[IRPCoalition] IRPC Submission to the Net Mundial Meeting

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Thu Mar 6 14:44:34 EET 2014

I would try to have the same conversation with them that I am having with you.
And with the same result: they had no ability to engage or defend their concepts, it is a question you are not supposed to ask, polite liberals aren't supposed to ask tough questions about what nice words mean and how they would be operationalized, if you have good intentions that is all that matters. ;-) So poor Parminder, I am completely unintimidated by your question.

From: parminder [mailto:parminder at itforchange.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:03 PM
To: Milton L Mueller; irp at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org
Subject: Re: [IRPCoalition] IRPC Submission to the Net Mundial Meeting

About 'what is social justice', Milton, perhaps you should ask your long time funder - Ford Foundation, who use this term as an overarching programmatic theme. See http://www.fordfoundation.org/issues . In fact, they subsume FoE under Social Justice!

Maybe you never told them that you did not think social justice is at all a meaningful term, in fact, as per you, it is a rather dangerous concept... They may be under the wrong impression that you are doing work that is aligned to their social justice goals...


On Thursday 06 March 2014 02:50 AM, Milton L Mueller wrote:

From: irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org<mailto:irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org> [mailto:irp-
webpage with the right text<http://internetrightsandprinciples.org/site/campaign/>)

If those are the Principles being proposed, I have the following comments and questions:

2) Rights and Social Justice
The Internet is a space for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights and the advancement of social justice. Everyone has the duty to respect the human rights of all others in the online environment.
What is 'social justice'? How is it advanced? I honestly have no idea what it means in this context.Could one add a reference to international legal instruments here that explains what one means by human rights?
3) Accessibility
Everyone has an equal right to access and use a secure and open Internet.
4) Expression and Association
Everyone has the right to seek, receive, and impart information freely on the Internet without censorship or other interference. Everyone also has the right to associate freely through and on the Internet, for social, political, cultural or other purposes.
At last, a right that bears some resemblance to well-understood human rights.
5) Privacy and Data Protection
Everyone has the right to privacy online. This includes freedom from surveillance, the right to use encryption, and the right to online anonymity. Everyone also has the right to data protection, including control over personal data collection, retention, processing, disposal and disclosure.
Ditto the above
6) Life, Liberty and Security
The rights to life, liberty, and security must be respected, protected and fulfilled online. These rights must not be infringed upon, or used to infringe other rights, in the online environment.
I like this, but doesn't it overlap a bit with #1 and #2, and isn't it clearly better than #2 because it avoids undefined and divisive language about social justice?
7) Diversity
Cultural and linguistic diversity on the Internet must be promoted, and technical and policy innovation should be encouraged to facilitate plurality of expression.
8) Network Equality
Everyone shall have universal and open access to the Internet's content, free from discriminatory prioritisation, filtering or traffic control on commercial, political or other grounds.
This one is garbled, and it overreaches, and thereby sets itself up for rejection. It is not about "network equality" it is either about network neutrality or the right of network users to be treated equally (except that no one really wants to treat all network users equally). Not all content on the internet is open, some of it you have to pay for and some of it is shielded because you don't have authorization to access it (e.g., my bank account). Is that a violation of this principle? What is "the Internet's content"? "Discriminatory prioritization...on commercial, political or other grounds" might be interpreted to mean that network operators or end users could not discriminate against traffic tagged as spam, malware or viruses.
9) Standards and Regulation
The Internet's architecture, communication systems, and document and data formats shall be based on open standards that ensure complete interoperability, inclusion and equal opportunity for all.
"Complete interoperability" tips me off that whoever wrote this hasn't worked with standards and standardization much. Are you saying that innovative protocols or services that don't always work well with others are to be banned? How about IPv6, for example?
10) Governance
Human rights and social justice must form the legal and normative foundations upon which the Internet operates and is governed. This shall happen in a transparent and multilateral manner, based on principles of openness, inclusive participation and accountability.
What a mess. I simply don't believe that this principle, especially the invocation of "multilateral" governance, has widespread consensus. I still don't know what social justice means, but I do know how some people use the term as a code word for coercive redistributions of wealth.

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