FW: [bestbits] Your sign on requested- Civil society statement post-WCIT

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Fri Dec 21 13:48:06 EST 2012

Thanks for your comments Deborah and I'll reply to them inline



From: Deborah Brown [mailto:deborah at accessnow.org] 
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 10:01 AM
To: michael gurstein
Cc: governance at lists.igcaucus.org; McTim; bestbits at lists.igcaucus.org
Subject: Re: FW: [bestbits] Your sign on requested- Civil society statement


Dear Michael, 


Thank you for raising these issues. I think there are a few
misunderstandings here that I hope I can clarify. 

[MG>] okay


This statement is not meant to act as a spokesperson for civil society or
Best Bits. As I noted in my email that was forwarded to this list, the
statement "is meant to be complementary to other post-WCIT civil society
statements that focus on the substance of the ITRs." If renaming the
document "A civil society statement..." and including "the undersigned
members of" before mentions of "civil society" would clarify that, I think
we can definitely make those changes. 

[MG>] I think that would be preferable
 although I guess I would like to see
how it was phrased
 I would like to think that there was a normative
agreement within CS and that to some degree that this was articulated in the
statement from BestBits but that statement was I think carefully crafted so
as to not attempt to be definitive on the part of CS nor should it have
been, nor should this one be so presented


I'ld have to look at the other statements from various CS folks in the
context of Dubai but given the peculiarity of the arrangements governing CS
participation (including acting as representatives/spokespersons for certain
"national interests"/delegations and certain funding arrangements for
attendance) at the WCIT one can hardly see anything that was
said/articulated from there as being representative of anything much beyond
the opinions of a particular sub-set of people who managed by some means or
other to make it to Dubai.


As it happens, a number of organizations that were very involved in Best
Bits have endorsed the statement, so listing those organizations should be a
good indication of who within Best Bits supports the statement, and who does

[MG>] I'll look forward to seeing this


Also, this is not an Access statement, but was drafted by some civil society
representatives who were present in Dubai. As one of the people who was
remaining in Dubai towards the end, I volunteered to circulate the statement
for sign on. It has around 20 signatories at the moment. I am happy to
circulate this list once I have had the chance to collect the names. 

[MG>] okay but see my comments above concerning the issue of statements
coming out of CS Dubai


If I understand correctly, much of your criticism is related to the limited
scope of issues and principles that this statement addresses. I cannot speak
on behalf of the group that drafted this, but I believe that the focus was
kept narrow and focused mostly on the issues raised in the letter that was
presented to the ITU ahead of the 10 December meeting with Hamadoun Touré
(letter accessible here:

[MG>] of course I have no idea of this, but one of my observations/concerns
about CS in Dubai is that nowhere/no one seemed to be raising the issues
that are the usual fare of CS i.e. inclusion, net neutrality, human rights,
the public interest--which BTW and perhaps not incidentally were issues that
were being raised by many of those countries who did sign the WCIT
 That the folks who got in to see M. Toure said something or other
is neither here nor there
 If I (and I would expect many others) had been
there I/we would most certainly have raised some additional issues.  I think
the issues articulated are dramatically skewed to those issues primarily of
interest to the "North" and even within that to a sub-set of CS in the
North, and thus I think in no senses should represent or be presented as
representing CS position overall.  


I will take your concerns back to the group that drafted this and see if
there is appetite for revising the statement at this late date. If there is
not, hopefully making the changes I mentioned at the end of the second
paragraph of this email will be sufficient in clarifying that this statement
only has the support of the groups/individuals whose names are listed on the
public version.

[MG>] Okay, but again I have significant concerns that this statement is
narrowing the focus of CS and turning away from the potential leadership
position which (if only by default) I think was accorded to CS as an outcome
of Dubai. 


I think an explanation has to be given as to why even a component of CS
should be univocally accepting the framework of criticism that was
articulated by certain national and corporate interests (and by implication
rejecting those normal CS positions e.g. digital inclusion, human rights,
etc. being articulated by at least certain of the "signers"); and further I
would be very interested in the reasons behind the failure of this statement
to present a position for the positive values and vision for an Internet in
the public interest that CS presumably should be articulating.


I regret any miscommunications/misunderstandings here. Thank you again for
your feedback and I look forward to continuing this discussion.

[MG>] Best,




Best regards, 




On Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com>

McTim, you were asking

Civil Society statement on the new ITRs and the future of multi-stakeholder

December 21, 2012

Civil society is disappointed

[MG>] did I go to heaven and come back to find that someone made you folks
king/queen of CS?

that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) could
not come to consensus in revising the International Telecommunications
Regulations (ITRs).  

[MG>] why should we/CS care whether the States came to a concensus or not

unless of course, our "interests" are the same as the "interests" of
specific states/corporations

We understand, however, the serious concerns that a number of governments
have expressed with regard to the potential impact of the new regulations.

[MG>] as the above, and what is our alternative norm-based response to these
"new regulations"
 what do want to see in their place or as an alternative

As civil society stated in its Best Bits statement, a key criterion for ITRs
should be that “any proposed revisions are confined to the traditional scope
of the ITRs” and “where international regulation is required around
technical issues [it] is limited to telecommunications networks and
interoperability standards.”  We regret that an Internet governance-related
resolution has been included in the Final Acts of WCIT, despite assertions
by many that WCIT was not about Internet governance. We are also concerned
by the lack of clarity around the applicability of the treaty, which as
defined could have unforeseen consequences for an open internet, and the
lack of specificity in key terms, such as security, which may negatively
impact the public’s rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

[MG>] there was a lot of other stuff in that statement--"net neutrality",
"public interest", "human rights", "affordable access" etc. why focus only
on these areas and not mention the others

This said, civil society would like to acknowledge and thank those
governments that opened their delegations to members of civil society and
other stakeholder groups.  This was a very important initial step in
establishing a civil society voice in the proceedings and we trust that it
signals a wider commitment to multi-stakeholder approaches in public policy
development and decision-making on telecommunications and Internet-related
matters.  We trust that this openness and inclusive approach will continue
and extend to upcoming ITU-related work and beyond, and we urge other
governments to welcome and engage with civil society going forward.

[MG>] yes, but CS has other principles as well, why not mention some of
those and hold governments accountable against those

As we communicated to ITU Secretary General Touré, we also commend the ITU
on first steps towards greater transparency and openness with regard to
access to and webcasting of plenary sessions and Committee 5 sessions, as
well as soliciting public submissions.  These initial steps enabled civil
society to play a constructive, albeit limited, role at the WCIT.

[MG>] yes, see above

However there remain serious limitations to engaging with the ITU.  The
substantive policy deliberations in working groups were neither webcast nor
open to unaffiliated civil society.  Further, while it is positive that the
ITU opened the process to public comment, these comments were never part of
the official record.  We raised both of these challenges with the Secretary
General, in writing and in person, and he committed to addressing these
concerns and appealing to member states, as appropriate. Although the WCIT
has concluded, we renew our request to have the public comments submitted as
official ITU documents to capture these positions for the historical record.

[MG>] yes, see above

We also raised the issue of the lack of any institutional mechanism for
civil society participation at the ITU. While the participation of civil
society representatives in government delegations benefits both the
delegations and the WCIT’s deliberations as a whole, it cannot substitute
for engagement with independent members of civil society.  We will be
following up on these important matters with the Secretary General and
welcome his commitment to considering institutional remedies to this

[MG>] yes, see above

Looking forward, civil society seeks to work with governments and other
stakeholders around the globe towards an ever more inclusive and substantive
multi-stakeholder engagement on telecommunications, Internet, and related

[MG>] surely we want something more than simply an
multi-stakeholder engagement"--what about "net neutrality",
inclusive access and use etc.etc

Much more needs to be done with regard to opening the ITU to greater genuine
multi-stakeholder participation and in particular independent civil society
participation - institutional change will need to occur and we will work
with the ITU and other stakeholders to bring this about.  These changes are
vitally important and need to be addressed as soon as possible given the
upcoming 2013 World Telecommunication Policy Forum, World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS+10) and 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.

[MG>] surely CS is concerned with things other than its own capacity to
intervene in this particular set of discussions
 why not use this as a
framework to start articulating those broader values--which to my mind are
framed overall in the context of a global Internet governed in the public
interest and for the public good.







Deborah Brown

Policy Analyst

Access | AccessNow.org

E.  <mailto:deborah at accessnow.org> deborah at accessnow.org

S. deborah.l.brown

T. deblebrown

PGP 0x5EB4727D




Deborah Brown

Policy Analyst

Access | AccessNow.org

E.  <mailto:deborah at accessnow.org> deborah at accessnow.org

S. deborah.l.brown

T. deblebrown

PGP 0x5EB4727D



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.igcaucus.org/pipermail/bestbits/attachments/20121221/c85b3092/attachment.htm>

More information about the Bestbits mailing list