[At-Large] Seeking roll back of the IGF Leadership Panel

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu Nov 25 10:15:04 UTC 2021

 Disclaimer: I have been to a few regional IGFs but never the global one. I
keep a relationship with the Internet Governance bubble and attempt to stay
informed, but remain at arms length because of the general detachment of
this bubble from society at large. These days I only get involved when
something really egregious happens that directly affects the public
interest, such as the PIR/EthosCapital fiasco. I will try to be as brief in
my point as possible, but there are many premises behind these conclusions.
And while I speak for myself, I have had many conversations with people I
trust who have come to similar conclusions to mine but just don't dare to
express it:

To those outside the bubble, IGF only had one job, but it was an important
one: Come up with one or more workable ideas for Internet Governance that
suffer neither the industry capture of ICANN and ISOC nor the state capture
of ITU. At this task, despite more than a decade offered, the IGF has only
been notable in its preference of talk over action. So if the IGF in its
current form can't execute the one thing it was trusted by the world to do,
it is only to be expected that those who created it may lose patience and
seek a different approach.

As a result ... I applaud the UNSG's exhaustion with the IGF status quo. I
am unsure whether his cure is worse than the disease, but there is a
disease, make no mistake, one whose main symptom appears to be entropy.
It's been nearly 20 years since WSIS with no discernable public benefit yet.

This letter asserts that the IGF's role is not to form consensus, which
perfectly illustrates the entropy and justifies the UNSG action. It
indicates that its participants prefer IGF to forever remain an elitist
talk shop among self-appointed experts. That's all well and good for those
inside that bubble who enjoy endless bickering as an end in itself, rather
than seeking action that would actually improve society. But clearly the
UNSG, correctly in my opinion, has determined that going forward "talk"
needs to eventually turn to "do". The IGF either needs to (a) reform itself
and its mandate into the more-difficult pursuit of outcomes, or (b) go off
in a virtual corner to talk amongst yourselves till the end of time,
finding another patron who will support that kind of thing, while putting
the reform that the IG world desperately needs now in the hands of others
ready to take on that role.

At very least the letter is highly ignorable in rejecting the UNSG proposal
without offering alternative reform. The status quo has expired. If you
don't provide an evolutionary path then your patron will do it for you.

Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
@evanleibovitch / @el56

On Wed, 24 Nov 2021 at 10:15, parminder via At-Large <
at-large at atlarge-lists.icann.org> wrote:

> Dear All,
> Please find enclosed a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General
> appealing to him to roll back the decision for an IGF Leadership Panel.
> The letter is co-signed by Dr Milton Mueller, on behalf  of the Internet
> Governance Project, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public
> Policy, and Parmider Jeet Singh, for IT for Change, and the Just Net
> Coalition.
> It is cc-ed to representatives of civil society and technical community
> groups requesting them to refrain from sending nominations for the IGF
> Leadership Panel, and thus legitimizing it.
> The letter argues how the IGF Leadership Panel militates against the basic
> idea, objectives and structure of the IGF, and will weaken it.
> Best, parminder
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