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

Richard Hill rhill at hill-a.ch
Thu Oct 23 11:25:26 EEST 2014

Once again, I agree with Parminder.  And I would add the following.

Fahdi starts the interview by extolling the virtues and positive effects of
the Internet.  For sure those exist.  But there is also a dark side:
censorship, mass surveillance, exploitation of personal data.  Not to
mention the way in which ICTs have been used to deepen not just the digital
divide, but the economic divide between the rich and the less rich (for
which, see Dan Schiller's new book "Digital Depression").

Then Fahdi says that "we want Internet governance in a distribute,
polycentric way, as opposed to a centralized, top-down way;".  Right.  So
that means that the IANA function should be functionally separated, not
centralized as it is at present.  And that we should find a way to
decentralize ICANN's control of the root zone file.  How about alternate
roots (also called open roots)?

I find it amazing that the head of what is the most centralized, top-down
structure that have ever been seen in telecommunications apparently does not
realize that ICANN is that structure.

Fahdi then moves on to say that "If we move everything into one
organization, suddenly it becomes highly centralized. Now, could the ITU
solve a problem or a particular issue? Certainly, if the community decides
it's the best place to do it. But we think that Internet governance should
look like the Internet: highly distributed, highly agile and highly

Right.  So, in principle, the ITU could address some specific issues.  And,
by the way, I'm not aware of anybody that has ever proposed to move
"everything" into the ITU.  The proposals that I've seen all refer to
specific issues, even if some are admittedly broad issues.

Fahdi goes on to say: "Imagine if we had to come up with a treaty to solve
spam?".  Gee, we have come up with treaties on copyright, trademark,
patents, trade facilitation, air transport and numerous other issues.  So
what's wrong, in principle, with envisaging a treaty to solve spam?  Maybe
it won't work in practice, but why not try?

Fahdi says: "Today, ICANN addresses largely technical issues. But who's
addressing nontechnical issues?".  Uhm.  Deciding on a process for
implementing new gTLDs does not strike me as a technical issue.  Nor do I
see deciding who, if anybody, gets ".amazon" to be a technical issue.

In fact, as Milton has said for years, ICANN is the economic regulator of
the domain name industry.  It does not address technical issues.  It
addresses regulatory issues.

Fahdi then goes on to explain to us how the WEF so-called NETMundial
Initiative will be the mechanism to solve all problems, from protecting
children on the Internet to privacy.

I'm sure that everybody that will read this E-Mail will agree that this is

And I cannot resist pointing out that, when asked by the Minister of Rwanda
"Fadi, I want to come up with a policy to protect children online. Can you
point me somewhere? Who's done that? Whom can I contact to tell me how it
works?", Fahdi could have pointed him to the ITU's web site that compiles
exactly that information, see:


Fahdi goes on to explan that there are no solutions for web site takedowns.
But actually there are: such takedowns are provided for by national laws and
enforced by national courts.  For sure some countries permit far too many
takedowns (for different reasons, e.g. to restrict political speech, or to
protect intellectual property), but there is even a mechanism to challenge
that at the international level, the European Court for Human Rights.  For
sure that is a Europe-only body for now (but with a larger membership than
the European Union, because it includes, for example, the Russian

So why not envisage something like that at the global level?  Oh sorry, it
involves governments, and that is not good.  Right.  So courts should not
exist and should not enforce laws.  Indeed, laws should not exist,
everything should be regulated by private-law contracts.  And those
contracts should be contracts of adhesion that bind users that click, or
even merely access, a web site.

Surely the people who will read this E-Mail (or at least many of them) do
not wish to live in such a world, where one of the fundaments of democracy
would have ceased to exist: the rule of law.

Fahdi says: "But if we leave it to every government to codify their own
solution, we'll end up with a fragmented Internet. " Indeed.  And that is
precisely why the ITU was created in 1965: to avoid a fragmented telegraphy
system.  So, if you don't want the ITU, then you have to reinvent it.  Ah
yes, that reinvention is the "multi-stakeholder model".  But that model is
not democratic and, contrary to what has often been said, it has not
addressed key issues, see my analysis at:


Fahdi says "... the U.S. plays an extremely important role as a role model,
as a reference point to the world. "  Indeed.  So the US should end mass
surveillance.  Failing to do so is sending the wrong message.  In particular
because, as Dilma Rousseff has said "In the absence of the right to privacy,
there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no
effective democracy".


-----Original Message-----
From: parminder [mailto:parminder at itforchange.net]
Sent: mercredi, 22. octobre 2014 19:20
To: michael gurstein; 'Anne Jellema'; rhill at hill-a.ch
Cc: bestbits at lists.bestbits.net; 'IRP'; governance at lists.igcaucus.org;
forum at justnetcoalition.org
Subject: Re: [IRPCoalition] [JNC - Forum] [bestbits] Time-sensitive: 24 hour
sign on period for ITU Plenipot joint recommendations

And if there indeed is real ignorance and people want to know what a
neo-liberal model of global Internet governance looks like just read the
below interview of the CEO of ICANN. He lays it all out rather well


It is this model that the Best Bits statement helps push forward. There can
simply be no doubt in it.

And people will need to choose which side they would want to be at this
crucial juncture - on the side of slow ( perhaps even painfully slow)
evolving democratic governance of our collective global affairs including
the Internet, or shifting over to neoliberal governance by the elite.. And
if they side with this structural shift to neolib governance today, it will
be for keeps. We are in a real danger of loosing our democratic traditions.
At the very least, this requires deep thinking on the part of all of us.



On Wednesday 22 October 2014 07:17 PM, michael gurstein wrote:

Further to Parminder’s comments below.

I recently published a blogpost (also please not the comments) where I
argued that the democratic model of “governance by and for the people” is in
direct conflict/competition with the multi-stakeholder model of “governance
by and for stakeholders”.

I am fully aware that presenting these contrasting positions in such a way
is highly simplistic but I also think that there is a value in simplicity
particularly where it removes the obfuscation that often masks fundamental
positions and values.

I think that the division within Civil Society and I would argue more
broadly in the larger world between those who believe in a democratic
approach to governance including in areas as central to our experience,
well-being and future as the Internet and those who would give this
governance over to decision making by those with specific “interests/stakes”
in the outcome (and where the broad public interest if represented at all
would be only one among many such competing “stakes”) is a fundamental one.

It is extremely disappointing to see such broad swathes of “civil society”
and others opting for a position that does not support democracy and
democratic governance however and in what manner that might be achieved.


From: IRP [mailto:irp-bounces at lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org] On
Behalf Of parminder
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:06 PM
To: Anne Jellema; rhill at hill-a.ch
Cc: bestbits at lists.bestbits.net; IRP; governance at lists.igcaucus.org;
forum at justnetcoalition.org
Subject: Re: [IRPCoalition] [JNC - Forum] [bestbits] Time-sensitive: 24 hour
sign on period for ITU Plenipot joint recommendations

On Tuesday 21 October 2014 09:28 PM, Anne Jellema wrote:
Thank you, Parminder for the thoughtful criticisms. We're aware that
different parts of civil society have well-founded reasons for holding
different opinions on the role of the ITU, and we fully respect these. I was
very pleased to see that JustNet has expressed its point of view in its own
proposals for the Plenipot, which I found interesting and valuable.

In that spirit, I would like to respond to a couple of your criticisms of
our statement that I think don't reflect an entirely accurate reading of its

- I think your claim that we are advocating unregulated free markets is
unfair, since we state twice: "Each country should retain individual
authority to regulate IP interconnection rates where necessary and advisable
in order to ensure universal service and promote robust competition." The
drafters include organisations that have been on the forefront of the fight
for stronger net neutrality regulation at national and regional (EU) level.

- I don't agree that our statement fails to identify who should take
responsibility for resolving key IG challenges; proposes the "withdrawal of
all internet policy related agenda from the global governance stage"; or
fails to acknowledge any important role for the ITU. We repeatedly stress
the need for coordination and collaboration among UN agencies (including the
ITU) and multistakeholder bodies; and refer several times to what we think
are the ITU's critical roles in addressing the huge challenges ahead.

That said, we agree that the reference to "ITU mission creep" was poorly
judged, and the entire para should be deleted as proposed by Jeanette.

I sincerely hope that a respectful and informed exchange of views can
continue among CSOs, along with the equally important effort to find the
common ground between differing positions.

Dear Anne

Thanks for your response and engagement. I mean to further engage  on this
discussion. But my present email will only make one point, about the mutual
respectfulness  of any discussion, which your email mentions. I am not
saying that you meant it in that manner, but I do often find a hyper
sensitivity to political criticism in these circles and personalisation of
it, here I mean personalisation in receiving political criticism. We must
recognise that civil society work is a work of strong conviction and
submersion in that conviction... People have a vision of the world they'd
like to see, and there are forces that block the realisation of that vision.
Obviously therefore, for anyone who really cares, the feelings involved are
strong... And I mean, on all sides of what could become a political divide.
And such a political divide is as possible, even likely, in the civil
society space, as in the conventional political space. However, for instance
in India, which has a rather high level of professional in traditional
political space, at least at the national level, political personalities are
able to be scathing and unsparing in terms of their political positions and
counter positions without it being taken as being inappropriately uncivil or
any such thing.

I probably should  not be so defensive, but I say all this because many
people here are simply too touchy. (I know that you come from a core
political civil society background, and so I an really not talking about
you.) I also say it because I and people that I work with feel that the
present position that is being proposed on the BestBits platform a major
political statement that we find extremely problematic and something that
sets a solid tone for a neoliberal paradigm for the emerging
Internet-mediated society. In that respect its impact on the world,
especially in terms of democracy, equity and social justice is going to be
far reaching, and these are the corner stone canons of our work.  And
therefore we will strongly contest it, with all means at our disposal.

I will separately respond to some substantive points in your above email.

best regards


On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 12:49 PM, Richard Hill <rhill at hill-a.ch> wrote:
I fully agree with Parminder's analysis and strongly support his comments.

-----Original Message-----
From: Forum [mailto:forum-bounces at justnetcoalition.org]On Behalf Of
Sent: mardi, 21. octobre 2014 12:47
To: bestbits at lists.bestbits.net; governance at lists.igcaucus.org;
forum at justnetcoalition.org; IRP
Subject: Re: [JNC - Forum] [bestbits] Time-sensitive: 24 hour sign on period
for ITU Plenipot joint recommendations

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

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 (see for 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


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) by 22:30 CET (16:30 EST)
tomorrow, 21 Oct.

Best wishes

Anne Jellema
+27 061 36 9352 (ZA)
+1 202 684 6885 (US)

World Wide Web Foundation | 1110 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 500, Washington DC,
20005, USA | www.webfoundation.org | Twitter: @webfoundation

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