[At-Large] Reference: ICC Ruling on Objections filed by the ALAC
garth.graham at telus.net
Thu Jan 23 21:27:10 UTC 2014
On 2014-01-23, at 9:17 AM, Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond wrote:
> I am particularly concerned with the narrow definition of "community", "Internet community", "end user community" - or in fact as their lack of definition. Referring to the ICANN Bylaws, the ALAC's scope should be defined in a way that the "community' element would be accepted by legal rulings. Yet the ICC examiner's ruling is that the Community needs to be clearly delineated (as the AG asks) in such a narrow sense that the ALAC really does not represent anything or anyone. I am troubled that this interpretation is *exactly* the interpretation of the applicants who responded to the ALAC's objection by challenging the ALAC itself.
> (whether this is ethical or not, I don't blame them for it, it is entirely fair game - play the system you're given and make use of its flaws)
I’m not up to speed enough to comment on ALAC’s role in the gTLD Dispute Resolution Procedure, but I do have something I’d like to say about the broader issue of community in context. I’m gong to begin with a quote from Edward Snowden as an accurate expression of a first principle of community development, "Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.” It is wrong headed to come into a community as an outsider, expecting that you are going to be of help. A community development activist should merely intend to inform the process of a community’s decision-making differently.
On November 8, 2013, following the IGF in Bali, Fadi Chehadé hosted a webinar on Internet governance titled, “Conversation opportunity with ICANN Senior Executives.” He wanted to discuss recent Internet governance developments - specifically the background and context of the I-Star discussions that led to the Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation, the plans for a broader Internet stakeholder meeting in Brazil in March 2014, and ICANN’s partnership role in those efforts. In the webinar chat box, I asked him a question. “Since a thing becomes what you call it, was ICANN's adoption of ISOC's expression, ‘Internet Governance ecosystem’ a conscious attempt to re-frame the global language of debate? Nation states don't strategize in terms of ecosystems.”
In his answer, Chehadé zoned in on the part of the phrase he felt was most critical to ICANN’s strategy and the success of the Montevideo Statement – the defense of the multistakeholder model. After a pause, he replied, “we believe the term is the right term. It encompasses the stakeholders, those who need to involved in Internet governance, better than other terms.” But there are consequences that flow from framing terminology on governance by reference to ecosystems. To me, his answer indicates that ICANN is not as particularly aware of them as ISOC seems to be.
I am not opposing the multistakeholder model so much as noting that the definition of community and community online has a far greater significance than is being recognized. To briefly summarize a difficult and complex argument about the nature of change in contexts, the principles of interdependence and self-organization structuring the governance of complex adaptive systems like communities and the Internet Governance ecology are different from the mechanistic principles structuring a conventional view of governance.
As many on this list are aware, the Community Informatics “community,” in its efforts to gain representation in the Brazil meeting process, recently took a significant step into occupying that ecology zone. In their Community Informatics Declaration, “An Internet for the Common Good - Engagement, Empowerment, and Justice for All,” they took a step towards reframing the Internet Governance ecology discussion by bringing community back into it. The Declaration includes the following two statements:
1. “We aspire to an Internet effectively owned and controlled by the communities that use it and to Internet ownership that evolves through communities federated regionally, nationally and globally. The Internet's role as a community asset, a public good and a local community utility is more important than its role as a site for profit-making or as a global artifact. The access layer and the higher layers of applications and content should be community owned and controlled in a way that supports a rich ecology of commercial enterprises subject to and serving community and public interests.”
2. “A just and equitable Internet provides … Recognition that the local is a fundamental building block of all information and communications and the "global" is a "federation of locals."
However Community Informatics only makes it part way with those two statements. Their action to seek representation is not within the framework or context of those two statements, and means that they are acquiescing to a zero-sum game. Even if the Community Informatics Community wins its battle to be represented, the troika of government, business and civil society that frames the understanding of governance now will still be framing the spaces where the federation of locals struggles to breath.
But I do see that phrase, “the global is a federation of locals,” as the beginnings of a recognition that community online as a complex adaptive system and Internet Governance ecology are two facets of the gem of an emerging shift in epistemology. In summary, ALAC’s role as an intervener in the ICANN community of communities is a community development role. What’s an ALAC for if not to inform the way that ICANN understands the role of community in the way the world works now – as a federation of locals?
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