Internet Governance: A Case for Variable Geometry?
03 September 2014 - A Workshop on in Istanbul,Turkey
This is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Welcome to everyone on the workshop on geometry in the IGF. I think this is a very interesting topic for --
>> GIOVANNI BATTISTA AMENDOLA: The Internet calls for a revolutionary change of the Internet governance. It is in this framework of the multistakeholder model needs to be adapted to the new Internet environment here it comes useful the journey which I will address later.
Now let me point out very briefly that the technological and economic environment of the Internet has dramatically changed since the mid '90s. Today the Internet is much more diverse and dynamic than in the past. The main changes include first the increase in the number and diversity of end users. Second, the increase in the diversity and the intensity of applications. Third, the increase in the variety of access, technologies and the emergence of more complex business relationships among the players in the Internet Ecosystem.
In sum the Internet has become a key and global infrastructure, much, much more complex than in the past.
Having said that, we can note that the evolutionary transformation of the Internet has made more complexities global governance so there's a relationship between the evolution of the Internet and the evolution of the governance of the of Internet. For instance, some issues like privacy and cybersecurity are now at the forefront of the global debate. With some other more traditional issues such as the coordination of the Internet technical infrastructure calling for a timely and effective globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, these are all of the examples of the changes that are required in the Internet governance.
Now, in addressing the evolution of the Internet governance, I wish to be clear as Telecom Italia we fully endorse the preservation of the multistakeholder model which however should go with the Internet with the evolution of the Internet.
In particular we need to recognize that the relevant stakeholders may vary from issue to issue. It is exactly the concept of variable geometry.
Therefore what is needed is a better match between governance issues and relevant stakeholders.
On the one hand why all stakeholders need to participate in the multistakeholder model on equal footing. However we need to recognize that once the call the equalization of stakeholders could take the lead according to the nature of the governance issue at stake.
In other words, we believe that a multistakeholder model based on the concept of variable geometry, it is the right response to the increasingly complex global governance it can ensure both the preservation of the main features of the current multistakeholder model and at the same time its evolutionary change. By the way I wish to note that such an approach is also fully consistent with the recommendations of the panel on global Internet cooperation and global governance mechanism through the partnership formed between the ICANN and the WEF. In fact, the collaborative the centralized Internet governance ecosystem which is advocated by this panel is essentially an application of the variable geometry concept. In this case it is also articulated in terms of not only in terms of governance issues but also at the geographical level so the concept of variable geometry needs to be addressed both at the level of issues as well as at the level of geographies.
Having said that, I would like to be a little bit more specific and express my view on the implementation of this variable geometry model.
I believe that we need to be aware that an area of issues requires the active involvement of governments where another issue is best managed by the Private Sector. The first area includes, among others issues, privacy cybersecurity child protection and intellectual property rights.
Clearly protecting consumers and content producers are areas of which governments play a very special important role. In this area the governments have a responsibility not only at the national level. Indeed it is of the utmost importance that shared rules are also agreed at the regional and global level. In addition harmonization of the monetary framework in these areas is essential in order to get safe and transferred Internet at the regional and global level. Furthermore harmonization mostly of privacy regulation but not only privacy regulation is also a key factor in order to achieve a level playing field for the different players in the Internet Ecosystem we point out and stress the match for harmonization and the need for the level playing field in the Internet Ecosystem. Let me address the second area of global Internet governance which includes a number of technical and economic issues that should continue to be primarily addressed by the Private Sectors.
Two examples. First, industry developed standards promote interoperability and competition while also allowing for innovation sources and that should remain an area mostly addressed by the Private Sector. Second, the example, Internet interconnection agreements should be left to commercial negotiations a regulation of this relationship is not justified and in addition may become an area for development of new innovative models, by the way I wish to stress that there was some confusion on this issue a couple of years ago at the Dubai WGIG meeting because the position of the industry was not clear but I wish to clarify we are not advocating the regulation of interconnection to rates and we simply say this is an area that should remain in the domain of commercial negotiations between players.
However, let me also add that these new business models that may emerge may also include the provision of interconnection services of differentiated quality that however could be hampered by inappropriate net neutrality regulation.
I don't want to go deeply in this issue because it is addressed this afternoon and it is a very delicate issue but just to say that regulation, the real point is to establish a demarcation between areas that should be addressed by public policy and governments and areas that should remain mostly driven by the Private Sector.
A final remark, of course discussion is welcome in order to decide the demarcation the final remark the evolution of the Internet governance model needs to be carefully discussed among the different stakeholders.
In this respect we believe that the Internet Governance Forum plays a key role. It is in fact the platform for debating out the Internet governance should be adopted and evolved over time. To descend however the IGF should be not only preserved but also strengthened. Let me conclude by stressing that we envisage at least two improvements in this regard. First making stronger the interaction between the Global IGF and the national and regional IGF. This is not the case in some countries that -- there may be improvements in order to create some vibrant relationship between national and regional IGF and Global IGF.
Second point, it is required that the content and the proposals discussed at the global forum, such this forum in Istanbul are then shaped and framed in the matter that they can reveal impact, can be easily understood by other players in the Internet Ecosystem.
So not only a forum for debate. But also a forum for concrete proposals that should be presented in a before manner than today. Thank you.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Very good. Thank you very much. May I ask now Lorenzo to present the issues on behalf of Mira Burri who unfortunately wasn't able to come at the last minute? As I mentioned, she has prepared a small report on the different approaches in the way in which variable geometry has been applied in the WTO which is quite interesting and shows the different approaches used in different areas so Lorenzo thank you very much.
>> LORENZO PUPILLO: Thanks, yes. The World Trade Organisation is a forum for regulating trade. It has universal membership. It's high level regarding legalization and is equipped with a quasi tradition dispute mechanism.
From the organisation very outset, the legal design implemented in the WTO agreement which in essence covers services gapped and intellectual property rights protection has not been uniform.
The different agreement has responded to the challenges of equal treatment as an overarching goal in trade in fundamentally different ways.
The general agreement on tariff and trade has been the farthest reaching in trying to reduce tariff and binding the domestic regulated events to the mass so that other non-tariff barriers will not be erected.
In contrast the general agreement for trade and services reflect the philosophy of progressive -- it allows members to tailor and pace the opening of the services market. In yet a third way the WTO agreement on TRIPS has provided for minimum standard in the basic level of harmonization.
These three core agreements and a number of other perceived is ones have been however equally binding upon our members irrespective of level of trade floors, socioeconomic development.
They have also been subject to the so-called single undertaking where you're negotiating and moving forward where changes in the treaties must be agreed upon as a whole.
Despite the distinctive figures of the WTO as an organisation or perhaps partly because of them, it has suffered in the recent years from insufficient political support from its membership.
So as to allow its future oriented development this is palpable from the undergoing talks that support the Doha Development Agenda which was launched in 2001. Despite the marked goal of completing it by 2005 it's still unfinished. One may add sterling the reason behind these affairs are complex having to do with one end on the world international trade as well as with increased complexity of the issue which clearly goes beyond plain tariff reduction. But are politically sensitive and controversial issues such as developing Climate Change in the face of different communities. In a sense many of the issues that are targeted with WTO negotiation table today are not about trade but about trade and issues.
This states that this analogy close to the present state of Internet governance debate where the multiple diverse technical decisions have been knowledge and appropriate in a comprehensive solution appears to be not found.
Under such circumstances, and for the example of the WTO, it appears helpful to permit flexibility in the system both in terms of tailoring the commitment to different countries as well as in terms of allowing different members to go ahead at faster speed while not precluding the others from joining in late. This so-called variable geometry is also politically well accepted. It even often preached that's the ultimate solution to present and persist in -- it does come with certain negative effects and uncertainty attached.
An important instrument in the valuable strategy has been in the pro rata agreement this allows for speedy movement on certain issues on like-minded nations but bind only by signatories. An agreement in a sense which also has been relevant for the evolution of the digital trade is the Information Technology Agreement, ITA.
It was agreed upon in 1996. It bound its members to reduce all tariff products to zero. While the I TA's membership is small in numbers than that of the WTO it manages to achieve a critical mass and cover in effect 97% of traded products.
Also interesting in terms of design, the ITA is not a closed but an open agreement that operates on MFN basis which basically means that no members can free ride on the concession made by ITA.
A new agreement presented under negotiation that's also in the pro lateral type by the function on the basis is the trading service agreement.
Pro lateral agreement despite the relatively easy way of negotiation and possibly a commitment as well as the achievement of some regulatory convergence within the club also has fragmentation within the entire system and leads to serious disadvantages to non-members. Despite being associated with the WTO, such agreements have also been negotiated in services. In this sense must share the fatigue of other pro lateral deals such as the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement and the specific partnership agreement for lack of transparency and to lobbying overall the WTO experience in the variable geometry model may offer valuable insight on existing and evolving model or going at a different speed or different mode when trying to achieve common goals in global governance.
One of the features over the system we should be reminded when trying to translate some of the WTO experience in the global Internet governance context is that the WTO is a conventional state centre type of international organisation. No other stakeholder by state is being represented and the WTO itself has made a state driven venue without stronger agenda setting and function or the organisational lab engineer.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much. And now can I call on Professor Christopher Yoo to talk about variable roles and dynamics in Government processes.
>> CHRISTOPHER YOO: Well thank you for having me. This is a fascinating topic because variable geometry is an idea that's come out of international law and has really created a great -- a way of rethinking what we're doing.
What's really striking to me about variable geometry is it makes -- we're used to thinking about the locus of decision as being decided in advance. That is you're committed to a UN institution or you're committed to bilateral negotiations.
What you see in variable geometry is your choice of decision making venue becomes part of the strategy itself. A classic example of this happened with respect to the U.S. strategy with intellectual property. It began in the World Intellectual Property Organisation which had a certain governance structure. They moved it to the Gap analysis and eventually got the trade related aspects of intellectual property treaty out of it TRIPS WTO had a different decision making structure a different enforcement structure and more importantly the bargain was different because the breadth of the Gap negotiation allowed you to trade off intellectual property rights with access to agricultural markets and then the U.S. would then move those negotiations to bilateral agreements and has largely moved away from TRIPS so you start to see different countries doing this strategy. The other big change that's been happening -- strategically the other big impact is starting to see the impact of regionalism and even within regionalism we have various different venues so here in Europe we have the European Commission of course but we have different other institutions we have the OECD vying as a possibility.
We see the G7 now being replaced by the G20 and all of those different venues the different actors are choosing to opt in and a allocate certain issues to each venue based on what they perceive to be their interests and even the Council of Europe and other actors are entrepreneurial looking for ways to find their own role. What you start seeing interestingly is shifting away from true governmental at institutions one of the most important actors in the geometry space is standard setting organisations. They have a different composition. They have a different decision making process. But they are actually extremely influential you see this in other areas such as stock markets which are now as much governed by stock exchanges as they are by governments and you start to see the rules happening and fluidity of capital, people votes with its feet to find out what's going to be successful and another model obviously the Internet governance space is ICANN.
So what we're seeing is all of this is up for grabs and it creates -- it has a number of very important implications. First it reduces the importance of coercive force.
Most of these situations arise in an area where there's no clear allocation of a decision maker.
So what happens is you then have to attract people to your proposed venue.
And this doesn't happen by using negative inducements but usually typically by positive inducements. It also creates room for entrepreneurial leadership among countries that has broadened out the set of countries that lead and has led to a world in which you see different leaders in different sectors of the economy where different countries take the leadership position and try to push it forward. And so what you start to see is a very different dynamic. Perhaps the best example in the Internet governance space is NETmundial and Brazil's efforts and tremendous success in creating a venue that -- a new variable geometry venue that did not exist before and are trying to institutionalize it into something more regular and in ways that right now we can't even anticipate exactly what will happen to that so the structure is quite fluid.
It moves, it allows people to move into the space a lot more easily. And it does change the dynamics of what you have to do to get people to join you in the space that you're trying to lead. It becomes much more about attracting people to following you and including people as opposed to trying to find a way to coerce them in.
What does it mean you need cooperation of others in a multistakeholder space like IGF there's a particular set of problems why you need not just Government led initiatives but the cooperation of private companies because in fact anyone who can look at the Internet buildout today will tell you that it will be financed by private corporations not by governments simply put the public funding is not there so what you need to do oddly enough is worry about how attractive the proposition you're putting in front of people who don't necessarily share your interests.
Because if you actually create a solution but none of the companies actually finance buildout it simply won't occur it's very strange it's a way you often see in negotiations as adversarial you begin to see the interests of the other party one of the most interesting comments I heard in the NETmundial discussions earlier this week someone said this is great talking to each other but we all are supporting it. What do we have to do to attract the countries that are currently opposed to that framework and get into a conversation with them to try to make that change?
And that is a spirit that's very much consistent with the multistakeholder approach in the IGF.
And it's one that I think we lose sometimes. And it's a fundamentally different engagement. Instead of the typical international negotiations of interest analysis it's going to be a much more dynamic and much more cooperative idea where you have to understand what your opponents or the other people you're negotiating is really motivating them and the last question I would say is decision making rules matter in terms of the venue choice. So what I think is that what I would ask everyone is basically to live the spirit of the IGF. One of the things that private companies have to do is stay engaged. It's very easy and actually in many early years the IGF, the companies, the private companies were not that engaged and in fact people cooperate in that venue but other times I've seen other segments whether it's Civil Society or governments everyone has to actually believe that they need the cooperation of all of the other actors in order to make a particular venue for decision making important.
And what that means is that instead of worrying about your own interest exclusively, you have to think of it as a collective solution about how you get people to cooperate in. And in that sense I think it's a fundamental change in what we're doing. And in that sense the Internet Governance Forum has a chance to play a very distinctive role in this space.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much just on the NETmundial point I thought it was perhaps useful I was going to raise it somewhere else but since you've raised it I thought it would be useful to quote to you from the multistakeholder statement from NETmundial on an aspect relating to variable geometry and interpretation it says respective roles and responsibility of stakeholders should be interpreted in a flexible manner with reference to the issue under discussion. So it's quite clear, also, in the NETmundial stakeholder statement that this aspect should be brought into consideration.
So thank you very much. Next Olga Cavalli. Could you tell us your perspective from the variable geometry point and how it gets to the Government's role?
>> OLGA CAVALLI: Thank you very much for the invitation and for setting up this interesting panel I come from a region that's really diverse. It's Latin America. Latin America of course is a very nice region, unique because of the diversity that is in the region. They are very small island countries medium sized countries and medium economies like Brazil medium sized economies like other countries. So the multistakeholder approach and multistakeholder model is challenging somehow for our region. Also the problems that our region has are unique. We are a region where we have big differences in between -- we have the rich and the poor. The big gap is in Latin America. And that's extremely challenging for governments. And we think that the Internet and the ICTs could be an interesting tool to close this gap and to bring our countries into the development world and to make people learn more and participate more.
So in this scenario and it was also said during the NETmundial meeting in a paper that Argentina presented about the role of stakeholders we believe the governments have a relevant role it's not just one more stakeholder. Governments have the role of law enforcement, of making regulations there are many things in the hands of the Private Sector and some other organisations but at the same time they must be regulated and reviewed by governments at the local level. So this makes it more challenging for governments in the role and their accountability that they have for the citizens and for the local economy. At the same time this diversity in the region makes it more challenging for the coordination. Governments have been trying in facing this multistakeholder challenge that we are going through especially through years before I would say that ICANN was the first step that we had to face through this multistakeholder coordination so we started to do some coordination at the regional level.
We do have a regional Plan of Action that came a little bit before the Second Phase of WSIS in 2005. Then it was consolidated in WSIS. And it's an Action Plan that we review every two years. Now it will be reviewed again in 2015 and we will have a preparatory meeting this year in 2014. So what we have done in this plan is to agree in some things that we want to achieve at the regional level which as I said is not easy because it's a very diverse region.
One thing that we included in this working plan is the focus towards Internet governance. And now it's a group coordinated by Brazil and Argentina.
And there we try to gather from a multistakeholder perspective all of the problems and views from other countries of the region. Also, the challenge is to include other countries of our region into the process. Urgencies in Latin America, sometimes makes governments think that this Internet governance process and multistakeholder model is something that they can think about but not as a first priority. So what we are trying to bring is more participation, more relevant participation from all the countries of the region through this regional Plan of Action and this Working Group on Internet governance.
We also have a regional IGF since 2008. It has been growing steadily. And it's a point of reference for our regional coordination in relation with the Internet. One example of regional coordination has been the GAC of ICANN we have a growing number of representatives from the region and last year with the new we had some challenges some names of our regions and rivers were taken as future new gTLDs so that brought us some challenges in respect of respecting these names for our governments and for our countries.
But that made us position our work in the GAC more strongly. More countries came to the GAC, Peru and Chile and they coordinated with some of us and we're already working there.
So I would say that the GAC of ICANN has been one point of first coordination for the region in relation with the multistakeholder model.
Also about capacity building, there are several things that have been done in the region to include -- if you look at the statistics, the participation of Latin America and all of these processes are less even than Africa. There are many reasons for that. Its language. It's the cost of traveling. And it's the cost of opportunity. But also sometimes it's the lack of information that you have to make the decision of going.
For all stakeholders.
So I am part of a project which is called South School of Internet governance we have trained more than 600 professionals so far in all of the countries of Latin America including the Caribbean, Caribbean and South American integration and Latin American integration is challenging because of language and the culture so that has been going very well and finally so not taking so much time I would stress the fact that the governments have a special role as stakeholders they are not one stakeholder more. They have a major role as I said in law enforcement and also in regulations and there are many things that are done by Private Sector like for example traffic agreements and some other things. But also the Government and regulations has to look at the big picture for the wealth of the country and coordination in the region also is relevant. I will stop there.
Maybe there are some questions from the audience. Thank you.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much before we take questions from the audience let's finish with the last three panelists so first may I ask Professor of Nii Quaynor from Ghana to give us the perspective from the technical community.
>> NII QUAYNOR: Thank you very much Madam Chair I'm still looking for the geometry and the variables to understand. But nonetheless, I'll offer a few comments.
It's pretty difficult to speak on behalf of the technical community because it's still quite varied. But I'll give you a certain opinion.
From my thinking multistakeholder is more an approach. And therefore, every community is likely to adapt aspects of it to enable it to address and solve these problems.
Now, to me, the motivation is problems are becoming more complex. And sometimes problems may even be undecidable. Generally. But one can narrow the complexity and derive some solutions. So it requires expertise. And it does require varied disciplines, very varied disciplines.
That way then you can have hope of deriving much more robust solutions.
So in the approach, I assume that anyone who joins the community to address a particular problem accepts a common goal. That means that you leave behind your stakeholdership or you bring your stakeholdership in as a value not as a deterrent. Not as a rising thing. Because you have a common goal. That's very important.
I expect that the process will indeed be bottom-up meaning whatever the leadership is, they don't really decide things. They encourage the community to narrow down options and so forth. I expect that stakeholders will gravitate towards problems as opposed to say these problems are for these stakeholders.
I expect that there will be varied disciplines participating in the process. And the process must be open enough so that the next three billion, four billion can join. So if it is closed then some of us from Developing Countries will indeed be left out in some of these decisions.
I assume that there will be clear documentation which is public. And usually there are different types of documentation, depending on what the intention is. Sometimes it's merely for information. Sometimes it's trying to address specific issues and so on.
And as evolution of these documents meaning what may be informational depending on how it is adopted might become something much stronger or standard depending on how you look at it.
I also now -- I like to make a comment on governance side of things just to wrap it up.
I'm under the assumption that the leadership is voluntary. And depends on the subject matter. In other words, as different stakeholders gravitate towards a problem, it becomes evident who actually are the best people to address the problems. You can see in the passion and the issues that they raise. So let it happen organically. Usually there is such a group of sorts to help look out for interested parties who could be chairs of groups and so forth.
And that's typically the -- what you may hear mentioned in the technical community there may be some selection thereafter if need be. I expect these subgroups addressing issues will be organised in a self organised manner, not mandated that you're going to solve this problem. Usually that doesn't work.
But if issues come up and people are showing interest, then they can address it. And the leader, usually the Chair, his focus is determining whether there's sufficient understanding, there's sufficient consensus.
In our environment, we are looking for rough consensus in running code. Meaning that we are looking for what people can live with and what works. We cannot take risks.
So those are very important. And decisions are really by the larger community. Not by the handful who have met here. We cannot decide anything here and necklace the rest of the community. So if we make any strong commitments to issues here we need to take it to a larger community to get them also to buy in. I mean this is the nature of the multistakeholder approach.
And usually there are things like comments periods, there are things like last call. So everybody gets a chance to make a point. Now, you know, in conclusion, perhaps there have not been enough applications of the multistakeholder approach. Maybe not well documented. Although there is some documentation around. And so there's a lot to be learned by studying how the different communities have addressed this particular issue.
And it is my hope that norms will be noted after this kind of study. And in the process we will be able to maybe generalize a little bit more the approach. Thank you very much.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much then Sally Costerton. Perhaps you can give us the perspective from point of view of ICANN.
>> SALLY COSTERTON: Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me. When I you first met Lorenzo to talk about this, it was actually back in February in the GSMA conference in Barcelona and we both found ourselves I think astonished that we appeared to be working on almost exactly the same project.
At the time ICANN was involved in the early stages of preparing what became the Ilves panel on Internet cooperation and governance mechanisms and this was chaired by President Thomas Ilves and co-chaired by Vint Cerf and met three times during the early part of the year and when Lorenzo when I first met it was at early drafting stages at the time he said to me I want to explain to you about variable geometry.
And I thought, hmmm, that's kind of a funny word.
Maybe it's an Italian thing. Maybe it sounds different. Maybe it means something different in Italian, I thought to myself. But I was very polite and I said, yes, okay.
And I was working on the first drafts of the decentralized proposal, the proposal for a decentralized collaborative Internet governance processes that we would be participating in as ICANN that would allow us to use multistakeholder principles that my co-panelists have talked about.
And I was very struck by an observation that when I came into ICANN two years ago, and we went to the WGIG in Dubai there was a public perception that the Internet community and the telecoms community just didn't agree.
Just different animals.
And this morning, that morning, in that meeting room in Barcelona I looked at Lorenzo and thought hmmm I'm not so sure I agree with that.
So it turned out because in the intervening months, the Ilves panel submitted its early recommendations into the NETmundial proposal, exactly as Telecom Italia did with variable geometry and Olga did from many of you in the room would have been there and were involved in it. As the months went past it certainly became more obvious to me we were all really talking about pretty much the same thing. So from ICANN's perspective of course it was never a very difficult perspective for us because ICANN in a way it is variable geometry. It is all the time. That its kind of lifeblood.
And my team, I look after stakeholder engagement at ICANN. And that is a very literally what my team does around the world. It engages with different groups of stakeholders, variable groups, with different perspectives.
It is not ICANN's goal to kind of coalesce those groups in any way particularly.
It is ICANN's role to facilitate and understand and sometimes to try to bring people together to resolve issues for sure as we've been through the new gTLD process we have had much hands-on experience to quote my colleague over here's point of view, we have to see the other person's point of view. We have had to learn good facilitation skills. We need better ones.
But establishing variable geometry, decentralized collaborative processes, whatever term you use, it's as much I think at ICANN about human skills, people skills, as it is about technology or protocols or legal issues or financial issues. And the progress honestly that I think is being made and level of confidence even having this panel that so many of us from such different backgrounds can say such similar things is incredibly encouraging and I really would champion Telecom Italia for taking public leadership.
In terms of what can we do apart from congratulate each other, which is always nice? I would make one plea. And I think that many have said this and many will continue to say this. If we can reach a point -- and I think we might be nearly there where we all broadly think we're talking about much the same thing, that's tremendous progress. That's if you will the kind of content side of it. Not in Internet content. I mean the subject matter.
We have some principles. We have -- the IGF has been espousing wonderful bottom-up multistakeholder principles of engagement since its inception the parlor principles deeply endorse that the Ilves panel called for action around that I don't think there will be anybody at the IGF who would disagree with that desire to operate in the future with those principles so we have achieved a lot. But what we don't have yet is a very widespread understanding outside our Internet community as to how to implement some of these ideas. How to take the next step. And perhaps that is partly to do with the lack of familiarity and my colleague over here, Mr. Yoo made this point. These are new techniques. They are unfamiliar. They are not part of the kind of body memory of how we make international treaties, how we build international organisations.
They require us to take a leap. And sometimes to start as Nii was saying you know from first principles. Okay what can we live with?
What works? What can we start with? Where can we begin? Where do we bite into this?
Perhaps kind of really support each other to leave aside our natural if I will kind of engineering based instincts which is I must understand everything before I can implement anything and I fear if we don't collectively and in partnerships with each other around the world I don't think it matters where you start either in topic or in country it doesn't matter. There should be many pathways, many platforms.
And the IGF is a marvelous place to pull those together. To see the common threads. And to come together both here, globally, but also at regional IGFs. And I would certainly commit ICANN to both helping to promote these concepts. I think this is the other piece. It's partly behaving creatively and being brave and trying and starting. But it's also being very realistic that there are many millions of people literally around the world who can contribute, who don't necessarily originate in the Internet community, who can teach us and help us. And whether it's through the processes even quite practical issues like handling oversights the IANA stewardship transition I must get that precisely right, which of course many of you in the ICANN community are aware is quite a big part of life for us.
How do we make sure that we espouse these principles and we take our own medicine?
So I thank you for the opportunity. I really look forward to working with all of you as we take these concepts forward. Thank you.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much, Sally. And then our last speaker but not least of course is Antonio Preto who will give us the perspective from that of the national regulators point of view I think.
>> ANTONIO PRETO: Yes thank you very much. I would like to thank Telecom Italia also for the invitation. It's the first time for me to IGF. So I understand which kind of animal IGF is from the perspective of a national regulator having had also a long continue standing experience at the European Union level. The argument is very intriguing I think.
Because in my previous experience, my previous life in the European Union we were used to working with variable geometry and variable geometry may be the only way we can progress the integration of the European Union. For example, Europe is one example of variable geometry. But we can make several examples.
So variable geometry is a very interesting idea. And I think that the way we can really progress in a more effective governance of Internet. So I fully share this approach and this idea. I think my colleagues, they have just spoken, they are all from different perspectives on this line.
I think that there's one more issue that with variable geometry and this approach, we can reach a very crucial target. Because through different responsibilities and the differentiation of responsibilities in the Internet governance we can strike a balance between a wide participation which is a basic principle of the Internet governance and the effective implementation.
Of course most has already been said.
So I will try to concentrate myself on the most hidden points. Those that have been missing according to my opinion until now.
And I will of course introduce in the debate my experience as Commissioner of a national Regulatory Authority.
Internet is an ever-changing ecosystem since its beginning it has grown massively. Mainly due to the Network Neutrality and the lack of topdown control. The multistakeholder model has resorted to be the best catapult to the Internet permitting the standardisation process and the environment of protocols in private hands.
The Internet governance is the brain of such a model.
And as the role of Internet in our society and the economies has changed so radically, its governance has become much more delicate and complex in the meantime.
New technical and social issues are at stake. And this is bringing towards a new general architecture.
Consequently, the current multistakeholder model may be improved and announced.
As mentioned yesterday by Nila Cruz, Vice President of the Commission in this intervention. As a regulator, I ask myself, should the governance allow the presence of regulators. I'm convinced that the private model is a value we must preserve.
Private evolution of the Internet is about freedom and pure development. At the same time private intervention is not all there is to say about Internet governance.
At the very beginning, the engineers and technical experts, and some of them are here, which gave birth to the net operated under the umbrella of Public Administration, the ARPA. Why I refer to this element? Just to indicate that public and private have cooperated since the origin of the Internet. This is even more important nowadays. This cooperation is even more important nowadays.
Internet governance is becoming as much complex as critical.
The issues at the stake are heterogeneous and complex multi-facetted. There's a requiring for focus and prompt solution.
I just mention two important issues, the right to be forgotten after the decision of the European Court of Justice on the Google case. And protection of copyright or fight against piracy on the Internet.
In this context, an element which is still laying behind the cart is the role of the national regulators.
And I strongly believe that a clear role for the regulators could introduce a new form of expertise in the definition of core principles at the global level.
Regulators derive their experience from other sectors like electronic communication, allocation of scarce resources and here my friend from telecom, they know quite well the role of national regulators in that respect.
As the borders of the sectors tend to blur and we have just spoken about the interaction between telecommunication and Internet, the overall debate on the overall multistakeholder model could benefit from the experience of the regulators. Regulators force their competition. But they are aimed at ensuring individual rights.
So we have both as national regulators, competition and individual rights.
We are an administration. But we are neutral and independent. We operate under the rule of law and the principle of legality. But we do not bring an element of rigidity because the regulation is based on flexible cohesion and the legal economic and technical expertise. And it's based on very large stakeholder participation. From the beginning, that means from the conception of the rules we introduce, very large consultations. To the implementation of rules. Because in many respects we call all of the of stakeholders to take part in committees which are consulted which they can provide very large and very deep suggestions on how we can implement -- how long we have to implement or if we have to amend our rules and make for example the recent case of our regulation on copyright protection.
Of course we have to avoid any kind of overlapping and because we consider the separation of task is fundamental in any complex ecosystem.
I have little time available so I'll try to conclude.
I have just said how the system of national regulators involves very much the participation of the stakeholders and also is adapt to a variable geometry. Because you can take account of the issues and of the geography as mentioned before by Giovanni Battista Amendola so we avoid any centralized control or entity.
Telecom Italia proposes to set up a multistakeholder committee in charge of assigning the governance issues to different institutions.
I agree with this general view. Nonetheless, I would like to make quite a different proposal. Let's think about ICANN. It has been defined as a hybrid organisation by legal scholars.
This particular nature has been identified in the presence of the GAC, which brings the public side in the organisation that is internationalized, private and based on certain Government.
If this is true, the Government's view is already present in the debate. Is this enough? In my opinion the answer is negative.
Because we need the presence of independent authorities different and separated from political powers. This is the crucial role of independent authorities we represent and are called to enforce the public interests but we are separated from the political powers. This is the different and the justification of our role. So our voice must be added into the system. And the system will be a hybrid model inside a hybrid model like ICANN we have just said.
I'll close my intervention. I remind how in the variable geometry of regulators can contribute in a flexible way define some core principles like net neutrality or the access to the infrastructure, which is the logical preliminary issue to the use of the Internet.
I conclude really now. I believe that public should not crash the private. I believe that the public institution like independent authorities can intervene the debate in order to preserve some aspect of the public interest that I have mentioned which cannot be left aside. It's the perspective of integration and not of mutual exclusion.
So I think at the end that the role of the national Regulatory Authorities independent and neutral can be the right answer to the main question and the main issue that Commissioner Cruz put yesterday on the table. It means that the governance of this multistakeholder governance which is quite interesting, important and has to be preserved on one hand on the other hand must grant transparency and user rights.
And also to grant the best principles of ICANN security stability and resilience I think that the enable Regulatory Authorities with their independence their expertise is the best place to grant such kind of principles and to give the right response to the issues that Mrs. Cruz put yesterday on the table thank you very much.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much Antonio okay there are a whole series of issues that have been raised. It's clear I think that the differences between the issues and the geography and the relative interests and roles of different stakeholders are very much at stake. Some of you have proposed and I think this is a very good one the reinforcement of regional and national IGFs to bring in more actors at local level to identify issues specific to those regions and those areas. Governments of course can help very much in this by encouraging these activities, by participating, by helping to fund. So there you have already a whole series of aspects that can help in that particular respect. And I would like you in your comments to think about that and whether this workshop should come out with some specific proposals in that regard.
And also best practices and how to introduce variable geometry in the IGF process on technical issues on legal issues on other aspects how we should approach this variable geometry in terms of what are some good best practices that could be generated by this workshop and that we could identify.
That would help, also, to concretize it's not a very good English word but to put into action some of the good ideas that have been raised here.
So I open the discussion to the floor. If you have specific questions or comments please identify yourself, as well. And I think there's a microphone over here. Excuse me. Yes, did you see him at the front. Oops. Here we are. And then we'll go, yes, to you.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much for all of the interventions and interesting aspects which have been addressed. My main thing would be to try to structure --
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Sorry. It's gone off. I think the light was on a minute ago but now it's gone off. Perhaps if you hold it closer to your mouth. That's it.
>> AUDIENCE: My plea would be to try --
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: That's it.
>> AUDIENCE: -- to try to structure the discussion a little bit more detailed way. Because variable geometry can have various meanings. And a couple of meanings have been addressed by the panelist, you have the geographic variable geometry.
In my opinion that's a very valid path. And I would even think that's the easiest path.
Geographic variable of geometry corresponds to well known principles particularly the subsidiary principle if something can be done on a lower level it shun be moved up to a higher level but can be done within national regional IGFs, et cetera should not be moved up to the IGF. But then we have two other different kinds of variable geometry namely the substantive and the personal variable geometry. You would have to identify for which areas for which markets variable geometry is appropriate and for which markets variable geometry is not appropriate.
There are of course more different areas which we can identify.
I would for example assume that for cybersecurity issues, we need a relatively high level of harmonization and agreement or legal interoperability.
If you look at culture, we would probably the need less harmonization. And this is intertwined with the personal aspect. In some areas it is hardly imaginable that Civil Society can play a major role. For example in cybersecurity. However in other areas, cybersecurity must play a major role in culture for example in education, et cetera.
And this could lead to some kind of charge in which we would have to define the concrete substantive topic. And we could then link the participation of the different stakeholder groups to the topics.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much. I think we are all saying something quite similar to what you have said, as well by distinguishing the issues and the geography and some issues as you rightly say are at such a high level that they have to be addressed everywhere but we can always start at the local level, too.
There was a question right at the back here. Or a comment.
>> CHRISTINE ANDREASSEN: Thank you. Can you hear me? Hi. Hello, everyone. I'm Christine. I represent the Danish Government and I would like to thank the panel for these interesting perspectives and analysis. And tackling this slightly unapproachable subject of variable geometry.
My question would be -- or I would like the panel particularly Professor Yoo to reflect perhaps a little bit more on the intergovernmental organisation versus the multistakeholder or private organisation in the Internet governance environment. I like very much the perspective of trying to attract decision makers in a positive way. To your venue or your organisation as opposed to coercion or forcing them there.
But the matter of the fact is that an intergovernmental organisation will be able to force a decision. For example in an ITU setting if a country wants to propose something and if there's a majority even with a consensus negotiation and so forth, ultimately you have a risk of it's a one country one vote setting and you will risk having a binding outcome and even though maybe if this outcome is not something that the multistakeholders or the relevant stakeholders will agree with or will adopt or will even recognize there is sort of a risk -- I guess I'm trying to say there's a risk of a sort of salami method if you understand what I mean that you sort of slice your way into an area for instance Internet governance.
So I wanted to sort of ask the panel to reflect on what that does for a dynamic within sort of a variable geometry setting.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Thank you very much. Professor?
>> CHRISTOPHER YOO: So I actually think the ITU is the perfect example. But I would be based on principles of international law a little bit more reserved about their ability to come to definitive decisions. The example I would give is the WGIG you have treaties people only participate by consent we had a treaty emerge from that that was signed by 80 some countries. Significant constituency -- Western Europe, North America, Japan, Australia didn't sign.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: And some Developing Countries.
>> CHRISTOPHER YOO: And large numbers of different parts of the world for different reasons chose not to sign.
And so this is an example to me about how governments naturally look to intergovernmental regulations thinking they are very comfortable getting definitive resolutions and it often doesn't happen if the underlying interests aren't there. What I'm discovering is the reason governments are so uncomfortable with variable geometry and they are very comfortable with multi-lateral organisations is they get to set agendas. Only governments speak. They are used to having a very structured environment. And it's a very uncomfortable place watching very senior Government officials walking around here and sitting at the dance exhibition last night with the rest of us. It's interesting for them. The flip side I see is Civil Society has enjoyed a long period of benign neglect from Government and I hear them wishing for a day where it could be like that again.
And they have to understand those days are gone. There's too much money. There's too much security. There's too many interests involved and we need to kind of come to a middle ground but the thing I always think about really is to come back to the idea the metaphor I have in my mind partly the WGIG what happens when people don't consent standard setting organisations set standards all the time hundreds of them that are ignored and in fact unless it makes it individually rational for people to adhere to a standard or decision or consent in it will be a tree falling in the forest with nobody there what makes it so hard for we have ITU as a venue and NETmundial as a venue we have here as a venue and then we'll --
>> ANTONIO PRETO: It means we need to hear to understand which are the cases of the specific issues that have to be done at local, national, regional levels. And those -- they need more global. So it will be quite a case-by-case approach. According to the single problems issued have to be taken. Of course there's always the temptation of states to try to isolate their own areas of sphere of influence from the rest. Try to impose their rules but I think with the Internet it will be not a real successful exercise at the end.
So of course public institutions must be fully involved. But they have to understand that they have to play a different role here. And I've mentioned the example of AGCOM in the case of trying to create some instrument to fight against piracy. We have consulted so largely that all people are interested. And we have asked them, do you think that AGCOM has the power to do it according to the European Union directive according to the legal system according to the rules. So we start from scratch. So this is a real different issue. Internet governance is not business as usual. It's completely different.
So including the public institution they have to completely change their approach. Here we are not in the telecom sector that we have the telecommunications sector here we are in the Internet which has a community and which has a multistakeholder governance which has developed very well and we are here just for that reason so we have to take into account all of the different aspects.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Okay. Thank you. And then.
>> GIOVANNI BATTISTA AMENDOLA: Very short comment because I completely share the viewpoint as expressed by Commissioner Preto. We need to preserve the bottom-up nature of the Internet governance. This bottom-up nature is already by nature based on the variable geometry concept so we have advocated and presented this theoretical approach and we are of course aware that this is a theoretical approach and it is to be implemented and implementation is already in place. We say we need to preserve the current stakeholder model based already on the variable geometry concept and on that ground we need to improve it. Of course one could prefer a system whereby some super regulators or super multinational body decides that issue A is to be addressed by country X, Y and Zed and issue B should be addressed by the Private Sector and particularly some companies rather than others.
But this system would theoretically -- it would work but it's impossible to end up with this kind of overall authority deciding and allocating in the world the different issues to different stakeholders so this is not possible. We need to continue with the bottom-up model.
And this is because we believe that the IGF is essential in this process. It may be a bit frustrating that at the end we do not have a conclusion. Like okay we have everybody agreed that this issue should be addressed by some stakeholders and the votes should be framed in this way and so on.
This is not possible. In my opinion we should continue with the current system. But we can improve it. And the best approach is to improve the IGF.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Good. Thank you very much. Unfortunately -- but you wanted to speak as well. I'm very sorry. Why don't you go ahead.
>> NII QUAYNOR: I just want to agree with him that linking stakeholders to problems means that somebody is acting like God and in the bottom-up stakeholder environment I think the preferred thing is let's people, stakeholders, gravitate towards the problem and then you will get the support you need.
>> MEGAN RICHARDS: Yeah and they usually can identify solutions, as well, which is very useful.
So may I suggest that I think there are a number of very good ideas that have come out of the workshop. Perhaps it's useful for the organisers of the workshop not the moderator to if possible write down some of the very useful ideas that come out and throw them into the batch as best practices that could potentially be considered as part of the outcome of the IGF if you agree. I think it could be useful because it's a pity not to let others see the ideas that come out of these things and then we will be consistent with NETmundial and with the recommendations on the improvement of IGF on identifying actions and activities that can come out of IGF and be carried forward in the future so thank you all very much for participating thank you very much to all of the panelists for your excellent contributions and I look forward to seeing you all in the next few days.