[IRPCoalition] EC "Internet Policy and Governance" & UK IGF

Marianne Franklin m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk
Thu Mar 13 13:34:38 EET 2014

Dear Andrea

Greetings from Graz, where the Council of Europe event "Shaping the 
Digital Environment: Ensuring our Rights on the Internet" is underway 
today and tomorrow.

To respond to your question about an IRPC position on whether one set, 
or many sets of IG Principles are preferable. I think that there is a 
range of views about this seeing as the IRP Coalition is a cross-sector 
network so I would not presume to speak for all.

What I would like to venture, in a personal capacity and as the Net 
Mundial meeting draws near, is that whilst generating some sort of 
consensus, which will always be qualified, is an aspiration many would 
support and wish to see come out of the Sao Paulo meeting we also need 
to start getting into details. This means looking at what is happening 
on the ground, take all these high-level aspirations into real life 
situations and so start taking account of what has already been 
happening at local and national levels, in the public sector, and within 
small and medium sized enterprises, educational institutions, inter alia 
and in those areas where internet access is not a given, nor a guarantee 
of being able to enjoy life to the fullest.

So here, I would beg to differ from Nigel Hickson about starting top 
down. Time to work from the bottom up too. If not then calls for human 
rights online will become a hollow vessel for platitudes and prevarication.


On 28/02/2014 11:19, Andrea Glorioso wrote:
> Dear Marianne,
> thank you very much for your email and apologies for the belated 
> reply. I was busier than usual in the past days, with some annoying 
> health problems in the family (people with kids will understand).
> On Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM, Marianne Franklin 
> <m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk <mailto:m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk>> wrote:
>     Dear Andrea, and all
>     Here are some brief, and rather belated thoughts and observations
>     from the 2014 UK IGF (http://ukigf.org.uk/events/) and the
>     workshop session in IG Principles where the EC "Internet Policy
>     and Governance - Europe's role in shaping the future of Internet
>     governance" (COM(2014) 72/4) was on the table for responses:
>     First, on the plenary session where Ed Vaizey, the Minister for
>     Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, gave a
>     keynote. The Q&A pivoted on the implications of Snowden's
>     revelations on UK government's approach to Internet Governance,
>     especially the focus on forging a set of universal principles and
>     along with that the prospects for multistakeholder participatory
>     models. His response to one of the final questions, on how "to
>     keep politics out of it" was that this was impossible.
> I think this is an important point that is worth discussing. I am, on 
> a personal level, extremely happy that Minister Vaizey recognises that 
> you cannot "keep politics" out of the Internet, or of its governance. 
> Politics is among other things the management of power and there is 
> power on the Internet (and in its governance). The question is of 
> course to what end is such power put to use; and here it is 
> understandable that there are disagreements, some of them of a 
> fundamental nature.
> What I find bizarre - and, to be absolutely honest, rather 
> frustrating, but that's perhaps because of my job and my academic 
> training as a political scientist... - is when I hear people or 
> organisations claiming that the Internet, and in particular the 
> decisions underpinning the technical choices and the day-to-day 
> operations of the Internet, should not be "politicised".
> I never understood what this means in practice. I am quite clear that 
> the management / operations / coordination of the Internet should not 
> be a matter for governments or inter-governmental organisations to 
> handle. This is by the way, and probably more importantly than my 
> personal opinion, also the official view of the European Commission. 
> But again I do not understand what the call for "non politicisation" 
> actually entails in practice.
>     He went on to note that the West does not have all the answers,
>     and moreover (and here I am quoting from my notes) that "it is a
>     myth that America runs, or wants to run the internet. ... the US
>     is a benign force in Internet Governance".
>     The full transcript should be on the UK IGF website, as it was a
>     short speech.
>     Second, the session on IG Principles; line up was as follows:
>     ·Matthew McDermott, Access Partnership (Moderator);·Paul Blaker,
>     DCMS;·Marianne Franklin, IRPC/ Goldsmiths (University of
>     London);·Nigel Hickson, ICANN;·Jean-Jacques Sahel, Microsoft;
>     Matthew Shears, Center for Democracy and Technology
>     We had a full discussion of the various positions on what sort of
>     IG Principles should be agreed upon, by whom, and moreover from
>     what pool of already existing principles. IRPC members are well
>     aware of how the coalition sees this discussion in terms of the
>     IRP Charter as an articulation of human rights and principles of
>     the Internet in the round. So I will just note some comments from
>     Paul Blaker representing Ed Vaizey's department, Jean-Jacques
>     Sahel from Skype-Microsoft, and Nigel Hickson from ICANN. Reason
>     being that this meeting was an opportunity to hear what UK
>     government officials and technical community members had to say on
>     these points (there were academics and some civil society folk
>     there but it was mainly government and business, if I am not
>     mistaken).
>     The main distinction was about whether pursuing a single set of
>     principles, with the objective of the upcoming Net Mundial in
>     mind, or whether it is preferable to work with the  "open,
>     competitive market in principles" (Blakey) that already exists.
>     Blakey noted some concern from the UK governmental view that
>     pursuing one single set of principles "could be dangerous". Mr
>     Sahel concurred in that from an industry view, the question was
>     whether there is a need for one single set of principles; would
>     not several sets be more practicable.
> Does the IRP Dynamic Coalition have a view on this point?
>     The panel then considered definitional issues around internet
>     governance and where all stakeholders have or can play a formative
>     rather than a nominal role; here the notion or rather lack of
>     trust was a theme that we all concurred on. Mathew Shears (CDT)
>     stressed how the principles discussion converges on shared points
>     around IG as a process, whilst we all differed on the more
>     substantive matters e.g. which principles and/as human rights
>     count for the exercise. The panel ended with a round of
>     participants considering what makes a good principle (definitional
>     matters notwithstanding): The outcome of this brainstorm was the
>     following: a "good IG Principle" whatever it is needs to be
>     - future proof
>     - respecting all human rights
>     - aware of provenance and diversity (i.e. the need for cultural
>     sensitivity and openness)
>     - agreed by all across geographies and by governments
>     - agree to key concepts as baselines.
>     So, here we see that this panel moved up a level of abstraction
>     from the level aspired to by the Net Mundial meeting. Which led to
>     a question from the moderator about whether a truly global set of
>     principles is possible. Nigel Hickson (ICANN) noted that his
>     preference would be to start top down, and then "go down to
>     details"; I argued that the Charter has already gone a long way,
>     and includes a number of rights and principles that are being
>     overlooked in the current post-Snowden climate (e.g. development,
>     women's rights, children, disability, education, cultural
>     diversity). Our moderator, Matthew McDermott, summed it all up by
>     noting that the sum total of these deliberations was the "IG
>     principles should enable better IG Principles". I then took the
>     opportunity to present copies (the last as it happens of the first
>     print run) of the Charter Booklet to Messrs Blaney and Sahel who
>     have yet to get their own copy.
>     Third, turning to the EC Communication. We all welcomed it in
>     principle.
> That's good, although I've been working enough in Brussels to be 
> afraid of the notion of "agreement in principle". ;)
>     But there is one section that would be good to have some
>     elucidation on. I paste it in below from Page 8 where mention is
>     made of "Mutual interactions between technical and public policy
>     considerations". It would be interesting to hear more about what
>     this would entail in practice particularly with debates around the
>     extent of governmental input into IG an area for quite divergent
>     positions within and across those groups heading to Brazil:  (FYI
>     press release, at
>     http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-142_en.htm and full
>     text at
>     http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/dae/document.cfm?doc_id=4453)
>     Andrea, if you want to comment please feel free. Also if I have
>     inadvertently misquoted or misrepresented participants' views
>     please feel free to correct. A report of the panel will be online
>     at some point in the future
> Section 6 of the Communication on Internet Policy and Governance has 
> garnered quite a lot of interest from many different parties. I must 
> say that when I (and, clearly but let's be clear, other colleagues) 
> wrote that part of the Communication, the basic notion seemed quite 
> obvious and harmless to us. It is also important to notice that the 
> actions proposed in the Communication are in my view rather 
> non-prescriptive on the "how" and very open even to discussions on the 
> "what".
> Having said this, it would be easier for me to have a discussion in 
> which people came up with specific points on which they have 
> questions, concerns, doubts, criticisms (praises are also welcome, but 
> I don't get paid to expect them ;) on this section of the 
> Communication (or others as the case might be).
> This is simply because, since I am having a discussion on this section 
> within different mailing lists / constituencies, it has become quite 
> apparent to me that what *I* find absolutely obvious in terms of 
> background, rationale, objectives etc of this section (and of the 
> Communication) might not be for others. This has generated quite a lot 
> of extra traffic and work (for me and others) to clarify 
> misunderstandings that would have been more usefully clarified at the 
> beginning and not in the middle of the conversation. I learned that 
> asking for specific questions, concerns, doubts, criticisms etc is a 
> rather more efficient way to make sure the misunderstandings are, to 
> the extent possible, clarified early in the process.
> So, I'm all ears. ;)
> Again thanks,
> Andrea
> --
> I speak only for myself. Sometimes I do not even agree with myself. 
> Keep it in mind.
> Twitter: @andreaglorioso
> Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrea.glorioso
> LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=1749288&trk=tab_pro

Dr Marianne Franklin
Professor of Global Media and Politics
Convener: Global Media & Transnational Communications Program
Goldsmiths (University of London)
Department of Media & Communications
New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Tel: +44 20 7919 7072
<m.i.franklin at gold.ac.uk>
Co-Chair Internet Rights & Principles Coalition (UN IGF)

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