Berto Jongman: Neelie Kroes, VP European Commission, on Threats, Challenges, and Change Needed in the Internet Governance Concept

Advanced Cyber/IO
Berto Jongman
Berto Jongman

Her demands sound like OSINT demands in the 1990’s.

I will soon be travelling to Sao Paulo to attend NETmundial, the Multi-stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance. The purpose of NETmundial is to develop principles of Internet governance and a roadmap for the future development of this ecosystem.

I have already shared with all of you my thoughts on the draft “outcome document” that I and other members of the High-Level Multi-stakeholder Committee of NETmundial received on 3 April 2014. In the meantime, the organisers of the conference have published a new version of the outcome document and are inviting everyone to send their views and comments – I warmly invite all of you to do so.

I did so, too; I have sent an email to the members of the High Level Multi-stakeholder Committee, to the Chair of the Meeting (Prof. Virgilio Almeida) and to the two co-chairs of the Executive Meeting Committee, Raul Echeberria and Demi Getschko.

Again, in a spirit of transparency, I would like to share the contents of this message with the broader Internet community…. so please read my letter below.


From: KROES Neelie (CAB-KROES)

Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 7:26 PM

To: ‘[email protected]

Subject: Proposals for the NETmundial outcome document

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to see that the draft outcome document for NETmundial has been published and that the broader public has now the possibility to intervene in the discussion, before we all meet in Sao Paulo next week. Again, I would like to thank all the members of the Executive Multistakeholder Committee, as well as the Chair and the Co-Chairs of the meeting, for their tireless work.

As a follow-up to the comments which I have already shared with you, I would like to make some further observations. In the same spirit of transparency as my previous communication, I am also posting a copy of this e-mail on my blog.

I continue to strongly believe that the outcomes of NETmundial must be concrete and actionable, with clear milestones and with a realistic but ambitious timeline. Several reactions to my comments show that I am not alone in thinking that concreteness is paramount to the success of this important gathering; and even though positions on substance may well differ, I believe that my assessment on the necessity of a “change of pace” in these discussions is shared by a broad range of stakeholders.

Read in this light, it is clear me that more work is needed on the latest draft; especially if we consider that a number of public contributions submitted to NETmundial did include concrete and actionable suggestions.

Luckily, several passages of the draft outcome document do lend themselves quite well to being turned into more concrete actions – and we should make full use of this opportunity. I will focus on six specific examples:

  1. Improvements to the multi-stakeholder model
  2. Strengthening the Internet Governance Forum
  3. Tools and mechanisms for better information sharing and capacity building
  4. Globalisation of IANA
  5. Globalisation of ICANN
  6. Jurisdictional issues on the Internet

(1) Improvements to the multi-stakeholder model

The draft outcome document refers several times to the need to further improve and strengthen the multi-stakeholder model, to enable the full and balanced participation of all stakeholders from around the globe, to have clear and transparent processes and procedures (including mechanisms for checks and balances and for review). I completely agree – in fact, I have said so for a long time.

The keywords here are inclusiveness and openness, which must both be real and meaningful, not just theoretical.

NETmundial should be the moment to properly connect the debates on Internet governance with the discussions and concrete activities on citizens’ engagement and participatory democracy. Europe has been quite active in this field, ranging from EU-funded projects in the ICT field, such as DEMO-NET, Cross Over and D-CENT; to legal innovations such as the European Citizens Initiative; to national initiatives such as the use of Liquid Democracy in the Germany and the People’s Assembly Rahvakogu in Estonia, to name just a few. Brazil, with the inclusive and participatory conception and discussions on the “Marco Civil”, is also an inspiration for all of us. And it is purely for reasons of space that I cannot mention all the efforts by many organisations and individuals across the world.

In its Communication on Internet Policy and Governance of 12 February 2014, the European Commission suggested that the further development of multistakeholder guidelines and the sharing of best practices would be a good manner to move forward. Accordingly, I suggest that the outcomes of NETmundial should include:

  • a clear commitment to the bottom-up and cooperative development of a “concept paper” to be discussed at the 9th Internet Governance Forum (Istanbul, Turkey, 2-5 September 2014);
  • this concept paper should identify initial recommendations on how the above mentioned engagement and participatory tools and initiatives could be used in Internet governance debates; it should also propose an initial outline of principles-based guidelines to safeguard accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and independence for multi-stakeholder processes;
  • the discussions in Istanbul and all other appropriate fora should lead, by the beginning of 2015, to a proposal for two “case studies”, to examine how we could turn the high-level principles into concrete, operational practices of existing Internet governance organisations and processes;
  • further discussions and practical experimentation on these cases studies could then result in a concrete reference paper to be presented and discussed at the 10th Internet Governance Forum, towards the end of 2015 – and of course, to be further refined as need be.

(2) Strengthening the Internet Governance Forum

I referred multiple times to the Internet Governance Forum or IGF. The draft outcome document of NETmundial clearly mentions the need for strengthening and improving this most important and unique example of global and multi-stakeholder engagement and dialogue.

I agree that such improvements should include an extension of the IGF mandate beyond its usual 5-years cycle, without prejudice to any possible adaptation of such mandate as the global community will see fit; I also agree that ensuring stable and predictable funding for the IGF is absolutely essential.

I reiterate my invitation for everyone, but especially those organisations which have greatly benefited from the Internet, to become a donor to the IGF – like the EU, some of its Member States and others from the public and private sector. I believe that NETmundial should also make a clear reference, and if possible provide some practical examples, on how innovative forms of crowd-funding could contribute to this joint effort.

The other improvements mentioned in the draft outcome document, namely the need to implement creative ways of providing outcomes / recommendations and the analysis of policy options, and to promote inter-sessional dialogues between the yearly gatherings of the IGF, are also essential and, in my view, closely linked to the need to better connect to existing experiences, expertise and practical tools for inclusive engagement, that I highlighted above.

On this basis, I propose that the NETmundial outcome document should ask the Multistakeholder Advisory Group to present to the global community a clear and realistic assessment of how and when, in their view, these recommendations could be concretely implemented, at the 9th Internet Governance Forum in September 2014. Members of the MAG serve in their personal capacity, but are expected to have extensive linkages with their respective stakeholder groups; I am therefore certain that such assessment would be well informed and inclusive of all opinions.

But to be even more concrete: let us not forget that, as the draft outcome document mentions, we already have a very clear set of recommendations to refer to, i.e. the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Internet Governance Forum (WGIGF) of 2012. Some of these recommendations have been acted upon; some are still lingering; but more in general, I sense that we are missing a sense of the “global picture”. Therefore, I would strongly recommend that one of the concrete outputs of NETmundial should be an assessment – even if an initial one – of where we stand in terms of implementation for each recommendation of the WGIGF, or at the very least a clear commitment that such assessment will be presented at the latest at 9th Internet Governance Forum in September 2014; and that this “state of play” will be duly updated and be open to public input, possibly using participatory tools as I highlighted above.

(3) Tools and mechanisms for better information sharing and capacity building

As you can certainly see, I strongly believe in the use of appropriate ICT tools for better and more inclusive dialogues.

The NETmundial draft outcome document clearly mentions the need for communication and coordination within the Internet governance ecosystem, including via tools to perform on-going monitoring, analysis, and information-sharing function. I have already highlighted in my previous comments how the European Commission is investing in the Global Internet Policy Observatory initiative (GIPO) as a way to experiment with the automated collection, analysis, organisation and visualisation of information on Internet governance discussions and decisions. The European Commission is currently finalising a feasibility assessment of the technological and organisational options for the GIPO, and we will share our conclusions by mid-2014, with a view to launch the technological development of GIPO by the end of 2014.

In the meantime many other organisations, public and private, are either already working or are planning to invest in Internet policy observatories and similar initiatives. We should strive to avoid duplication of efforts.

Let me be crystal clear: I do not see any need for a winner-takes-all beauty contest between observatories. Quite the contrary. But we should strive to learn from each other’s understanding of the problems and proposed solutions. Ideally, we should also move towards a federation of Internet policy observatories.

I therefore suggest that the draft outcome document of NETmundial should include a clear commitment to have a broad, inclusive and operational roundtable among all “observatory initiatives” during the 9th Internet Governance Forum in September 2014; ideally, this roundtable should lead to the development of an initial “collaboration roadmap” by mid-2015 and identify mechanisms, including via existing meetings and dialogues, to foster cooperation and communication among these various initiatives.

(4) Globalisation of IANA

You already know how important I believe it is to keep the momentum towards a real and effective globalisation of core Internet functions and decisions, including IANA.

ICANN has recently shared a draft “scoping paper” and a roadmap that will certainly be helpful in the discussions on the globalisation of IANA. I believe that the NETmundial outcome document should explicitly recognise this draft proposal by ICANN as an important contribution and explicitly call all stakeholders to express their views on it.

I also believe that in order for this discussion to be truly meaningful, the NETmundial outcome document should clearly flag that:

  • the engagement of the broader public should make full use of all existing meetings and fora, including the global Internet Governance Forum and the regional ones, as appropriate; ICANN should also reach out to organisations across the world which are willing and capable to foster dialogue among citizens, besides and beyond those who are able to attend the meetings of ICANN or other Internet technical organisations;
  • with due consideration to the criteria which the US Government has presented in its announcement of 14 March 2014, there should be no artificial limitation in the scope of the discussion. For example, a consideration of various organisational options, as well as of the opportunity and the most appropriate ways to separate policy, operational and oversight activities should not be “off-limits”, if we want the debate on the future of IANA to be seen as truly legitimate at the global level.

(5) Globalisation of ICANN

The CEO of ICANN has recently declared that a public dialogue on how to strengthen ICANN’s accountability will soon be launched. In my view, this dialogue cannot be separated from the broader issue of how to make ICANN a truly global organization serving the public interest, as the draft outcome document mentions. I understand that this dialogue will look at strengthening existing accountability mechanisms like the Affirmation of Commitments, and ICANN’s redress mechanisms, as well as exploring new accountability mechanisms where necessary.

I am looking forward to further information and details and I expect that ICANN will also provide a clear timeline on the concrete implementation of its globalisation efforts. Accordingly, I recommend that the NETmundial outcome document clearly invites ICANN to share its concrete proposals at the 50th ICANN meeting (London, UK, 22-26 June 2014).

(6) Jurisdictional issues on the Internet

It is natural, when talking about globalisation, to reflect not only on the amazing opportunities brought about by the Internet, but also on the challenges which this inherently cross-border medium raises with respect to the application of laws. The European Commission committed to launching an in-depth review of the risks, at international level, of conflicts of laws and jurisdictions arising on the Internet and to assess all mechanisms, processes and tools available and necessary to solve such conflicts.

The NETmundial draft outcome document clearly identifies jurisdictional issues and how they relate to Internet governance as “material for further discussion”. While I understand and agree that a full debate on this broad topic during NETmundial would be neither desirable nor productive, we should have a stronger commitment to a phase-by-phase examination of this issue, with a view to produce “good practice” guidelines as appropriate.

Accordingly, I suggest that the outcomes of NETmundial should include an invitation to interested parties to:

  • develop a “scoping paper” by July 2014;
  • facilitate on-line and off-line engagement opportunities, as appropriate, in the run-up to the 9th Internet Governance Forum (Istanbul, Turkey, 2-5 September 2014);
  • following these discussions, aim to produce a first draft of “problem statements” and possible recommendations by the first half of 2015.

Dear colleagues, I thank you for your patience in reading my observations and proposals, which I trust will be useful in further refining the outcome document of NETmundial.

Kind regards,

Neelie Kroes