This mailing list is no longer active and has been transitioned to Members of the I-coordination mailing list have been moved to the new mailing list. To learn more, visit

[I-coordination] A Framework for Recent Internet Governance Discussions – From Montevideo Statement to 1net

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at
Wed Dec 4 06:30:14 CET 2013

On Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 11:39 PM, Brian E Carpenter <
brian.e.carpenter at> wrote:

> On 04/12/2013 14:45, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> ...
> > ... What is mistakenly called Internet crime
> > is actually just crime that happens to involve the Internet in some
> > fashion.
> I think this is a fundamental fact that needs to be written on a very
> large banner placed in every room where people purport to discuss
> "Internet governance". You don't regulate bank robbery by regulating
> the highways used by bank robbers.
> Sigh. I remember in 1995, when only a handful of people in the UN
> organisations could even spell 'Internet', being asked (at the 'Geneva
> Internet Day' organised by Guy Girardet for the benefit of all the UN
> organisations) about the need for Internet laws. I replied more or less
> in the same words as Phill's quoted above. I think I also said something
> like 'if it's illegal on the street, it's illegal on the Internet'. Here
> we are 18 years later and people still don't get it.

The Internet may not be the place the laws need to act but it is the
forcing function.

One of the things I have learned as an engineer is that most people
describe their requirements in terms of a proposed solution. Getting them
to work backwards from their solution to the core problem they are trying
to solve is hard but essential if progress is to be made.

What are being proposed as 'solutions' by many governments are in essence
technical proposals. We need to get to the underlying motives and

> Mutatis mutandis, the same applies to privacy protection and legal
> intercept. The Internet really isn't different in some magical way from
> older media.

Maybe not different. But there is a long history of governments using
emerging media for information engagement.

The placement of every television mast in West Germany was carefully
considered to gain maximum coverage in the East. The CIA even ran a journal
promoting abstract modernism because it requires people to think.

The US Congress allocated $100 million / yr for information engagement
operations against Iran. We just saw the results of some of those tools in
use, we call it the Arab Spring.

Some governments have good reason to be nervous of the Internet and the
Web. It is a devils bargain, they trade short term economic gain for long
term political instability, unless their political institutions are capable
of supporting open criticism of government actions.

This is not a concern for most politicians in democratic countries because
most politicians want to harness the power of the Internet to promote their
own career. The main exception being the one that proves the rule, Silvio
Berlusconi is a big advocate for political censorship of the Internet
because it competes with the television media that he owns.

The other big difference between the Internet and previous media is that
the economic model changes at a breakneck speed. The telephone system took
a century to move from Strouger to digital switching. A lot of smaller
governments relied heavily on taxing international calls for foreign
currency. And of course privatization has in many cases allowed the ruling
families to divert public revenues into their own pockets which creates the
real problem. If it was merely a matter of lost revenues it would be easy
enough to find a substitute.

For good or ill, such interests consider themselves to be 'stakeholders'.
which is why I am not particularly fond of the 'multistakeholder'

What we need to find is a model that has sufficient support from a critical
mass of sovereign states to guarantee the continuation of the open Internet.

I don't expect that we will find unanimity and I don't particularly want to
even try. But we do need to make changes.

One consequence of the Arab Spring is that other governments now understand
that the Internet is potentially a weapon. The Snowdonia leaks have further
increased concern.

We have to restore trust to the system or it will become unstable.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the I-coordination mailing list