Between the Local and the Global: Notes Towards Thinking of the Nature of Internet Policy

This post by Nishant Shah is part of a series related to the 2014 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy: The Third Man Theme Revisited: Foreign Policies of the Internet in a Time Of Surveillance and Disclosure, which takes place in Vienna, Austria from March 30 – April 1, 2014.

An imagined and perceived gap between the global and the local informs transnational politics and internet policy. The global views the local as both the site upon which the global can manifest itself as well as the microcosm that supports and strengthens global visions by providing mutations, adaptations and reengineering of the governance practices. The local is encouraged to connect with the global through a series of outward facing practices and policies, thus producing two separate domains of preservation and change.  On the one hand, the local, the organic and the traditional, needs to be preserved and make the transnational and the global the exotic other. On the other hand, the local also needs to be in a state of aspiration, transforming itself to belong to global networks of polity and policy that are deemed as desirable, especially for a development and rights based vision of societies.

While these negotiations and transactions are often fruitful and local, national, and transnational structures and mechanics have been developed to facilitate this flow, this relationship is precarious. There is an implicit recognition that the local and the transnational, dialectically produced, are often opaque categories and empty signifiers. They sustain themselves through unquestioned presumptions of particular attributes that are taken for granted in these interactions. There have been many different metaphors that have been used to understand and explain these complex transfers of knowledge and information, resources and capital, bodies and ideologies. Vectors, Flows, Disjunctures, Intersections are some of the examples. However, with the rise of the…

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Analyzing Foreign Policies of the Internet: Problems of Legitimacy and Knowledge in Collaborative Lawmaking

This post by Wolfgang Schulz is part of a series related to the 2014 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy: The Third Man Theme Revisited: Foreign Policies of the Internet in a Time Of Surveillance and Disclosure, which takes place in Vienna, Austria from March 30 – April 1, 2014.

During my latest research on internet policies and governance I have become more and more interested in legitimacy and knowledge problems in lawmaking during this time of “multistakeholdersim.” The Brazilian “Marco Civil” project is, for two key reasons, a perfect case of lawmaking that shortly illustrates these problems.

 Firstly, Marco Civil attempts to create a comprehensive framework for the internet as the basic information infrastructure of the knowledge society and the process of drafting the law has been highly participatory (Steibel, 2012). In this regard the Marco Civil process is significant as to how it reconstructs and seeks to change elements of legitimacy at first hand. Legitimacy is key to the acceptance of laws and regulations by those affected including citizens, NGOs, governments, and corporations.  Lawmaking and the question of legitimacy is, of course, first and foremost a political matter. In a democracy, the definition of what might be considered a social problem and which regulatory means should be applied to solve it, should be designed as a process of “public reasoning” (c.f. Kant, 1784, p. 490). That challenge can also be tackled by participatory means. Well-designed participatory processes have…

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Security, Internet Rights and Principles: Power Shifts and Implications for Internet Policy-Making in India

Colin Agur, Valerie Belair-Gagnon and Ramesh Subramanian are undertaking a research project about internet policy in India as part of the CGCS’s Internet Policy Observatory.[i]

Of the South Asian countries, India alone has a record as a strong democracy that protects free expression in its law and constitution.[ii] Nevertheless, its record on internet free speech has been uneven, with a history of overt censorship and blocking of sites. A 2007 report by the OpenNet Initiative tested several internet service providers (ISPs) in India and found evidence of government filtering for sites whose contents related to national unity or national security. Other incidents include: the blocking of all Yahoo Groups in September 2003 after Yahoo refused to block access to a the group Kynhun, which promoted the secession of Meghalaya from India; the blocking of the extremist web site www.hinduunity.org in April 2004; and the blocking of seventeen web sites, including blog sites, after the 2006 Mumbai bombings.

Government attempts to filter and block sites have usually encountered strong resistance from activists and the media. However, in December 2008, in the weeks following the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Indian lawmakers hurriedly passed an amendment to the IT Act of 2000 with little debate or…

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After the IGF 2013—Bali barely relevant in the run-up to Rio

CGCS Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Ben Wagner discusses the Internet Governance Forum 2013′s relevance in the changing world of Internet Governance.

I’ve recently joined CGCS as a post-doctoral research fellow, and am currently working on a new CGCS project called the Internet Policy Observatory, a research program developed to analyse the dynamic technological and political contexts in which Internet developments and governance decisions take place.  Busy with the preoccupations of relocating across the Atlantic to begin work at Annenberg, I had to miss the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2013 in Bali. As I’ve attended every IGF since 2008, I found myself wondering what I had missed.

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort in the last few years in and around the IGF and from 2009 to 2012, running a ‘Dynamic Coalition,’ something like a working group at the IGF on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media. The dynamic coalition brought together a colourful mix of individuals from civil society, business and government working on issues related to Freedom of Expression. In 2009 and 2010, some of our best years, speakers at our meetings included U.N. Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, the Swedish Foreign Ministry speaking as Chair of the EU delegation and Sami Ben Gharbia of Nawaat.

This year I’ve been stuck to (mostly broken) remote participation, the transcripts on the IGF website and the interesting analysis of various commentators. What is notable at the IGF in 2013 is how little …

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