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    Inside Views
    Inside Views: Ten Answers From NETmundial

    Published on 1 May 2014 @ 7:35 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 Juan Alfonso Fernández González

    In a previous [1] Inside Views article in Intellectual Property Watch, 10 questions were raised with the hope that they would be answered in the “Global Multisectoral Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance,” also known as NETmundial.

    Well, NETmundial was held last week on 23 and 24 April, and could be given many adjectives, one of them that it was original.

    After the opening ceremony and the welcome speeches, four microphones were set up so that representatives of civil society, governments, the academic and technical sector and enterprises could, through brief interventions, express their views on the final document, of which a draft was distributed at the beginning of this process.

    The interventions had to be really short: initially a time limit of 3 minutes per intervention, which after several iterations was reduced to 30 seconds, in order to allow more participants to express their opinion.

    This is, faced with the decision between breadth and depth it was opted for the first, which resulted that the discussion of substantive issues was superficial.

    Also, the method for writing the final report can be described as original, since it was by a closed drafting group – in contrast to the established multilateral practices -, which decided, in a somewhat arbitrary way, what criteria to include or not of those raised by the participants in the four microphones.

    This is how the final document which was named as the “NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement”, – a name that is difficult to translate to other languages – was obtained [2].

    But the difficulty is not only in trying to translate into other languages the English word “multistakeholder”. The very concept itself needs to be clarified. Therefore, the first question of the previous article was:

    Question 1: What exactly is the multistakeholder model of internet policymaking and governance?

    NETmundial: This question was not answered.

    The word “multistakeholder” appears in the final document on countless occasions qualifying practically everything, starting with the title: “multistakeholder statement”, and continuing with: “global multistakeholder meeting”, “multistakeholder fashion”, “multistakeholder framework”, “multistakeholder processes”, “multistakeholder ecosystem”, “multistakeholder model”, multistakeholder decision-making and policy formulation”, multistakeholder mechanisms”, multistakeholder manner”, up to finishing with multistakeholder communities”.

    But despite this litany, nowhere in the document is the meaning of these phrases clarified.

     

    Question 2: Will the definition agreed by the heads of state and government in the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on the roles and responsibilities of the different actors with regard to internet governance no longer be valid?

    NETmundial: It was not clear.

    On the one hand, it seems that there is a wish to turn back what was agreed in WSIS when it is pointed out that the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders should be interpreted “in a flexible manner.”

    But on the other hand, in the points to be further discussed beyond NETmundial is that of “different roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in Internet governance, including the meaning and application of equal footing.”

     

    Question 3: Will the dominant internet companies have the same roles and responsibilities as states in internet-related public policy issues?

    NETmundial: It seems so.

    The final document notes that the international public policies related to the internet must be developed by consensus, and with the participation of all stakeholders.

    This contrasts with the concept agreed at the World Summit on the Information Society that internet-related public policy issues are the sovereign right of states.

     

    Question 4: What will be the international internet governance institutional framework?

    NETmundial: This question was not answered.

    The final document merely states that the proposed road map is to “outline possible steps forward in the process of continuous improvement the existing Internet governance framework.”

     

    Question 5: What will be the role of the United Nations and its agencies such as the ITU, UNESCO, WIPO and the regional economic commissions?

    NETmundial: It seems that none.

    The final document does not mention even once the United Nations or any of its agencies.

     

    Question 6: Will other equally important rights such as the right to development, the right to knowledge and the respect for the cultural and linguistic diversity and identity also be defended?

    NETmundial: Some are mentioned and others not.

    The right to development and the respect, protection and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity are mentioned.

    Respect for cultural identity and the right to knowledge are not mentioned.

     

    Question 7: Will the issue of the inequity of the internet economic model, where all payments flow from the underdeveloped countries towards the developed countries despite the fact that the information flows in both directions, be addressed?

    NETmundial: It was not addressed.

    The issue of the inequity of the internet economic model that adversely affects the underdeveloped countries was totally ignored. However, the dispute over the economic relationship between the large transnational communications corporations and the monopolistic internet companies, the issue known as “net neutrality” was discussed, although its mention was diminished in the final document.

     

    Question 8: Will the issue of the economic sustainability of Internet in the developing countries be examined, with the aim that the internet itself could generate the resources for its development both of infrastructure and of contents?

    NETmundial: It was not examined.

    It is surprising that this important issue has been completely ignored, not only in the final document, but in the interventions made.

    Everyone talks about that internet has a “vibrant” economy, but no one points out that this only happens in developed countries where the advertising industry is able to finance the development of content and applications.

    But in the rest of the world it is not like that: How are the highly demanded local content and applications financed in the underdeveloped countries? Can anyone point to a website of an underdeveloped country that is able to sustain itself economically?

     

    Question 9: Will the need to strengthen international collaboration and increase the amount of aid from developed to underdeveloped countries for the development of their internet infrastructure be discussed?

    NETmundial: It was not discussed.

    The only mention of the issue of financing was in relation to the participation of stakeholders in internet governance.

    If a topic as important as the international collaboration to help underdeveloped countries the development of its Internet infrastructure is ignored, how to connect to the Internet the majority of the population of this planet who still does not?

     

    Question 10: Will the commercialisation of the internet continue, turning the users into paying customers and promoting in a hegemonic a way single culture or will internet become a tool for development, for human enrichment and the dissemination of cultural and linguistic diversity?

    NETmundial: A road was opened.

    It will depend on us, the “stakeholders”, to ensure that the road leads to the internet we all crave and need.

     

    Juan Alfonso Fernández González is a Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Communications of Cuba and an Assistant Professor in the University of Informatics Sciences. He was a member of the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance and participated actively in the negotiating process for the outcome documents of both phases of the World Summit on the Information Society. He is also a FIDE International Chess Master.

    References:

    [1]       Ten Questions About Internet Governance, Intellectual Property Watch, April 22, 2014.

    http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/04/22/ten-questions-about-internet-governance/

    [2]    NETmundial final document.

    http://netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETmundial-Multistakeholder-Document.pdf

     

     


    Leave a Reply

    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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