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[Nettime-bold] PFIR proposes new global org. but representative this time.

----- Forwarded 

Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 22:16:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Proposal for a Representative Global Internet Policy Organization
From: pfir@pfir.org (PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility)
To: PFIR-List@pfir.org

     PFIR Proposal for a Representative Global Internet Policy Organization

                               December 6, 2000


	PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org

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In the "PFIR Statement on Internet Policies, Regulations, and Control"
(http://www.pfir.org/statements/policies, July 2000), we proposed the
creation of a new international organization to coordinate and help establish
recommended policies and standards for the Internet.  The goal of such an
organization would be the furthering of fair and balanced availability,
growth, and usefulness of the Internet on a global basis to benefit the
entire world's population, not just particular regions or interest groups.

It has become increasingly obvious that some entities currently involved in
Internet policy making, including ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers) and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, are incapable of
adequately addressing the broad international aspects and issues relating to
the Internet.  This is true even to the limited extent (if any) that they
might consider such non-parochial concerns to be within their mandated
purview.  The above referenced PFIR document discusses why we feel that a
new international organization would be beneficial in addressing many of
these matters in a useful and proactive manner.

We now propose a possible framework for the organization that we previously
postulated.  We wish to emphasize that this is merely a basic concept put
forth as a starting point for thought and discussion, not as a fully-formed
proposal.  There are myriad details and problems (some of a fundamental
nature) that would need to be enumerated, understood, and/or solved before
any such organization such as we envisage could become a reality.

The perceived lack of fair and balanced representation in the creation and
promulgation of Internet policy is a critical shortcoming with the existing
entities engaged in this area.  We therefore suggest that for the proposed
new organization, a structure similar in some respects to (but differing in
many important aspects from) that of the United Nations might be a useful
starting point.

We visualize an international organization (presumably a non-profit
corporation) to which a large number of global representatives will input
ideas and votes regarding a wide range of Internet-related issues.  This
organization, as mentioned above, would serve to help formulate recommended
policies and standards regarding the Internet, but significantly, it would
not encompass any enforcement powers.

Nationalities provide a natural unit on which to base representations in a
global organization, but do not in and of themselves represent the varied
interests of Internet users.  We therefore suggest a number of delegates
from each country (and other agreed-upon political units) who would be the
basis of such a representative body.  Henceforth in this discussion we will
use the term "country" when referring either to nations or to other political
units being included within the organization.

One possible organizational structure would include five delegates from each
country, apportioned as one delegate from each of the following five

 - Business
 - Government
 - Education
 - Public policy, public interest, and non-profit organizations
 - Citizens and residents

There are of course other reasonable ways to organize these or additional
categories.  Each individual delegate would have a single vote, both when
voting on issues relating directly to their particular category and when
voting on issues brought before the main body of the organization.  The
manner in which these delegates would be chosen could and presumably would
vary between countries, and would be a matter for internal discussion and
decision within each such country, though suggestions and guidance in this
regard might well be available from the larger organization itself (but
would not be binding).

We view the complex issues of the Internet as being best handled through
this form of representative framework.  We do not envision global "Internet
user" votes on policy matters, since such votes appear completely
unworkable, easily manipulated, and impossible to validate. 

There are many potential issues and problems to be resolved in considering
the creation of such an organization.  One obvious matter is establishing
the list of entities who would be empowered to participate in the
representative forum, as relates to countries that are subject to trade,
communication, or other embargoes set in place by other nations.  Similarly,
groups of individuals claiming national status who might not be generally
recognized globally as such is as another difficult topic.  For now, we
leave these issues, and various other important matters such as overall
funding considerations, for upcoming analysis and discussion.

It is anticipated that this new organization would encompass both a general
assembly including the full range of countries as described above, and a
"guiding" assembly consisting of representatives of the countries with the
largest current Internet populations (to be defined via an agreed-upon
algorithm).  The primary role of this guiding assembly would be to help
direct high-level policy directions for the organization as a whole.  No
guiding or main assembly countries or delegates would possess any veto over
the organization's decisions or recommendations.  We expect that this
proposed lack of veto powers may be a cause of possible consternation among
some business and government interests, who may feel themselves to already
be vested with the exclusive rights to determine the Internet's future.  We
believe that public discourse regarding this issue may be particularly
interesting and illuminating.

We wish to reiterate that the scope of this organization would be directed
towards the creation of recommended policies and standards concerning a
broad range of global Internet issues, not the enforcement of such policies
or standards.  That having been said, it is hoped that the existence of a
policy body with a truly representative and global nature would help to
avoid many rapidly increasing problems currently affecting Internet issues
and by extension many other facets of our societies.  This new international
organization could also help to minimize disillusionment and threats of
major, long-term network fragmentations that have been arising within the
current Internet regime.

There are no significant technical reasons why such new policies could not
hold voluntary sway.  Administrators and users of the Internet DNS (Domain
Name System), for example, could at any time choose to turn away from the
current root servers and direct their systems toward new domain naming
environments.  This same principle could hold true through a broad range of
Internet-related issues.

There could be some risk of short-term confusion relating to the significant
change in course that the creation of this new organization would entail.
However, we believe that rational international policies will be sufficiently
convincing to bring the various players together in a framework with much
more long-term stability and fairness than the current ad hoc system.

The scope of this project is large, but we feel that it is completely
possible and practical.  By making use of Internet and other technologies,
various potentially expensive aspects of such a global organization can be
minimized.  Physical meetings of the entire body of delegates might well be
unnecessary, or at least be relatively rare.  E-mail, telephone
communications, video-conferencing, and other readily available technologies
could serve for the bulk of ongoing communications.  

Also, it would be unnecessary for this new organization to independently
recreate technical expertise that already exists elsewhere.  For example,
technical subcommittees of the organization might involve entities such as
ICANN or the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), etc. to help implement
the recommended technical policies of the organization.  This would free
these ostensibly technically-oriented groups from even the perception of
being involved in policy creation and its related controversies.

When viewed in the context of the Internet's immense scope and growing
importance, soon to underly so many aspects of our lives, the direction that
we propose is by no means radical or extraordinary.  In fact, it would be
extraordinarily unwise and unforgivable to continue along the current
course, with the fate of the global Internet effectively in the hands mainly
of narrow interest groups and U.S. government agencies, whose power as
relates to the Internet derive mainly from historical accident, not
purposeful, balanced, or representative planning.

Again, there are many details that would need to be worked out in the course
of creating the organization that we've outlined.  But the moment to start
down this difficult but necessary road is now.  Too much time and energy have
already been wasted amidst selfish bickering and polarization that threaten
to reduce the shining promise of the Internet to the same sordid levels that
we've come to expect in the modern political arenas.  Surely we can do
better than that.

We welcome your comments, suggestions, and viewpoints regarding this
proposal.  Thank you.

Lauren Weinstein
(818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

Peter G. Neumann
(650) 859-2375
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Moderator, RISKS Forum - http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks
Chairman, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

----- Backwarded

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