[bestbits] [governance] Blogpost: Alternative "Best Practices" for the A4AI (to be renamed Alliance for an Accessible Internet)

Michael Gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sun Mar 27 10:55:39 EDT 2016



I thought that in my blogpos <https://gurstein.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/alternative-best-practices-for-the-a4ai-to-be-renamed-alliance-for-an-accessible-internet/> t I was very clear that a range of solutions was possible/appropriate to ensure effective access and use of the Internet for the un/underserved.  The need is to adapt the solution to the local/national requirements and resources. 


The A4AI “Best Practices” attempts to impose a single solution fits all approach (market fundamentalist) as the core objective of the initiative.




From: Nick Ashton-Hart [mailto:nashton at consensus.pro] 
Sent: March 27, 2016 7:08 AM
To: Michael Gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com>
Cc: governance at lists.igcaucus.org; bestbits <bestbits at lists.bestbits.net>
Subject: Re: [governance] Blogpost: Alternative "Best Practices" for the A4AI (to be renamed Alliance for an Accessible Internet)


Dear Michael, 


Since you didn’t actually ask for a dialogue, but simply proposed rewriting their activities, I - were I them - would not divine that a dialogue is what you had in mind, quite the opposite in fact.


As to your views on competitive markets and their suitability, I don’t wish to get into a debate - you are free to think what you like - but there is a very great deal of evidence that competitive telecom markets produce lower Internet access prices at higher performance. I am sitting in an LDC which has exactly this experience and it is far from unique. If your objection to markets means you object to this fundamental idea, again, your free to do what you like, but unless you can point to an equally effective non-market-based solution that works at scale and across all levels of economic development I would’t expect your counterargument to get very far.


On 27 Mar 2016, at 19:12, Michael Gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:


Actually Nick (and Mwendwa) I was hoping to engage with one or another of the CS A4AI Alliance members several of whom are active on this list, to discuss my observations on the Best Practices document and that after an appropriate back and forth they might carry those comments forward to the Alliance itself.


One thing I want to be very clear about—it is the stated primary objective of the Alliance to ensure that Internet policies in Less Developed Countries conform to the “Best Practices” document.  


This document from a policy perspective is explicitly market fundamentalist.  


There is no evidence provided or available that a market fundamentalist approach to providing service to the un or underserved in Less Developed or Least Developed countries is an appropriate one and significant evidence from other sectors that this might not be the appropriate policy strategy.


It is noteworthy that otherwise market friendly countries such as the US are now recognizing that domestically, alternative approaches such as municipally/publicly provided broadband infrastructure is the most appropriate way to proceed to ensure service to the marginalized and those who, for example because of geography, are unlikely to ever receive Internet service from commercial providers.


I await critical or constructive comments from those CS organizations active both as colleagues in these lists and who are members of the A4AI alliance.




From: Nick Ashton-Hart [ <mailto:nashton at consensus.pro> mailto:nashton at consensus.pro] 
Sent: March 26, 2016 11:52 PM
To:  <mailto:governance at lists.igcaucus.org> governance at lists.igcaucus.org; Michael Gurstein < <mailto:gurstein at gmail.com> gurstein at gmail.com>
Cc: bestbits < <mailto:bestbits at lists.bestbits.net> bestbits at lists.bestbits.net>
Subject: Re: [governance] Blogpost: Alternative "Best Practices" for the A4AI (to be renamed Alliance for an Accessible Internet)


Dear Michael,


May I suggest that in the first instance, before proposing to rewrite A4Ai’s entire mission and purpose, you and those interested could have a conversation with them about your concerns?


I suspect that will get a better reception from presenting them with a redraft completely out of the blue, without having any dialogue.


Regards, Nick


On 26 Mar 2016, at 23:49, Michael Gurstein < <mailto:gurstein at gmail.com> gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:


My original  <https://gurstein.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/a4ai-who-could-oppose-a-more-affordable-internet-the-alliance-for-an-affordable-internet-a4ai-and-the-neo-liberal-stealth-campaign-to-control-the-internet-throughout-the-developing-world-and-make/> blogpost examining the  <http://a4ai.org/best-practices/> “Policy and Regulatory Best Practices” of the Alliance for an Affordable Internet (A4AI’s) has generated some considerable discussion including on the InternetPolicy elist sponsored by the  <http://www.internetsociety.org/> Internet Society (ISOC).  In the course of that discussion a challenge was put forward by Bill Smith, a tech industry veteran, Board Member of ISOC and the “tech evangelist” for PayPal as follows (taken from a post to the InternetPolicy elist (Fri 2016-03-25 9:31 AM)

What is lacking in the discussion against A4AI, is a well-articulated alternative. Some bits and pieces may appear but they suffer from the same deficiencies attributed to A4AI’s principles, best practices, and policy positions – they are offered as fact with no substantiation.

A4AI has what I consider a set of easily understandable principles, best practices, and policy positions. I suspect that when applied in practice, they will be effective in many circumstances. They may not be appropriate in all. (Think globally act locally.)

What I haven’t seen are a similar set of principles, best practices, and policy positions from the non-neoliberal corner. Perhaps such a set could be presented to this list for consideration and debate.

This below is my response to this challenge (I have added additional comments by Brandt Dainow also a contributor to the InternetPolicy elist):

 <https://gurstein.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/alternative-best-practices-for-the-a4ai-to-be-renamed-alliance-for-an-accessible-internet/> https://gurstein.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/alternative-best-practices-for-the-a4ai-to-be-renamed-alliance-for-an-accessible-internet/


 <http://tinyurl.com/zhejpvh> http://tinyurl.com/zhejpvh




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