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Wrap-up Day 1

Page history last edited by Mary Murphy 9 years, 3 months ago

Session notes


To IG or not to IG?


After a full day with high level panels, forums, informal discussions and workshop, Mary Murphy, who is in charge of the GIC reporting team (six in situ rapporteurs and two online), presented the main questions that had arisen from reports of the day. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, she posited these questions as confusing and asked for clarification.


1)     To map or not to map: the more mapping that we engage in, the more it seems that complication ensues

2)     Business sector involvement in IG: are they profitable partners or will they hold IG hostage to their needs?

3)     The double-edged sword of Human Rights: the platform Human Rights so desperately needs can and does create the need for surveillance

4)     The NETmundial initiative: showbusiness or a  new paradigm?

5)     ICANN: monopoly or model of diversity?



To inspire dialogue, Jovan Kurbalija invited participants to engage these questions with comments, rebuttals, and further inspirations. They responded with fervor and interest.



To map or not to map?


Do we need mapping, if maps will never be up to date and complete? One participant pointed out that mapping is very important, as it helps policymakers in understanding the issues at hand.


How do we fully engage the business sector?


On the one hand, the diversity of actors in IG is appreciated, while on the other hand, some have pointed out that the business sector is largely absent. One comment from the audience on this was that compared to business, it is very important that civil society is engaged. She explained that it is difficult to bring civil society to discussions and include them in the process compared to representatives from the business world. Many mappings in parallel are equally important for a better understanding. They help with knowledge gaps and to bridge gaps between different regions, countries, stakeholders, etc.


NETmundial: show-business or a new paradigm?


NETmundial was mentioned throughout the last day and a half as being a blank canvas and setting new standards, but it was also criticised for being pure ‘show-business’. This sparked much attention in the discussion with one participant saying that the reference to showbiz was ‘somewhat of an insult’, and complimenting the initiative for its openness and inclusiveness. It was ‘not a charade’ but instead a serious multilateral effort from multiple stakeholders including up to 80 governments, CSO groups, and ‘massive online consultation’.


However, another participant pointed out that show-business might not be a bad thing: ‘It’s is like having one showman at the front leading the way to a dream by putting on a magnificent production’; and as shows can be metaphors for society, it might thereafter become a new paradigm as well. Behind the scenes producers brainstorm and the show becomes either a flop or a success with participation determining the ultimate success of the venture.


Human rights: the Internet as a double-edged sword?


The topic of human rights also received many comments. Internet platforms both promote human rights and are vulnerable to human rights violations. Participants agreed that there are many human rights, and that the double-edged sword consists of balancing conflicting human rights and reconciling them in a coherent framework. One comment suggested that like trade policy, and business concerns, human rights should not even enter the world of IG: the network and the data it carries should not be intermingled.  This was countered by the statement that all data on the Internet aligns with some offline process or grouping, and therefore could not reasonably be separated but should be understood as shared. This shared mentality was supported through an additional comment which stated that IG requires a ‘big heart’, acknowledging the fact that there cannot only be one solution, but many.



ICANN: monopoly or model of diversity?


Throughout the conference, ICANN was both mentioned in reference to being a monopoly that abuses its power and as a collaborator with multiple stakeholders. Someone clarified that ICANN is both: the system created it as a monopoly, but it is trying to work towards diversity and inclusiveness. We were also reminded that everyone can create a new naming system and that ICANN is still a non-profit organisation. Another comment supported the role of ICANN and argued that making a new naming system is not hard; it is making it successful that brings the challenge.


Some additional issues were raised:


Legal issues: a missing debate?


The legal side of the IG debate did not feature on the list of questions from the day's proceedings and some agreed it should be added to the list. The law is slow to catch up with everything else; however, many questions might be solved if applicable law would be present. Thus, addressing legal issues is crucial. Even Diplo’s subway map shows the Law line starting a few stops after other issues have begun.


Finally: to IG or not to IG?


The last part of the discussion attempted to make sense of the scope of IG. The conference suggests that everything has an IG angle, and therefore everything is IG. However, without denying the online dimension, we need to focus on solving problems by relating them to the existing mandates and policies rather than mixing them together. The online and offline worlds are simply not divorced, which leads to the key questions: how to strengthen existing organizations? Will it then be, as Jovan Kurbalija suggested, that the ultimate success of IG will be when these IG issues disappear and IG is integrated into existing systems?



The path to IG is a complex one, but the only way forward seems to be to continue the struggle.




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