[IRPCoalition] MSism or Democracy
gurstein at gmail.com
Sun Oct 26 21:29:15 EET 2014
For those who have been following the current discussion on MSism but may be
a wee bit lost- I'm expecting that there is some feeling that those nice
folks that we all meet and drink with at various meetings in interesting
parts of the world could not possibly be supporting a position which rejects
democracy as the fundamental and aspirational model for global (Internet and
But I've been waiting for the documentation, the argumentation, the set of
references and white papers which outline what is actually meant by the
Multi-stakeholder model of governance (apart from it not being about any
form of democracy that any reasonable observer might agree with) that these
folks have been so loudly and widely promoting as the new form of governance
that will resolve the problems of the Internet and the weaknesses in current
governance forms and processes.
There is a terminology certainly, and there are an almost infinite number of
exhortations for MS this and MS that but when it comes to details such as I
and others have been requesting for several years and which I directly have
been requesting over the last few days from those resident in these Internet
Governance discussion spaces, and we know that all the leading lights of CS
at least are resident in one or another of these spaces, the only response
has been the trivial and trivializing comment from Gene Kimmelman that he
(and presumably his CS colleagues) haven't had time (over the last 3 or 4
years) to provide this information. Meanwhile they have been insisting at
every possible juncture on a model of governance-MSist which would replace
democracy as the fundamental organizing and aspirational principle for
global (Internet) governance.
Hmmm.. Either they don't want to be explicit because they know what the
reaction of the world would be or they really don't know.
So let me make a stab at it. Based on my fairly close reading of these
discussions and following up on whatever few references have been pointed
to, for me the documents below provide the best insight into what the MSists
are proposing for the broad framework of global (Internet) governance for
The first document is from the World Economic Forum which, with funding from
the Government of Qatar and others launched a research program "about ways
in which international institutions and arrangements should be adapted to
contemporary challenges". The second is from a private (and largely
corporate funded) think tank in the US which specializes in policy
discussions. The third is from a private consulting firm specializing in
corporate strategy but evidently supported in this effort by ISOC and a
variety of corporate and other sponsors.
(particularly the Systemic Overview starting pp. 19
ngle_Global_Digital_Economy_Aspen_IDEA_Project_0.pdf (worth taking a wander
through the whole thing given the "stellar" nature of the contributors
IMHO it is worth spending a half day working one's way through these
documents as they provide the road map which the MSists appear to be
following. Not much more detail on what MSism might actually mean in
practice but lots of discussion on how it could be implemented to respond to
a variety of policy "challenges" since "democratic" solutions are so, well,
20th century although the people who gave up their lives for Democracy
during the Arab Spring, in the Ukraine, in Eastern Europe, and elsewhere
might possibly disagree.
If I've gotten the MSist canon/program wrong I would be delighted to be
corrected and given direction to more appropriate documents.
From: David Cake [mailto:dave at difference.com.au]
Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2014 2:35 AM
To: michael gurstein
Cc: McTim; bestbits at lists.bestbits.net; JNC Forum
Subject: Re: [bestbits] [governance] Tweedledum and Tweedledee WAS Re:
Time-sensitive: 24 hour sign on period for ITU Plenipot joint
On 26 Oct 2014, at 7:17 am, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:
and yet the MS proponents such as the USG and its allies in CS and
elsewhere want to remake the governance of the global (Internet) world in
NO, the opposite is true. The internet is cooperatively coordinated by a
series of MS entities and processes. It is those who insist that gov't be in
charge that are trying to "remake the governance of the global (Internet)"
[MG>] well maybe those "who insist that gov't be in charge" believe whatever
it is you say they believe (you should ask them) but not sure what that has
to do with my comments...
Well, you could always ask your JNC colleague Richard Hill about
why he was so keen on the ITU taking on more control over Internet
governance, I'm sure he will be happy to explain.
If you, or the JNC generally, believe that government led,
multi-lateral, fora such as the ITU, are also inappropriate for
transnational Internet government, I'm sure there are many who would
appreciate clarifying your position.
Maybe it is all being done in good faith and with the best of
intentions (and I have a bridge in Brooklyn which you might want to
buy-cheap) or maybe it is a calculated move by some and naivety by
others to find a way of giving the global (primarily US based)
corporates a governance model which formalizes and legitimizes their
increasingly dominant position in the variety of areas of global
governance of which the Internet is only one-
No, we just want to keep MSism as the dominant paradigm of IG, not of any
other area of governance.
[MG>] good for you... but you should take you nose out of the router box and
take a look at
I find myself truly baffled as to what you find so sinister
about USG support of open government initiatives. Is this just circular
reasoning, whereby it is deemed to be bad because the USG is doing it, which
can then be taken as an example of the USGs sinister agenda?
I know the open government folks in Australia, and they are
terrific, the open government movement is something I would have thought CS
was unreservedly in favour of, but apparently not....
Yes, corporate investment in nations with weak governance raises
a host of policy questions, and the USG has a position on this. Are there
specific relevant points in regards to Internet governance, or transnational
governance in general, that you are trying to make here?
They also overlook the extent to which attempts to improve these
implementations have been fiercely resisted. Do I even need to
mention this? Jean-Christophe says "MS has mainly kept the status
quo, and will keep maintaining it if CS do not change their music" -
how can it be said that civil society has been in favour of the status
quo in multi-stakeholder Internet governance?
Because by and large CS is in favour of MSism. We saw that from WSIS thru
CS is in favour of MSism, but that doesn't mean the status quo.
Look at, for example, the moves through NetMundial and within ICANN to bring
human rights explicitly into the policy processes of technical
organisations, largely led by CS (and resisted by the technical community).
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