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[I-coordination] A different model
nb at bollow.ch
Thu Dec 12 12:57:31 CET 2013
Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 11/12/2013 08:00, Jorge Amodio wrote:
> > Internet Governance does not stand for "governing" the Internet,
> > and this is one of the interpretations that generates all sorts of
> > conflicts, particularly when the term gets translated to other
> > languages such as Spanish.
> Indeed, it was a stupid choice of word from Day One.
Is there a better, more easily translatable, sufficiently broad term?
> > While not universally accepted, and still under discussion how to
> > interpret it, out of WSIS 2005 there was some agreement on a
> > "working" definition that says:
> Does anyone have a shred of respect for anything that came out of
A lot of people and institutions, including many governments, have a lot
of respect for what the WSIS 2005 outcome document (often referred to as
the "Tunis Agenda") says about Internet governance.
> > "Internet governance is the development and application by
> > Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their
> > respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules,
> > decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution
> > and use of the Internet."
> Try this and see if it makes sense:
> "Atmosphere governance is the development and application by
> Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their
> respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making
> procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the
A key difference is that unlike the atmosphere, the evolution and use of
the Internet is actually shaped to a large extent by shared principles,
norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes.
> As George pointed out, there is a great gulf between administration of
> the technical side of the Internet and regulation of the social and
> economic impact of the Internet. Mixing these two up under the G-word
> has led to enormous confusion of thought, not least right here on
> this list.
I agree that the issue of confusion of thought is a real problem, but I
don't agree that this can be blamed on the use of the word "governance".
The technical side and the social and economic impact cannot be fully
separated. There are technical choices that have social and economic
impacts. And some aspects of how purely technical matters of
international scope are managed have a symbolic dimension that in
itself has a significant impact.
I think the elephants in the room are the following very profoundly
1) Which aspects of how our societies are going to be shaped will
effectively be decided by profit-oriented companies subject mainly to
market forces, and which aspects will be decided through democratic
2) Is governmental or intergovernmental action necessary to prevent the
transition to a largely Internet based global socioeconomic system
(which is now seen as inevitable) from resulting in profoundly unjust
shifts of socioeconomic power (such as significant power shifting away
from individuals, small businesses, and governments, especially
developing country governments, into the hands of a small number of
profit oriented companies of global scope), and if so, what kind of
action would be appropriate?
When governments and others (who don't have in-depth knowledge of what
the Internet is and how it works) are looking for an international
process or institution that would address such questions, I don't think
that anyone can be blamed for getting confused as a result.
For example it would be inappropriate to blame ICANN for being
relatively highly visible, which leads some confused people to think
that the issues that ICANN is addressing must be somehow central to
what they're concerned about. (IMO in most cases what they're truly
concerned about is some variant of one of the two big questions that
I've called "elephants" above, but typically they don't understand
the whole situation well enough to be able to formulate the concern as
a precise question.)
Blaming the word "governance" is equally wrong IMO.
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