Monthly Archives: August 2010

The 5th GigaNet Symposium

Over the past few months I had the pleasure of working with a great group of people on planning the next symposium of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network.  The final program is now available online and I am also posting it below.   I think it will be a very interesting day and if you are interested in internet governance, you should definitely try to participate (there should be options for remote participation announced soon).

I have more Internet Governance Forum related updates, which I will post soon.  In the meantime, here is the program of the symposium, which will take place on September 13th:

9:00-9:15 Opening

9:15-10:30 PANEL 1: Internet governance theory and issue

Moderador: William Drake, Centre for International Governance of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva

  • Peng Hwa Ang and Natalie Pang. Going Beyond Talk: Can International Internet Governance Work?
  • Everton Lucero. Global Governance of Critical Internet Resources: A Perspective from the South
  • Jean-marie Chenou. Multistakeholderism or elitism ? The creation of a transnational field of Internet governance

10:30-11:00 Poster session and coffee break

11:00-12:15 PANEL 2: State power and Internet governance

Moderator: Rolf Webber , European Law Institute and the Center for Information and Communication Law at the University of Zurich

  • Joanna Kulesza. State responsibility for acts of cyber-terrorism
  • Jeremy Shtern. Models of Global Internet Governance and the Projection of State Power: The Case of Facebook and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
  • Lorena Jaume-Palasi and Ben Wagner. Nosy preferences of Google and China: Modelling an internet governance conflict using Amartya Sen’s liberal paradox

12:15-12:30 Sponsorship slot

12:30-13:30 Lunch – Sponsored by MIT Press. Welcome speech given by William Drake, editor of the MIT Press series on “The information revolution and global politics” and Milton Mueller, author of the newly released book, “Networks and States: the Global Politics of Internet Governance.”

13:30-14:45         PANEL 3: Interaction of technology, operations and governance

Moderator: Meryem Marzouki, LIP6/PolyTIC – CNRS

  • Brenden Kuerbis. Securing Internet routing: Influence and control of critical Internet resources through social networks and delegation
  • Dmitry Epstein, Qiu-Hong Wang, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Milton Mueller. What’s in the name? A behavioral study of the use of the URLs in China and the US
  • Laura DeNardis. The Privatization Of Internet Governance

14:45-15:45         PANEL 4: IGF practice, multistakeholderism and emerging issues

  • Nanette Levinson. Evaluating and Analyzing Collaboration In Cross-cultural and Cross-sectoral Perspective: Indicators from The Internet Governance Forum
  • Ivar Alberto Hartmann. Universal Access policies and Internet Access as a Fundamental Right: The Constitutional Law Perspective informed by the Brazilian Case.

15:45-16:00         Closing

16:00-16:30         Poster session and coffee break

16:30                    GigaNet Business meeting

POSTER SESSION:

  • Charlotte Bogusz. Openness and Privacy v/ Security : The example of filtering measures.2
  • Charlotte Bogusz. The promotion of the general interest through ICTs : The French and Senegalese examples
  • Daniel Oppermann. Analysing cybercrime from a multistakeholder perspective
  • Luiz Costa. The Internet and the Constitutional restrictions on foreign participation in Brazilian Media
  • Luiz Costa. A case study on the Brazilian E-Commerce Forum
  • Mona Badran. Is internet changing the social life of Egyptian college students and affecting their privacy?
  • Rolf H. Weber. Policies for Governing Critical Internet Resources
  • Shawn Gunnarson. Securing ICANN’s Accountability
  • Sofiane Bouhdiba. Internet governance and Education: the Tunisian Virtual University in the context of the Tunis agenda

Is it the time to lobby?

It’s been quiet on this blog for a while, so I decided to share an observation based on some conversations I recently had at one of the Internet governance meetings.  The conversations were about ICT companies and the point was that while Western companies are extremely enthusiastic about emerging markets, they do not consider their regulatory systems with the same rigor as they do in the developed world.  In other words, while in the developed countries these companies invest considerable resources in working with the governments and lobbying, in the developing countries their efforts are primarily in marketing.  Even when they do work with governments, it is mostly done through the marketing departments where the governments are viewed primarily as costumers, less as regulators.

I heard similar observations from a number of industry players and also from a government official.  I listened and “filed” these observations, but they were  brought back to life with the recent explosion of the BlackBerry story.  You may know that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and now also India and a number of other countries, are threatening to ban BlackBerry unless RIM allows them access to the encrypted email data of BlackBerry users, stored on the company’s servers.  India gave RIM an ultimatum until the end of the month to comply and the rumor is that the Indian government has similar plans for Google, Skype, and perhaps others.

I wonder how did RIM find itself in such a situation?  Will other global technological companies find themselves in a similar situation soon too?  Peter Svensson writes in Washington Post today:

“Threats by the governments of India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to shut down BlackBerry’s corporate e-mail services reflect unease about a technology that the U.S. government also took a while to accept.  The foreign governments are essentially a decade behind in coming to terms with encryption, a technology that’s fundamental to the Internet as a medium of commerce. (…) RIM, the company behind the BlackBerry, doesn’t have years to wait for foreign governments to adopt the more relaxed U.S. stance toward encryption.”

I assume Svensson is right about his historical perspective; after all, writing about this is his bread an butter.  At the same time, given that all the governments currently having an issue with BlackBerry are in developing countries, I think he is missing the point made by the people I talked to about the Western companies’ attitudes to the emerging markets’ governments.

It did not take the US government years to figure out its stand on encryption on its own.  On the contrary, this position is a result of years of dialogue, argument, and debates between the government and the various interest groups, primarily the industry, through its lobbying activities, and the civil society.  We can see a similar discussion taking place these days around the issue of net neutrality.

It seems to me that until the RIMs, Googles, and Skypes of this world won’t take the regulators in the developing world as seriously as they take the governments back home, we will continue seeing more “BlackBerry” cases.  Until the multinational MICT companies will not engage in a meaningful  way with the local governments in the emerging markets, the barriers to their activities there will continue growing and become more sophisticated, especially when it comes to such a politicized area as information.

So, I wonder if it is the time for these companies to start lobbying in the developing world just the way they are lobbying here.  While I am aware of the potentially harmful influences of lobbying, it is an integral part of the policymaking mechanism and, for better or worse, it also has an educational impact on the policymakers.  At the end of the day, usually those are the governments that are catching up with technology, while the industry is ahead of the curve.

What do you think?  Is it the time to lobby?