[IRP] appologies - input - multistakholderism & a telco meeting?

Max Senges maxsenges
Tue Dec 15 14:10:07 EET 2009

Dear Meryem, Milton, Ronald and all

I understand that all three of you are veterans in this discourse; I also
see that there are many traps to avoid and that I have (like everybody) much
to learn.

What I do not understand is why the German example I choose is not an
interesting starting point for a discussion about what means would be useful
to maximise freedom of expression while providing institutions that allow to
mitigate and resolve complaints?

I am here to work towards good rights based governance solutions and I am
here to learn. If we believe in the multistakeholder approach then we should
all aim not to stigmatize stakeholder specific language ( - which by the way
I would have used exactly the same 3 months ago when i was civil society - )
but have an unbiased discussion. I have now learned that it is unacceptable
for experts to speak of "limits of FoE" but rather speak of "balance between
rights". I understand that language is important, but so is a collaborative
atmosphere where good-intentions and a shared vision are presumed until the
discussion shows otherwise.

In both Milton and Meryem's posts did I see much critique but very little in
terms of ideas on how to address the challenges. Simply to say that we have
the UDHR and there are courts people can go to is, in my humble opinion,
ignoring the fact that the net has led to an explosion of freedom of
expression (as in the amount of globally published information) and
subsequently an explosion of cases of hate speech, scandals where private
information is spied out, defamation etc.

We simply do not have an institutional ecosystem that is capable of dealing
with all the cases. And I say ecosystem because I do think that all
stakeholders should play a role. Some elements are legislatory and
judicatory governmental instruments and institutions, others are with
companies through self-regulation and alliances like the GNI, as well as
individual netizens by participating in the public discourse and possibly
through being "juryman" or "mediators".

The last aspect is particularly intriguing. In my understanding user
generated content needs user generated governance (at least to deal with the
90% of cases that don't go to court). Basically if we want to maintain an
environment where users can express themselves freely (meaning with
pre-screening) we need to develop a system to resolve complaints that is
reasonable and that scales. With reasonable i mean that it causes reasonable
burden while producing reasonably good decisions. Hence it would not be
possible to ask a platform provider to hire sufficient specialists to deal
with all the complaints. This would a create a pretty high financial burden
that would have to be translated in higher costs, and it would put the
platform provider in a gatekeeper or judge position which is also highly
undesirable. What might be a good idea is to ask netizens of good standing
to help find a solution to a given complaint. Mostly it would be a mediation
between the opposing parties, but it would be a first (semi-)formal step
that might resolve a good part of the many cases that never end up in court.
Basically what I assess is a rather significant gap between (1) informal or
conversational complaints, discussions and resolutions around Freedom of
Expression and (2) the possiblity to go to the legal system and fight it

Another aspect, which the freedom of expression debate shares with all
internet governance topics, is the question who's laws come to bear if a
chilenian expresses herself in a defamatory way towards a russian in a
thaiwanese forum, while on vacation in .... you get the picture. The
insitutional ecosystem I would love to talk about should address this

Allow me to close with a word of caution: I believe it is important that we
maintain a constructive multistakeholder dialog where everybody, but esp.
private sector and governmental participants, feel encouraged to contribute,
because if only civil society experts are discussing and working together it
is simply not multistakeholderism.

When there is a problem it needs to be addressed and I am the last one to
run away from a debate, but I want to work and learn together with all of
you not be lectured and told my suggestion (to look at the German
institutional setup to negotiate youth protection and limits to freedom of
expression) would be completely unacceptable. It is surely true that the
German setup is not perfect, but it works quite well and it is transparent.
I'd love to learn about other setups that are more applicable and even more
interesting I'd love to hear from setups that scale and therefore work on a
global level.

I am sorry that we started this discussion on the wrong foot, but i
certainly hope it will transform into a constructive one and I would like to
invite others in the FoE coalition to contribute.
However given the current situation I would like to suggest that we organize
a skype/phone meeting to re-frame the conversation and lay out a way

Best regards,
Max (says: rewind my selecta)

"The future is here. It?s just not widely distributed yet."
?William Gibson


Max Senges


Mobile: 01622122755

On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 3:38 AM, <KovenRonald at aol.com> wrote:

> Dear Max and All --
> I hesitate to join in this discussion. I certainly hope that by agreeing
> wholeheartedly with Meryem's analysis, I won't compromise her position in
> the eyes of those who think there's something basically unacceptable about a
> position so generally accepted by the US human rights community and under so
> much pressure amongst Europeans who approve the French Revolutionary notion
> that "there is no freedom without regulation."
> That position seems to be based on a deep insecurity over life in an
> environment without detailed rules as well as a deep distrust of humankind.
> The libertarian position is based on a hopefully not misplaced confidence in
> human nature.
> I willingly admit that *?a se discute*. What disturbs me about your
> approach, Max is that it seems to be based on a growingly rigid conviction
> that yours is the only logical or admissible position. That's not a personal
> attack -- just my observation about how you come to the debate. And nothing
> would please me more than to be proven wrong.
> I feel very strongly that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the word
> "libeeral" in the Anglo-Saxon sense and that the conservative attempts to
> turn "liberal" into a dirty word are intellectually obscene. Liberalism
> involves adherence to the values of skepticism and doubt.
> But your pressing ahead as you seem to have done, Max, to promote ideas
> regardless of any and all objections seem to indicate that what I have
> always taken to be a liberal personality has been neutralized by a
> non-liberal ideology.
> That's ad hominem, if you like, but that in and of itself doesn't in logic
> mean that the observation is incorrect. I nevertheless hope that it is
> indeed wrong. Please do prove me wrong by showing a bit more willingness to
> consider on their merits the arguments of those who have criticized your
> positions.
> I must reluctantly conclude that personal psychology does play a role in
> discussions of this nature. We aren't talking about pure logic because what
> is central to the discussion is attitudes toward human nature, and that is
> intensely personal. Choice and interpretation of data in such a discussion
> seems in the final analysis to be a function of personality on a
> rigidity/flexibility continuum -- a liberal-conservative personal psychology
> continuum, if you will.
> Hmm. I didn't even realize that I thought that -- proof, I hope, of a form
> of liberalism.
> Best regards, Rony Koven
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