[OKFN-IN] Fwd: [datameet] Civil Society Statement at the upcoming UN meeting on democratising global governance of the Internet

Sridhar Gutam gutam2000 at gmail.com
Thu May 17 04:06:03 UTC 2012

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Rajesh D Hanbal (ರಾಜೇಶ)" <rajesh.d1 at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 17 May 2012 09:11:31 +0530
Subject: [datameet] Civil Society Statement at the upcoming UN meeting
on democratising global governance of the Internet
To: datameet at googlegroups.com

*Call to support a joint civil society statement on democratising the
global governance of the Internet, proposed by **Focus on the Global South (
**Thailand**), Instituto Nupef **(Brazil)**, IT for Change **(India)**,
Knowledge Commons **(India), **Other News **(Italy) and **Third World
Network **(Malaysia)*

Dear Friends,

As per the UN General Assembly resolution of December 2011, the UN
Commission on Science and Technology for Development is holding a one day
meeting on 'Enhanced Cooperation on Public Policy Issues Pertaining to the
Internet' on 18th of May in Geneva. This important  meeting will take stock
of the future directions for global Internet governance and what may be
needed to democratise it. * A joint
civil society organisations and individuals is being proposed on this
occasion*. The statement is enclosed and also provided below. A document on
'background' information is also enclosed.

Also please see today's Hindu article by my colleague Param.

This is a call to support and endorse the statement. We urge you to please
pass this on to *your networks* as well. We are happy to provide any
clarification that may be needed, and to engage further on this subject. *If
you would like to support this statement, kindly send your endorsement –
organisational or personal – to itfc at itforchange.net, before EOD. *
*Rajesh Hanbal
*IT for Change (www.ITforChange.net)

*On behalf of the proposing organisations


*Global Governance of the Internet must be Democratised!*

*A joint statement by civil society organisations for the UN CSTD meeting
on 'Enhanced Cooperation on Public Policy Issues Pertaining to the
Internet' to take place in Geneva on May 18th, 2012*

*proposed by *

*Focus on the Global South (Thailand), Instituto Nupef *(*Brazil), IT for
Change (India), *

*Knowledge Commons (India), Other News (Italy), Third World Network
(Malaysia) *

*and endorsed by *

*organisations and individuals listed at the end of the statement*

The Internet is a major force today, restructuring our economic, social,
political and cultural systems. Most people implicitly assume that it is
basically a beneficent force, needing, if at all, some caution only at the
user-end. This may have been true in the early stages when the Internet was
created and sustained by benevolent actors, including academics,
technologists, and start-up enterprises that challenged big businesses.
However, we are getting past that stage now. What used to be a public
network of millions of digital spaces, is now largely a conglomeration of a
few proprietary spaces. (A few websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and
Amazon together make much of what is considered the Internet by most people
today.) We are also moving away from a browser-centric architecture of the
'open' Internet to an applications-driven mobile Internet, that is even
more closed and ruled by proprietary spaces (like App Store and Android
Market). *In fact, some Internet plans for mobiles come* *only with a few
big websites and applications, without the open 'public' Internet, which is
an ominous pointer to what the future Internet may look like. *What started
off as a global public resource is well on its way to becoming a set of
monopoly private enclosures, and a means for entrenching dominant power. *At
this stage, it is crucial to actively defend and promote the Internet's
immense potential as a democratic and egalitarian force, including through
appropriate principles and policies at the global level.*

*Who governs the Internet*

It is a myth that *'the Internet is not governed by anyone'*. It is also
not a coincidence nor a natural order of things that the Internet, and
through it, our future societies, are headed in the way of unprecedented
private gate-keeping and rentier-ing. The architecture of the Internet is
being actively shaped today by the most powerful forces, both economic and
political. A few US based companies increasingly have monopoly control over
most of the Internet. The US government itself controls some of the most
crucial nodes of the global digital network. *Together, these two forces,
in increasing conjunction, are determining the techo-social structure of a
new unipolar world.* It is important for progressive actors to urgently
address this situation, through seeking globally democratic forms of
governance of the Internet.

While the US government and US based monopoly Internet companies already
have a close working relationship to support and further each other's
power, this relationship is now being formalised through new power
compacts; whether in the area of extra-territorial IP enforcement (read,
global economic extraction) through legislations like
* , or in the area of security (read, global extension of coercive power)
through cyber-security legislations like

The US government has stubbornly refused to democratise the oversight of
the Internet's root server and domain name system, which it controls. While
the US pooh-poohs the security concerns expressed by other countries
vis-a-vis such unacceptable unilateralism, rather hypocritically, it seeks
to contractually obligate the non-profit managing these key infrastructures
to appoint its security officials only on US government advice. (The chief
security officer of this non-profit body is already, in fact, a sworn
member of the 'Homeland Security Advisory Council' of the US!)

Apart from the direct application of US law and whims (think
*) over the global Internet, and Internet-based social activity
(increasingly a large part of our social existence), default global law is
also being written by the clubs of powerful countries that routinely draft
Internet policies and policy frameworks today. The OECD and Council of
Europe are two active sites of such policy making, covering areas like
cyber-security, Internet intermediary liability, search engines, social
networking sites etc. Last year, OECD came out with its '*Principles for
Internet Policy-Making <http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/40/21/48289796.pdf>*'.
These Principles, heavy on IP enforcement and private policing through
large North-based Internet companies, are to guide Internet policies in all
OECD countries. Recently, OECD decided to 'invite' other, non-OECD,
countries to accede to these Principles. *This is the new paradigm of
global governance, where the powerful countries make the laws and the rest
of the world must accept and implement them. *

*Who is not allowed at the governance table*

While Northern countries are very active at Internet related policy- and
law-making, which have extra-territorial ambition and reach, they strongly
resist any UN based initiative for development of global Internet
principles and policies. *This is in keeping with the increasingly common
Northern efforts at undermining UN/ multi-lateral frameworks in other
global governance arenas* like trade, IP etc. For instance; trying to keep
global financial systems out of UNCTAD's purview at the recent Doha UNCTAD
and bringing in Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement>(ACTA) as
a new instrument of extra-territorial IP enforcement by the OECD, bypassing

The mandate of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) for
building a globally democratic space for developing Internet related global
policies is quite clear. The WSIS *outcome
* states that, “the process towards enhanced cooperation (on
Internet-related international public policies), (is) to be started by the
UN Secretary-General ... by the end of the first quarter of 2006”. However,
six years down the line, developed countries do not seem to be willing to
even formally discuss how to operationalise this very important WSIS
mandate of 'enhanced cooperation', much less do something concrete about

*OUR DEMAND - Internet Governance must be democratised*

*We, the undersigned civil society organisations,* *affirm that the
Internet must be governed democratically*, with the equal involvement of
all people, groups and countries. Its governance systems must be open,
transparent and inclusive, with civil society given adequate avenues of
meaningful substantive participation. While we denounce statist control
over the Internet sought by many governments at national levels, we believe
that the struggle at the global level also has significant dynamics of a
different kind. *Our demands with respect to 'global' Internet Governance
espouse a simple and obvious democratic logic.* On the technical governance
side, the oversight of the Internet's critical technical and logical
infrastructure, at present with the US government, should be transferred to
an appropriate, democratic and participative, multi-lateral body, without
disturbing the existing distributed architecture of technical governance of
the Internet in any significant way. (However, improvements in the
technical governance systems are certainly needed.) On the side of larger
Internet related public policy-making on global social, economic, cultural
and political issues, the OECD-based model of global policy making, as well
as the default application of US laws, should be replaced by a new UN-based
democratic mechanism. Any such new arrangement should be based on the
principle of subsidiarity, and be innovative in terms of its mandate,
structure, and functions, to be adequate to the unique requirements of
global Internet governance. It must be fully participative of all
stakeholders, promoting the democratic and innovative potential of the

The Internet should be governed on the principles of human liberty,
equality and fraternity. It should be based on the accepted principle of
the indivisibility of human rights; civil, political, economic, social and
cultural rights, and also people's collective right to development. *A
rights-based agenda should be developed as an alternative to the current
neo-liberal model driving the development of the Internet,* and the
evolution of an information society. The UN is the appropriate place for
developing and implementing such an alternative agenda. Expedient labelling
by the most powerful forces in the Internet arena, of the UN, and of
developing countries, as being interested *only* in 'controlling the
Internet', and under this cover, continually shaping the architecture of
the Internet and its social paradigm to further their narrow interests, is
a bluff that must be called.

We demand that a *Working Group of the UN Commission on Science and
Technology for Development (CSTD) be instituted to explore possible ways of
implementing 'enhanced cooperation' for global Internet-related policies*.
(Such a CSTD Working Group is also being sought by some developing
countries.) 'Enhanced cooperation' must be implemented through innovative
multi-lateral mechanisms, that are participatory. Internet policy-making
cannot be allowed to remain the preserve of one country or clubs of rich
countries. *If the Internet is to promote democracy in the world*, which
incidentally is the much touted agenda of the US and other Northern
countries, *the Internet itself has, first, to be governed democratically.*

 *Click here to endorse the

 *Click here for the current list of signatories to the joint civil society


Sridhar Gutam PhD, ARS, Patent Laws (NALSAR), IP & Biotech. (WIPO)
Senior Scientist (Plant Physiology)
Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture <http://www.cishlko.org>
Rehmankhera, Kakori Post
Lucknow 227107, Uttar Pradesh, India
Phone: +91-522-2841022/23/24; Fax: +91-522-2841025
Publications: http://works.bepress.com/sridhar_gutam/
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