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IANA Stewardship Transition

IANA Stewardship Transition

In March of 2014, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) of the USA Department of Commerce, surprised the word and announced that they were ready to transition key Internet domain functions, for which they held responsibility.  In the announcement, they asked “the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). ”

One of the NTIA responsibilities involves administering changes to the “authoritative root zone file – the database containing the lists of names and addresses of all top-level domains.”  In other words, they have formal responsibility  for the final administrative step before a domain name, such as .gay, is added to the main database that allows for users to reference it in their web searches, email and apps.  The decision to transition the responsibilities is the last step in the privatization of the DNS that was initiated in 1997 during the Clinton Administration.

This was a day that ICANN had been waiting for, for over a decade.  At first ICANN interpreted this action to mean they would just become responsible for the DNS and other IANA functions, without the oversight of NTIA.  Freedom at last. However, this was not quite the US Government intended.  It rather intended for them to ” to convene the multistakeholder process to develop the transition plan.”  The US Government required that any plan be in concordance with a set of principles:

  • Support and enhance the multistakeholder model;
  • Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
  • Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and,
  • Maintain the openness of the Internet.

It has taken a few months, but after extensive discussion among global stakeholders, the group that is going to coordinate the production of the plan is about to finalize its charter so that we can get on with the work.  While producing a viable plan will be a major test of multistakeholder decision making processes, even getting the coordination group established has required a lot of discussion and consensus building among groups of stakeholders who have very different perspective on the issue.

After a 4 month bottom-up multistakeholder process, the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) has posted the final draft of their charter for review. The comment period ends on 15 August 2014. The charter lists the following tasks:

  • Liaise among the stakeholder groups, including the “operation communities (i.e., those with direct operations or service relationship with IANA; namely names, numbers, protocol parameters).”
    • Soliciting proposal
    • Soliciting other input
  • Asses the outputs for compatibility and interoperability
  • Assemble the outputs into a complete proposal for the transiton
  • Act as a conduit for information sharing and public communication

The ICG commits itself to “conduct itself transparently, consult with a broad range of stakeholders, and ensure that its proposal support the security and stability of the IANA functions”.  The process will go on for approximately a year.

In the meantime, within ICANN, the Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO -responsible for gTLDs such as .com or  .gay),   the country code Name supporting Organization (ccNSO – responsible for ccTLDs like .us or .ca), the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC – advise the Board on matters letated to the security and integrity on the Internet’s name and address allocation system), and the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC – responsible for representing the interests of global Internet users) have been developing the charter of the ICANN Cross-community Working Group (CWG) that will represent the names operational community, i.e. will be one of the 3 major contributors to the ICG’s work.  This CWG is being created with the intention of doing a wide outreach for members of the community to participate in making sure that all issues are dealt with properly.  Once the chartering organizations within ICANN approve the charter of the CWG, there will be a wide spread call for participation in the process.  I will post that announcement in the blog when it comes out.

The IANA transition is a critical milestone in the history of the Internet and of ICANN.  If all goes well, part of the responsibility for maintaining an open Internet will be transferred from the US government to the multistakeholder community through an appropriate mechanism.  One of the major issues to be reviewed in the context of this transition are the accountability mechanisms within ICANN.  A separate, parallel review process is currently being initiated to review  and repair as needed, the accountability mechanisms at ICANN.  The next blog entry will cover this effort.

 

 

Update on ATLAS II

Update on ATLAS II

In an earlier entry to this blog, the second global At Large Summit (ATLAS II) was discussed. The final report,  ATLAS-II-Declaration,has been released and offers a number of useful recommendations for ICANN improvement.

The report focuses on the 5 thematic themes of the summit:

  • Future of Multi-Stakeholder Models
  • The Globalization of ICANN
  • Global Internet: The User Perspective
  • ICANN Transparency and Accountability
  • At-Large Community Engagement in ICANN

In each of these categories, the summit offers concrete suggestions for improvement.  Some of them have special importance for the LGBTQI+ community that is the core of the dotgay community.

Recommendation 1, for example, is important to our community,  “ICANN should continue to support outreach programmes that engage a broader audience, in order to reinforce participation from all stakeholders.”  Up to now, the effort for outreach has primarily been geographical, a continuing need.  But the is need for outreach that is broader that just geography.  The outreach needs to extend to communities whose concerns have not yet been discussed within Internet governance ecosystem, for example the global LGBTQI+ community, as well as other communities of endangered minorities.

Recommendation 13 reinforces this further: “ICANN should review the overall balance of stakeholder representation to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to all views, proportionally to their scope and relevance.” While there is not indication that they were referring to communities such as the gay community, it is obvious from the the experience of dotgay over the last years in ICANN that this is essential.

One of the appendices included in the report ICANN’s obligation to serve the Public Interest.

Public Interest in ICANN

The term ‘Public Interest’ within ICANN’s remit remains ambiguous and ill defined. Consequently no consistent measure of the basis and quality of its decisions is possible. The At-Large Community supports the draft ‘FY15 Strategic Plan’s focus area to develop and implement a global public responsibility framework in this regard. This could also clarify that the Internet users are stakeholders and not “consumers”.

 This has been a subject that has frequently come up in regard to dotgay’s community application.  Getting ICANN to treat community applications, such as dotgay’s application for .gay, as being in the public interest has been painful, and expensive, both for dotgay LLC and for the community organizations that are its foundation.

The gay community can and should get involved in the efforts of the At-Large to bolster accountability and service in the public interest at ICANN.  The At-Large is organized around 200 At Large Structures that around the world. Members of the dotgay-community are encouraged to find an ALS in their region and get involved.  Beyond that there is an opportunity for any regional LGBTQI+ organizations to form their own chapters, that is their own At Large structures (ALS).  The At-Large is the voice of the users in ICANN global management of critical Internet resources, and often acts as the organization’s conscience.  As the gay community gets more involved in the Internet ecosystem, the community must assert itself as a stakeholders.  At-Large is a good place to do this..

Notes on ICANN 50: Human rights and community applications.

The Council of Europe (COE), an intergovernmental organization that focuses on human rights, published a report entitled ICANN’s procedures and policies in the light of of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values (COE-gTLD).  The human rights implications of ICANN’s procedures is an important topic that is just beginning to be discussed in ICANN.  This report is a major admonition to ICANN to fully consider the human rights implications of  ICANN discussions.  Its introduction at ICANN 50 in London was a significant event.

This report is relevant to the gay community, not only because of the centrality of the human rights discussion,  but because the report uses the dotgay LLC community application as a case study.  This case study shows how ICANN and the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) it hired to evaluate community status as part of the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) may be violating the rights of the gay community.  The report has been put on the table for future Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and other ICANN discussions and can be sure to figure into all discussions of community rights going forward.  As such, the report represents a milestone for ICANN.

While this report is written from the perspective of European law and norms, it has general applicability to any discussion of ICANN and the human rights implications for domain names, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international covenants and treaties including “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet” from the Human Rights Council.

But before getting to the case study on dotgay’s community application, some of the introductory content from the report is worth quoting:

As ICANN expands and its mechanisms and procedures affect more and more individuals, the living instrument doctrine might suggest, for example, that vulnerable groups that did not merit special protection in the past may now deserve specific protection under, for example, the national regulation of hate speech online. This might be the case for homophobic hate speech which has recently been examined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Finally, the positive obligations doctrine implies that states have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that the rights of, for example, Roma, homosexuals and other vulnerable groups are in fact protected. Indirectly, this implies a commitment of the governments to also defend this in the ICANN and GAC context. The ICANN expansion process means that more multi-stakeholder dialogue is necessary to ensure that it operates in the public interest. With this expansion comes increasing responsibility and accountability. (COE-gTLD para 14)

The quote feeds into a general discussion that is building in ICANN of the importance and relevance of human rights.  While the Non Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) has worked for years to have human rights impact analyses added to the policy development processes for gTLDs, this takes the discussion to a new level.  In a general sense, this report feeds into a proposal to create a permanent ICANN Human Rights Advisory Committee to work along side other ICANN Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees (SOAC) to ensure that human rights considerations are always front and center when ICANN develops policy or makes decisions.

It is also material that these introductory remarks make specific reference to the plight of the gay community worldwide.

… the concept of ‘pluralism’ plays a prominent part in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). That is to say that pluralism is an important factor determining the scope and impact of a number of fundamental rights, such as the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion. The ECtHR decided that, in the context of granting broadcasting licenses, states may have to be guided by the importance of pluralism. It also expressed the view that the exercise of power by mighty financial groupings may form a threat to media pluralism as well as far-reaching monopolization in the press and media sector. By using the concept of pluralism, the Court adds to the importance of individual and associational fundamental rights. Council of Europe states and the GAC thus should, in the same line of thinking, take care in ensuring that ICANN’s mechanisms includes and embrace a diversity of values, opinions, and social groups and avoids the predominance of particular deep-pocketed organizations that function as gatekeepers for online content. (COE-gTLD para 20)

This quote perfectly express some of the concerns of the dotgay community for the community application for .gay that has been under constant attack by deep-pocketed organizations.  .lgbt is already lost to the LGBT community; its domain names will be offered to the general domain profiteering community, known as domainers,  who seek to profit by first capturing and then reselling desired names at a high profit margin.  If dotgay LLC does not prevail in its Community Priority Evaluation, the community may lose its opportunity to ensure that some part of the Internet domain remains safe and hospitable for the global gay community; that is, if the dotgay community application does not get a community rating from the CPE, it will be forced to compete in an auction with those deep pocketed organizations – and even if it prevails in an auction, it will do so at a cost to the community.

After its discussion of the general human rights principles at play in ICANN discussions in general, the report digs into the specific human rights issues related to the new gTLD program in section 2. Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the COE-gTLD report give a very good high level synopsis of the ICANN application and are worth reading for this reason alone.

This discussion in the report references  Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in support of rights related to the gay community within the context of new gTLD applications.  The rights discussed extend to rights of a community to special treatment in order to overcome previous discrimination by virtue of various court decisions.  The report also explains how the rights of redress for discrimination become applicable to the gay community:

while treaties and conventions do not specifically reference  sexual orientation the reports discusses  ECtHR case-law that determines  that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited and must be prevented. (COE-gTLD Para 42)

The case-study on the string contention procedures referencing .gay as an example begins with section 2.4.4 of the COE-gTLD report.  It lays out the ICANN Community Priority Evaluations CPE procedures with a focus on the scope of the definition of  “community” and the “responsibility of states under international human rights law to take positive measures to protect certain vulnerable groups.” (COE-gTLD Para. 62)

The scope of a ‘community’ determines to what extent specific groups deserve protected status. (COE-gTLD para 64). The COE report takes the interpretation of the term ‘community’ back to the broad definition that was included in the GNSO recommendations, which are, or should be, the touchstone for all evaluations.  It points to the manner that following on from the Applicant Guide Book (AGB), the standard appears to have been tightened even more against community interests than the AGB had already done.   The report shows how the association and assembly rights associated with communities are parallel to those granted by the courts to associations.  The report goes on to discuss the impact on human rights a narrow definition of community might have.  For example, a narrow definiton might exclude the LGBT+ community from the community’s rights, while human rights based criteria would include it.  The article shows how the AGB and the EIU interpretation of the GNSO’s recommendations, interfere with the ability of the community to uphold international  human rights norms and laws.

 Community-based TLD’s could take appropriate measures to ensure that the right to freedom of expression of their community can be effectively enjoyed without discrimination, including with respect to the freedom to receive and impart information on subjects dealing with their community. They could also take additional measures to ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly can be effectively enjoyed, without discrimination. (COE-gTLD Para. 63)

The report discusses how the results of the judgement of the International Center  of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce decision on the ILGA objections to the non community applications may be prejudicial against the gay community.  As a special action may be required to protect the rights of association for this endangered community, it further states:

Specific action might be required in order to ensure the full enjoyment of the human rights of the LGBT community. The starting point for such measures is the need to combat a high level of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have been discriminated against for centuries and are still subjected to homophobia, transphobia and other forms of widespread and enduring intolerance. This leads to hostile acts ranging from social exclusion to discrimination – all over Europe and in all areas of life, on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. (COE-gTLD para 72)

While the original obligations of human rights are incumbent on states, and thus on the GAC, the report explains that these obligation are become requirements for non state actors such as ICANN and the organizations that are responsible for the reviews.

The content related decisions made by ICANN may result in decisions made on the availability of information on the Internet, and can be regarded as similar to editorial judgements made by the media. (COE-gTLD  para 74)

In other words, denying a domain of its own to the gay community may be seen as an act of editorial censorship.

The COE report recommends that anyone that runs a top level domain for a vulnerable community should have have a plan for how it will protect and assist the community.  No one expects such protection for the gay community from the standard non community applicants of .gay as they have not included any such plans in their application. Only a community run .gay registry can be expected to do its best to protect and assist the gay community.

Finally the report discusses the consequence of failing the CPE, that is the need to compete with the standard applications in an auction for the community’s domain name.  The COE-gTLD report explains that auctions are an inappropriate means for serving the public interest in delegating a community directed gTLD.  As the delegation of .gay is a public interest issue, any auction pitting the gay community against the deep-pocketed organizations of the domain name industry is an inappropriate means of delegating .gay.

The COE-gTLD report’s discussion on new gTLD contention ends with:

In conclusion, gTLDs may include expression or be used as spaces for online association and therefore, entail a human rights and fundamental freedoms dimension which should be considered together with other technical matters. The evaluation of applied-for new gTLDs may involve content-related considerations that need to have the general interest in sight. While ICANN’s judgement should not be interfered with unjustifiably, ICANN should exercise its role with due regard for fundamental rights and freedoms and in full compliance with international standards. In particular, any interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of association should be more systematically tested against the requirements of international human rights law and the global public interest. (COE-gTLD  para 80)

ICANN is a corporation in the public benefit, it needs to live up to its obligations to protect the public interest.


 

In ending this blog entry, I want to point out that one of the standard applicants for gay has again taken to attacking dotgay LLC at the CoE website, instead of taking responsibility for the human rights issues of what the report had to say.  In reference to dotgay LLC procedures for restricting the .gay TLD to the LGBTQIA+ community, one of the specific statements that this standard applicant offers in his comment: “Their barriers to entry will keep out individuals from developing countries as well as young people”  cannot be substantiated.  There is absolutely nothing in dotgay LLC’s application to substantiate this claim – the Authentication Partners, groups from around the world who have served and continue to serve the gay community, that provide the entry point to the community gTLD will cover all regions and will be inclusive of developing economies as well as covering all LGBTQIA+ sectors of the community.  This accusation is one that has been often repeated in the dirty trick campaign waged by some of the standard applicants against the dotgay LLC community application.  This dirty tricks campaign  against the gay community would also make a good case-study, and represents a form of discrimination that the gay community has had to deal with in its application for .gay .  It can only be hoped that the powers-that-be will seriously consider the human rights responsibilities of all actors: including but not not limited to ICANN itself, the EIU and other evaluators, and the registry applicants who compete against communities.

Enhanced Cooperation in practice

Over the last few weeks I have been following the work of Enhanced Cooperation and have reported on the NETmundial and the WGEC meetings in this space.

Enhanced Cooperation is an ongoing multistakeholder and multilateral process where all stakeholders contribute according to their expertise and interests, to enable all other stakeholders to achieve full participation in order to improve and democratise the governance of the Internet at all levels

During this last week, a meeting was held by the UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).  The CSTD is the UN group that is responsible the WGEC and for reporting its status to the UN Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc) and eventually the UN General Assembly (UNGA).  While part of this meeting was dedicated to development, the major part of the meeting was spent trying to deprecate the work of the multistakeholder models for Internet governance, so that state control over the Internet could be furthered.

One of the goals set for the CSTD by the UNGA is to

to examine the mandate of the World Summit on the Information Society regarding enhanced cooperation as contained in the Tunis Agenda, through seeking, compiling and reviewing inputs from all Member States and all other stakeholders, and to make recommendations on how to fully implement this mandate.

In other words, they are supposed to what they could to understand and to encourage Enhanced Cooperation in Internet governance. Instead of recognizing that NETmundial as an act of Enhanced Cooperation, the same states that disrupted the WGEC continued to disrupt the proceedings of the CSTD to ensure that the CSTD did not validate the progress made in Enhanced Cooperation.  These states, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia, are the same states that lead the way in repressing the gay community.  If they gain further control of the Internet, they will be able to spread their hatred for our community beyond their borders throughout the Internet.  Just as these countries and others of their ilk ban LGBTQI+ from the streets, from jobs and even from the houses they live in, they will be able spread those bans further into the Internet, removing one of the few places some people can express themselves with a measure of safety – the Internet.  The world is already dangerous for the gay community, if states gain control of the Internet, it will becomes ever more frightful.

These Internet governance discussions are somewhat esoteric and often very dry, repetitive and long using language and protocol that are foreign to most people.  But what happens in these underground windowless rooms in Geneva may affect all of our freedoms and safety on the Internet for a very long time to come.

A more detailed description of the CSTD meeting is available.

Report from Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation

The Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) is a group that was created at the direction of the UN General Assembly to discuss progress in Enhanced Cooperation

quote [The General Assembly] ..Invites the Chair of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development to establish a working group on enhanced cooperation to examine the mandate of the World Summit on the Information Society regarding enhanced cooperation as contained in the Tunis Agenda, through seeking, compiling and reviewing inputs from all Member States and all other stakeholders, and to make recommendations on how to fully implement this mandate; when convening the working group, the Chair should also take into consideration the meetings already scheduled on the calendar of the Commission, and the working group should report to the Commission at its seventeenth session, in 2014, as an input to the overall review of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society..quote

                                                    (Para 20, GA Resolution A/RES/67/195)
The group held its fourth meeting from 30 April – 2 May in Geneva.
The reason the topic of Enhanced Cooperation is important because it is code for “who runs the Internet”:

  • Governments and Intergovernmental organiations
  • Multistakeholder organizations that bring together organized populations in a democratic manner
The object of the meeting was to finish our report on the answer to the question.

 

We didn’t finish the work.  More on that in my notes from the meetings, which are appended the end of this note.

 

One of the most relevant discussions of the meeting to the dotgay community was a discussion that went on for several hours whether it was relevant to include the protection of marginalized communities in discussions of Internet Public Policy and of Internet governance.  While the gay community is not the only marginalized community, a category that also includes, among others, the disabled, the aged, women, undocumented immigrants, and indigenous peoples, it is obvious and certain that the gay community is among the most marginalized communities.

 

While most of the nations represented in the WGEC were supportive of the concerns for marginalized communities in Internet Public Policy, some including Saudi Arabia and Iran, questioned the appropriateness of such discussions and argued against including mention of marginalized community in our recommendations.

 

As one of the WGEC members arguing that these concerns, I never did enumerate the members of the category.  I can only imagine what would have happened had I done so among the WGEC members from Islamic Countries or Russia.   Had I mentioned any of the gay community such as gay-men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, intersexed, or queer by name, I am sure that the whole discussion would have deteriorated beyond comprehension. In any case the discussion ended with grduging acceptance that marginalized communities were relevant to Interent goverance, though not yet to Interent Public Policy.

 

We have along long way yet to go in some of these fights for the representation and dignity of marginalized peoples.

 

My informal notes from the meeting were sent to several civil society groups, as I was nominated to the WG by civil society. I include them here for dotgay-community.org

 


 

The following are the updates I sent to the IGC and Bestbits lists during the WGEC meeting.

Day 1

Well day one came and went.

We reviewed some of the recommendations that had not yet been reviewed, and once again got hung up on the fundamental differences:
– Enhanced cooperation is only about governments
– Enhanced cooperation is about all stakeholders.

Para 35 for the  says all there is to say about Respective Roles and Responsibilities
– Para 35 needs to be revisited to match reality.

WGEC needs to deliver a consensus report
– WGEC can come out with a report that reports the varying models

– we trust the chair and he can write a chapeau discussing the differences of viewpoint.
– we like the chair, but he is just human, we need to write up our own viewpoints.

– we should go back to our hotels and write up a brief (several line) opinions on Enhanced Cooperation and Multistakeholderism
– we don’t need to do this but should continue working on trying to find the item(s) we can reach consensus on.

The Sessions are broadcast live. I do not know if there are archived recording, but there probably are – I will check. The CSTD secretariat has come a long way in the short year this WG has been working. From a first meeting where streaming was not possible, to a meeting 11 months later, with streaming and remote participation for absent WG members – not that any did participate as far as I know.

Process wise, Observers are allowed to comment but only in a 15 minute slot just before breaks.
While we had brief reports on NETmundial, the IGF, ITU activities etc, these were not discussed as there were those who argued that these were not immediately relevant to the work of the WGEC which has its own mandate. The chair concurred.
Tomorrow is another day.

Day 2

It was a long day. We finally made it through all of the proposed recommendations that group members had offered. We are at least half a day or more behind our schedule for the meeting.  We also had a discussion of the Correspondence group report. While the report was appreciated by all, we developed yet another point of fundamental disagreement:
– This is marvelous work that should become a living document
– This is a useful piece of work, but enough trying to understand, now lets come to conclusions about new mechanisms and bodies to fill the gaps.
Discussions were robust, and some of the language remains bracketed and needs further discussion.
The fundamental oppositional themes remained as sub-themes, especially the scope of Enhanced Cooperation:

– among governments
– among all stakeholders.
One of the longest discussions revolved around the need to include discussions on issues related to marginalized peoples issues and women’s participation in the Internet governance as part of Enhanced Cooperation. The fundamental group-division fed into the discussion:
– this discussion is a waste of time that keeps us from discussing the real issue of Enhanced Cooperation – relationships between governments and a new body wherein those discussions can be held
– this a critical component of Enhanced Cooperation among all stakeholders.
Neither side in the discussion could believe that the discussion went on as long as it did. I am sure this discussion will resurface at some point in day 3.

As it was apparent that there are, at least two models of Enhanced Cooperation, there had been discussion the first day of including these models in the document. This discussion continued the second day with some arguing:

– we should have a report on the things we could reach consensus on, and there seem to be some such points
– we should discuss the various oppositional models.

At one point one of the protagonists argued that they were only accepting certain text because they expected a document that would include a model that rejected the relevance of the discussion of the points they had just accepted.

We also did not manage to resolve the issues of whether we would have”

– a chair’s report
– a WG group

A skeleton of the draft report was sent to the members.

A point I want to make in this sketchy report, some governments have begun the move to argue that the WGEC is only having these oppositional problems because it is trying to be a multistakeholder discussion. There is every chance that a final oppositional impression is being set up:

– realizing that a 16 year fundamental difference of opinion needs more than a few days of meetings spread over a year to resolve
– the multistakeholder model is the root of all failure

Of course I realize that within the group of civil society readers of this sketchy report, we have people on both sides of this discussion.
Finally there was a moment when an observer was reprimanded for using twitter to say things that offended some WG members. To me, this showed how really out of touch the whole WSIS based Tunis Agenda driven discussions are in todays’ world.

Or rather, how the opposition between the restriction of expression and free expression is also one of the fundamental oppositions that underlay our discussions.

Day 3

And then there was the third day.
The last day.

We spent the morning wandering through the wilderness of repeated arguments. Reviewing and revising recommendations that had not reached consensus, and some that had reached rough consensus – what we needed was to reach full consensus.

As we discussed them, sometimes we got tantalizingly close to full consensus, but then one or another of us, and sometimes it was me I must confess, said something that showed the closeness had been a tempting illusion.

We had tea breaks and coffee breaks where the chair and various groups discussed the state of discussions to try and figure out what to do next.

We had lunch.
We talked,
and we talked.

After lunch we finally admitted, in a consensual manner, that we were not going to reach consensus on recommendations in this meeting.

So we talked about the WG report, or rather, the Chair’s report.
Yes, we eventually did reach consensus on what to call the report!

We then started to discuss the form and content of the Chair’s Reports.

Many of us told the Chair how much we trusted him to write the report and be fair.
Some of us went on to tell him what he had to avoid saying in order to be fair.

Maybe some trust is only skin deep.

We went back on forth on what to do with the most valuable work done by the correspondence group. Some of us wanted it to continue and become a living artifact, and wanted that point made to the powers-that-be in the CSTD. Others said it was just an exercise of the WG and should be dropped – but i think that for these people the results of that work had not verified their view that there were huge gaps to be fill

(ok, so I am showing some prejudice in that last statement, please forgive me. One of the few things that really bothered me during the meeting was the apparent disrespect shown to the brave and worthy volunteers who took on this large body of work only to have their efforts deprecated – and no i did not help them and was not part of the workforce – it was too hard a job for me and I avoided it like a plague.)

As for the future, there may be further meetings.
There may not be.
If there are, they may occur this year.
Or they may occur next year.
I personally hope that we continue the work. but I hope we wait until after all of Internet governance 2014 events are over, and after all stakeholders have had time to adjust to the new realities that NETmundial presents. And after the IGF, which I hope learns something from NETmundial, and after the ITU PleniPot 2014 does whatever it is going to do.
I thought the meetings were valuable. I think the participants, and I hope their fellow stakeholders – however they define the groups they are part of, have a better understanding now than they did before.
And while we did not come together in final consensus, I thought some of the couplings at the meeting where wonderful. For example the KSA and Iran, normally not the best of friends, were bosom buddies at this meeting, united in their arguments on women’s rights, treatment of marginalized groups and a host of other issues. It is good that there are still some things that can bring enemies such as this together. And to see civil society members working closely with governments and with business was a good thing too. If we can’t work with the people we disagree with, how are we going to solve anything – we learn to build on the few things we do disagree with [in common].

Now I sound almost maudlin!

One last thing:

There was a possibility, as I mentioned in another one of these Quick Updates that we would need to submit Opinions. While we never did, as we never reached consensus to do so, several groups did arrive at a possible offering. Several of us from civil society, though not all by any means, did develop one. While I will leave it for the others who worked on this with me to associate with it or not, and thus to put themselves on the line to have to explain it, I am including this compromise proto-document below as I think it includes a fair number of ideas that are worthy of the light of day and of further discussion.
Signing out from Geneva airport and the WGEC, at least for now. Who knows what the future will bring.

———————-

The Opinion

This is the draft opinion of a group of Civil society participants including group members Avri Doria, …

Definitions

Enhanced Cooperation: an ongoing multistakeholder and multilateral process where all stakeholders contribute according to their expertise and interests, to enable all other stakeholders to achieve full participation in order to improve and democratise the governance of the Internet at all levels.

Multistakeholder process: a form of participatory democracy where any person, alone or as part of a group, can contribute fully.

Equal footing: the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all stakeholders, on the basis of equality and without discrimination, of the freedom to participate in multistakeholder processes. In Internet governance this is in line with stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, which should be interpreted in a flexible manner with reference to the issue under discussion. As with UN representation by governments, where all are equal regardless of size or wealth, contributions should be judged on their quality, and not by the number of people that a representative may claim.

Possible outcome:

There is support within civil society for establishing a multistakeholder mechanism, to promote the ongoing monitoring and analysis of Internet-governance developments, and the on-demand sharing of knowledge on policy issues, models and experiences that governments and stakeholders need to help them identify effective solutions. We view this as a first step, building on the work of the Correspondence Group of the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation. There is also support within civil society for a second step of a multistakeholder coordination mechanism that would recommend the most appropriate venue or venues to develop further policy as required. This could be accomplished through existing institutions as appropriate.

This mechanism could be attached to an existing multistakeholder body such the IGF (per paragraph 72 b of the Tunis Agenda), to the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), or to any comparable consistent with the guiding principles as established in the NETmundial Multistakeholder statement.

The discussions of the WGEC take their origin from the Tunis Agenda. The Tunis Agenda was a remarkable document for its time, that resulted from government discussions at WSIS. The Tunis Agenda laid a basis for ongoing discussions. The Tunis Agenda’s great value was in giving an impetus to the development of the multistakeholder model in Internet governance. Over the intervening years, the variety of multistakeholder models have progressed beyond what could have been imagined in 2005, in line with technological evolution. Allowing the Tunis Agenda to remain a static document, as if it was written in stone, risks it becoming ever more irrelevant in today’s world; Instead, we recommend that it be treated as a living document, a solid foundation upon which we can build our understanding of the enhanced cooperation of all stakeholders in the area of Internet governance.

NetMundial: Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance

2014 has started out as a hectic year in Internet Governance and this blog owes its readers a few reports.  One of the biggest events of this year is going to occur next week in São Paulo, NetMundial: Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance. Preparations for this meeting have been nearly all consuming in the Internet governance community.

The NetMundial grew out of a critical speech given by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff before the UN General Assembly discussing the state of the Internet in the wake of the Snowden revelations on NSA spying.  In response to this speech, the leaders of the organizations involved in creating and maintaining the Internet infrastructure, protocols and policies called the I* (pronounced I-star) released the Montevideo declaration.  Together the I*, especially ICANN, and the Brazilian government put together this upcoming milestone conference

The process was begun with a call for contributions from all global stakeholders.  188 contributions were received, including 4 from dotgay LLC VP Policy and Governance.  These were synthesized into draft of 2 outcome documents: one on “Internet governance principles” and one  on  “Roadmap for the future evolution of the Internet governance Ecosystem

The organizers of NetMundial are eager for people to comment.  In order to comment one only has to go to the site.  The platform provided by CGI.br, the co-organizers of the NetMundial, allows for anyone to comment on these documents, paragraph by paragraph, or on the overall document.  It is easy to do.

Stakeholders from around the world are inputting comments at http://document.netmundial.br and I would heartily encourage the readers of this blog to take a few moments to read the proposed outcome documents (they are short) and insert a comment or two if you feel the urge. No login required, though they do ask for your name – verification not required.

The plan is for the meeting in Brazil to finalize the documents with multistakeholder consensus.  While physical attendance at the meetings was limited by the size of the venue, the meeting design includes extensive remote participation opportunities.  While there will be hubs where groups can meet to attend the meeting, it will also be possible for anyone to participate from their homes or offices (information to be provided once available).

The hashtag for the meeting (already active) is #netmundial2014

More Information to follow.

The importance of Enhanced Cooperation to the gay/LGBTQIA community.

As part of its focus on Internet Governance and the gay/LGBTQIA community, dotgay LLC supports my participation in the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) work on Enhanced Cooperation. A blog describing the work in terms of Internet governance can be found at: http://avri.doria.org/five-days-in-the-enhanced-cooperation-box. In this brief note I want to describe why this work is so important to the dotgay community.

An undercurrent to the entire process of governments trying to gain control of the Internet is content control.  As new laws in Russia and several African countries have shown, there is a backlash against the gay community.  These governments, with at instigation of the  American religious right among others, have been racketing up historical hatred and violence against the gay community for several years.  In the last year, as the gay community gained a degree of equality in some countries, with workplace discrimination beginning to ebb and the acceptance of our personal relationships in marriage, draconian laws have been on the rise in other countries.  Having been defeated in the US, the forces of repression are pouring their money and energies into other countries, causing the increased oppression that is filling the news.

But this does not get mentioned in the news everywhere.  In some countries reporting violence against the gay community has been called propaganda and has become a crime.  Repressive states are looking for greater capabilities to filter and block all such information, so that they can keep their populations in the dark about the freedom and respect being achieved in other parts of the world.    Governments are trying to extend the sovereignty they rely on to abuse the gay community add other citizens within their own border, by force of international agreements to the borderless Internet.

Another capability that the Internet offers is that it allows members of the gay community in one country to communicate with members of the community in other countries, so that they can share information and knowledge.  These rights of association and to knowledge are human rights protected by various covenants, signed my most of the governments in the world.  All of these International covenants, however, contain escape clauses that exempt countries from honoring these rights when they contravene law and international norms.  In some cases like exploitation of children and violence, this is reasonable and accepted by most.  In other cases, when a country has repressive laws, it becomes a problem.  By creating laws and strengthening the international norms related to the Internet requiring enforcement one country’s laws in the Internet, it exposes all of our community to danger.  If a country that accepts gay rights is forced to support laws such as those in Uganda on the Internet, then the community’s right to association and sharing of knowledge is threatened.  By using Internet governance, a necessary and important regulatory function at times, some of the most repressive regimes in the world are hoping to spread the influence of their hate over the rest of the world.

These dry Internet governance discussions about Enhanced Cooperation are, at their base about these issues, though they are rarely mentioned explicitly, except during unguarded moments.  Our community is one of the primary reasons repressive regimes are attempting to gain control of the Internet – they inexplicably hate the gay/LGBTQIA community that much.  It is important that we not only follow these trends so we are ready to react when they come to our homes, but we must be represented in the discussions to attempt to stop the worst offenses.  There are many countries that support our rights, but we are not always their top priority. By participating in UN groups such as the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation or the Human Rights Council, we are in the right place at the right time to remind our countries to defend our rights.

dotgay LLC’s support of this work, along with other rights’ groups, is critical in the fight for gay rights.