[IRPCoalition] [bestbits] Time-sensitive: 24 hour sign on period for ITU Plenipot joint recommendations

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Tue Oct 21 13:46:44 EEST 2014

I have not had the chance to go into the long statement in detail. 
However, what I see as its main refrain is bothersome. It says yes there 
are many very important global Internet policy issues, and then says 
that the ITU should not take them up, but tells us nothing about who 
should take them up. This becomes a recipe for, or at least, towards a 
political governance free world, the kind one nowadays read about 
frequently in the documents of the World Economic Forum (read for 
instance its Global Redesign Initiative).

I am agnostic about whether ITU takes up at least some important 
Internet policy issues at the global level or some other democratic 
global body takes them up. However, it is not tenable that they be just 
left hanging out there, which only allows those who have the greatest 
default power on the Internet, mostly the US based economic and 
political establishment, to carry on consolidating their power. This 
statement for me is simply an expression of support for the Internet 
power status quo, and therefore I strongly oppose it.

To take a few examples (a more detailed critique will follow);

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the statement, from developing 
countries viewpoint, is tha which sanctifies unregulated global market 
models for global Internet inter-connectivity.... This is a major 
reversal from the stand of all developing countries and all progressive 
civil society at the WSIS, where unfair global interconnection regimes 
was one of the main 'development issues'. This statement seems to close 
that issue by declaring that such things be best left to free markets, 
with no regulatory framework, or even a normative/ principles framework. 
In any case, it is not clear how even working on the interconnection 
issue, an express mandate for ITU from the WSIS is a 'mission creep' for 
the ITU. It appears that there is not one thing that ITU can do in 2014 
which will not be called a mission creep. In the circumstances one 
thinks that the proponents of the statement should be bold and just ask 
for the closing down of the ITU.

Further, the statement says that the ITU should not work towards a 
treaty on cyber- security, an issue that has shaken the world post 
Snowden.  Just today I read an interview with Snowden's colleague Laura 
Poitras about how  little has really changed on the ground as far as 
mass surveillance by the five eyes is concerned. What other than a 
treaty that reigns in the conduct of the states in this regard can be a 
solution? Or have we simply given up and are ready to allow the powerful 
to do what they may? Alternatively, is there any other solution being 
thought of? Civil society must answer these questions.

The statement seems to suggest that the first committee of the UN Gen 
Assembly should keep doing the work on cyber security. That is quite 
surprising becuase by all means, the first committee’s work is much less 
participative (of other stakeholders) than even of the ITU. So, what is 
the rationale here, other than just to say ITU should not do it (we will 
see when we have to stop even the first committee from doing it, but 
right now the imperative is.... ). I am fine with the first committee 
doing it, but remember that any effort towards a cyber security treaty 
will require the expertise of ITU which is the agency that has hitherto 
dealt with this issue. Such an simply obstructionist attitude to global 
governance bespeaks of a movement towards a very unequal, unfair and 
unjust world. Progressive civil society must take note rather than 
blindly signing on this rather dangerous statement.

The statement says, we should not begin working on a cyber security 
treaty because there is no consensus on basic concepts and principles in 
the area.... Is there a greater consensus on the area of climate change, 
and so many other areas. Do we just give up in these areas? if not, why 
in the area of Internet governance? Consensus on concepts and principles 
emerge as a part of a process towards development of global principles 
and agreements and not a as a pre condition of them. This is universally 
known. One can understand why US wants to protect the status quo, but 
why civil society?

Again, this is simply a statement for maintaining the Internet power 
status quo... Dont do it at the ITU, but we wont tell you where to do 
either.... Supporting this statement in my view will simply be to 
support the global Internet status quo....

Yes, we need to reform the ITU, but seeking simple withdrawal of all 
Internet policy related agenda from global governance stage is very 
problematic. As this agenda is withdrawn from the global stage, the 
dominant political and economic forces get a free reign, and the little 
policy that needs to be made is made at plurilateral forums like the 
OECD, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP (seefor instance, just the 
day before's news, http://infojustice.org/archives/33428, on how TPP 
seeks to regulate global IP TV transmissions).

Such statements as this one simply clear the way for such rule of the 
economically and politically powerful...


On Tuesday 21 October 2014 02:08 AM, Anne Jellema wrote:
> Dear colleagues
> As you know, a fluid working group was formed after the IGF to try to 
> come up with joint recommendations for the ITU Plenipot. We produced 
> the open letter on transparency and participation in the Plenipot 
> process itself, which many of you signed (thank you!). Our second and 
> harder task was to develop positions on some of the most important 
> substantive issues before the conference. The output of this second 
> phase of our work is a 7 page lobby document that is now available for 
> endorsement for the next 24 hours at:
> http://bestbits.net/itu-plenipot-notes
> The fluid working group struggled to obtain the conference proposals 
> on which to base our analysis and recommendations, both because of the 
> ITU's restrictions on document access and because many Member States 
> submitted their proposals quite late in the day. As a result, our 
> drafting process has taken us hard up against the start of the 
> Plenipot itself.
> It is now very urgent to get this text in front of delegations, so we 
> are opening it for endorsements rather than comment. If however 
> someone has a red flag, "absolutely can't live with it" issue that 
> prevents them from signing on, they should email me personally in the 
> next 24 hours to propose an edit(s) to resolve this issue, and I will 
> consult the other members of the ITU fluid working group on whether to 
> accept this edit.
> Due to the lack of time for comment and consensus, we are not 
> presenting these recommendations in the name of Best Bits or on behalf 
> of civil society in general but only on behalf of the specific 
> organisations endorsing.
> If you would like your organisation to be listed, please send your 
> logo to Carolina Rossini (crossini at publicknowledge.org 
> <mailto:crossini at publicknowledge.org>) by 22:30 CET (16:30 EST) 
> tomorrow, 21 Oct.
> Best wishes
> Anne
> -- 
> Anne Jellema
> +27 061 36 9352 (ZA)
> +1 202 684 6885 (US)
> @afjellema
> *
> *
> *World Wide Web Foundation | 1110 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 500, 
> Washington DC, 20005, USA | www.webfoundation.org 
> <http://www.webfoundation.org/> | Twitter: @webfoundation*
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