Internet Governance And Celestial Mechanics 19/08/2014 by Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) The views expressed in this article 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. By Juan Alfonso Fernández González Alongside a recent meeting of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), a Cuban expert offered a humorous – but at the same time serious – vision of global internet governance. Below are his remarks. ________________________________________________ With the Internet Governance Forum coming in a few days, it is appropriate to reflect on the state of the internet governance “ecosystem” previous to that event. I deliberately placed quotation marks around the word “ecosystem” because nowadays it is customary to use analogies when trying to describe a complex issue, and one of the most currently used (or abused) is the analogy of the “ecosystem”. This was confirmed in the NETmundial final document1 in which the term “ecosystem” appears nine times, eight referring to “Internet governance” and one to another abused term: “multistakeholder”2. The problem with this analogy, first introduced3 by James F. Moore in 1993, is that by applying biological concepts to the world of business it recognizes the existence of “unknown factors” in the complex relationship between the different actors (organisms of the business world) of the ecosystem. In other words, when in any topic we have no idea of what is happening we call it an “ecosystem”. So please allow me introduce a slightly more deterministic analogy for Internet governance: celestial mechanics. The analogy International Internet governance is at an early stage of its formation, where many actors, processes and institutions repel and attract each other. This is similar to the initial periods of the formation of the solar system. So it is predictable that according to the laws of celestial mechanics a process of accretion will occur with a final result of an Internet governance universe composed by only a few big planets. What will those planets be? 1) Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This planet will attract a great part of the technical and academic community. Despite its efforts to attract the governmental sector, it is foreseeable that this component will be ejected at a later stage due to the interaction with the next planet. 2) International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Yes, the ITU is a planet despite all the efforts that has been made to segregate the Internet from the ITU, some dramatic, like during the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in 2012, and some ridiculous, like the Elaboration of a Working Definition of the Term “ICT” in 2013-2014. To this planet already gravitates not only all the governments, but also companies and part of the technical and academic community. 3) Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Civil Society has traditionally been drawn to this planet, but recently also representatives of some governments and enterprises. So it is conceivable that as its size (importance) grows it will increasingly attract more of all the sectors. 4) International Chamber of Commerce Business Action to Support the Information Society (ICC BASIS) The private sector, despite minor skirmishes, like the net neutrality issue, has been able to coordinate their positions. And the ICC BASIS has played an important role on that. So this planet will continue to grow, hopefully with a more geographically diverse participation. Interaction between the Planets Once the planets are formed and stable will begin the interaction between them in the concrete processes of the international Internet governance. It will be a “roles and responsibilities” redux, but unavoidable. Also, some other forces will influence the planets. First of all the economy. Note that only two planets receive revenues from Internet related activities: ICANN and ICC BASIS (its members). This imbalance must be resolved or the system will not be stable. Other powers that are already influencing the planets are big countries like China or the United States, or groups of countries like the G77+China, the BRICS and the European Union. In July 16, the Chinese President, in a speech at the Brazilian congress4, called for respect of all countries’ cyberspace sovereignty and the establishment of a multilateral, democratic, transparent and cooperative international system for Internet governance. The day before, in the final declaration of the Sixth BRICS Summit5, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa emphasized the importance of the norms and principles of international law in Internet governance. They reiterated their commitment to the negotiation of a universal legally binding instrument on cybersecurity and cybercrimes. Formerly, on March 11, the G77+China, in a statement delivered at the Second Informal Consultation on the modalities for the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society6, reintroduced in the discussion the unfulfilled role of governments in Internet Governance. On another issue, in a letter dated July 31, to the Chairman of the ICANN Board of Directors, two US Senators7, gave specific recommendations on the IANA transition and ICANN accountability processes. While doing this they definitively refuted the myth that ICANN performs only clerical tasks. Earlier, in a report published on July 9, the French Senate called on the EU to play a key role in ensuring that internet governance is independent and democratic8. The report also proposes to restructure ICANN and to make it accountable to a higher international body. So, how this analogy will evolve, under the gravity of each planet and the influence of powerful external forces? Hopefully in a harmonious and constructive manner, preferably under the melodies of Gustav Holt’s Planets, because the alternative will be the Clash of the Planets. 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: NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement, http://netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETmundial-Multistakeholder-Document.pdf [^]Juan Alfonso Fernández González, Ten Answers From NETmundial, Intellectual Property Watch, May 1, 2014, http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/05/01/ten-answers-of-netmundial/ [^]Moore, James F., Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition, Harvard Business Review 71(3):75-86, May-June, 1993 [^]Cyberspace sovereignty ‘should be respected’, China Daily, July 18, 2014, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2014xibricssummit/2014-07/18/content_17829605.htm [^]Fortaleza Declaration, Sixth BRICS Summit, July 15, 2014, http://brics6.itamaraty.gov.br/media2/press-releases/214-sixth-brics-summit-fortaleza-declaration [^]Statement of the G77+China, New York, March 11, 2014 http://www.g77.org/statement/getstatement.php?id=140311c [^]US Senators John Thune and Marco Rubio, Letter to the Chairman of the ICANN Board of Directors, Dr. Stephen Crocker, July 31, 2014, http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/?a=files.serve&File_id=80ea52e6-a50f-434a-8e23-d8ccc3a3b711 [^]EU internet governance: Franco-German alliance, EurActiv, July 11, 2014, http://www.euractiv.com/sections/innovation-enterprise/eu-internet-governance-franco-german-alliance-303421 [^]Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Internet Governance And Celestial Mechanics" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.