[bestbits] Multi-stakeholderim, Civil Society and Astroturfing/Stakeholder Capture

Gene Kimmelman genekimmelman at gmail.com
Sun Dec 23 20:45:57 EST 2012

This is a very helpful framing Michael.  All of these issues related  
to legitimacy of various types of groups, transparency of funding, and  
refinement of multi-stakeholder definitions are most welcome.  But I'm  
curious that you leave out so-called "experts" and "academics" who  
also have historically played a significant role in these discussions,  
but may not have been subject to the same rigorous vetting that you're  
suggesting for organizations.  My sense is that these categories of  
civil society participation are subject to the exact same financial  
and political forces you describe for other elements of civil society.
On Dec 23, 2012, at 5:39 PM, michael gurstein wrote:

> One, among the many thoughts that arise from listening to the ISOC/ 
> USG post-mortem is the role and significance of multi-stakeholderism  
> in Internet governance. This was mentioned by all of the  
> discussants--the US Ambassador, ISOC and someone who identified  
> themselves as  speaking from civil society.
> Both in this discussion and more broadly, as the significance of the  
> WCIT is discussed and blogged there is emerging the broad  
> understanding of the central role that Civil Society of necessity  
> plays in multi-stakeholderism--i.e. that without an active, engaged  
> Civil Society there can be no "multi-stakeholderism".
> There is also emerging a further recognition of the central role  
> (through multi-stakeholderism) that CS has going forward in overall  
> global Internet governance.
> As everyone knows there are huge, even overwhelming financial (and  
> other, for example, security) interests involved in these global  
> Internet governance processes and their outcomes.
> The experience has been that where such interests/outcomes are  
> involved there are likely to be attempts by various parties to  
> influence these processes and their participants in both legitimate  
> and illegitimate ways.
> One of the illegitimate ways for exerting such influence, that has  
> fairly recently found a name is what is being called "astroturfing"  
> defined as "apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions  
> that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations,  
> industry trade associations, political interests or public relations  
> firms".
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing
> http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Astroturf
> Another such process is called "regulatory capture" -- although in  
> this instance it might be renamed as "stakeholder capture". This is  
> defined: "Regulatory (stakeholder) capture occurs when a regulatory  
> (stakeholder) agency, created to act in the public interest, instead  
> advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that  
> dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.  
> Regulatory (stakeholder) capture is a form of government (multi- 
> stakeholder governance) failure... "
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture
> I think that it is quite likely that CS will become a venue for such  
> astroturfing and attempted "capture" (if this hasn't already been  
> occuring) and including by governments who will look to create or  
> enable what appear to be CS stakeholder organizations but which in  
> fact, function rather as non-formal spokespersons for national and/ 
> or corporate interests.
> For multi-stakeholderism and particularly for CS to have an effect  
> and role in independently representing the public interest some  
> effective means will need to be established (and quickly) to ensure  
> that participants in these processes purporting to "be" or to  
> "represent" Civil Society are neither captured nor astroturfed. In  
> the absence of this, the much praised "multi-stakeholder global  
> Internet governance model" will die stillborn, lacking any form of  
> credibility or legitimacy.
> Mike

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.igcaucus.org/pipermail/bestbits/attachments/20121223/2b7140a6/attachment.htm>

More information about the Bestbits mailing list