[bestbits] Is the Civil Society doing enough to bring about a balance in Internet Governance Policy positions?

sivasubramanian muthusamy 6.internet at gmail.com
Mon Apr 15 11:50:25 EDT 2019

Dear Deirdre

On Mon, Apr 15, 2019, 5:51 PM Deirdre Williams <williams.deirdre at gmail.com>

>  Dear Siva,
> I think this is an excellent idea, but it seems to me that it is also a
> topic for a discussion that can go on now, without waiting for the IGF. In
> fact an effective discussion between now and November could culminate in a
> really effective workshop?

Yes, we don't have to wait for the IGF, we could discuss this on the list.

> One thing among many others that presents a need for clarification is an
> understanding of who/what IS the civil society that should be considering
> these issues.
> Experience suggests that the more voices that can be harnessed together
> with a common understanding of a common goal the more likely it is that
> that goal will be achieved BUT "a common understanding of a common goal" is
> not an easy thing to find.

The achievable goal is "reduced differences, a broad agreement, shared
pursuits in a common direction". We don't have to dwell too much on the
task or defining what is Civil Society, we already understand what is Civil
Society, roughly, but could examine a few questions for clarity, without
getting trapped in the exercise: the discussions may not have to resemble
an exercise to arrive at a legal definition.

The Internet Governance Civil Society, by rough understanding, is a class
of participants who are NOT part of the Government stakeholder group, NOT
part of the Business stakeholder group, if we go by a broad categorization
of All Stakeholders into three major groups. But we have at least three
other, more distinct, major stakeholders in Internet Governance:  Internet
Technical Community, International Organizations and the Academic
Community.  (An Official MAG chart at page breaks down stakeholder groups
as Governments, Private Sector, Civil Society, Technical Community and
Media)  We could perhaps start with prevailing positions of the Academic
Community and seek views about the extend of the Academic Community's broad
inclinations towards one of the three stakeholder groups or another. Some
International Organizations are identified with Governments, some are not.
I haven't watched debates on stakeholder classification, but the more
experienced Civil Society leaders with a good understanding of the History
of Internet Governance may have views to share on Stakeholder classes.

This is *NOT* to suggest that we are to debate on the class of stakeholder
group International Organizations and the Academic Community belong to.
That would far exceed the scope of the role of Civil Society. The various
stakeholder classes are mentioned here with a view to find an answer to the
question, "Are some of the International Organizations and a part or all of
the Academic Community presently included or identified as part of Civil

Sivasubramanian M

> Good luck and best wishes
> Deirdre
> On Sun, 14 Apr 2019 at 15:22, sivasubramanian muthusamy <
> 6.internet at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> With a few hours remaining for submission of the 2019 workshops, I intend
>> to propose a workshop.  Looking for support from IGC, Besbits and APC, some
>> quick suggestions to improve the text, and more importantly, for
>> suggestions of speakers who have a good understanding of the history of
>> Civil Society in IG.
>> Kindly respond ASAP.
>> title
>> "Is the Civil Society doing enough?"
>> policy question
>> "Is the Civil Society doing enough to bring about a balance in Internet
>> Governance Policy positions?"
>> relevance to the theme:
>> Though proposed under "Digital Inclusion", it is a workshop across the
>> three themes, and of relevance to the overall design of the
>> multi-stakeholder model of Internet Governance.
>> relevance to Internet Governance:
>> When broadly classified, Civil Society is one of the three stakeholders
>> in Internet Governance. Since WSIS 2005, Civil Society has played a
>> constructive role to bring about a balance in Internet Governance debates.
>> However, a certain degree of imbalance persists as the other stakeholder
>> groups tend to steer policy a little more than proportionately towards
>> their own respective positions. Governments around the world draft
>> legislative directives some of which the Civil Society find undesirable. In
>> some instances, Civil Society positions remarkably differed from that of
>> Government, the proposed Acts such as SOPA or PIPA or Directives were
>> withdrawn, only to be reintroduced and confirmed by some other title or
>> form. Business responds to Civil Society positions, for instance, on
>> Privacy issues, but many of the concerns of Civil Society are not
>> adequately addressed. It could be stated that the other stakeholder groups
>> prevail more than proportionately over Civil Society, in matters related to
>> Internet Governance. This prompts the question, "Is the Civil Society
>> participating enough? Is the Civil Society doing enough?"
>> If not enough, what needs to be done? In Internet Governance, the formal
>> title as "Civil Society" is shared by a somewhat loose collaboration
>> between Internet Governance participants who took up the Civil Society role
>> since WSIS 2005, other early CS participants in the IGF, organizations that
>> pursue issues in public interest including Privacy organizations, Freedom
>> foundations etc, and also organizations such as some Internet Society
>> Chapters, ICANN AtLarge, ICANN Non Commercial Stakeholder Group etc, who
>> partake in Civil Society positions in their own way.
>> If the Civil society is not doing enough, is it because it requires
>> greater interaction among those who pursue Civil Society positions in the
>> IGF? How would Civil Society strengthen itself? Would it also look for
>> Civil Society participation from beyond the IGF arena to bring in newer
>> Civil Society participants to the IGF?
>> These are some, and not all, questions that follow the questions in the
>> title.
>> Workshop session description:
>> The session would revolve around the Title Questions, "Is the Civil
>> Society doing enough to bring about a balance in Internet Governance Policy
>> positions?" to bring up supplementary questions, and in the process
>> identify its strengths and weaknesses to identify solutions towards
>> strengthening itself for a balance.
>> Sivasubramanian M <https://www.facebook.com/sivasubramanian.muthusamy>
>> twitter.com/shivaindia
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> --
> “The fundamental cure for poverty is not money but knowledge" Sir William
> Arthur Lewis, Nobel Prize Economics, 1979
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