[bestbits] Fwd: [governance] ISOC/USG WCIT Post Mortem

Gene Kimmelman genekimmelman at gmail.com
Tue Dec 25 11:09:27 EST 2012

I think Parminder is reminding us of many of the key issues we must  
address going forward.  I'm not sure how useful it is to debate what  
civil society could otherwise have accomplished at WCIT (but others  
may wish to continue this debate); my sense is that none of us knew if  
and when ITU would open up more for civil society involvement (we did  
succeed somewhat, but only at the last minute and it mostly required  
enormous effort to pressure national delegations to open up, find  
resources for travel, etc); none of us knew how various nations would  
react to civil society  endeavors to become more engaged; none of us  
knew how the nation to nation (or regional) negotiations would  
unfold.  However, we did anticipate that a positive agenda related to  
key civil society needs/demands would not be on the agenda at WCIT and  
-- if I remember correctly -- the consensus at the Baku BestBits  
meeting was that  we needed to find a way to promote our agenda.  
Again, others may believe we could have done more in Dubai with this  
positive agenda, but my sense is that we got the attention of many  
delegations with our joint and individual statements, there was  
substantial discussion of the need to address broadband affordability,  
development issues, security issues (both privacy and cybersecurity),  
and a tremendous amount of allegiance to some enhanced forms of  
multistakeholderism (again, never defined with precision).

My impression is that  participants at the Baku meeting have, with  
their statement, launched a discussion of key elements of what  
Parminder is referring to; and the joint Latin American statement  
launched in late November in Rio and released with broader signatories  
after WCIT furthers this positive civil society agenda.  We woke up  
many stakeholders to our demands going forward, and I know that at  
least in the U.S., civil society groups are continuing to pressure  
their government and corporate sector to begin addressing these  
issues.  To me the question is:  how do we decide what our most  
desired multilateral/global targets are for substantive engagement?  
Obviously civil society groups will have their own national agendas,  
but maybe an addition question would be:  how do we help each other  
further our immediate local policy engagements while supporting a  
broader global initiative?

Many have suggested carrying this discussion forward at the upcoming  
WSIS+10 convening; the ITU's policy forum; the next IGF; the ITU  
plenipotentiary....maybe there are other ideas?  I'm hoping that we  
can continue to unite those who want to work within the ITU structure  
with those who prefer to seek other venues for action, on a common  
substantive agenda. Regardless, I hope we can continue the  
collaboration that has been going on for many years and may have been  
enhanced at BestBits, Rio/Latin American and other joint endeavors  
that have generated excellent process and policy suggestions.
On Dec 24, 2012, at 11:59 PM, parminder wrote:

> On Monday 24 December 2012 01:57 AM, michael gurstein wrote:
>> http://isoc-ny.org/misc/isoc-dc_wcit_post_mortem.mp3
> Could not open this link but saw on youtube ar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN_PwWkv14A
> A good and cogent speech by Terry Kramer. One thing surprised me,  
> and it links to what I think was the failure to posit a positive  
> agenda at the WCIT by civil society.
> Kramer says, first let me deal with the telecommunication side, and  
> there are many positives there (vis a vis WCIT)... (paraphrased)
> And then he speaks of the ETNO proposal, as being on the telecom  
> side.... Of course, he (like us) was happy that ENTO proposal did  
> not pass, he clearly seems to agree that it belonged to the telecom  
> side, and thus to ITR's mandate.
> This is very significant. (Others who know US positions better can  
> perhaps clarify.)
> If ETNO proposal was within ITR mandates, even if otherwise a very  
> disagreeable one, would not Internet traffic interconnection regimes  
> be also in ITR's remit.... I dont think it is anyone's case that  
> ETNO proposal was not about the Internet (its physical/  
> infrastructural layer). So,  isnt the US agreeing here that some  
> kind of Internet could/ should well have been in the ITRs.
> Later in the speech, Kramer regrets that much could be done (at the  
> WCIT) about spread of broadband, but that this was not something  
> members were willing to pursue seriously.... Again, it surprised me,  
> but this statement is consistent with the above one on ETNO..... Of  
> course, broadband is Internet, right!
> This is perplexing. Does the Ambassador say that US would have  
> accepted to write in the ITR's high-level principles that, say, ETNO  
> kind of proposals should never be encouraged (I mean, of course, in  
> some form of non-specific formal text) and that, say, more  
> competition should be promoted to improve universal access to  
> broadband .
> From his speech I clearly get this impression. And if true, that  
> makes a revealing point.
> Why did the civil society then had this single agenda - no internet  
> in the ITRs (as if the Internet was a kind of virus which, even if  
> present in the minutest quantity, spreads everywhere quickly) -  
> without making the distinction between the physical/ infrastructure  
> player (with issues like broadband access, net neutrality, inter- 
> connection regimes) and higher, application and content players.
> Why were we not able to present and articulate a positive agenda  
> around broadband access, net neutrality and the such, vis a vis the  
> issues that belong to physical/ infrastructure layer.
> Why were we, the CS, ended up looking like also motivated by the   
> secret  desire (though not difficult to divine) - as were the  
> extreme libertarian actors, to just see the ITU die, and with it,  
> also all regulatory regimes around the Internet at national levels.  
> If we indeed want to see ITU simply die, lets not play games and say  
> so it clearly. No Internet in ITU's scope - not even the physical/  
> infrastructure layer -  is simple a death warrant for the ITU. Which  
> may be fine, but then who, for instance addresses the issue of '  
> global net neutrality'. ('Global net neutrality' was identified as a  
> key cross-border issues by a Council of Europe's expert committee,  
> in which incidentally, Wolfgang also participated.) Why do we think  
> that these are questions for someone else to answer, not for us, the  
> 'global IG civil society'.
> Why did we allow ourselves to so blatantly take sides in the intense  
> ideological struggle taking place around the remit and powers of the  
> FCC in the US, where the struggle for net neutrality is now all but  
> lost. A game which is going to soon visit our own national  
> regulatory systems very soon. Just watch out!
> That was at least as big a game that played out at the WCIT as the  
> efforts by some authoritarian countries to use ITU to carve out  
> tightly controllable 'national segments' of the Internet. But, such  
> is the power of the neoliberal social intermediary space - in which  
> I include media as well as the civil society - that only one story  
> is coming out of the WCIT.
> parminder

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