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    Inside Views
    Inside Views: Quantitative Analysis Of Contributions To NETMundial Meeting

    Published on 20 March 2014 @ 4:46 pm

    Disclaimer: the views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.

    Intellectual Property Watch

    By Richard Hill

    Summary

    A quantitative analysis of the positions expressed with respect to certain issues in the contributions submitted to the The Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETMundial) reveals the following:

    • there is broad support for the following:
      • improving security
      • ensuring respect for privacy
      • ensuring freedom of expression
      • globalizing the IANA function
    • there is no consensus on the proper role of governments, that is, whether the roles as outlined in the Tunis Agenda are appropriate, or whether governments should have equal status with other stakeholders
    • there is significant support for the following:
      • increasing the participation of developing countries in discussions of Internet governance
    • there is some support for the following:
      • ensuring universal access
      • strengthening the Internet Governance Forum
      • interventions to foster infrastructure development and deployment
      • interventions to ensure network neutrality

    The NETMundial meeting

    According to its website, NETMundial will focus on crafting Internet Governance principles and proposing a roadmap for the further evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem. The meeting is scheduled for April 23rd and 24th 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    A total of 187 contributions were submitted to the meeting.  Most of them agreed that certain key principles should apply to the Internet and its governance.  That consensus can be summarized as follows:

    • Offline rights apply equally online
    • The Internet should remain a single, universal, interconnected, interoperable, secure, stable, resilient, sustainable, free, and trusted network
    • Internet governance should involve all stakeholders from all parts of the world and be open, transparent, accountable, and bottom up
    • Policies should create a stable and predictable environment that fosters investment and favors innovation

    But these are general, high-level principles, whose implementation is open to interpretation.

    For example, while there is consensus that free speech must be protected online as well as offline, there is no consensus regarding whether restrictions that exist in some particular country violate existing human rights laws.  For a more detailed discussion, see section 2 of Hill, Richard, 2014.  “The Internet, its governance, and the multi-stakeholder model”.  Info, Vol. 16 No 2.  An early version is available online as “Internet as a paradigm”.

    Similarly, there is no agreement on how best to foster investment in broadband infrastructure, in particular, whether net neutrality regulations should be imposed.

    In order to gather more information from the rich set of data provided by the 187 contributions, we have analysed them to determine what position each takes with respect to certain key issues that have been discussed for the past 10 years (see section 2.1 of Hill, Richard, 2014. “The Future of Internet Governance: Dystopia, Utopia, or Realpolitik”, background paper for the NETMundial meeting.  See also the summary at “UN Internet Governance Discussion: Why Did It Fail To Agree And Why Will Discussions Continue?”).

    These key issues are:

    • asymmetric role of the US government with respect to the management of Internet domain names and addresses
    • financial issues related to the increasing use of the Internet
    • issues related to the relative lack of security of the Internet, including lack of privacy

    Another issue has emerged recently: whether the roles and responsibilities outlined in the Tunis Agenda for the different stakeholders are still valid (in particular, that policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the sovereign right of States) or whether all stakeholders should have equal status (also referred to as equal footing).  For a summary of this issue, see “UN Internet Governance Discussion: Why Did It Fail To Agree And Why Will Discussions Continue?”; for more details, see section 5.1.2 of “The Future of Internet Governance: Dystopia, Utopia, or Realpolitik”, cited above.

    In addition, the following issues were included, since they were mentioned in several contributions:

    • freedom of expression
    • demilitarization of the Internet (cyberpeace)
    • whether new international agreements or organizations are needed
    • net neutrality and government intervention with respect to infrastructure
    • universal access
    • increased participation by developing countries in Internet governance discussions
    • strengthening the IGF

    Each of the contributions was coded according to its source (e.g. government, private sector, etc.) and geographic origin (e.g. developed countries, developing countries, …).  Then each contribution was examined to determine whether it expressed a clear position with respect to the issues outlined above.  Then, we counted the number of contributions that expressed a clear position with respect to each of the issues outlined above.  The full set of data can be found here.  (WARNING: in some cases, it was not clear whether the contribution was really expressing a clear position.  Further, some coding errors may have been made.  Thus the data should be treated as indicative, not definitive.  But, as we will see below, a few coding errors are not likely to have affected the overall results of the analysis.)

    It must be stressed that this is a partial analysis of the contributions, in the sense that many did not address any of the specific issues outlined above.  Those contributions are of course valuable and this analysis should not be taken to imply otherwise.

    Results of the analysis

    The issue that was most frequently mentioned in the contributions were, in order: (the number after the issue indicates the number of contributions that mentioned the issue, see Explan for details)

    • security (86)
    • privacy (74)
    • freedom of expression (73)
    • globalization of IANA (55)
    • role of governments (52) – but there was no consensus on what that role should be, see below
    • better developing country participation (42)
    • universal access (35)
    • strengthening IGF (29)
    • infrastructure intervention (29)
    • net neutrality (26)

    There were relatively few mentions of the other issues outlined above, namely:

    • new international agreements (16)
    • new organizations (10)
    • financial issues (13)
    • tax issues (6)
    • cyberpeace (7)

    While not tabulated in this workbook, the following are worth noting:

    • several contributions called on states to limit the liability of intermediaries. Such measures would be significant restrictions of national sovereignty. Such restrictions are usually negotiated internationally, for example as treaties.  But the contributions in question did not call for negotiation of new treaties.
    • a few contributions from the private sector called on states not to impose local data storage requirements, that is, to allow the free flow of data across borders. Such measures would be significant restrictions of national sovereignty. Such restrictions are usually negotiated internationally, for example as treaties.  But the contributions in question did not call for negotiation of new treaties.
    • two contributions called for the creation of competitive roots for the domain name system, to be used in parallel with the current root managed by ICANN.  One contribution called for continuing with a single root.

    Role of governments

    Regarding the role of governments, 32 contributions favored the role outlined in the Tunis Agenda, while 30 took the view that governments should have equal status (or equal footing) with other stakeholders. Thus there is no consensus on this issue.

    It is instructive to see which categories favored which position.  In essence, the roles as outlined in the Tunis Agenda were favored by governments, while the private sector favored equal status. Civil society was divided on this issue, with US organizations favoring equal status, while developing country organizations favored the Tunis Agenda; developed country organizations expressed split views.

    The divergence of views on this issue between governments and the private sector would appear logical, for the reasons outlined in 5.1.2 of “The Future of Internet Governance: Dystopia, Utopia, or Realpolitik?”, cited above.

    Other comments

    The following are worth noting.

    Universal access, infrastructure and net neutrality

    The universal access issue was mentioned mostly in contributions from civil society, with some support from developing-country governments.  The same holds for infrastructure intervention and network neutrality.

    Financial issues

    Thirty-five (35) contributions mentioned universal access, but only 13 mentioned financial issues. Yet it is widely understood that the relatively high cost of accessing the Internet in developing countries is an impediment to universal access (see for example section 2.1.2 of “The Future of Internet Governance: Dystopia, Utopia, or Realpolitik?”, cited above). The financial issues were mentioned primarily in contributions from civil society.

    Taxation

    Fifteen (15) developed country governments submitted a contribution, but only one mentioned the taxation issue. Yet the St. Petersburg G20 declaration states that there is a need to identify the main difficulties that the digital economy poses for the application of existing international tax rules and develop detailed options to address these difficulties (see G20 Leaders, “Tax Annex to the St. Petersburg Declaration”, G20 (6 September 2013), Annex, Action 1). The taxation issue was mentioned almost exclusively in contributions from civil society.

    Other issues

    The cyberpeace issue was mentioned primarily in contributions from civil society.  The need for new international agreements was mentioned in some contributions from governments, civil society, and academia. The need for new organizations was mentioned primarily in some contributions from civil society, with some support from the technical community.


    Richard Hill, an independent consultant in Geneva who was formerly a senior staff member at the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), recently published, “The New International Telecommunication Regulations and the Internet: A Commentary and Legislative History.”

     

    Comments

    1. The Internationalist » Brazil’s Internet Summit: Building Bridges to Avoid “Splinternet” says:

      […] on the participants to produce a meaningful Outcome Document that incorporates many of the 187 contributions submitted prior to the meeting. It also needs participants to agree upon “concrete and […]

    2. Monthly Review | U.S. Control of the Internet says:

      […] Hill, “Quantitative Analysis of Contributions to NETMundial Meeting,” March 20, 2014, […]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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