[bestbits] [governance] Civil society transparency

willi uebelherr willi.uebelherr at riseup.net
Mon Jun 1 13:27:18 EDT 2015

Dear Norbert,

i don't like this emphasizing of the separation. It is true, if we 
follow the flow of money, then we know, what people act for specific 
private/state interest.

But also we can read the texts and hear the speeches we understand the 
motivations and intentions. And inside of our cooperation we should be 

We have to search our commons.

many greetings, willi
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Am 01.06.2015 um 07:29 schrieb Norbert Bollow:
> On Sun, 31 May 2015 21:04:25 -0700
> Jeremy Malcolm <jmalcolm at eff.org> wrote:
>> On May 31, 2015, at 12:00 AM, Norbert Bollow <nb at bollow.ch> wrote:
>>> Given that the initial set of pointed questions were sparked by the
>>> initial Bestbits meeting having been part of a formal "capacity
>>> building" programme funded in part by the US and UK government,
>> That is 100% false. None of the budget for that meeting was funded by
>> any government grant
> Sure. In view of the various circumstances (including in particular the
> presence of a Google representative at the meeting) I have never had
> any reason to harbor any doubts that the disclosures about the funding
> for the formal budget of that meeting might potentially have been
> insufficient, or that they might potentially have been untruthful.
> The transparency/disclosure concerns were always about something else,
> namely that (1) the other main organizer/leader of Bestbits besides you
> had, according to the best available information, pursued this at least
> during the 2012 phase as part of a formal, partly US government funded,
> capacity building program, and that (2) it appeared that at least one
> of the other people who were invited to become part of the initial
> Bestbits steering committee have been partners of this "capacity
> building program", and that (3) none of this had been disclosed to
> Bestbits participants at the relevant times.
> (Note: I wouldn't have objected to point '(2)' if it had been disclosed
> in a timely manner and with a credible assurance that indeed it was only
> one of the partners of the capacity building program who was invited to
> the initial Bestbits steering committee.)
>> and there was and is never any such capacity
>> building program behind Best Bits. The draft report from an
>> independent researcher that you read suggesting otherwise was
>> categorically incorrect and I can only hope was subsequently
>> corrected.
> I'd expect that in the public online version which is in the filename
> marked "final draft", any errors pointed out by the interviewees will
> have been corrected.
> http://strategiesformediareform.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ICA-Paper-Final-Draft-Lentz-and-Hutchison.pdf
> This document states inter alia:
> "the digital media rights sector both in the U.S. and elsewhere
> continues to suffer limited resources [...] Recognition	of such
> challenges is often why donor organizations step in to try to help.
> This happens by way of entrepreneurial NGO actors approaching donors,
> or donors approaching NGO actors to address a perceived gap in a
> sector’s capacity to address important policy issues effectively. Yet
> donor involvement—a necessary precondition for policy advocacy
> organizations seeking sustainable capacity—also triggers conflict in
> policy advocacy fields. [...] this paper explores some of the tensions
> and also benefits of what will be referred to as “intermediary”
> organizations’ involvement in helping to build the capacity of an
> emergent policy	advocacy sector: the Internet freedom advocacy
> sector that addresses Internet governance and human rights in a digital
> media context. The paper features early-stage case study research on
> a specific intermediary actor in this field: the Internet Freedom and
> Human Rights (IFHR) program launched in 2012 and coordinated by Global
> Partners & Associates (GP&A) in the UK with its Washington, DC partner,
> the New America	Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI).
> [...]
> The IFHR program enjoys support for this work from several donor
> organizations interested in digital rights issues, which include the
> Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the Media Democracy Fund,
> the British and Dutch governments, as well as the U.S. State
> Department. GP&A, founded in 2005 and based in London, serves as the
> primary grantee
> [...]
> Working within a short time frame, the program has succeeded in forging
> strong alliances with its local partner organizations, working together
> with them and other NGOs at regional and international forums to
> produce useful policy proposals that have garnered widespread support.
> [..] While working continuously with these partners, the IFHR program
> also organized three large regional meetings for NGOs, scholars and
> activists working on Internet freedom issues. These meetings occurred
> in the fall of 2012, in Kenya, Azerbaijan and Brazil. Furthermore, the
> IFHR program had a significant presence at the World Conference on
> International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai, in December.
> [...]
> The Azerbaijan meeting [...] piggybacked on the 7th Internet
> Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, Azerbaijan 6-9 November 2012. Being
> that the IGF is a UN-led, multi-stakeholder annual meeting,
> established to discuss public policy issues related to the
> Internet, the IFHR program saw it as an opportunity to convene
> with many Internet governance and Internet rights NGOs at once.
> They did so a few days before the start of the IGF, in a large
> gathering called Best Bits.(*) To IFHR program staff, this was a
> significant achievement (especially due to the preponderance of
> disparate perspectives), as the Best Bits meeting resulted in a clear
> consensus amongst those present, and an ensuing statement, which was
> later quoted by the US government (Puddephatt, 2012). Interviews
> with IFHR program staff suggest that to them, the occasion
> demonstrated the true potential for global coalition building, a
> main goal of the IFHR program."
> (*) At this point there is a reference to an endnote which says:
> "http://bestbits.net/ ;	from interviews we learned that the term
> “Best Bits” was suggested by Dr. Jeremy Malcolm, senior policy
> officer for Consumers International’s “Consumers in the Digital
> Age” programme:
> http://www.consumersinternational.org/who-we-are/our-team/jeremy-malcolm#.UaZIq-BYSK8
> "
> If in spite of all of the above, you still believe that your claim is
> defensible that "there was and is never any such capacity building
> program behind Best Bits", please arrange for disclosure of the true
> facts about the role and activities of the IFHR program in relation to
> Bestbits, which would in that case have been misunderstood by the
> researchers, and explain how that misunderstanding would have come
> about.
> Greetings,
> Norbert
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