[governance] Update on NMI

Ian Peter ian.peter at ianpeter.com
Wed Apr 1 13:48:07 EDT 2015

This is just a quick update on the NetMundial Initiative (NMI). Please feel free to copy to other lists.

As many of you will already know, NMI Coordination Council (CC) has just held its first working meeting at Stanford University in Palo Alto on March 31. A list of those who attended can be found at the end of the draft Communique at https://www.netmundial.org/blog/secretariat/netmundial-initiative-stanford-communiqu%C3%A9. 

In addition to those attending,  Bill Drake and Anriette Esterhuysen (CC members) were able to participate remotely for at least part of the day-long meeting, on sometimes shaky remote connections. Many other people took advantage of the opportunity to listen in on deliberations.

The main formal output of the meeting is a Draft Terms of Reference, which is now open for public comments at http://comments.netmundial.org/. The platform used for comments is that used for the original NetMundial event last year in Brazil.

I would encourage people to comment on the document and help make it better. 

A few personal observations; I am pleased that we were able to maintain in the opening paragraph references to human rights and to managing the internet in the public interest, despite some suggestions that these references might be removed. However; I was personally disappointed that in the process of arriving at mutually agreeable text in a short period of time references to cybersecurity and mass surveillance were taken out of the text; I expected some opposition to the latter, but I think the cybersecurity references are vitally important and I am sure some well crafted words can make their way into the final text. There are many ways in which the text (and more importantly the initiative itself) can be strengthened, and I would particularly draw your attention also to the section on Scope, where further clarity and suggestions could assist substantial improvements. 

The current plan is for the document to be finally adopted at a first meeting of the full Council (the meeting above was described as a “working meeting”). Current planning suggests this might be in Costa Rica in June. But that might change given availability of some of the governmental and corporate people involved.

The meeting also got to talk about some operational issues. Since the formation of the Coordination Council progress has been fairly slow, perhaps largely because of the lack of structure and leadership, as well as a lack of trust. Some small working groups were set up and most likely some other operational structural issues will be addressed as a result of this. 

I should also mention that to date the progress has been very co-operative across all sectors involved, and indeed on most discussions you would not have unanimity of opinion within any stakeholder group; but rather a variety of opinions. I expect the same to be the case during the public consultations, but I also expect that the process of hearing many voices and gaining wider input will substantially clarify and improve the document. Many people are undecided about NMI at this stage, which is to be expected; and whatever it might be should appropriately derive from public inputs. So I urge you to follow the link above and help to shape this initiative to take an appropriate role moving forward.

One more thing I should add is the role that Marilia Maciel has played to date, chairing the series of online meetings which developed the Draft Terms of Reference. Marilia had to manage a diverse and overly large group, many differing opinions as to what NMI is or should be, poor connections and dropouts on all calls, language issues, geopolitical game playing, and unruly participants. She did a great job! 

Ian Peter

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