[governance] Cyber Monitor: Mapping the NETmundial Initiative

Vanda Scartezini vanda at uol.com.br
Tue Sep 8 11:48:02 EDT 2015

Thank you Marilia! 
Vanda Scartezini
Polo Consultores Associados
Av. Paulista 1159, cj 1004
01311-200- Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil
Land Line: +55 11 3266.6253
Mobile: + 55 11 98181.1464 
Sorry for any typos. 

From:  <governance-request at lists.igcaucus.org> on behalf of Marilia Maciel
Reply-To:  "governance at lists.igcaucus.org", Marilia Maciel
Date:  Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 11:58
To:  "governance at lists.igcaucus.org", "&lt,bestbits at lists.bestbits.net&gt,"
Subject:  [governance] Cyber Monitor: Mapping the NETmundial Initiative

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 discussions. 


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]


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] 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 nations. 

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 Forum. 


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] See Transcripts of NETmundial closing session, April 24, 2014, http://netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETMundial-23April2014-Closing-Session-en.pdf.

[1] 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 School

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

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