[governance] IGF workshop: Internet for All (v 2.0)

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Thu Jul 3 04:14:19 EDT 2008

From: KovenRonald at aol.com [mailto:KovenRonald at aol.com] 

Yes, Avri --

Reaffirming Art., 29 was the price that our Chinese friends and other
likeminded delegations made us pay for reaffirming Art. 19. That's what
we get for working thru the UN system and illustrates what to expect if
we try to fiddle too much with the ICANN arrangements to which so many
civil society members are allergic. Better the devil you know ...

But Rony, in case you hadn't noticed, ICANN has NEITHER Article 19 NOR
Article 29 NOR the US First Amendment. And ICANN has just passed (again,
you must not be paying attention) a new gTLD policy that reflects
exactly what your Chinese friends wanted, not to mention European
advocates of other kinds of restrictions on expression. I will send you
the links if you are interested (but I suspect you are not). 


Do you like the idea of prior restraint for ALL expression in domain
names? Do you like the idea that a government can object to a name
because it is in a language script that they think they own and they
want a veto power over anyone using {Chinese/Korean/Cyrillic/your
favorite language here}? Do you like the idea of global standards of
"public order and morality" being applied in advance to any and all
applications? I hope you do, because that is all part of the new ICANN


So before you invoke ICANN pay attention to the facts, please. I really
wonder what you WPFC folks are thinking some times. Does the fact that
ICANN has a "made in the USA" sticker on it mean that you will defend it
to the death regardless of what it does? There are no allergies here to
ICANN per se or to its model, there are allergies to censorship,
arbitrary power and the like. 


Anyway, getting back to Internet for All, it is meaningless to declare
sweeping new "rights" when the "right" in question is just a
nice-sounding set of words and one has neither the resources nor c clear
definition of what it means in practice, nor the political consensus and
institutional capacity to deliver it on a global basis. We should rather
be asking, "what policies have actually succeeded in expanding Internet
access as rapidly as possible and "what policies do the best job of
ameliorating unacceptable levels of inequality in access?" Those are
realistic questions that can be answered with realistic and
implementable policies. Declaring universal rights makes the declarer
feel righteous but accomplishes nothing else, except perhaps to devalue
the more fundamental rights that are still not being protected. 



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