[governance] Is This An Issue for Internet Governance/Internet Human Rights?

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Thu Jul 28 00:38:03 EDT 2011


My question for which I sought  a direct answer from you was whether 
people should not have any legal recourse with an accountable public 
governance entity regarding issues concerning their commercial dealing 
with some kinds of corporations selling digital services across borders. 
This question directly arose from your assertion in response to the news 
item on google- taipei government stand off, which I quote

    Local governments have a lot to do with local things. Or have you
    forgotten about things like roads, schools, crime and law
    enforcement, etc.? Local govts that try to parasitize virtual
    businesses tend not to focus on what they need to be doing. (Milton)

It is clear that you questioned Taipei government's right to do what it 
did (calling it parasitizing), when many of us thought that it was a 
perfectly legitimate and justified stand of the Taipie government to 
safegaurd its citizen's interests. . You empathetically reasserted your 
strong opposition to application of any such local jurisdictions to 
global sale of digital services in response to a email by Lee

    Keep in mind that the original discussion was not about taxation per se, but about_regulation_. No one in their right mind would support the idea that mere publication of an app by an innovator in, say, Mexico City should make that publisher subject to the regulations of a Thai municipality (and 100,000 other jurisdictions) simply because someone in Thailand accessed it over the internet. That is almost a perfect reduction ad absurdum of territorial government. I reiterate my perhaps blunt and deliberatel;y strong but fundamentally accurate charge that anyone who advocates such a thing is anti-internet, anti-growth, anti-economy and/or has no clue regarding the practical consequences of what they are saying. (MILTON)

And now you suddenly seem to say that

    Taipei said it wanted Android platform users to comply with local
    regulations regarding trial periods and refunds. Google said, if you
    force us to do that, we will withdraw Android market service from
    Taipei.To me, *that seems fair enough* (emphasis added). An
    agreement to disagree; a failure to transact. That should be the end
    of the story. (Milton)

and, later in the email

    First, they (citizens of Taipie) do have recourse. They can insist
    that their government apply local regulations. (Milton)

Whereby, now you are trying to give the  impression that you never 
opposed such assertion of territorial jurisdiction (as long as later one 
doesnt whine that Google has therefore withdrawn its services).

Sorry, Milton, as is evident from your quoted emails, you clearly, and 
strongly, opposed any application of territorial jurisdiction on digital 
services made available from across the borders. In trying to respond to 
my 'legal recourse' question', you cannot completely reverse that stance 
since it is this specific stance you took which alone brought up the 
question that I posed to you.


On Sunday 24 July 2011 02:54 AM, Milton L Mueller wrote:
> Let's look at the details of the case.
> Taipei said it wanted Android platform users to comply with local 
> regulations regarding trial periods and refunds.
> Google said, if you force us to do that, we will withdraw Android 
> market service from Taipei.
> To me, that seems fair enough. An agreement to disagree; a failure to 
> transact. That should be the end of the story.
> Those who are complaining about this result seem to be either 
> disconnected from economic reality or, at worst, hypocritical 
> believers in having your cake and eating it, too. Apparently, they 
> want to tell Google: you CANNOT offer services here on terms that you 
> find necessary to meet your needs as a supplier, but if you withdraw 
> service we will whine about it and imply that you should be forced to 
> offer service in a locality you do not want to do business in.
> There is a very simple form of governance at work here, it's called 
> rational mutual adjustments to local circumstances.
> The Taipei government says, "we will impose regulations on what you 
> do." Google says, in response, "well, those regulations are too costly 
> to us, we shall choose not to do business there." This kind of choice 
> occurs in thousands of different industries in thousands of different 
> ways. You don't want to live in a world in which that kind of 
> adjustment is not possible.
> This process of choice provides checks and balances on both players. 
> If Google is too unreasonable in its unwillingness to comply with 
> local consumer regulations, it will be barred from many markets and 
> lose out to others. If Taipei is too unreasonable in its demands on 
> external businesses, it will only prevent its citizens from getting 
> access to many valuable products and services.
> Please tell me what is a better alternative?
> Should a local government have the authority to tell a supplier based 
> in another country that it MUST offer its services in its locality, 
> under terms and conditions it does not find profitable or sustainable? 
> Aside from being impractical, it sounds self-evidently crazy to me, 
> but if it doesn't seem so to you consider what would happen if that 
> kind of obligation were established.
> So, there's a company in Hong Kong offering 1 Gb broadband at 
> US$20/month. I'd like the Syracuse city govt to tell them they HAVE TO 
> offer it to my home. Never mind the fact that cost conditions in 
> Syracuse, with US-style suburban homes spaced hundreds of feet apart 
> aren't quite the same as HK high rises, where one fiber can serve 
> thousands of small apartments. I want my 1 Gb broadband for $20, and I 
> bet 80-90% of other Syracusans do too.
> OK, so that involves non-transportable physical infrastructure, rather 
> than virtual services, so maybe you think it's not a valid example. So 
> let's go with local/national regulation involving a potentially 
> global, virtual service. Let's say the national government of China 
> says to Google, "we think you have the best search engine so we want 
> it here, but we want it to comply with our censorship regime. So you 
> MUST offer Google search here, but all your servers serving the china 
> market MUST be in the country, all your Gmail accounts MUST provide 
> backdoor access to the public security bureau, and all search results 
> MUST implement our censorship by allowing our censors direct access to 
> your results display process." Under my preferred regime, Google has 
> the right to say, "sorry, no deal." In the Parmindered world, what 
> happens? They MUST go in?
> So here is a more direct answer to this question:
> Do Milton and others who seemed to have great reservation about 
> appropriateness of Taipie city government's regulatory competence in 
> that case still think, after reading about the case of unilateral 
> withdrawal of google service, still think that users of these services 
> should have no legal recourse with accountable public governance entity?
> */[Milton L Mueller] /*
> *//*
> First, they do have recourse. They can insist that their government 
> apply local regulations. This may drive the multinationals out 
> altogether. Or they can get their local government to avoid applying 
> those local regulations, or to adjust them, in order to gain access to 
> the services. There are two parties at interest here. There is no 
> requirement to transact at all if either's needs are not met.
> If local or national governments should *not* be the entity that 
> people should be able to turn to, and these governments should *not* 
> have the regulatory competence, who should?
> */[Milton L Mueller] /*
> *//*
> As usual, you over-dichotomize and -polarize the options. Our real 
> disagreement is on the nature and scope of the regulations. You seem 
> to think that any demand placed on a supplier by a consumer or a 
> government is de facto legitimate and right. I am saying that there 
> are constraints. Suppliers of services cannot be taken for granted as 
> a natural resource, just sitting there waiting to be milked. People 
> produce Internet services, and the people who produce them have 
> legitimate incentives and needs that have to be met, otherwise they 
> will withdraw their services from the market (or die a slow death in 
> the market). Governments that assert controls and regulations in a 
> globalized economy have to face the fact that unfair or overly 
> burdensome regulations will lead private actors to withdraw from their 
> market. Full stop. Likewise, corporations who do things that lots of 
> locally responsive governments can't allow them to do will be barred 
> from many local markets, limiting their growth and profit.
> What's wrong with that exchange?
> --MM
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