[IRP] layers approach to stratify internet governance

Lisa Horner lisa
Thu Sep 17 13:21:32 EEST 2009

Thanks Robert - that's really useful and interesting.

When I was first thinking about what "layers" might be useful to think about in a human rights approach a couple of years ago, I did a similar exercise, looking at other people's conceptions and trying to pull out the most relevant layers and wording.

Just FYI...Anriette, Max and I had a quick conversation in Geneva which really helped me to clarify the different things we're talking about and trying to achieve.  We realised there are 2 different focal points, similar I think to what Meryem was getting at with the need for some kind of matrix.

1) What do our human rights actually mean in the internet age and environment. (e.g.at the most basic level,  free expression prohibits online censorship; the right to association means we shouldn't be prevented from organising online and that we should be able to have an online identity etc).

2) How do we actually build an internet that supports these rights to the fullest extent....what principles do we need (e.g. net neutrality, open standards etc).

Thinking about and fleshing out both of these areas is really important.  (1) requires human rights to be the starting point.  (2) needs us to think about the different "layers" or areas of governance so that we ensure all aspects of the internet environment support rather than undermine the maintenance/building of an internet that supports rights.

We thought that the new Charter could be written in these two phases, and I started to sketch out what that might look like on the Google doc.  I think Max is doing some more work on that now.  Would be good to hear any thoughts people have.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org on behalf of Bodle, Robert
Sent: Thu 17/09/2009 03:59
To: Max Senges; irp
Subject: Re: [IRP] layers approach to stratify internet governance
Hi all, 

I tried tracking the stratification of internet and internet governance: attached is a table i slammed together that helps me think about the layers approach a bit (could be more detailed but can't fit it in the boxes). 


From: irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org [irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org] On Behalf Of Max Senges [maxsenges at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 12:30 PM
To: irp
Subject: [IRP] layers approach to stratify internet governance

Dear all

One of the interesting and constructive debates in our workshop yesterday was about how to stratify our struggle for human rights and principles on the internet.

Anriette has pointed me to the APC 2006 anual report where she distinguishes between: a physical layer, a protocols infrastructure layer, and an interactional or relational layer.

As you know Lisa and myself have proposed for very similar layers/commons (infrastructure, services (everybody who runs a website or service), social = netiquette, and of course Access as an extremely important goal, but politically different animal).

The structuring of our discourse around rights is the most natural, but as I have argued before: I believe that it is more strategic to address existing communities (the infrastructure people, the services, and the users) rather than gather around our rights flag.

I copy Anriette's text below.

Looking forward to your comments and especially edits either to the google doc (i tried to make it editable for everyone but it should definitly work through the invitation i sent to the list) or in the http://irc.wiki.apc.org/ (where you need to register)

hasta pronto

Why is information and communications infrastructure
so fundamental to development and social change?
I believe the answer lies in the layered nature of information and communications
infrastructure. It has a physical layer (e.g. the internet backbone, radio spectrum,
computers), a protocol or logical layer (e.g. open standards to ensure all sectors of
the internet "talk" to each other), and content and applications.
Yet one can also argue that there is another layer, one which is constituted by
the social processes that are facilitated by the infrastructure. It can be termed the
"interactional" or "relational" layer of ICT infrastructure. I like to think of this layer
as having two primary components.
First, it is where the narratives of globalisation, diversity, inclusion and exclusion
are located. ICT expansion has positive and negative consequences. E-governance and
reliance on the internet for access to information can increase exclusion and contribute
to the formation of new elites. New applications and services emerge every day, but
usually require access to credit cards and bank accounts.
But it is also in this layer where people, individually and in groups, appropriate the
infrastructure and claim space for protest, self-expression, sharing and learning. It is a
kind of macro-microcosm. Blogging, podcasting, social bookmarking, photo sharing,
citizens' journalism: there are many different labels and tools. There is an ongoing
tug of war between developers, markets, people and cultures of use.
What about people who do not have access? Is the global communications infra-
structure a public good to which all people should have access?
APC believes the answer is "yes". People who live in poverty, who are socially,
economically and politically disempowered, deserve access to means that will enable
them to speak, to be heard, to use online services and to participate in decisions that
impact on their lives.
The second component of the interactional or relational layer of this infrastructure
is the public participation or social justice component. In a real sense it can facilitate
transparency and accountability, participatory policy formulation and implementation,
mobilisation, solidarity and protest. This does not happen because of the existence
of the internet. It happens because people, communities and organisations use the
internet to organise and/or obtain the information they need to improve their lives.

""Progress is the realization of Utopia"
  .   .   .   .  .   .   . . . . Oscar Wilde

Dr. Max Senges



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org/pipermail/irp-internetrightsandprinciples.org/attachments/20090917/eda0f72f/attachment.htm>

More information about the IRP mailing list