[IRP] Some punch
Wed Oct 6 08:08:57 EEST 2010
"I agree with you that it's not common place to put things like
"we're not looking to create new rights" in a preamble. But I think
it's there to make it clear what the project is about, and to answer
the common question as to whether that's what we're doing. It has
been a question that's come up time and time again, so in the
initial drafting process people felt it should be clear up front. "
"As we're translating existing rights standards, it's a case of
whether there's enough consensus as to whether it is a right under
existing standards (e.g. as we have a right to free expression,
adequate standards of living etc etc, we have a right to the
internet under states' obligations to fulfil rights), or whether we
can just say that it should be a right at this stage. I agree that
we should be as progressive and inspiring as possible, but we have
to work within the bounds of the project in terms of translating
existing standards." (Lisa)
Since the nature and the limits of 'the project' (I had thought it was a
rather open exercise :) but more on it later) as basically being of
'translating existing standards' is being spoken of rather seriously
here, I have the following to say even if the issue appears somewhat
time barred now :).
The concept of 'human rights standards' and their translation is
meaningful only/ mostly for applying agreed human rights charters etc to
some *very* specific situations / contexts, like a genocide, cultural
exclusions of a tribal group etc. That is how, in my understanding, the
technical application of a political instrument is done. However, I
dont see the information society phenomenon, consecrated by a World
Summit, as just a very specific situation/ context, but as an
evolutionary and emergent reality - social, cultural and, well, thus
also political (cant refuse or ignore this aspect).
In my opinion, one does not translate a set of human rights standards
into a new charter of rights (and I agree information society may need a
new, additional, charter), as the present process or project seeks to
do. That is the problem with the very basis/ definition of this
process/ project. I would, however, normally not spend too much time on
such conceptual issues that only relate to the process, unless a strong
shadow of these issues did not clearly fall on some substantive issues.
Now for the two political, economic, social and cultural rights vis a
vis the Internet I argued for.
First, about the Right to the Internet.
It looks like both a logical and a political fallacy to say, one does
*not* have a 'right to the Internet', however, if somehow one does
manage to get there, one has the following rights....... (See this
formulation especially with regard to the preamble language proposed by
Tapani, which has been much acclaimed, including by me, which considers
the Internet as a 'place').
I am far from being anything even close to an expert on human rights,
but my political understanding is that rights, by definition,
correspond to the most basic and primary elements of our social
contract, and there cannot therefore be a right vis a vis a subsequent
level of social contract or arrangement (to speak of 'less basic' levels
of social contract) , without there being a right vis a vis the
logically and politically prior one (right to the Internet vis a vis
right on the Internet).
Therefore, I consider a charter of Internet rights - speaking of rights
on the Internet - meaningless, and retrograde to the very conception of
rights, without an express anchoring of a right to the Internet. It is
as if we are creating a new autonomous entity over the Internet, to
which everyone *cannot* be accorded an automatic right This is *not* how
I see the Internet. Rights here appear to be some kind of club goods.
On the other hand, I do see the present draft charter say, ' Everyone
has the equal right to access to the Internet.' Dont see how it is much
different from 'right to access the Internet' (which is what I proposed
in my email), or rather let us even more clearly say ' everyone has the
right to the Internet'. Maybe we can name the sub head as 'right to the
Internet' and put this sentence below about - everyone has the right to
access the Internet. It is the unrequired language about 'affordable
conditions' - and in my opinion, clearly wrong language for a rights
document - which is the big problem. We should just remove that part.
Secondly, about the right to net neutrality (NN), or to net equality
"RE threat to open architecture -- I agree."(Lisa)
You agree that the 'open architecture issue' is important and urgent. I
am quite sure that it is up to progressive groups like us to posit NN as
a rights issue, and not just as business and competition issue, and this
is best done by putting it in language of rights. (Today I see that
France telecom authorities too have come out with NN principles)
I hope we can have more active language for the NN part, something
between what Tapani suggested and my formulation, and have a sub
heading, 'right to net equality' (or if NN is more recognizable, we can
use that)..... For indeed if the Internet is a new space, immediately
after having a right to the space, one should have the 'right to
equality in that space' (any democratic constitution will start with it)
before more differential conditions for other social arrangements -
including market and economic power based - are worked out. That is how
I see any social and political structure and order get constructed. This
should be as true for the Internet as for anywhere else.
First a 'right to the Internet', then a 'right to equality on the
Internet' or right to Net Equality (NN or NE), and then other rights,
and then principles ...... That is the logical sequence, and I think the
charter should also be written like this.
As for the 'project' that we are collectively embarked upon, I take it
to be something like
An effort towards formulating key issues of governance of the
central socio-technical paradigm of the emerging information
society, the Internet, in a human centric manner (instead of
state-centric, or business centric) using human rights frameworks,
and for this purpose coming up with a charter of Internet rights and
On Monday 04 October 2010 04:10 PM, Lisa Horner wrote:
> Hi Parminder and all
> Thanks for these comments. I agree with you that it's not common
> place to put things like "we're not looking to create new rights" in a
> preamble. But I think it's there to make it clear what the project is
> about, and to answer the common question as to whether that's what
> we're doing. It has been a question that's come up time and time
> again, so in the initial drafting process people felt it should be
> clear up front. But I agree it's a bit odd to include it in the
> preamble. I think perhaps we need a more general "introduction"
> section (or background, or even at the end as an annex) to explain the
> process, background and rationale of the approach. Then we can keep
> the preamble more punchy and inspiring. Or we could remove the bit
> about new rights as Parminder suggests. (I personally think we still
> need it in there somewhere...it's been such a bone of contention).
> What do people think? And should these changes be made for version
> 1.1, or wait until 2.0?
> RE the other comments -- they're really important points. Could you
> agree to include them in the consultation process, and then we can
> make the necessary changes for version 2.0? Version 1.1 was intended
> to incorporate urgent issues (mistakes, contradictions, misleading
> comments). So we'll add your suggestions to the compilation of
> comments for 2.0 if that's ok.
> RE right to Internet...I completely hear what you're saying. I think
> it's something that would benefit from more discussion. ...it should
> be a specific issue we consult on amongst us and other groups. As
> we're translating existing rights standards, it's a case of whether
> there's enough consensus as to whether it is a right under existing
> standards (e.g. as we have a right to free expression, adequate
> standards of living etc etc, we have a right to the internet under
> states' obligations to fulfil rights), or whether we can just say that
> it should be a right at this stage. I agree that we should be as
> progressive and inspiring as possible, but we have to work within the
> bounds of the project in terms of translating existing standards. We
> of course also need to bear in mind the difference between human
> rights and other legal rights. We definitely need to revisit our
> language and conditionalities (re "affordable conditions" etc), and be
> consistent in our language ("rights", "ares" and "shoulds").
> RE threat to open architecture -- I agree.
> As you know, we're keeping track of comments, so if anyone has any
> thoughts on this now, feel free to send them through...you don't have
> to wait for the consultation process to start.
> The punchy group has been pulling out what they think are key
> principles, and will then be whittling them down. They're not working
> on the preamble, but we'll need to work out how the two fit in with
> each other.
> Brett -- could you give us an update on the work please, and add
> Parminder to the group?
> Thanks and all the best,
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