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

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Mon Mar 22 15:04:18 EDT 2021

In my response to Milton I did not discuss the fully multilateral and
intergovernmental nature of digital policy making by the below mentioned
OCED's Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP), This is because, for
the sake of this particular argument, Milton was neutral about such a
body being inter-gov or multistakeholder... He simply did not see the
need for such an apex, cross-sectoral, body.

But for those who helped shape and support the proposed new
Multistakeholder High Level Body, which will evidently take a central
and apex digital policy role in the UN system, I have a further and
different question.

When they find ok and acceptable the completely inter-governmental
process of digital norms, principles and policy making at the OECD
(which actually becomes the default for the world), and indeed
participate enthusiastically in its processes even if only as consulting
entities, why -- and on what basis -- do they oppose at the global / UN
level  shaping of norms, principles and policy done in a similar
inter-gov manner, which could have similar consultative processes as the
OECD? Is this not a colonial approach? How can they do such a thing, in
this age and time? And worse, how do even developing country entities
and actors join in such a hypocrisy of the North? 

None of these questions are rhetorical.. So please do answer them, even
if to explain how anything here may be wrongly stated, framed, etc...

Any actual work on norms, principles and policies development in OECD's
Committees, including the CDEP for digital policy,  is undertaken only
among governments, although there exist civil society, business and
trade union advisory groups that can give comments. But that happens in
most UN processes as well. Remember WSIS? We had such an exemplary
inclusive process with huge multi-stakeholder rights of participation,
more than provided in the CDEP. 

To concretely illustrate CDEP's inter-governmentalism; see enclosed the
ToR for an 'informal drafting group on government access to data held by
private sector'.  It is to only have governmental members. So indeed,
not only do other stakeholders not participate in final decision making,
they are not to be part of even an informal drafting group! I have seen
much better drafting processes at national levels; in India, for
instance for its draft data protection bill.

And you know what, this beats it all -- the OECD passes this as their
multistakholder processes for digital policy development. See, for
instance, Box 1.1 of this document

One wonders then, why the multistakeholder model for OECD's digital
policy making is different, and that for the rest or whole of world is
different, which is centred on this proposed Multistakeholder High Level
Body.  I am indeed happy to adopt the exact OECD  multistakeholder model
for digital policy making in the UN as well. Actually India proposed a
UN committee for digital policies in 2011 to the UN GA with similar role
and similar 'multistakeholder' processes as OECD's CDEP. It was rejected
out of hand as an attempt to foist multilateralism and governmental
control over the Internet. Such unabashed hypocrisy!

Why when OECD makes its digital policies in a certain democratic manner,
at the global level corporations are to sit at an equal level with
governments for policy development, as would happen with this proposed
Multistakeholder High Level Body. . If they find this model so good, why
do they not adopt it for OECD's digital policy making. Why those civil
society groups that are pushing the MS High Level Body model at the UN
level not also push it for the OECD ?

The proposed Multi stakeholder High Level Body for digital policies,
therefore, represents not just a corporate capture of policy making, but
it is also a body for digital colonialism. Even as the promoters of this
initiative from the North, including governments, themselves make
digital policies in a democratic inter-gov manner, including at
inter-country level, for the developing world they want the process to
be controlled by their tech majors, which, unlike the Northern
governments themselves, have vast presence in developing countries too.
If this is not digital colonialism, what would be!

But I might be missing or misrepresenting something, and would be happy
to be corrected.


On 22/03/21 5:20 pm, parminder via Governance wrote:
> Second: But if in any case you still remain absolutely opposed to a
> cross-sectoral, apex, digital policy and governance body, and I have
> been raising this same issue for at least 12-13 years now, why you
> never oppose the OECD's Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP)? In
> the name of the body, 'Economy'  is there only for forms sake. This
> committee shapes digital policy in all areas, from principles for tech
> architecture, to platforms and content, to data and AI. Why do OECD
> needs a transnational, single digital governance body, when you so
> strongly oppose such a body at the global level. I have raised this
> issue often, and at one time when you could not avoid responding, you
> dismissed this body as a capacity building body, which is of course an
> untruth. OECD committees do go as far as developing legal instruments
> <https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0347>.
> The latest initiative of the CDEP is on government access to data held
> by the private sector
> <https://www.oecd.org/sti/ieconomy/trusted-government-access-personal-data-private-sector.htm>.
> The likely outcomes could be a document of policy principles but it
> could even be a legal instrument. Since digital policy making is a
> cross-sectoral work, CDEP often works in collaboration with other OECD
> Committees towards different ends. For instance, it worked with the
> Committee on Health to develop Health Data Principles
> <https://one.oecd.org/document/COM/DELSA/DSTI(2016)1/en/pdf>. A very
> appropriate kind of output, and done in the right way too. Similarly a
> UN body on digital governance -- while all countries and not just the
> richest ones are represented  -- should work with the WHO to develop
> global Health Data Principles. In default of an UN Internet/ digital
> governance body, OECD's norms, principles and policies become the
> default global one.
> But here you develop cold feet... OECD committees should keep
> functioning and rolling out global governance norms, principles and
> policies, but not any UN body. That is not needed, any such thing is
> completely relevant. This is plainly a colonial attitude. It is a pity
> that in the global Internet/ digital governance space one can openly
> do such a thing. It normally does not happen elsewhere, in global
> civil society spaces.
> You are from the US, why dont you advocate to the OECD, where your gov
> sits,  to cede its one-point cross-sectoral digital norms/ policy
> work, and abolish the body specifically made for this purpose? What
> right do you have to tell the rest of the world to not do it? I
> repeat, it is plain and simple colonialism.
>> *From:*Governance <governance-bounces at lists.igcaucus.org> *On Behalf
>> Of *parminder via Governance
>> *Sent:* Saturday, March 13, 2021 12:30 AM
>> *To:* governance at lists.igcaucus.org
>> *Subject:* [Governance] 170 orgs send an open letter to UN SG to stop
>> plans for a new High Level Multistakeholder Body
>> The open letter was sent to the official consultation process, signed
>> by more than 170 organisations.
>> It was titled "“More than 170 Civil Society Groups Worldwide Oppose
>> Plans for a Big Tech Dominated Body for Global Digital Governance” .
>> Please see the final statement and endorsements at
>> https://justnetcoalition.org/big-tech-governing-big-tech.pdf
>> <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fjustnetcoalition.org%2Fbig-tech-governing-big-tech.pdf&data=04%7C01%7Cmilton%40gatech.edu%7Cb4c8944001194bc7858208d8e5e11d64%7C482198bbae7b4b258b7a6d7f32faa083%7C0%7C0%7C637512102923889975%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000&sdata=LINRHD5T4MZBhJN75Fvb%2BJ04O4zUY1ErnSUWmDtofb8%3D&reserved=0>>>>  
>> It was also translated into Spanish, French, German and Dutch. All
>> versions are linked from the enclosed document
>> We had just 3 days to get sign ons, out of which 2 were weekend days.
>> In the circumstances, the number is quite good. It shows the
>> groundswell to opposition to this move. Thanks to everyone who
>> supported this.
>> We will now get this letter also sent directly to the UN SG and his
>> new Tech Envoy.
>> We will like to keep this campaign open for some time to get
>> additional support and build awareness ...
>> This ongoing campaign is just a start, much more needs to be done and
>> will be done to stop this assault on democracy and on possibilities
>> of effective regulation of Big Tech. We will be doing all it takes,
>> including engaging with governments.
>> We will follow a twin track: develop a powerful movement within civil
>> society groups, and engage with governments and the UN.
>> Will keep you posted.
>> Best regards
>> parminder
>> On 05/03/21 2:15 pm, parminder via Governance wrote:
>>     Dear All
>>     This is anopen letter to the UN Secretary General
>>     <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fjustnetcoalition.org%2Fbig-tech-governing-big-tech.pdf&data=04%7C01%7Cmilton%40gatech.edu%7Cb4c8944001194bc7858208d8e5e11d64%7C482198bbae7b4b258b7a6d7f32faa083%7C0%7C0%7C637512102923899975%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000&sdata=8fVH%2BEPgBnX09zXtQUFKFKI3BwIWjbxbqDqb3cSbIzI%3D&reserved=0>
>>     initiated by 16 global and national level civil society networks
>>     and organisations urging him to shelve plans for a High Level
>>     Multistakeholder Body which, if set up, can be expected to become
>>     the default apex global digital governance and policy body. This
>>     body is proposed to have a private funding model, with strong
>>     hints also at a 'pay to play' model. It is but obvious that Big
>>     Tech will come to dominate any such body.
>>     Quoting from the letter:
>>         /Not only in developing countries but also in the US and EU,
>>         calls for stronger regulation of Big Tech are rising. At the
>>         precise point when we should be shaping global norms to
>>         regulate Big Tech, plans have emerged for an ‘empowered’
>>         global digital governance body that will evidently be
>>         dominated by Big Tech. Adding vastly to its already
>>         overweening power, this new Body would help Big Tech resist
>>         effective regulation, globally and at national levels.
>>         Indeed, we face the unbelievable prospect of ‘*a Big Tech led
>>         body for Global Governance of Big Tech’*./
>>      Two technical annexes to the open letter explain the background
>>     of the matter in considerable detail.
>>     *This letter is open for endorsements, *which can be done by
>>     writing an email to _secretariat at justnetcoalition.org
>>     <mailto:secretariat at justnetcoalition.org>_or filling _this form
>>     <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fjustnetcoalition.org%2Fbig-tech-governing-big-tech-form&data=04%7C01%7Cmilton%40gatech.edu%7Cb4c8944001194bc7858208d8e5e11d64%7C482198bbae7b4b258b7a6d7f32faa083%7C0%7C0%7C637512102923899975%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000&sdata=NcSzxaUwS1s%2BHKfhkXlpStaqFwNiOKO283dmauSu7eA%3D&reserved=0>_before
>>     midnight PST (GMT-8) of the 7^th of March.
>>     Please also do circulate to other groups and networks where it
>>     may attract interest.
>>     The open letter may also be accessed at
>>     https://justnetcoalition.org/big-tech-governing-big-tech.pdf
>>     <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fjustnetcoalition.org%2Fbig-tech-governing-big-tech.pdf&data=04%7C01%7Cmilton%40gatech.edu%7Cb4c8944001194bc7858208d8e5e11d64%7C482198bbae7b4b258b7a6d7f32faa083%7C0%7C0%7C637512102923909974%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000&sdata=sSgqsid1nkclqh%2Bg4AgHrX0Mx1%2BdqWbsa%2FKWavGwp50%3D&reserved=0>
>>     French text is at :
>>     https://justnetcoalition.org/big-tech-governing-big-tech-french.pdf
>>     <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fjustnetcoalition.org%2Fbig-tech-governing-big-tech-french.pdf&data=04%7C01%7Cmilton%40gatech.edu%7Cb4c8944001194bc7858208d8e5e11d64%7C482198bbae7b4b258b7a6d7f32faa083%7C0%7C0%7C637512102923909974%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000&sdata=JOSC%2FHFG4omaj9tdxgm5%2FJ%2FF7Ft5jg0gNv%2FCL%2BiG970%3D&reserved=0>
>>     and Spanish version at -
>>     https://justnetcoalition.org/big-tech-governing-big-tech-spanish.pdf
>>     <https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fjustnetcoalition.org%2Fbig-tech-governing-big-tech-spanish.pdf&data=04%7C01%7Cmilton%40gatech.edu%7Cb4c8944001194bc7858208d8e5e11d64%7C482198bbae7b4b258b7a6d7f32faa083%7C0%7C0%7C637512102923919962%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C2000&sdata=fADhoRYAeqkzZwCekvnWnl7hdc06MwbqMDnIaik%2BxWM%3D&reserved=0>
>>     Please let us know if you have any questions or comments
>>     regarding the above.
>>     Best, parminder
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