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[I-coordination] [governance] Inter-stakeholder issues in a multi-stakeholder environment

Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion alex at privacy.org
Mon Dec 2 15:48:57 CET 2013


Hello,

I am contacting you from Privacy International (PI) based in London. Here is a quick introduction of Pl for those who are not familiar with our work. 
PI is committed to fighting for the right to privacy across the world. Working with 19 partners worldwide, we are doing research and advocacy activities on promoting the right to privacy and doing an analysis on the legal, institutional framework upholding the rights to privacy and the protection of personal data advocating for strong national, regional, and international laws that protect privacy. Additionally, we investigate the secret world of government surveillance and expose the companies enabling it. We litigate to ensure that surveillance is consistent with the rule of law.  We conduct research to catalyse policy change. We raise awareness about technologies and laws that place privacy at risk, to ensure that the public is informed and engaged.

I was present in Bali at the IGF and have been following the discussions within this forum and others on Brazil and internet governance in general since. First of all, we are glad to being following the intense and productive discussions happening through this mailing list which we sincerely hope will contribute towards ensuring the multi-stakeholder nature of the process as well as the event as promised by Brazil but also those who are leading the discussions for its organisation.

As the broad scope of the Brazil meeting, the development of internet governance as an issue, and the on-going international debate since the Snowden revelations have shown (i.e. recently passed UNGA on right to privacy to be voted in early December), the issue has expanded to have to consider the right to privacy and the protection of personal data, and the use of surveillance technologies or if I may say so, the abuse of communication mediums and technologies for surveillance purposes.

Hence I was wondering what opportunities and space there will be for organisations like PI (i.e. not part of Best Bits and other internet governance focused groups as such) to be involved in the decision making process of the civil society reps for the committees but in general in the discussion leading up to and beyond this meeting.

We look forward to hearing people’s thoughts and welcome suggestions.

Best,

Alexandrine


Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion

Advocacy Officer
Privacy International
62 Britton Street
London, EC1M 5UY
United Kingdom

E: alex at privacy.org 
W: www.privacyinternational.org
T: + 44 (0) 203 422 4321
Skype: alexpdec.pi

Privacy International is a registered charity (No. 1147471).

On 27 Nov 2013, at 06:31, parminder <parminder at itforchange.net> wrote:

> 
> On Tuesday 26 November 2013 03:11 AM, Milton L Mueller wrote:
>> George
>> Normally I would be very much in favor of shifting attention to issues and substantive proposals. But in the present context, that constitutes a diversion from the real problem at hand.
>>  
>> The preparations for the Brazil conference have pushed representational issues to the fore. Specifically, we have an entity called 1net that has been given the authority to appoint half of the members of the steering committees for the conference,
> 
> I dont think such an authority was ever give to 1net.... Though there seems to have been a strong attempt to claim it - so strong that many people thought they already had it . parminder
> 
>> and which has also promised that a fixed number of slots on these steering committees will be given to specific stakeholder groups.
>>  
>> Because these steering committees will control the agenda of the conference, and hence will be in de facto control of our discussion of substantive issues at the Sao Paulo conference, it behooves even those of us exclusively interested in substan
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> tive issues to pay attention to the composition of those committees.
>>  
>> In particular, the coordinating committee of 1net itself needs to be settled. Get that done, and yes, we can start to focus on substantive issues.
>>  
>> --MM
>>  
>> From: governance-request at lists.igcaucus.org [mailto:governance-request at lists.igcaucus.org] On Behalf Of George Sadowsky
>> Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 12:38 PM
>> To: Deirdre Williams
>> Cc: governance at lists.igcaucus.org; gurstein michael; Peter Ian; bestbits; Akplogan Adiel A.; Swinehart Theresa; internetpolicy at elists.isoc.org; i-coordination at nro.net; Salanieta T. Tamanikaiwaimaro
>> Subject: Re: [governance] Inter-stakeholder issues in a multi-stakeholder environment
>>  
>> Deirdre, and all,
>>  
>> Thank you, Deirdre.  I take your point that we should consider shifting the focus to issue-based discussions and away from stakeholder membership-based discussions.  That is a very good way to phrase it.   (Note that accepting such a shift does not imply that it should replace all other stakeholder membership activities.) 
>>  
>> Where should we have these issue-based discussions?  There have been a number of good and provocative responses to what I wrote below, and I really don't know where to post them and my reactions to them.  How can we get these conversations started in a productive and inclusive manner?
>>  
>> We now have four relevant lists that I know of, and here may well be more:
>>  
>> -  the IGC list, 
>> -  the BestBits list, 
>> -  the ISOC policy list, and 
>> -  the new 1Net coordination list.
>>  
>> Many of us subscribe to some or all of these list, and therefore see the same posting more than once.  I subscribe to all four of the above.
>>  
>> With some trepidation, I'm going to post this message on all of the above lists, with the hope that we can converge on an acceptable solution.  [I have trimmed some early postings below that led to this point in the discussion.]  I myself would favor the 1net list, simply because it is new and meant to be all-inclusive specifically for this purpose, whereas other lists may be (I think) somewhat restrictive and more focused and used for other purposes also. 
>>  
>> If you respond to this, please consider trimming the response significantly, since the content below will have been posted to all of the four lists. 
>>  
>> IMO the question to be answered is: on which list, or using which vehicle, can we collect broad involvement in issue-based threads that have to do with aspects of Internet governance?  If we can converge on an answer, then we'll eliminate some redundancy and we'll have a more inclusive and more positive discussion of issues.  If the redundancy is felt to be useful, then we can keep it; it's agreement on the focal point that's important here.
>>  
>> Comments?  Suggestions? Criticisms?
>>  
>> George
>>  
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    
>>  
>>  On Nov 25, 2013, at 11:53 AM, Deirdre Williams wrote:
>> 
>> 
>> I began this message 12 days ago in response to a thread started by Michael Gurstein 
>> Let's Get Real Folks--Re: [governance] Re: [bestbits] DISCLOSURE REQUEST Re: Funding Available for Strengthening Civil Society
>> 
>> I gave up. Now I am encouraged to try again by this new thread 
>> Re: [governance] Inter-stakeholder issues in a multi-stakeholder environment
>> 
>> begun by George Sadowsky.
>>  
>> Is there any way to shift the focus from the people to the issues?
>> In the final analysis everyone belongs to civil society. That point was made by a representative of a local telecommunications company at a recent workshop on IXPs held in Saint Lucia. As he said, his children also query the speed of the Internet at home when they have to do their homework. The only people excluded from civil society are incarcerated prisoners, and that also is a statement that can be questioned. If I understand him correctly George Sadowsky is making the same point. Civil society is us - all of us.
>>  
>> Instead of trying to disentangle the stakeholders from one another could we  try to reach agreement on the aspects of the issues? If no one is wearing any particular hat then it should be possible to obtain a clearer picture of the issues that need to be discussed, and the multiple aspects of those issues.
>>  
>> Surely at least a part of the "multistakeholder" configuration of WSIS was to provide a means of identifying and harnessing the different types of expertise available, to tackle the different aspects of the challenges created by the Internet and its proliferation. In hindsight the intention must have been partially collaboration and cooperation. Sadly the focus shifted to a third "c" - competition - so that instead of team-powered problem solving we ended up with separation and power struggles. And now on top of that comes betrayal and the death of trust. And the "little people" the "grassroots" become even further excluded from discussion of the interests that affect them, washed out in a wave of personalities and accusations.
>>  
>> We do not need to let this breakdown continue. We CAN work together, we've done it before. Trust can be rebuilt. It is a hard slow process, but each of us retains threads of trust which we consider still to be viable. Otherwise we would not be communicating at all. Weave these threads together and we can build something stronger than what existed before, because we will be depending on one another instead of on abstract external factors. And together we will be able to disaggregate the issues into their component aspects and negotiate a point of balance among the differing needs of government, technicians, business and society.
>>  
>> Deirdre
>>  
>> 
>> On 24 November 2013 12:59, George Sadowsky <george.sadowsky at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>> All,
>>  
>> Please note that the opinions that follow are my own personal opinions and are independent of any of the organizations with which I am affiliated.
>>  
>> <<snip>>
>> 
>> 
>> So with that understanding, I'd like to throw out some thoughts to see if any of them resonate with any of you.
>>  
>> First, I believe that the introduction of the idea of multi-stakeholder approaches has had a significant negative effect between the Internet technical community and the community that has coalesced to represent classical civil society concerns.  As I recall in the 1990s, these communities were considerably intermingled; the promise of the Internet encouraged us not only to help it evolve in beneficial ways but also to explore how to exploit it for social and economic benefits.
>>  
>> The solidification of different stakeholder groups resulting from the WSIS process, caused informal differences to formalize.  Issues of representation, power, time at the microphone, visibility on (sometimes competing) lists and victory in arguments on those lists grew, while informal discussion gradually declined.  Polarization of opinion grew as willingness to respect others' opinions and to agree civilly to disagree suffered.  
>>  
>> Second, I believe that the specific role of the Internet technical community as a stakeholder group for the purposes of participating in the MAG and in the IGF is not properly understood.  At this point in its evolution, the Internet is a very complex system at most levels.  In order to understand fully the implications of policies that have to do with Internet administration, operation and governance, one has have a good technical understand of what the effect of those policies will be at a detailed level.  The primary role of representatives of the Internet technical community, in a MAG and IGF setting, is to study and understand such effects and to inform those deliberating about them.  That function may well extend toward consideration of broader thematic areas and suggestions of what needs to be discussed for continued Internet health, either short or long term, or both.  
>>  
>> In the grand scheme of things, this is a moderately narrow focus, but it is extremely important.
>>  
>> Third, I believe that one result of formalized multi-stakeholderism appears to have been to separate groups of people rather than separating groups of ideas.  A couple of examples illustrate the point.  To the extent that the Internet technical community does its work in guiding the MAG well to enhance Internet evolution, I believe that involved representatives of civil society benefit and should encourage their participation.  Conversely, representatives of the Internet technical community are people, and many are very likely to have beliefs that are quite consistent with the positions espoused by those same civil society representatives. The multi-stakeholder approach, however, seems to create a silo effect that minimizes or even denies the overlap of commonality of interest regarding issues by separating people into different silos.  So instead of recognizing positive overlap of beliefs, the approach encourages a focus on inter-stakeholder group separation.
>>  
>> Fourth, I'd like to propose a reconceptualization of the term "civil society."  In the multi-stakeholder instantiation that is now employed by the UN/MAG/IGF axis , it refers to groups if individuals, some representing organizations of various sizes that agree to various extents regarding the importance of individual rights of various kinds.  These groups represent civil society goals and are therefore grouped as "civil society" to populate that stakeholder group.  And although the goals of that group are generally quite positive, their actions are often based upon pushing back against other stakeholder groups, most notably government but also others.  Perhaps that reflects the reality of the tension between groups, but that tension is not moderated, as it might sometimes be, by people bridging groups instead of being siloed.
>>  
>> An alternate way to define civil society is to start with all people in the world and remove government involvement, the private sector involvement, and perhaps other large institutional influences.  To borrow a phrase from Apple, what is left is "the rest of us," and it contains fractions, generally large fractions of most of us as individuals.  
>>  
>> Most individuals have interests in more than one sector or stakeholder group.  We have interactions with government and may work for it.  Alternatively we may work for a private or other public sector organization.  Almost all of us are increasingly users of the internet.  Using this approach, perhaps an aggregate of 5 billion of us constitute "civil society," as opposed to the people who are now labeled as being in the civil society stakeholder group.   If we are all civil society in large parts of our lives, then we all have some claim to represent our views as we live.  Thus, a representative of Internet technology on the MAG is likely to, and has a right to opine on issues in the larger space, just as self-defined representatives of civil society positions have a right to do.  This illustrates again how the various stakeholder groups, or silos, are really quite intertwined, making the siloed and often competitive relationships between them at a formal level quite unrepresentative of the underlying reality,
>>  
>> I conclude that the multi-stakeholder approach that is accepted to be an approach to bring us together, has not insignificant negative externalities that serve to keep us apart.  We need to assess the multi-stakeholder approach with that in mind  If it is retained as an organizing principle, we need to recognize and understand those negative effects so that we can minimize them and can exploit the positive aspects of that approach.
>>  
>> This is a much longer note than I ordinarily write, but it has helped me to understand some of the roots of the often unnecessarily antagonistic relationship between proponents of issues important to civil society and technical community experts guiding the evolution of the Internet.  Thank you for taking the time to read it.  I realize that what I have written, and any discussion of it, is considerably more nuanced than what I have presented above.  However, I have tried to present the core of some ideas that I think may be useful.  The more nuanced discussion can and will come later.
>>  
>> Your comments are welcome.
>>  
>> George
>>  
>>  
>>  
>> <<trimmed>>
>> 
>> 
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