[IRP] Notes from call on preamble.

M I Franklin cos02mf
Fri Dec 17 17:03:27 EET 2010

Dear All

After a week out of action with flu I have been catching up on the 
correspondence and discussions around the drafting of Charter 1.1. There 
are persuasive and very eloquent arguments on all sides of the debate, 
particularly about whether or not to make a 'right to the Internet' more 
explicit if not a foundational clause.

As I have noted before with others, this notion is actually implicit to the 
whole Charter process so in a sense we have been debating a tactical issue 
rather than a technical one. Here I think the consensus is that 'caution is 
the better part of valour' in that making this explicit would create 
resistance in the communities we are looking to engage. I am happy to go 
along with this. Only time will tell whether we have erred too far on the 
side of caution. But that said, the whole Charter is itself a political 
process and given that its opponents already argue that it is either an 
overly ambitious initiative if not one superfluous to requirements given 
the many national and international agreements in place, we will always 
stand accused of this conceit. Let that be.

With that preamble and resisting the desire to engage with any number of 
important points raised in the discussion between Mike, Meryem, Parminder, 
and Tapani inter alia, I'll confine my responses to Lisa's summary and 
requests as follows:

1) Preambles: I think that the tighter, more direct wording of the preamble 
being proposed is more than good enough for now; as long as we are clear 
and direct in this section about the aims and objectives of this Charter as 
an initiative that looks to develop the UDHR *for* the Internet as  well as 
in light of what can happen, and does happen *on* the Internet. The point 
here is that the Internet, so long as it is defined in an inclusive way, 
*is* a new 'paradigm' (as Parminder puts it) that adds up to more than the 
sum of its 'tubes' (as Mike notes) or protocols. For that reason, this 
Charter has emerged as an advocacy tool as well as a policy instrument as 
well as a statement of principles. All this *is* new terrain, by 
definition; new is not only defined by something that supercedes what came 
before so we should not be coy about the need for this Charter. But, as 
others note we do need to be sure of generic, rather than time-sensitive 
terms to avoid being made obsolete before the Charter gets off the starting 

2) Right to the Internet vs, Right to access the Internet: This is not an 
either-or issue to me and I don't have (as yet) such strong views on which 
is best or not per se. In any case, I have to defer to the expertise and 
experience of others in this sort of drafting; its an impressive set of 
arguments and nuances to think about already.  But there is an analytical, 
political, and practical distinction between the two phrases. In that sense 
I think we need to keep that clear; right to access the Internet being the 
explicitly developed clauses and right to the Internet as a subtext vs. an 
overt reference (here I agree with Wolfgang's approach).

That said, I find myself caught between the persuasiveness of both Meryem 
and Parminder's arguments; intuitively we are working here along the lines 
that 'the' Internet (understood in more holistic rather than technical 
terms) is emerging as a new right. However not any sort of Internet hence 
the need to break this 'right' down and create directions for a 
human-centred vs. techno-economic driven communications paradigm (here the 
old can morph into the new). Is this not we are doing with the Charter, 
namely calling to account instrumentalised notions of the Internet, viz. 
computer-mediated communications not entirely premised on national(istic) 
models? As in the Brazilian and APC cases, this Charter is about 
re-politicising the design and governing precepts of what has become if not 
the primary means and medium of communication for all peoples in the future 
then an ideal type for future models; as stipulated by the UN and every 
other major government. Once again, I have no idea whether this will 
actually eventuate or how it will all look some time in the future (here I 
think about the ending to the film, 'The Planet of the Apes'). As a right 
to the Internet is being written into the law books in various countries, 
we can let that stand and concentrate on refining what sort of Internet it 
is that makes another world possible (not the one currently hell-bent on 
gagging Wikileaks alongside others).

3) Naming and prepositions; I had noticed this slippage between 'on' and 
'for'. It's an interesting one for semioticians. Right now though, the most 
elegant and suitable title in Lisa's list is clearly for me is (3) 'Charter 
of Internet Rights and Principles'; this allows for all possible 
permutations and leaves moot whether we are talking about on or for; we are 
talking about on *and* for. The more legalistic and technical language can 
reside in the other parts of the document.

4) Timing: As these sorts of documents can take a lifetime to draft and 
arguments around interpretation become grist to research mills (and novels 
e.g. Charles Dickens' 'Bleak House'!)  I do think we need to 
finalise/balance out what is possible as soon as possible so that 1.1 can 
begin the consultative round. Many of these discussions, and others, will 
no doubt return as other stakeholders have their say. The point is that 
they have their say.

So, finally, the breaking-down of the larger Charter into three documents 
as we have developed is an important way to allow these distinctions to 
have their place; more open-ended and politically explicit advocacy 
statements in the preamble; more careful and judicious wording in the 
clauses; more technical finesse in the third, operational part,

That's it (and here I was thinking I could keep it brief). Looking forward 
to 1.1.


--On Wednesday, December 15, 2010 19:21 +0000 Lisa Horner 
<LisaH at global-partners.co.uk> wrote:

> Hi all
> Thanks to everyone who joined the call this afternoon - it was really
> productive.  We had Parminder, Mike, Shaila, Henrik, Dixie and me.
> Brief notes from the call (as always, please correct me if I'm wrong or
> make additions/comments!)
> 1) Everyone agreed that they liked the format of Meryem's redraft of the
> preamble, splitting it into "context" and "preamble". (reminder - drafts
> can be found here:
> http://www.freedomofexpression.org.uk/resources/irp+charter+of+human+righ
> ts+and+principles+for+the+internet)
> 2) The concern was raised about using the language of "human rights on
> the Internet".  Those of us on the call felt that, through all of the
> discussions we've been having over the past weeks, we've agreed that
> we're talking about more than human rights *on* the Internet.  We're
> talking about rights online, but also about rights of people who aren't
> yet online, what kind of Internet people should have access to and be
> able to use etc. Dixie will check through the text and clarify the
> language.
> We then realised that we may need to revisit the name of the Charter:
> "human rights and principles for the Internet".  (note - on the call, we
> thought the title was "on" the Internet.  But I've just double checked,
> and it's actually been "for" the Internet in all previous drafts).  We
> recognized that we were quite a small group on the call, and to change
> the name is quite a big issue at this stage.  So we said we'd suggest
> some options, and see if there is enough agreement on the list about a
> potential name change. If we can't agree, we'll discuss and consult for
> 2.0.
> So please comment on the following options and say which you prefer:
> a. Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet
> b. Charter of Internet Rights and Principles
> c. Charter of human rights and principles in the Internet environment
> d. Charter of human rights and principles in an Internet enabled world.
> 3) We also discussed the language surrounding para 4 of the draft
> relating to the roles and responsibilities of different
> entities/stakeholders.  I think we agree that, under human rights law,
> it's only states that are legally bound to uphold human rights (and make
> sure that they're not being violated by private sector etc).  This is in
> the current version, but it was felt it needed to perhaps be clearer.
> There were concerns in the group that the current text implies that other
> stakeholders also have responsibilities and that this might give states
> opportunities to shirk their responsibilities, and also that we don't
> give small companies too many burdens to shoulder.  I put forward the
> Ruggie framework as something I think we could follow: States have legal
> responsibility to respect, protect, fulfill human rights; companies have
> moral duties to respect. We agreed there's a need to discuss this in more
> depth - there are slight disagreements/nuances in the coalition that we
> don't have time to iron out at this stage.  Some also didn't like the
> terms "actors" and "society organs".  Dixie will try and draft a
> paragraph that will hopefully satisfy all concerns at this stage, and
> then we can consult and discuss further in 2011. Please look out for that
> tomorrow and comment.
> 4) Question of whether we should include "Right to the Internet".  We've
> discussed this in quite a lot of depth on the list and haven't come to an
> agreement.  On the call, I outlined my concerns: - there's not enough
> consensus amongst us to include "right to the Internet" at this stage. -
> We haven't done enough work as a group to define exactly what we mean and
> why we're saying it. - We're arguing our positions without having really
> talked to other people about it, beyond our immediate group. We need to
> consult on this. - If we're going to say we're declaring a right to the
> Internet, we should do it loud and proud...e.g. build a campaign around
> it asking for its acceptance at international level.
> We then had some discussion in the group.  We clarified that we thought,
> as a coalition, we've come to agree that there is a difference between
> "right to access" and "right to the Internet".  Physical access and
> accessibility/inclusivity is one specific part of a broader right to the
> Internet.  The right to the Internet encompasses all of the rights and
> principles in the Charter.
> We thought about putting some kind of note in the "context" section that
> we are thinking about whether the Charter constitutes a right to the
> Internet.  In the end, we agreed that there isn't enough agreement at the
> moment, and that we would include it as a priority issue in the
> consultation.  We have to put together a document to guide our
> consultations, explicitly seeking input and comments from people on
> specific issues.  We will explain the concept of the "right to the
> Internet" in that document and consult on it as a priority issue.
> We also agreed we'd change the language in the "context" so that we're
> not saying "this Charter is not an attempt to create new rights".
> 5) There were a few other concerns about the language of the text, but it
> was thought we could consult on the preamble more widely and that a new
> version is likely to emerge with 2.0 anyway. But if anyone has immediate
> concerns or suggestions, now is the time to voice them!
> - Please comment on the wording for the title of the Charter.
> - Look out for Dixie's email suggesting alternative language on
> responsibilities of different entities and suggest changes. - If you have
> any other  comments on the preamble, please send them through.
> We did initially say that we'd have a final call on how we address
> limitations to rights in the Charter.  But we've run out of time.  We
> have had quite a bit of discussion on this already related to filtering
> and blocking, so I think it's alright not to have another call.  Is that
> alright with everyone?
> So...to finalise version 1.1 and to see the fruits of all of our work, I
> suggest the following: Based on the conversations we've had over the past
> few weeks, Dixie will edit the draft version 1.1 that we have.  She will
> send a version out next Tuesday 21st December, highlighting the changes.
> People can then check the draft, and send comments through by Monday 3rd
> January.  We'll then have a final week for discussion and a final 1.1
> ready for Monday 10th December.  Does that sound ok to everyone?  I know
> it feels intense. But it's been a really productive few weeks, and it'll
> be really good to finalise this draft, and start getting external input
> during our consultation period.
> Thanks again for all of the inputs and productive conversations.
> All the best,
> Lisa
> ___________________________________________________________
> Lisa Horner
> Head of Research & Policy? Global Partners and Associates
> 338 City Road, London, EC1V 2PY, UK
> Office: + 44 207 239 8251???? Mobile: +44 7867 795859
> LisaH at global-partners.co.uk? www.global-partners.co.uk
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Dr Marianne Franklin
Convener of the Transnational Communications & Global Media Program
Media & Communications
New Cross
London SE14 6NW
United Kingdom
Tel (direct): #44 (0)207 919-7072
Fax: #44 (0) 207 919-7616
email: m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk

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