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[I-coordination] New: How do we dissect Internet governance? [Was: Europe at a tipping point?]

Jeremy Malcolm jeremy at ciroap.org
Wed Dec 18 09:45:19 CET 2013


On 18/12/13 15:54, Dr. Ben Fuller wrote:
> This is really good. Showing the benefits of neutral technical administration is easy -- its the Internet as we know it now. Tabulating the benefits will be simple and its probably already done. (Anyone got a graduate student with time on their hands! :-D)

On the other hand, we should also avoid confirmation bias.  Let's
examine /whether or not/ neutral technical administration supports
underlying values that we support, rather than trying to find evidence
that it always does.  Otherwise we will tend to entrench elements of
existing Internet governance arrangements on the assumption that the
Internet as we know it now is the best of all possible Internets, when
it may not be.

In any given case there may be other (and less "neutral") ways of
technically administering the Internet that would actually be better at
promoting the balance of interests that we can agree through democratic
(including globally democratic aka. multi-stakeholder) processes,
including privacy, security and freedom of expression.

In the same way that a regulated market is less "neutral" than a free
market, but, in cases of market failure, serves consumers' interests
better, so too there may be merit in a level of democratic oversight or
intervention into certain technical processes to ensure that broader
social values are not overlooked in the administration of Internet
resources and development of Internet standards and protocols.

(Before people accuse me of things that I'm not actually saying, for me
this is very loose: basically, establishment through processes outside
of and broader than existing technical community bodies, to provide a
framework of principles, that can guide and direct technical work along
socially beneficial lines, rather than assuming that social values are
automatically and inherently implicit in those processes.)

Political ideology, of course, comes into this, so and we are unlikely
always to agree on how much intervention is beneficial, and will be
tempted to make generalisations like "no government control over the
Internet" or conversely "no democracy without governments, let's form a
UN council to set the rules".  My own take is more nuanced and I've set
it out at length in posts like these (and many others):

http://www.igfwatch.org/discussion-board/three-false-assumptions-internet-freedom-in-a-world-of-states-part-1
(et seq)

http://igfwatch.org/discussion-board/picking-up-where-the-igf-left-off-our-role-in-the-future-of-internet-governance

Moreover I think the more explicit that we make the political dimension
of this discussion, the better.  It is amazing how (what Americans would
call) progressives can morph into libertarians just because the context
is the Internet.  In other words, if you don't want Internet technical
processes to be regulated think hard about why you're saying that.  Do
you also not want markets to be regulated?  If so, fine; that's a
political view that you're entitled to.  But otherwise, you might be
falling into the trap of Internet exceptionalism.

-- 

*Dr Jeremy Malcolm
Senior Policy Officer
Consumers International | the global campaigning voice for consumers*
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