[Governance] 170 orgs send an open letter to UN SG to stop plans for a new High Level Multistakeholder Body

suresh at hserus.net suresh at hserus.net
Sat Apr 3 05:12:58 EDT 2021

If, as you keep advocating, governments got primacy in Internet Governance, do you think they would welcome any other than industry and civil society actors (gongos and quangos, the term used to be in the 80s) that are close to them / have a good personal equation with them to have a seat at the table in any governance discussion at all?

In other words, state owned telcos here, crony capitalist telcos there.   And maybe a few “NGOs” that routinely toe the government line and keep issuing statements in favor of extended government control over all things.

Everybody else will be right back where they were when the Internet was the exclusive province of big telecom / government owned telecom.


From: Governance <governance-bounces at lists.igcaucus.org> on behalf of parminder via Governance <governance at lists.igcaucus.org>
Date: Saturday, 3 April 2021 at 12:31 PM
To: governance at lists.igcaucus.org <governance at lists.igcaucus.org>
Subject: Re: [Governance] 170 orgs send an open letter to UN SG to stop plans for a new High Level Multistakeholder Body

This part in addressed to others and not Milton.

While I request your engagement with this debate, especially of those who have involved themselves with the new 'digital cooperation' governance models, I must clarify one thing. My use of personally targeted language, if any, against Milton had only and exceptionally to do with, and was only in response to, his habitual way of saying things like, as he did this time, that the other person is totally ignorant, and that signing organisations are some fringe inconsequential organisations, doing ideological name-calling, and so on .. Take this as a kind of 'private thing' between Milton and me, even as we do productively discuss very important issues, concepts and ideas.....

Let this bilateral idiosyncrasy of ours not deter you, others, from  your public duty to engage in this very important debate, and, as and if required, respond to important issues and questions that have been raised here.

If the global CS Internet Governance Caucus were not to be discussing global digital governance models at this critical juncture when one such model is close to being installed, I do not know what the IGC is doing at all.


On 03/04/21 12:28 pm, parminder wrote:

On 03/04/21 3:55 am, Mueller, Milton L wrote:
Wow, Parminder, you’re getting wordier and wordier and I am not sure I have time to continue this, but let me provide some parting shots before we agree to disagree and go our separate ways…

Dear Milton, I wont wow! you .... Words are definitionally the body of discursive democracy. If more were needed in this case that is for reasons that you may at least equally be responsible for. This discussion is about what mode of global governance is appropriate for (non CIR or non tech) digital issues. It is but in order that key interlocutors let know what kind of model they support and advocate in this regard. You spent a few emails to reach there, but yes now from your last email I get a good idea - though still quite vague. I quote from your email.

"To deal with these other problems (meaning, non CIR or non-tech digital issues) we will have to come up with something new. But, like ICANN, it should try to be global and rooted in private law rather than in national institutions. So in my view, that means we have to keep national governments at bay to buy time for organic institutions to evolve."

Very interesting! You want global digital governance to be based on private law, or, I understand, institutions built on private law. That is a quite clear, and also an extra-ordinarily bold, assertion.   Entirely your choice to take forward or not this important discussion on appropriate institutional models for global digital governance, but can you please help us understand this more. (Please do not ask me to read your book :) ) Maybe provide us the outline of how such a thing would look in practice. It you have written about it somewhere pl give us a link (again, pl not a whole book though.) That would be an extremely valuable contribution to the debate, and to the very cause of appropriate global digital governance.

You may please provide one clarification -- what or whose private law should these institutions for global digital governance be based on? US? Some other country? Or you have some conception of global private law?

I also understand from the above that such a private law based global digital governance is in your mind an interim arrangement to 'buy time for organise institutions to evolve'. I find this even more interesting, and genuinely so... Again your choice to expound further what you have put across somewhat cryptically, but can you tell us a little more about what kind of organic institutions you have in mind even as a future possibility? Are these too also be based on private law? Or, is this something going towards directly elected global parliament kind of things? I am very interesting in any and all such democratic yearnings and projects, and we may indeed find common ground here.

You have ridiculed my asking for clear respective positions on global governance models.... Well, I do not know whether you know much about this area or not but such mutual accountabilities and answer-abilities are at core of global and infra-global civil society working and networking. IT for Change, for instance has a 'your right to know' button on our website, and we promise to respond to any question about us within 2 weeks... This is because we use public money on public trust, and cannot refuse to answer public questions about ourselves. It is in the same spirit that I ask questions from you and others in this space.

regards, parminder

Again, agree that this discussion is very important. I would invite others closely involved with the proposal for the new MS body for digital cooperation to please also get involved - Such important matters need to go through the test and fire of discursive democracy.

Yep. Yay, discursive democracy! That’s what we’re doing here, folks.

> buckets.

Buckets. Not a very cyber metaphor. Packets? Photons? Anyway….

>therefore you really do not approve of [OECD] You could be clearer and more upfront about such

> disapproval, here

And why do I need to do that, here? I see no point in denouncing them on public mailing lists. As I said, I approve of their research, it’s often useful, good economists and policy analysts live there. But I did stop participating. These advisory committees to IGOs have very little voice or power in these organizations. Essentially you’re a worker for no pay. I choose to voluntarily donate my time elsewhere.

>when pushed into an argumentative corner,

That, sir, is an excellent description of your tactics on these email lists. But I can’t complain, I do the same thing.

>Here I will request others who actively work with the OECD model to let us know their views on

>that model, clearly and upfront.

Parminder, this is a mailing list of a diverse civil society coalition, not the monthly meeting of a Trotskyite advocacy collective. Nobody has to make their views known, “clearly and upfront,” to pass your loyalty test.

Let’s go back to what this disagreement was fundamentally about. You want the internet to be controlled by sovereign states, and I want it to be self-governing and independent of sovereign states, insofar as that’s possible. Those are two distinct paths for internet governance. I will fight for its autonomy, you will fight for its subordination to nation-states. We meet in this space because that is the space that was set up to have those debates.

2 The appropriate model for global digital policy making, as per you: You have earlier made a clear distinction between CIR governance (ICANN etc) and governance of other Internet/ digital issues, and rightly so. I understand that in the latter category we can include platform governance, data governance, AI governance etc. Right. I now understand, though once again you state is very mutely, that you would like to see global governance of platforms, data, AI, and other digital issues undertaken in the same way as ICANN is governed Right? You need to be clear and upfront about what is the model you propose for global governance of these non-CIR digital issues -- because that is what is at the centre of this discussion.

Here you make a good point, I do need to be clear about that, as a matter of practical reality if not logical consistency. So I stated this “very mutely,” did I? LOL! OK, I will speak louder. Undertaken the same way as ICANN? Depends on what you mean. You mean, organize it under ICANN? or start with the US government and then privatize it? No. ICANN was a governance experiment that can never be repeated. To deal with these other problems we will have to come up with something new. But, like ICANN, it should try to be global and rooted in private law rather than in national institutions. So in my view, that means we have to keep national governments at bay to buy time for organic institutions to evolve.

Milton, are you really saying we should be dealing with various non-CIR digital public policy issues in the same manner? Where private sector sits at the same or higher level as governments?

Definitely. We need a coalition of governments, private sector and civil society to work together in nonhierarchical forms of cooperation, and we need to have governments refrain from militarizing, territorializing, surveilling, censoring and restricting cyberspace for enough time for peaceful forms of cooperation to remain possible.

Well, I repeat, it is scandalous...

Parminder, scandalizing you is what I live for. It’s the only reason I’m on this list.
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