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IANA Stewardship process and ICANN accountability at the ICANN Studienkreis and IGF 2014

The meetings

The  IANA Stewardship Transition process (IST) was discussed extensively both at the the ICANN Studienkreis and and the Internet Governance Forum 2014.  The ICANN Studienkreis is a yearly program organized in Europe where high level experts on ICANN issues are brought together to discuss subjects related to Internet governance and the development of ICANN. This year’s meeting was held in Sofia, Bulgaria from 28-19 August. A panel discussion at the Studienkreis included experts from the US government, the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC), the European Regional Internet Registry (RIR) responsible for the assignment of IP addresses to European ISPs and from Verisign responsible for .com and for maintenance of the root zone for the internet. I was privileged to be invited as the moderator of this discussion.

The Internet Governance Forum, is a multistakeholder process that was initiated by the United Nations in 2005 with a 5 year mandate that was renewed for another 5 years in 2009.  Each year the IGF holds an annual meeting where they bring together the various stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem to discuss a multitude of issues.  This year’s meeting welcomed over 3000 participants from around the world and from all stakeholder groups including Academia, Business, Civil society, Government, and the Internet technical community.

One of the presentations at the Studienkreis was a very stern warning from one of the more senior members of the community, David Maher from Public Interest Registry. His talk on Accountability and Redress has been published on Circleid.  This talk did a very good job of expressing the viewpoint of many of the discussants at both meetings regarding ICANN and accountability.  It starts out with [1]:

In ICANN circles these days, accountability is the buzz word. Nearly everybody is talking about it. Generally everybody is in favor of it, but that’s where the agreement ends. This paper urges action by ICANN to provide a means for redress of grievances as an essential element of accountability.

He went on to explain the system of redress at ICANN:

Independent third party review was the procedure invoked by ICM[2]. At the time ICM requested review, in June 2008, the standard of review was simple and straightforward:

“Requests for such independent review shall be referred to an Independent Review Panel (“IRP”), which shall be charged with comparing contested actions of the Board to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and with declaring whether the Board has acted consistently with the provisions of those Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.”

Effective in April 2013, the ICANN Board made a number of significant changes in the standard of review. First, requests for review are now referred to an Independent Review Process Panel (emphasis added). In other words, only the process is subject to review, not the real question whether the Board acted consistently with the ICANN articles and bylaws.

After discussing some of the failures of the approach taken by the Board on the issue of redress, the talk ended with:

The unanimous statement by the constituencies and stakeholder groups making up the GNSO put it clearly:

“The entire GNSO join together today calling for the Board to support community creation of an independent accountability mechanism that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community.

The sentiment expressed at the Studienkreis by Maher was repeated again and again in many different ways in meetings throughout the Studienkreis meeting as well as those held during IGF 2014.

There were several sessions held at IGF 2014 on the IANA Stewardship Transition and on Accountability.  Two sessions included a member of the dotgay staff.  These sessions have been recorded are are available:

Given the pervasive sentiment that ICANN currently provided weak accountability mechanisms, the discussion on the IANA Stewardship transition circled back to the belief that any plan for transition of the NTIA stewardship for IANA depended on adequate methods of redress and oversight for IANA, and could not proceed unless those issues were resolved.  One proposed solution, the creation of a new multistakeholder oversight body was questioned on its accountability attributes. It was asked, “to whom would such a oversight body be accountable,” given that representative structures are still difficult to define in the current multistakeholder model.  The problem was termed the infinite regress of accountability.  As the discussions went on, suggestions were made for defining accessible methods of binding arbitration to resolve blocking issues.  The discussion are ongoing and there are many devils in the design details of any solution. As these discussions proceed, they will be reported on this site. It should be noted that at least two of the operational communities, the protocol parameters and the IP addressing, have argued that their accountability mechanisms are sufficient and do not need to be improved.  There are many members of the global community who take issue with this assertion.  The discussions continue and there is plenty of opportunity for comment by members of our community.

(It is worth mentoning that the IANA/ICANN issue was but one of the themes discussed at the IGF meeting.  Further entries will touch on some of those issues and pointers to some of the better community blogs written on the subject of the meeting will be provided. In the meantime, all of the sessions for the IGF are being made available.  More of the sessions are added as time goes on.)

Updates on the Processes

The work has begun on the two parallel but connected processes; IANA Stewardship and ICANN Accountability.

IANA Stewardship

The IANA Stewardship Coordination Group has held several meetings since it was established.  It has completed its charter and a request for Transition Proposals and has released a suggested process timeline.  It has organized itself around the 3 silos representing the three main IANA functions: Domain Names, IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) and protocol parameters.  Each of the operational communities, the solos:

  • ICANN cross community working group (CWG) for names such a gTLDs and ccTLDs. A call for membership in this group will go out shortly.
  • The Numbers Resource organization (NRO) and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) for IP addresses and autonomous system numbers.
  • The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) for protocol parameters

have begun their work on producing their recommendations on various email lists[3].

Additionally, there will be calls for comments from the global Internet community. The ICG charter is quite specific about how comments will be handled, they will be forwarded to the operational communities for processing. What is less certain is how they will handle cross-cutting solutions that may be offered either as proposals or as comments.  When discussed, the answer is of the type: that bridge will be crossed if and when such a cross cutting proposal is offered.  Time will tell. The process suggested by the ICG is that those who have ideas for cross-cutting mechanisms participate in all three of the operational group processes.  I am currently following all of the efforts and will report on them as they begin to develop their solutions, with particular emphasis on the solutions discussed in the domain name space.

ICANN Accountability

As discussed in an earlier blog on ICANN Accountability, the process of reviewing ICANN Accountability includes several components:

– A cross community group that members of the LGBTQI community were encouraged to join by sending email to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org

– A Community Coordination Group to work with the cross community group and to develop the recommendations on ways to resolve ICANN accountability problems, especially those that may result from the transition of the NTIA’s responsiblities.

The ICANN community, a union of all of the major ICANN structures, the Supporting Organizations and the Advisory Communities, had sent a letter objecting to the proposal proposed by ICANN.  While there were many specific issues with were documented in a separate letter, the main issue was that the process was decided on by the ICANN Board and Staff without adequate consultation with the community.  While technically there had been a community consultation as required, the resulting outcome was so different from anything that anyone expected, that a second community review should have been held.  After meetings at the IGF between the community and the ICANN senior staff, ICANN staff agreed to open a 21 days comment period, which will end on 27 September. dotgay-community members should feel free to comment on these important issues and questions.

Another process that is ongoing is the Accountability and Governance Public Experts group has begun its work and has put out a call for experts to be considered for membership in the Accountability Coordination Group. Because of the open comment period on the process, they have extended the call until 30 September 2014, so now is the time to recommend experts from the international LGBTQI community who can be considered for membership.  The experts need to have expertise in a subset of the following areas:

  • Internet Technical Operations
  • International Organizational Reviews
  • Global Accountability Tools and Metrics
  • Jurisprudence / Accountability Mechanisms
  • Internet Consumer Protection (including privacy, human rights and property rights concerns)
  • Economics (Marketplace and Competition)
  • Global Ethics Frameworks
  • Operational, Finance and Process
  • Board Governance
  • Transparency
  • Risk Management
  • Governmental Engagement and Relations
  • Multistakeholder Governance

Nominees to the process need to have time to contribute to the process of making recommendation for ways to improve ICANN accountability.

A public webinar will be held on Monday, 15 September from 14:00 – 16:00 UTC on the Accountability process.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

(more…)

ICANN and Accountability II

ICANN and Accountability II

 
It was only the other day that I wrote that ICANN Staff was in the process of initiating a process on ICANN Accountability.  And  on the 14th the released Enhancing ICANN Accountability: Process and the Next steps was released.
 
In this they offer the blueprint for what appears to be a new advisory organization with several subgroups:
  • An ICANN Accountability & Governance Cross Community Group
  • An ICANN Accountability & Governance  Public Experts Group
  • An ICANN Accountability & Governance Coordination Group

The Cross Community Group (CCG)

This group “is open to any stakeholder” in the community that is interested in discussing the issues and giving input to the Coordination group on issues and solution for ICANN Accountability and Governance .

The Cross Community Group has three tasks:
  1. Identify issues for discussion or improvement;
  2. Appoint participants to the Coordination Group 
  3. Provide ongoing community input to the Coordination Group
 
All stakeholders that wish to participate in the Cross Community Group may indicate their involvement by submitting their names to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org.
 
 
It would be good for members of the LGBTQI community to participate in the Cross Community Group.  Hope to see you there – I have already signed up.

The Public Experts Group (PEG)

ICANN is “bringing together four respected individuals with strong backgrounds in academia, governmental relations, global

insight, and the AoC, to form the Accountability & Governance Public Experts Group.  This group will be responsible for picking seven (7) experts to sit on the Coordination group.  Currently these experts will be picked to cover the following areas of expertise:

  •  Internet Technical Operations
  • International Organizational Reviews
  • Global Accountability Tools and Metrics
  • Jurisprudence / Accountability Mechanisms
  • Internet Consumer Protection (including privacy, human rights and property rights concerns
  • Economics (Marketplace and Competition)
  • Global Ethics Frameworks
  • Operational, Finance and Process
  • Board Governance
  • Transparency
  • Risk Management
  • Governmental Engagement and Relations
  • Multistakeholder Governance

It is unfortunate that they did not include experts in community and diversity, and that they subordinated Human Rights to Consumer Rights, but perhaps they can be convinced to fix this.  It is to be hoped the the members of the  PEG will be expert and diverse enough to realize that this list of criteria needs further consideration and adjustment.  As they will be the experts on expertise, this should be in their purview.  Or at least I hope so.

The Accountability & Governance Coordination Group (AGCG)

Will be composed of those appointed to it by the CCG and PEG, as well as a Staff member, an expert in the current Affirmation of Committee Accountability and Transparency process and a few liasions.   The ACCG will be responsible for:

  1. Categorizing and prioritizing issues including those identified by the Cross Community Group;
  2. Building solution requirements for issues with input from the Cross Community Group; and
  3. Issuing the final report/recommendations.

Once the recommendations are made, they will be subject to the standard process of community review and board decision prior to implementation.  It is expected that this process will last at least on

*

If there is just one thing I would like readers of dotgay-community.org to take from this, it is:

All stakeholders that wish to participate in the Cross Community Group

send their names to accountability-ccg-members@icann.org.”

It would be good for members of the LGBTQI community to participate in this Cross Community Group.

It might change the face of accountability in Internet governance.

 

What an opportunity!

 

A more detailed analysis can found here.

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.

 

 

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 an inflection point in Internet governance

In several ways the NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance was a success.  In one important way, it was a great success.

The Success

In its outcome document entitled NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement – to be known as the São Paulo Statement – a set of Principles and a Roadmap for the Future of Internet governance were defined and approved by general acclimation, though some, such as the Russian Federation, registered disagreement – they reject multistakeholder decision making.  Some of the Principles are especially important to our community.  And while not always expressed as strongly or explicitly as we might like, it was significant that a multistakeholder conference that included governments could come to rough consensus on such progressive statements.

Most importantly it was agreed that the Internet was to be governed according to human rights principles with guidelines derived from those principles. Some Excepts from the São Paulo Statement

HUMAN RIGHTS

Human rights are central values and universal as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that should underpin Internet governance principles.  Rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in accordance with international human rights legal obligations, including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Those rights include, but are not limited to:

  • Freedom of expression: everyone has the right to hold and express opinions, and to seek, receive, and impart information on the Internet without arbitrary interference.
  • Freedom of association: peaceful assembly online, including through social networks and platforms.
  • Privacy: the same rights that people have off-line must also be protected online, including the right to privacy, avoiding arbitrary or unlawful collection of personal data and surveillance and the right to the protection of the law against such interference.
  • Accessibility: persons with disabilities should enjoy full access to online resources on an equal basis with others.
  • Freedom of information and access to information:  Everyone should have the right to access, share, create and distribute information on the Internet.
  • Development: all people have a right to development and the Internet has a vital role to play in helping to achieve the full realization of internationally agreed sustainable development goals. It  is a vital tool for giving people living in poverty the means to participate in development processes.

Internet governance process principles

  • Multistakeholder: with the full participation of governments, the private sector, civil society, the technical community, academia and the users in their respective roles and responsibilities.
  • Open, participative, consensus driven governance: The development of international Internet-related public policies and Internet governance arrangements should enable the full and balanced participation of all stakeholders from around the globe, and made by consensus.
  • Transparent:  Decisions made must be easy to understand, processes must be clearly documented and follow agreed 
  • Accountable: Mechanisms for checks and balances as well as for review should exist.
  • Inclusive and equitable: Internet governance institutions and processes should be inclusive and open to all interested stakeholders. Processes should be bottom-up, enabling the full involvement of all stakeholders, in a way that does not disadvantage any category of stakeholder.
  • Distributed: Governance characterized by distributed and multistakeholder mechanisms and organizations.
  • Collaborative: Internet governance should be based on and encourage collaborative and cooperative approaches that reflect the inputs and interests of stakeholders.
  • Enabling meaningful participation: Anyone affected by an Internet governance process should be able to participate in that process. Particularly, Internet governance institutions and processes should support capacity building for newcomers, especially stakeholders from developing countries and underrepresented groups.
  • Accessibility and low barriers: Internet governance should promote universal, equal opportunity, affordable and high quality Internet access so it can be an effective tool for enabling human development and social inclusion. There should be no unreasonable barriers to entry for new users.
  • Agility: Policies for access to Internet services should be future oriented and technology neutral, so that they are able to accommodate rapidly developing technologies and different types of use.

Roadmap for the Future Evolution of Internet governance

The Internet governance framework is a distributed and coordinated ecosystem involving various organizations and fora. It must be inclusive, transparent and accountable, and its structures and operations must follow an approach that enables the participation of all stakeholders in order to address the interests of all those who benefit from the Internet.

Internet governance decisions are sometimes taken without the meaningful participation of all stakeholders. It is important that multistakeholder decision-making and policy formulation are improved in order to ensure the full participation of all interested parties, recognizing the different roles played by different stakeholders in different issues.

Internet surveillance – Mass and arbitrary surveillance undermines trust in the Internet and trust in the Internet governance ecosystem. Surveillance of communications, their interception, and the collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection should be conducted in accordance with states’ obligations under international human rights law.

All the organizations, forums and processes of the Internet governance ecosystem are encouraged to take into account the outcomes of NETmundial.

The Great Success

The great success, was the fact that over the course of 6 months, governmental and non-governmental actors, organized by Brazil and a coalition of non-governmental actors called /1net, could work together online and in person to arrive at a set of decisions on principles and on a roadmap that could be agreed upon by general acclimation.  Up until this time, while many respected multistakeholder processes, they were not seen as a vehicle for decision making.  The NETmundial showed us otherwise.  That is a major achievement and an inflection point.    Now that we understand that multistakeholder decisions are possible, and have seen an example of how it can be done, we can make progress toward the time where public policy decisions regarding the Internet, at all levels, will be made by diverse participatory and democratic multistakeholder processes.

NETmundial also provided a great example for dotgay LLC, as they continue their work on developing their community multistakeholder Registry Advisory Board.  As applicants for managing part of the Internet ecosystem, LLC is committed to developing policies for  .gay using multistakeholder models as recommended in the outcomes of NETmundial.

The NETmundial documents are open for comment to the world.  Anyone with a free moment should take a look and even comment on issues that are important to you. It is easy to do.

For a further view on the scope of the meeting, tiwtter feeds can be found under hashtags #netmundial and #netmundial2014.



 

Related items of interest

IP Justice

Internet Governance Project

Interview with Wolfgang Kleinwachter

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.