[IRP] [governance] Declaration of Internet Freedom

Benedek, Wolfgang wolfgang.benedek@uni-graz.at wolfgang.benedek
Thu Jul 12 22:39:46 EEST 2012

Dear Marianne,

Good to hear that You are working on how the charter came about. I'm ready to share my part of the story when the time comes. But we need also to look forward and discuss what should come next, the Charter could well be further developed, but the real issue is how to make it better known as some new initiatives do not seem to have noticed its existence.

Regarding signing the declaration on internet freedom, which in my view takes a very limited approach it would be good to know more about it, who started it, who takes care of the process etc The text itself seems to be silent on these issues which is a bit strange.

Wolfgang Benedek

Von: Marianne Franklin <m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk<mailto:m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk>>
An: IRP <Irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org<mailto:Irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org>>
Betreff: Re: [IRP] [governance] Declaration of Internet Freedom

Hi all

To follow-up on these points and reflections; the need to keep momentum up and increase participation and knowledge about human rights issues in all Internet governance fora has been an ongoing priority, for the IRP DC at least and all its partners. However, this is a loose coalition, all labour is voluntary and this lack of human and financial resources particularly now our website is not functioning puts us on a different footing to funded organizations. As far as I can tell nearly all of us have fulltime employment and affiliations elsewhere so it's a wonder the Charter has come this far, and the coalition!

Back to the current debate; Brett's point about the need to consolidate the success of the anti-SOPA/ACTA mobilization is one I certainly agree with. Jeremy's timely reminder however of how not only the IRP Charter, the Ten Punchy Principles, and now the Five-Point Declaration (not to omit Max's individually-focused Oath) have not emerged out of nowhere is one I also think we need to be aware of. This historical perspective is crucial to maintain not only intellectually (I'm an academic so this matters to how I view these debates) but also politically.

On this note, the Charter's genesis, and then the process of drafting are distinct from the consultation process since Draft 1.0/1.1 emerged along with the 10 Principles. These are in turn distinct from how the coalition has proceeded to refine the Charter as a legitimate document (or 'source' for others to work from) and also create an advocacy impetus (i.e. the 10 Punchy Principles) alongside the more legalistic and technically focused Charter.

Getting a sense of how the IRP Charter/10 Principles came about, were written, and then disseminated over these last 3 years does relates to what came before (e.g. during WSIS, in UNESCO meetings in the 1970's with the MacBride commission and even earlier) but it is also a very 'live' process so the events of the Arab Spring, Wikileaks, Anonymous and other issues have also played a role in how younger generations (aka the 'Google Generation' or 'Generation Y') are starting to perceive the Web in their lives.

During the drafting and internal consultation process and launches, numerous forms of outreach over the last couple of years took place on the ground. Not only online within or beyond this listserv. Whilst 'impact' is not measurable (here I differ from many who attempt to do just this) in a straightforward sense, these efforts based on face to face outreach are integral. A lot got done online. A lot got done on the ground (e.g. outside the "Suez Room" in Sharm, or in empty cafeterias in Vilnius, or on the steps outside during various 'smokos', formal meetings, poolside conferences, conference calls, government-sponsored meetings e.g. in Stockholm, in the classroom or academic seminar, in social networking sites, and all the rest).

These moments, what really happened and/or who can take the credit etc, are also distinct from what we do next, and where we do this. And who 'we' are!

For the record, to answer Dixie's comment about whether anyone is reconstructing the IRP Charter process, I am doing this right now. It's an academic project (part of a book coming out next year) so this is a form of "slow writing" (a bit like "slow food"!). However, with IGF in Baku coming up, and as people have different memories and ideas about the Charter-writing and consultation process itself, I can provide a draft outline of the process to date if this would be useful to figuring out how to create momentum through many charters/declarations as opposed to fragmentation (as Jeremy notes is a danger).

My point here is that when it comes to reconstructing how we got to the point we are now, all historical narratives are contestable so the more input from people with memories and experiences would be invaluable.

2 final points, (1) to nuance my quip about Tweet-sized condensations of the Charter in my last mail. If this is a way to get another sort of audience thinking about issues of privacy, FoE, and such like then I think it would be creative and worthwhile challenge. The Ten Punchy Principles is a very effective educational and awareness raising tool; they create debate and raise questions. However, these distilled versions are only the tip of the iceberg.

(2) I think the IRP Coalition should sign up to the Declaration of Internet Freedom. Even as a multistakeholder coalition this would be appropriate; we sent out declarations during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions to this effect. If others think it is not appropriate for us to join the petition then I am interested to know why not. Baku is also an IGF meeting where human rights are pressing matters. As an IGF coalition along with others, e.g. the FoE and Gender DCs, we have a chance to put the topic on the agenda. There are workshops already planned and submitted to the IGF. I hope they get on the program!


On 11/07/2012 09:37, Jeremy Malcolm wrote:
On 10/07/2012, at 7:41 PM, Brett Solomon wrote:

No one person or group 'owns' the internet, should determine how it is governed, or has the mandate to create the set of internet principles. Instead a willingness to enter into conversations, to understand what came before and improve from one's own starting point should be a defining factor with which to judge initiatives. In the context of principles, I am of the opinion that we should not only allow, but encourage a thousand connected flowers to bloom. And that is exactly what is happening, in many different and varied forums (the compiled list is a great resource - thanks Jeremy for putting this together). Seeing how some of those initiatives may converge and support each other I think is the next step.

I broadly agree, however there are some purposes for which a half-dozen statements or declarations are not as useful as one.  In particular this applies to talking with policy-makers.  Their attention spans are limited, and they will read one (short) document, but won't read six.  Actually, you've said the same thing yourself about the original IRP charter.

At last year's IGC meeting at the IGF there was broad agreement that we should develop a short statement on Internet governance principles for the following year's meeting, on which we would consult with broader civil society, and to advocate for the IGF to use this, together with the various governmental and intergovernmental principles documents, as inputs into the development of a multi-stakeholder set of principles perhaps for the 2013 meeting.  All the other civil society statements of rights and principles would be inputs into the development of such a civil society statements for presentation at the IGF, but it wouldn't be useful to try to present all half-dozen of them there.

An alternative to drafting something new for the IGF would be to choose one of the existing documents and table that, but I don't think that as they stand, either the Internet Declaration or the punchy IRP principles (for example) have the same emphasis on Internet governance processes that I thought would be contained in the IGC's statement (Wolfgang, who is leading that process, will correct me if I'm wrong).  A third alternative is to work with you and the other groups on improving the Internet Declaration, and maybe folding the IGC effort into it, so that it would be suitable for us to rally around at the IGF and in engaging with policy-makers in other fora.

As you know (but some won't) this is one of the options that could be discussed in a planned side-meeting and teleconference at the Asia-Pacific Regional IGF.  There will be other online and offline opportunities between now and WCIT to continue and broaden the conversation.  More on this below.

To my mind, there are certainly things that are missing from the Declaration. For example, whilst all of the principles are rights based (hence why Amnesty International and we signed on) the words 'human rights' are not mentioned. It does not include some of the elements of the 10 Internet Rights and Principles. 'Life, liberty and security' for example is missing. It also does not recognize properly the principles and documents that have come before, including WSIS commitments. In its defense it says "We are joining an international movement to defend our freedoms because we believe that they are worth fighting for." There is some momentum towards addressing these concerns (including putting or referencing other initiatives in the Preamble) and I with others have been pushing for this.

Your explanation of the process has been very helpful; in this light I think that the main mistake that the drafters made was just failing to clearly say "this is draft number zero".  It was announced with maybe a bit too much fanfare for a draft zero, but then again everything Access does comes with a lot of fanfare. ;-)  (Seriously though, I say that with much admiration.  The way you guys rally people is amazing.  It would be impossible for many of the more established NGOs to get as many sign-ons in such short a time as you have.)

Getting buy in, let alone consensus as we all know can be a total nightmare. It can lead to paralysis, but I think its worth trying. I also want to note, that many groups haven't ever heard of the IGC, the IRP Dynamic Coalition or Enhanced Cooperation - why would they have? We need to engage more people (particularly Americans?) in the WSIS process, to understand the commitments and to take the IGF process forward (incidentally I dont think we need a new IGF or otherwise). One last point on this - with so many active and informed individuals on this list, some of the conversations can be pretty overwhelming/intimidating, so its hard to invite new people here.

I was also thinking that the IGF might be the right time to try to bring the stakeholders together. A quo vardis meeting (let's not call it that!) or IRP meeting would make sense. I would love to be part of that. I also think that there is lots of room for cross pollination before then and look forward to discussions online ahead of a face to face meeting. Sam's suggestions of curation and coordination should be encouraged.

Yes, apart from what APC and ISOC have planned, there is support for another "big tent" meeting between now and WCIT (and probably before the IGF, but not in Azerbaijan) that will bring IGF/WSIS/development people and US/digital rights/technical community people together.  I'm in discussions about this with some supporters and that's part of what we'll talk about in the APrIGF meeting and call.


Dr Jeremy Malcolm
Senior Policy Officer
Consumers International
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