[IRP] follow up presentation & discussion on values - rights and principles

Max Senges maxsenges
Thu May 14 10:08:24 EEST 2009

hi everybody

first of all thanks to Marianne, Lisa, Emily and Lea who participated in the
session and contributed really valuable points!!

i posted a video recording of the session @  http://blip.tv/file/2109983

and some consice feedback from lea and marianne - as well as the chat
history is all saved on the wiki page @

allow me respond to the following thoughts of Lea

Max is seeking primarily two types of feedback: 1) intellectual/conceptual
feedback, 2) strategically, is this a useful way to look at the discussion
and how do we go about it? Particularly expanding beyond ''rights'' to
''values'' and ''morals."

Lea Shaver: Max expressed some doubt about whether it is helpful/strategic
to speak beyond "rights" more broadly to "values." In my opinion, "values"
might be very useful in the sense it allows us to talk about principles we
believe are good for governing the network environment that relate or
facilitate "human rights" without directly being a human right. For example,
the "value" of openness (in terms of technical architecture) or independence
(not directly controlled by governments) might be important to promote the
human rights of "free expression" and "privacy." I take Max's concern to be
that we might demote the end principles that should properly be recognized
as "rights" to the level of "values," and open up a competition between
universal human rights and particular values that might actually be in
conflict with them, i.e. a Chinese assertion of "harmony" as a value that
trumps freedom of expression. But I think we can stick to an insistence upon
universal human rights as the end goals, and still find a useful role for
also speaking about "values" in Internet governance that will help promote
human rights. I would say something similar about "principles." Like, in
order to respect and promote the right of freedom of privacy, we should
follow the principle that "transmissions should not be blocked by
intermediaries, only by the choice of the recipient." I'm less sure where
"morality" fits in as a useful concept.
Max: i see two caveats that we need to address:

(a) when we select the values (openness, accessibility) it is a selection
and therefore will appeal to exactly the same people who we are already
talking to

(b) when i read lea's input i thought exactly what she wrote in the last
sentences - how are values than different from principles? i thought
openness, interoperability, net-neutrality etc. are the principles

On the other hand i completely see the point Rebecca made (and Lea with the
reference to "harmony") regarding our discourse bein hijacked or at least
driven in areas where it will be very difficult to find constructive

My thinking was/is that we use values as a way to find common goals and a
shared basis - (1) we all want XXXXX (2) let's have a dialogue about how to
get there. And from the values that i found moral values (ethics - maybe
under the heading of social values) seemd to be the best to start with,
because religious or political values are even more tainted/diverse, and
others like astaetic values are not relevant to our cause.

Lea also writes: To the extent we frame our input as implementing legal
principles universally agreed on by sovereign governments as a basis for
framing and constraining the exercise of that sovereignty, it gives the
input greater import. Instead of merely saying, "Please, we'd like you to
implement these values," we say "These steps are necessary to implement the
human rights obligations you are legally committed to."

Max: so here we have the principles-values overlap or do they even mean the
same? I do really like the second point about procedure.

My suggestion again: Facilitate a dialogue on "how cultures can interact in
the global communication environment" - with the goal of developing an
"inter- or trans-cultural netiquette" and an appeal (or something similar to
the original appeal that got this coalition started) outlining all the
values that should be aspired to. We can then use this appeal to get it
signed by governments & other institutions.
To lay the groundwork for that we could organize an "online debate with
representatives from different cultures"

Looking forward to discuss further


*"I dont divide the world into the weak and the strong, or into the
successes and the failures. ...
I divide the world into the learners and the nonlearners"*
  .   .   .   .  .  .  . Benjamin Barber

Dr. Max Senges


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