Between Theater and Practice: The Politics of NETmundial

CGCS Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Ben Wagner reflects on the April 2014 NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, discussing the decision making procedures and structure of the meeting.

Despite coming to a close, NETmundial 2014 in São Paulo remains a strange political beast. The organization and decision making-processes involved during the conference itself swung wildly between haphazardly obscure, open and participative, and mere political grandstanding. In a sense, it was great political theater to watch, but it was also deeply frustrating for anyone trying to get anything done.

There has been enough historicizing about what NETmundial was meant to be doing but little conversation on what it was actually doing. While Stefania Milan has already penned an excellent piece on the sociology of NETmundial, a sociology which included a wide array of techno-activist groups previously not present at the table, this post will instead focus on the decision making procedures and structures of the meeting.

Who is Assigned to Seats of Power?

At the outset, it should be noted that there is a substantial legitimacy problem in how the NETmundial Executive Multistakeholder Committee (EMC), the High-Level Multistakeholder Committee (HLMC), and the members of the drafting committee were selected. Some committee members were only informed that they…

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The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 28

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue  28, May 30, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • Increasingly, international Internet technology companies face conflicting jurisdictional issues that can act as obstacles to the growth of the Internet and its potential to connect people. For example EU data protection regulations may contradict certain ICANN registrar/registry policies, creating legal challenges for companies that operate in both regions.
  • The global supply of IPv4 addresses is steadily declining and ICANN is therefore pushing for Internet companies to quickly coordinate the global transition to using IPv6 addresses.
  • The Stockholm Internet Forum –whose theme was “Internet – privacy, transparency, surveillance, and control” has just concluded. Archival information can be found here. The World Summit on the Information Society +10 High-Level Event (WSIS +10) takes place from June 10 – 13 in the International Telecommunications Union headquarters in…

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The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 27

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue  27, May 23, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the USA Freedom Act, intended to reform government surveillance practices –especially the practice of bulk collection of phone records. However, technology companies and advocacy groups originally in support of the bill have retracted their support because of changes to the bill’s language that could maintain bulk data collection practices.
  • The Global Panel on Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms has published its final report, titled “Towards a Collaborative, Decentralized Internet Governance Ecosystem”. The report is presented “to the global community in order to inform it of their actions and the evolution of a collaborative, decentralized Internet governance system that has at its core a unified Internet that is unfragmented, interconnected, interoperable, secure, stable, resilient, sustainable, and trust building”.
  • The Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG) has released its first paper authored by Joseph S. Nye titled “The Regime Complex for Managing Global Cyber Activities”. The GCIG commences its work this…

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Spotlight on African Contributions to Internet Governance Discussions: Part Three: ITU-CWG Internet

Ephraim Percy Kenyanito and Olivia Martin discuss African participation in the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This post was originally published on the Access blog on May 19, 2014 and can be found here. This is the third post in Kenyanito’s series that spotlights “African Contributions to Internet Governance Discussions.” Parts one and two can be found here and here.

As shown in the 2013 African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) Report, African participation in major internet governance discussions is extremely lacking. In 2013, only 29 out of 54 African countries sent representatives to the AfIGF. Of these 29 countries physically present, there were 195 participants, including government officials, representatives from the private sector, civil society, and regional and international organizations.

What does this underrepresentation mean? Do African stakeholders fail to take these discussions seriously or are they are ill-equipped to engage in the various internet governance discussions?

This is the third in a series of blog posts that analyzes common positions and the divergence in views in contributions from African stakeholders to the major international internet governance discussions. Specifically in this post, the focus will be on African participation in the Council Working Group on international Internet-related

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