[governance] Cyber Monitor: Mapping the NETmundial Initiative

Marilia Maciel mariliamaciel at gmail.com
Tue Sep 8 10:58:13 EDT 2015

Greetings everyone,

I thought it would be of interest to share with you the current issue of
the Cyber Monitor, published monthly by The Observer Research Foundation.
You will find an article I wrote on NETmundial Initiative and an article
from Stephanie Perrin with an excellent overview ICANN's WHOIS policy


I also take the opportunity to invite you to participate in two sessions
that will be held by the NETmundial Initiative during the IGF (schedule is
still in draft form):

Open, Informal Council Meeting
Date: Monday, 9 November (DAY 0)
Time: 09:00-13:00
Room: Workshop Room 3

Open Forum
Date: Wednesday, 11 November (DAY 2)
Time: 17:00-18:00
Room: Workshop Room 10

All the best wishes,

*Mapping the NETmundial Initiative *

Marília Maciel[1] <#_edn1>

The NETmundial Initiative (NMI) is a platform for collaboration among
stakeholders that aims to improve synergy and coordination in the Internet
Governance ecosystem, in cooperation with existing organizations. The
Initiative significantly derives its name and core mission from NETmundial
– the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance
– held in April 2014, in Brazil.

NETmundial was organized by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee
(CGI.br) with the support of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN). It was convened by the government of Brazil in the
aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance. One of the
goals of NETmundial was to restore a positive governance environment that
would foster trust and cooperation to face common challenges.

NETmundial was explicitly aimed at addressing two problems: the need to
identify a set of universally acceptable Internet governance principles and
the need to propose a way forward for the evolution of the Internet
governance institutional ecosystem. Both issues were tackled in the
NETmundial outcome document, which embodies a rough consensus across
stakeholder groups. Dissenting voices were few, albeit vocal. Article 19
raised concerns that privacy and net neutrality were not adequately
addressed, on behalf of some civil society organizations. Among countries,
Russia, India and Cuba expressed their reservations.[1] <#_ftn1> This
public divergence seemed to have driven further apart countries that
pursued alliances in the past, such as India and Brazil, and showed some of
the difficulties in articulating political alliances among the BRICS

On a substantive level, NETmundial’s outcome document represents several
achievements. It placed human rights as the cornerstone of the Internet
governance ecosystem, it supported distributed mechanisms of governance, it
emphasized the importance of enhancing both democratic and multistakeholder
participation, and it ultimately represents progress towards public
interest-driven Internet governance.

After NETmundial, ICANN, the World Economic Forum and CGI.br decided to
work together in order to carry forward the spirit of collaboration that
emerged in São Paulo and to make sure the outcome document became a
reference point for global discussions. These were the three founding
organizations of the NETmundial Initiative.

The creation of NMI was not free of criticism. While some argued that NMI
represented a takeover of Internet Governance by business interests, others
believed that it represented a move towards centralization and mistook it
for a “UN security council of the Internet”. There was also fear that NMI
would compete with existing organizations, such as the Internet Governance

In the midst of controversy, the NMI coordinating council was appointed,
consisting of a group of 25 representatives from different stakeholder
groups. The political weight of the council is indisputable. The Minister
of Cyberspace of China, Mr. Lu Wei, shares a sit on the table with the US
Secretary of Commerce, Mrs. Penny Pritzker, with representatives of
companies, such as Telefonica and Alibaba group, and with reputed civil
society and academic organizations, such as the Association for Progressive
Communications (APC) and Human Rights Watch. The multistakeholder
composition of the council strengthened the legitimacy of NMI, however,
some resistance to the Initiative still persists, albeit less embattled.

The first task of the coordinating council was to define the mission and
scope of the NMI, enshrined in its terms of reference. In a nutshell, the
Initiative aims to catalyze cooperation among stakeholders in order to
advance the implementation of the NETmundial Principles and Roadmap. This
mission can be accomplished in different ways. For instance, NMI aims to
serve as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of
information about Internet governance as well as to provide a platform on
which diverse actors can present projects, solicit partners and establish
collaboration. Both goals are being accomplished with the creation of the
NETmundial solutions map – which identifies clusters of policy related
Internet issues and correlates them with relevant actors, documents and
processes –, and with the upcoming launch of the NETmundial collaboration
platform, which will host project proposals.

The inaugural meeting of NMI took place in June, in São Paulo. It was a
remarkable experience of multistakeholder interaction. Those who watched
the webcast of the meeting were able to witness a lively debate between the
Chinese Minister of Cyberspace and the representative of the Human Rights
Watch over online activism and the protection of human rights. They could
also see Internet tycoons from China and Africa discussing the inclusion of
young people in the job market. The less formal environment of the council
allows for interactions that would never take place under the formality of
the United Nations. This could help to create channels for fruitful and
pragmatic dialogue.

In December 2015, a UN high-level meeting will be held to assess the
progress made in the ten years that followed the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS). One of the key points emerging from the
preparatory discussions is that, at least on the level of discourse, most
countries give support to the idea of a multistakeholder Internet
governance. China mentioned it in several occasions. India’s IT Minister,
Ravi Shankar, supported the multistakeholder approach during his speech in
the 54th ICANN meeting. The path towards convergence seems less cloudy,
including among BRICS. In this scenario, the way to concretely implement
multistakeholder collaboration will probably be the key dispute in the
upcoming years.

The NETmundial Initiative allows the chance to experiment with new models
of collaboration. NMI’s solution-driven approach, made possible by the
environment of trust and openness that is being built in the coordinating
council, may provide a breath of fresh air. It can pave the way for the
implementation of the NETmundial outcome document, a remarkable result of
multistakeholder dialogue and participation.


[1] <#_ftnref1> *See *Transcripts of NETmundial closing session, April 24,


[1] <#_ednref1> Ms Marília Maciel is a researcher and coordinator of the
Center for Technology and Society of the Rio de Janeiro Law School of the
Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV). She is one of the five co-chairs of the
NETmundial Initiative.

*Marília Maciel*
Pesquisadora Gestora - Centro de Tecnologia e Sociedade - FGV Direito Rio
Researcher and Coordinator - Center for Technology & Society - FGV Law

DiploFoundation associate - www.diplomacy.edu
PoliTICs Magazine Advisory Committee - http://www.politics.org.br/
Subscribe "Digital Rights: Latin America & the Caribbean" -
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