). Another coded phrase the JNC has used to call for the
> centralisation of Internet governance authority in states it its call for
> “legitimate political authority” [14].
> A turning point came at the meeting of the Working Group on Enhanced
> Cooperation on Public Policy Issues Pertaining to the Internet (WGEC) of
> the UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) in
> April 2014. To the surprise of other civil society and technical community
> delegates at that meeting, Parminder Jeet Singh insisted that support for
> paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda [15] be retained in working group's
> report, as the representatives from Saudi Arabia and Iran also forcefully
> argued. Up until then, indeed for an unbroken decade, opposition to
> paragraph 35 had been a unanimous civil society position.
> Paragraph 35 states (my emphasis):
> We reaffirm that the management of the Internet encompasses both technical
> and public policy issues and should involve all stakeholders and relevant
> intergovernmental and international organizations. In this respect it is
> recognized that:
> a. *Policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the
> sovereign right of States*. They have rights and responsibilities for
> international Internet-related public policy issues.
> b. The private sector has had, and should continue to have, an important
> role in the development of the Internet, both in the technical and economic
> fields.
> c. *Civil society has also played an important role on Internet matters,
> especially *at community level*, and should continue to play such a role.
> d. Intergovernmental organizations have had, and should continue to have,
> a facilitating role in the coordination of Internet-related public policy
> issues.
> e. International organizations have also had and should continue to have
> an important role in the development of Internet-related technical
> standards and relevant policies.
> In supporting this paragraph that constricts civil society's role in
> Internet governance, Parminder said:
> "I have clarity about what is the role of different stakeholders being
> quite different to one another and I don't appreciate that non-governmental
> actors would have the same role in decision-making than governmental
> actors. That should not be acceptable at a global level."
> This, translated into JNC policy and the agenda for its Internet Social
> Forum, marks a profound shift away from the decentralised and horizontal
> model of Internet governance that civil society had heretofore supported,
> towards an hierarchical, state-led model.
> For a time, JNC attempted to explain away this change by drawing a straw
> man distinction between “democratic multi-stakeholderism” (which JNC
> supports) and “equal footing multi-stakeholderism” (which it doesn't,
> mischaracterising it as “governance by self-selected elites”) [16]. But it
> has since mostly abandoned that pretense and become more overt in promoting
> an intergovernmental model of Internet governance [17], stating for example
> in a more recent statement, “We invite all countries to call for a
> Framework Convention on the Internet and to take up leadership in
> developing global Internet-related policies,” and averring that “[w]ithout
> governmental support, it is difficult, perhaps impossible to combat the
> dominance of global Internet monopolies” [18].
> Now, I have argued elsewhere why governments ought not to have a monopoly
> on the development of Internet-related public policies, but why a model of
> multi-stakeholderism that includes governments as a key, but not dominant
> stakeholder can still be counted as democratic [19]. You can accept those
> arguments or not. If you don't, then you might come down on JNC's side on
> this issue, and that would be perfectly legitimate.
> But that's only half of the problem with JNC. The other half is the toxic
> relationship that its representatives have cultivated with the rest of
> civil society.
> Relationship with civil society
> At the first Best Bits meeting in 2012, much time and many pains were
> taken to accommodate the demands of those future JNC committee members who
> attended, and this effort did successfully result in a consensus text to
> which they were willing to put their names [20]. But from this point, their
> participation in Best Bits became less productive and more divisive,
> largely over two issues, which were intertwined.
> The first has already been mentioned: the fundamental ideological
> disagreement over the legitimacy of multi-stakeholder Internet governance,
> which was accepted by a majority of Best Bits participants, but not by
> those who were later to split off into JNC. This disagreement took on
> greater currency when the NETmundial meeting was announced and Best Bits
> participants began to coordinate the development of several joint inputs
> [21]. When the future JNC leaders found themselves unable to influence the
> drafting of these statements to sufficiently accord with their view that
> governments should have an outsized role in Internet governance, the next
> best option became to disrupt the development of those statements by
> hectoring, intimidating and disparaging participants who expressed
> pro-multistakeholder views.
> As good an example as any, and a more recent one, is Gurstein's reaction
> in November 2014 to the qualified support of the Association for
> Progressive Communications (APC) for the NETmundial Initiative, to which he
> wrote to Anriette Esterhuysen, APC's Executive Director, “I’m taking from
> your argument that because the NMI offers some possibility, however remote
> for the advancement of human rights, you are completely abandoning perhaps
> irrevocably, the pursuit of social justice.” To anyone who knows of the
> many years of devotion that Anriette and APC have given in the cause of
> social justice (and Gurstein certainly does), this is a farcical insult.
> The second issue to which the disruptive behaviour of JNC representatives
> has been directed, which probably arose from the first, were criticisms of
> various processes that they found themselves unable to influence, including
> not only those of Best Bits, 1net [22], and the Civil Society Coordination
> Group (CSCG) [23]. In a rising tide of authoritarian behaviour, those who
> became JNC's leaders would demand appointment to a position of authority or
> that these fledgling groups hold elections immediately, insist that other
> participants in those groups disclose of their sources of funding, and
> cause a commotion about any strategic discussions that took place off-list
> or in closed groups.
> The response of a relative outsider, Milton Mueller, to Gurstein's demands
> for inclusion in 1net aptly record the frustration that many others felt:
> "Stop pretending that CI [Community Informatics] is some massive
> grassroots movement related to Internet governance that deserves special
> representation; and stop pretending that  your frustration with not being
> selected by CS means that their procedures were illegitimate. You [and]
> your group are free to contribute position papers to the process and to
> attend, as far as we know. Why don’t you see how far you can get on
> persuasion and education, if that’s really your mission?"
> To give another example, Bollow, who had earlier demanded a full
> accounting of the funding sources of Best Bits participants, wrote in
> November 2013, “I hereby request the members of the BestBits steering
> committee, the members of the IRP Steering Committee, and the coordinators
> of the IGC to disclose any direct or indirect financial relationship to any
> 'capacity building' or similar kind of project where a US government agency
> is among the funders.”
> Then again he wrote in October 2014 to the moderators of a closed strategy
> list formed for the recent ITU Plenipotentiary meeting – a list that he had
> not joined – demanding the right to “inspect” its archives on behalf of
> JNC. As for the CSCG, even after it acceded to JNC's requests and added
> Bollow as a representative, JNC betrayed that trust by publishing an
> account of its private deliberations which criticised other CSCG members
> [24], falsely stating that they had decided to support the NETmundial
> Initiative.
> Although some of JNC's demands of other civil society groups and networks
> may have been reasonable in themselves – Best Bits, for example, always
> intended to hold steering committee elections and did hold them within a
> year of its formation – these demands were delivered with such hubris and
> entitlement that the effect has been to isolate JNC from other civil
> society groups and networks and to sow seeds of discord that will have
> lasting effects.
> Ironically the result has been exactly the opposite of what JNC intended.
> Discussions have retreated from public, open lists into private, closed
> lists – or private cc groups that are not list-managed at all – precisely
> to avoid unproductive exchanges with JNC members.
> Even more ironically, JNC does not hold itself to the same standards of
> transparency and accountability that it demands of others; it has never
> been publicly disclosed, for example, receiving funding from ThoughtWorks,
> and even the list of signatories of the Delhi Declaration, which formed the
> JNC's first membership list, was not made public for months after its
> supposed founding, even while further statements continued to be issued.
> Neither does JNC operate an open mailing list, despite vociferous demands
> that other civil society networks, such as Best Bits, should do so.
> It might be countered that as pernicious as the behaviour of key JNC
> members may have been, they are only individuals, and this should not be
> attributed to the organisation as a whole. Whilst none of the other JNC
> members has ever “broken ranks” and spoken up against even the founders,
> this may not be because they are condoning their behaviour, but because
> they are unaware of it, since it takes place on other civil society mailing
> lists. Might a change of leadership of JNC be all that is required? This is
> hard to say, and at present a moot question since no such change is on the
> horizon.
> Conclusion
> What, then, can we expect from JNC's Internet Social Forum? Sadly, we can
> expect that any participants who support a distributed, multi-stakeholder
> model for Internet governance will be required to check those convictions
> at the door, and to embrace instead a UN-based model that places
> governments firmly in control of Internet public policy development. We can
> expect those who deviate from this line to be interrogated mercilessly, and
> accused of being props for neoliberal hegemony and corporate domination.
> May JNC's “take no prisoners”
> approach serve them well.
> This is a shame, because a well-reasoned leftist critique of Internet
> governance arrangements and reforms that directs its ire at powerful
> incumbents, rather than at those who seek to forge a middle path of
> inclusive multi-stakeholder governance, would actually be very valuable.
> To date, JNC has exhibited no desire to provide such a sober, productive
> critique, instead preferring to focus its destructive anger on easier,
> weaker targets – its own civil society colleagues.
> -----------------------------
> Notes:
> [1] http://justnetcoalition.org
> [2] https://www.netmundial.org
> [3]
> http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/netmundial-initiative-takes-a-top-down-approach-to-implementing-the-netmundial-principles
> [4]
> http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/netmundial-2014-submission-on-evolution-of-the-internet-governance-ecosystem
> [5]
> http://www.digitalnewsasia.com/insights/digital-consumers-breaking-through-the-cloud
> [6]
> http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/three-false-assumptions-internet-freedom-in-a-world-of-states-part-1
> [7]
> http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/civil-society-talks-tough-to-the-netmundial-initiative-but-holds-back-on-a-boycott
> [8] http://justnetcoalition.org/delhi-declaration
> [9] http://igcaucus.org
> [10] http://bestbits.net
> [11]
> http://content.netmundial.br/contribution/roadmaps-for-further-evolution-of-internet-governance/65
> [12]
> http://justnetcoalition.org/sites/default/files/Delhi_Declaration_leaflet_0.pdf
> [13]
> http://blog.justnetcoalition.org/democracy-or-multi-stakeholderism-competing-models-of-governance-by-michael-gurstein
> [14] http://justnetcoalition.org/sites/default/files/NewModel_r2.pdf
> [15] http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/tunis/off/6rev1.html
> [16] http://justnetcoalition.org/sites/default/files/ITU_PP_2014_Stmt2.pdf
> [17]
> http://blog.justnetcoalition.org/democracy-or-multi-stakeholderism-competing-models-of-governance-by-michael-gurstein
> [18] http://justnetcoalition.org/sites/default/files/NewModel_r2.pdf
> [19]
> http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/a-civil-society-agenda-for-internet-governance-in-2013-internet-freedom-in-a-world-of-states-part-3
> [20] http://bestbits.net/statement
> [21] http://bestbits.net/netmundial-principles,
> http://bestbits.net/netmundial-roadmap, and
> http://bestbits.net/netmundial-icann
> [22] http://1net.org/
> [23] http://lists.bestbits.net/info/cs-coord
> [24] http://justnetcoalition.org/NMI-neoliberal-caravan
> ====
> On 01/22/2015 11:47 AM, Norbert Bollow wrote:
> > Global Civil Society launches the Internet Social Forum – With a call
> > to occupy the Internet
> >
> > PRESS RELEASE. Geneva, Switzerland, 22st January, 2015.
> >
> > A group of civil society organisations from around the world has
> > announced the Internet Social Forum, to bring together and articulate
> > bottom-up perspectives on the 'Internet we want'. Taking inspiration
> > from the World Social Forum, and its clarion call, 'Another World is
> > possible', the group seeks to draw urgent attention to the increasing
> > centralization of the Internet for extraction of monopoly rents and
> > for socio-political control, asserting that 'Another Internet is
> possible'!
> >
> > The Internet Social Forum will inter alia offer an alternative to the
> > recently-launched World Economic Forum's 'Net Mundial Initiative' on
> > global Internet governance. While the World Economic Forum (WEF) and
> > the 'Net Mundial Initiative' convene global elites, the Internet
> > Social Forum will be a participatory and bottom-up space for all those
> > who believe that the global Internet must evolve in the public
> > interest; a direct parallel to the launch of the World Social Forum in
> > 2001 as a counter initiative to the WEF.
> >
> > The Internet Social Forum will reach out to grassroots groups and
> > social movements across the world, catalysing a groundswell that
> > challenges the entrenched elite interests that currently control how
> > the Internet is managed. The Internet Social Forum's preparatory
> > process will kick off during the World Social Forum to take place in
> > Tunis, March 24th to 28th, 2015. The Internet Social Forum itself is
> > planned to be held either late 2015 or early 2016.
> >
> > “While the world's biggest companies have every right to debate the
> > future of the Internet, we are concerned that their perspectives
> > should not drown out those of ordinary people who have no access to
> > the privileged terrain WEF occupies – in the end it is this wider
> > public interest that must be paramount in governing the Internet. We
> > are organising the Internet Social Forum to make sure their voices
> > can't be ignored in the corridors of power,” said Norbert Bollow,
> > Co-Convenor of the Just Net Coalition, which is one of the groups
> > involved in the initiative.
> >
> > The Internet Social Forum, and its preparatory process, is intended as
> > a space to vision and build the 'Internet we want'. It will be
> > underpinned by values of democracy, human rights and social justice.
> > It will stand for participatory policy making and promote community
> media.
> > It will seek an Internet that is truly decentralized in its
> > architecture and based on people's full rights to data, information,
> > knowledge and other 'commons' that the Internet has enabled the world
> > community to generate and share.
> >
> > Somewhat similar to Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s call for a ‘Magna
> > Carta for the Internet', the Internet Social Forum proposes to develop
> > a People's Internet Manifesto, through a bottom-up process involving
> > all concerned social groups and movements, in different areas, from
> > techies and ICT-for-development actors to media reform groups,
> > democracy movements and social justice activists.
> >
> > This year will also see the 10 year high-level review of the World
> > Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in New York in
> > December. As a full-scale review of a major UN summit, this will be a
> > critical global political event. Since the WSIS, held in 2003 and
> > 2005, the Internet, and what it means socially, has undergone a
> > paradigm shift. The WSIS witnessed active engagement of civil society
> > and technical groups as well as of business. However, currently, there
> > seems to be an deliberate attempt to sideline this UN-led initiative
> > on governance issues of the information society and Internet in favour
> > of private, big-business-dominated initiatives like the WEF's Net
> > Mundial Initiative. The Internet Social Forum, while remaining
> > primarily a people's forum, will also seek to channel global civil
> > society's engagement towards the WSIS +10 review.
> >
> > The following organisations form the initial group that is proposing
> > the Internet Social Forum, and many more are expected to join in the
> > immediate future. This is an open call to progressive groups from all
> > over the world to join this initiative, and participate in developing
> > a People's Internet Manifesto.
> >
> > Just Net Coalition, Global
> > P2P Foundation, Global
> > Transnational Institute, Global
> > Forum on Communication for Integration of our America, Regional (Latin
> > America) Arab NGO Network for Development, Regional Agencia
> > Latinoamericana de Información, Regional Alternative Informatics
> > Association, Turkey Knowledge Commons, India Open-Root/EUROLINC,
> > France SLFC.in, India CODE-IP Trust, Kenya GodlyGlobal.org,
> > Switzerland Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and
> > Training, Canada IT for Change, India Association for Proper Internet
> > Governance, Switzerland Computer Professionals Union, Philippines Free
> > Press, USA Advocates of Science and Technology for the People,
> > Philippines Other News, Italy Free Software Movement of India
> > Global_Geneva, Switzerland Solidarius (Solidarity Economy Network),
> > Italy All India Peoples Science Network, India Institute for Local
> > Self-Reliance - Community Broadband Networks, USA
> >
> > Please contact us at secretariat at InternetSocialForum.net for further
> > information or clarification.
> >
> > Or the following regional contacts:
> >
> > Africa:        Alex Gakaru <AlexG at InternetSocialForum.net>
> > Asia:          Rishab Bailey <RishabB at InternetSocialForum.net>
> > Europe:        Norbert Bollow <NorbertB at InternetSocialForum.net>
> > North America: Micheal Gurstein <MichealG at InternetSocialForum.net>
> > South America: Sally Burch <SallyB at InternetSocialForum.net>
> >
> >
> > This press release is also available online, e.g. at
> > http://justnetcoalition.org/ISF
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > discuss mailing list
> > discuss at 1net.org
> > 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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