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

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Thu Oct 23 15:46:35 EEST 2014

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Hill [mailto:rhill at hill-a.ch] 
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2014 2:22 AM
To: Niels ten Oever; parminder; michael gurstein; 'Anne Jellema'
Cc: bestbits at lists.bestbits.net; 'IRP'; governance at lists.igcaucus.org; forum at justnetcoalition.org
Subject: RE: [bestbits] [IRPCoalition] [JNC - Forum] Time-sensitive: 24 hour sign on period for ITU Plenipot joint recommendations

Please see below.

Thanks and best,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Niels ten Oever [mailto:lists at digitaldissidents.org]
> Sent: mercredi, 22. octobre 2014 19:37
> To: parminder; 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: [bestbits] [IRPCoalition] [JNC - Forum] Time-sensitive: 
> 24 hour sign on period for ITU Plenipot joint recommendations
> Hash: SHA512
> Dear Parminder,
> I am a bit amazed that you first make a point on how we should 
> substantively discuss issues, whereas you post this polemic directly 
> after.

And I'm amazed that such an unbalanced statement is produced by a process that I never heard of.

So it seems perfectly appropriate to me that those of us who were surprised by that statement make public comments about it.

> It's perhaps slightly ironic that some of the people that you accuse 
> of pushing the neo-liberal model were exactly the ones at ICANN51 in 
> LA pushing for a human rights mechanism within ICANN.

To me, the first human rights mechanism to push for is democracy, that is the right of everyone to take part in public policiy decisions, either directly or through freely chosen representatives.  So I'd like to see proposals to move ICANN in that direction, for example by making it a membership organization accountable to its members.

> I am surprised that you see discussing issues of content and privacy 
> at the ITU a part of evolving democratic governance. The ITU is not 
> nearly transparent enough for this to be an appropriate venue to 
> discuss this.

We agree that the ITU must become more open and transparent.  But that is the case of all other forums that might be candidates for discussing such issues.

For example, WIPO did not accept the Pirate Party's request for admission as an observer.  The opposition came from the USA.  

So the discussion in ITU should be (1) it must become more open and transparent and (2) it should do this or that.

If you don't want the ITU to discuss the issues, then who should discuss the issues?

I suppose that you might refer to what are called multi-stakeholder forums such as Netmundial or IGF.  But we all know that those forums cannot make tough decisions.  Look at what happened at Netmundial regarding mass surveillance (reaffirmed language agreed in the UN General Assembly) and net neutrality (agreed that it is an issue to be further studied).

So what forum is proposed in which tough decisions can be made?

>Surveillance is not just an attack on infrastructure, it  is a serious 
>interference with the human right to privacy. The ITU has  not got 
>sufficient competence when it comes to human rights.
> Discussing privacy violations and surveillance should start with the  
>UN Human Rights Council.

The discussions in the Human Rights Council have taken place, and the conclusions are, as we all know, clear: mass surveillance must be stopped.

So it is no longer a question of starting discussions.  It is a question of taking effective measures to end this violation of human rights.

Secrecy (meaning privacy) of telecommunications has been a fundamental concept from the inception of telecommunications.  An article to that effect was included in the 1865 treaty that created the ITU and has been present in the ITU Constitution ever since.  At present, the article reads as follows:

ARTICLE 37 - Secrecy of Telecommunications

1 Member States agree to take all possible measures, compatible with the system of telecommunication used, with a view to ensuring the secrecy of international correspondence.

2 Nevertheless, they reserve the right to communicate such correspondence to the competent authorities in order to ensure the application of their national laws or the execution of international conventions to which they are parties.

I am among those who believe that the current language in the ITU Constitution is inadequate and should be improved.  Some concrete proposals to that effect have been made, see for example:


I would have expected at least acknowlegement of the laudable intent of such proposals, if not outright support.

> Saying that the ITU is not the right platform to discuss this is not 
> at all the same thing as saying that this issue should be left to the 
> market or the US government (or five/nine-eyes for that matter).

Why shouldn't the issue be discussed in ITU, as well as in all other appropriate forums?  Surely there is no harm in making it clear in all possible forums that mass surveillance must end.  Just as we must make it clear in all possible forums that censorship must end.  And that social and economic justice must prevail.

>And I
> would even say that it is an deliberate misrepresentation that does  
>not help the substantive discussion, and the deep thinking that is  
>indeed needed, any further.

I'd now like to turn in more detail to a couple of specific areas of the statement that you are defending.

Spectrum policy

The statement that you are defending call on the ITU to give high priority to the development and implementation of license exempt global standards for dynamic spectrum access.

In case people don't know, that topic is more commonly referred to as "white spaces" and it is about using a portion of the frequency band that has been deliberately left unused in order to minimize interference, see for example:


Whether or not it makes sense to allow such use is very much a national matter (in fact maybe even a local matter).  Which does not mean that it should not be discussed in ITU: indeed, harmonization of national practices is the very reason why intergovernmental bodies exist.

But I would have expected civil society to consider the economic aspects of this issue. It is widely accepted that radio frequencies are a public good, to be managed in the interests of all citizens.  And it is common for states to derive revenue from the commercial use of certain frequencies.

So, for example, a civil society position could be that "white space" should not be made freely accessible, but should be subject to auctions.  Or maybe not, but for sure the matter deserves some discussion.

For more on the commercial aspects of this issue, see for example:


It is also worth noting that Google is quite involved in this, see:


International Connection

The statement that you are defending essentially calls on the ITU not to take any steps that would address the cost of international Internet connectivity.  Yet those costs have long been considered to be an issue that has hampered access to the Internet in developing countries, see:



For sure, some take the view that purely national measures are sufficient, which is what your statement says, but that is by no means a consensus view.  On the contrary, it is the view of developed countries, whose position is no doubt influenced by the economic interests of their large private operators.

I am surprised that civil society is overtly taking the side of big businesss in this debate.

Similar comments apply to some of the other portions of the statement that you are defending, but I will stop here (at least for now).

> Best,
> Niels
> Niels ten Oever
> Head of Digital
> Article 19
> www.article19.org
> PGP fingerprint = 8D9F C567 BEE4 A431 56C4 678B 08B5 A0F2 636D 68E9
> On 10/22/2014 07:19 PM, parminder wrote:
> > 
> > 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
> > 
> > 
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/10/07/inter
> net-operations-chief-snowden-disclosures-make-my-job-easier/
> >
> > 
> > 
> > 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.
> > 
> > parminder
> > 
> > parminder
> > 
> > 
> > On Wednesday 22 October 2014 07:17 PM, michael gurstein wrote:
> >> 
> >> Further to Parminder’s comments below.
> >> 
> >> I recently published a blogpost
> >> 
> <http://gurstein.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/democracy-or-multi-stake
> holderism-competing-models-of-governance/>
> >>
> >> 
> (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.
> >> 
> >> M
> >> 
> >> *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 content:
> >> 
> >> - 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 parminder
> >> 
> >> Best
> >> 
> >> Anne
> >> 
> >> On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 12:49 PM, Richard Hill <rhill at hill-a.ch 
> >> <mailto:rhill at hill-a.ch>> wrote:
> >> 
> >> I fully agree with Parminder's analysis and strongly support his 
> >> comments.
> >> 
> >> Best,
> >> 
> >> Richard
> >> 
> >> -----Original Message----- *From:* Forum 
> >> [mailto:forum-bounces at justnetcoalition.org
> >> <mailto:forum-bounces at justnetcoalition.org>]*On Behalf Of 
> >> *parminder *Sent:* mardi, 21. octobre 2014 12:47 *To:* 
> >> bestbits at lists.bestbits.net <mailto:bestbits at lists.bestbits.net>;
> >> governance at lists.igcaucus.org
> >> <mailto:governance at lists.igcaucus.org>;
> >> forum at justnetcoalition.org <mailto: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 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 (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...
> >> 
> >> parminder
> >> 
> >> 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
> >> 
> >> CEO
> >> 
> >> +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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> >> 
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> >> 
> >> To unsubscribe or change your settings, visit:
> >> 
> >> http://lists.bestbits.net/wws/info/bestbits
> >> 
> >> 
> >> _______________________________________________ Forum mailing list 
> >> Forum at justnetcoalition.org <mailto:Forum at justnetcoalition.org>
> >> http://justnetcoalition.org/mailman/listinfo/forum_justnetcoalition
> >> .org
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> 
> - --
> >> 
> >> Anne Jellema
> >> 
> >> CEO
> >> 
> >> +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*
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> _______________________________________________ IRP mailing list 
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> >> https://lists.internetrightsandprinciples.org/mailman/listinfo/irp
> >>
> >
> >> 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > ____________________________________________________________ You 
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