Knowledge Commons Statement on the High Level Committee iteration of the NetMundial Outcome Document

Knowledge Commons Statement on the latest iteration of the NetMundial Outcome Document

On 14 April 2014, the High Level Committee (HLC) of NetMundial published the latest version of the draft outcome document and has called for comments to be made by April 21, 2014.

This document has numerous changes to the draft document prepared by the Executive Stakeholder Committee, which Knowledge Commons has previously commented on.

Having read and analysed all 187 submissions made to the meeting, it is our considered view that the latest draft of the outcome document significantly waters down many of the progressive positions mentioned in the first iteration prepared by the Executive Stakeholder Committee.

First, The document does not adequately respond to and prohibit mass surveillance – which was one of the issues that prompted the call for this meeting in the first place.  The document has dropped reference to “necessary and proportionate” principles and does not prohibit the practices of targeting innocent civilians around the world of which Snowden has made us all aware

Second, the deletion of references to an international agreement to protect against cyber warfare is a serious concern. As more and more critical infrastructure resources around the world are maintained and operated through digital mechanisms, ensuring the security of these installations from targeted attacks is critical.  Such an agreement is the core business of governments.

Third, the document departs from accepted notions of multistakeholderism as notably enshrined in in the Tunis Agenda by recommending that all stakeholders be placed on an equal footing, irrespective of their roles and responsibilities. This turns the concept of representative democracy on its head by permitting those with financial interests to frustrate the will of legitimate and representative organisations.

Fourth, the document attempts to ensure accountability and transparency of multistakeholder organizations including by putting in place periodic reporting requirements. We continue to believe that there would be greater utility in clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders and specifying the elements of a minimum standard set of guidelines, operating procedures, or the identification of an entity to elaborate these modalities for multistakeholder fora.

Fifth, the document fails to recognize the need for a separation between policy processes and operational aspects of ICANN. We believe there is a need to ensure structures are put in place that can ensure public policy is framed in a legitimate, representative fashion.  It is essential that the role of governments within ICANN be spelt out and re-affirmed.

By watering down the language on transition on IANA functions and the restructured role of ICANN, we believe that the High Level Committee has missed an opportunity to ensure global pressure on the USA to relinquish control over a resource that is a global commons.

Knowledge Commons continues to believe that the NetMundial is an opportunity to recalibrate relationships in cyberspace – both between states and citizens as well as between states themselves – by protecting fundamental human rights, ensuring a greater internationalization of decision-making processes and establishing a more balanced and democratic model for how the benefits of the Internet are shared and governed. We urge for consensus to be reached on strengthening the outcome particularly on the five areas discussed above.

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