Re: [apnic-talk] IG discussion in AMM

    • To: Andy Linton <asjl at lpnz dot org>, "apnic-talk at lists dot apnic dot net" <apnic-talk at lists dot apnic dot net>
    • Subject: Re: [apnic-talk] IG discussion in AMM
    • From: Tony Smith <tony at apnic dot net>
    • Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:50:14 +0000
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      • Hi Andy,

        Thanks for your contribution on this subject (and apologies for the delayed response).  Was literally about to hit send on this when I just saw your other related email come in - but figured you would want this response first.

        We're glad this discussion is happening and hope it continues to evolve constructively so APNIC members can better understand and feel better served by the different activities being done around this topic (a list of some of those was included in a previous message from Paul).

        As Paul has said, APNIC has been involved in "Internet governance" even before this term became known or widely used. The NRO contribution to NETmundial that you refer in your message starts by saying that the RIRs accept the "working definition" of Internet governance accepted in 2005 during the WSIS process. This definition is:

        "Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet."

        As I mentioned in my response to Masato earlier, the policy development process of APNIC, for example, fits well under this definition, as do many of the activities that we do as a registry.

        We agree it is really timely that we are having these discussions about the value of this activity at as time when the US Government has just announced its intent to transition their historical oversight role with IANA, from a single government into the Internet community through a multistakeholder process.  

        This is something that APNIC, with full support from the EC, and considering our membership fully, has worked hard to help to achieve through different consultation processes - including at the last IGF in our region, at the last ICANN meetings, at APNIC meetings, email list discussions, and open sessions including the one where you, Masato and several other Members expressed views.

        While APNIC would by no means make a fanciful claim that the US Govt's announcement is our doing, APNIC has contributed its advice and knowledge along with many other organisations to help achieve this milestone.  If we are looking for a return on the investment, this is certainly a considerable one.  While the pace of these developments may often be glacial - the USG announcement is 10+ years in the making - we have been patient, as we believe the rewards of an Internet which continue to develop based on community agreement is worth it.

        As I said to Masato, I understand that the communications around these topics needs to be clearer we will work hard to communicate clearly on governance issues so the message and value is more easily understood.  I would be happy to receive your input too in this effort to bring the discussions closer to the members if you wish.  Thanks

        Kind regards

        From: Andy Linton <asjl at lpnz dot org>
        Date: Sunday, 16 March 2014 1:00 pm
        To: "apnic-talk at lists dot apnic dot net" <apnic-talk at lists dot apnic dot net>
        Subject: Re: [apnic-talk] IG discussion in AMM

        I'm also pleasantly surprised that Masato-san opened this discussion at the AMM recently. I say pleasantly surprised because I wasn't aware that he had these strong views on this issue and also because a number of others had strong enough concerns to raise their voices in support at the meeting and afterwards.

        I've had concerns about the scope creep of the "Internet Governance" aspect of the activities of a number of Internet bodies such as the RIRs, ICANN and, in New Zealand, InternetNZ and its subsidiaries.

        APNIC started 20 years ago and has grown enormously since then. Much of its growth has moved far from of its original mission of managing address space for the AP region. Some of that change is right and proper and some of it has happened without this community having proper input into the process.

        When Masato raised his concerns, I decided to support him at the meeting even though I hadn't completely thought through my position on this. I'm not backing away from anything I said there but I'd like to go over some of the things and try and make things clearer.

        I have a complicated relationship with APNIC. I have been involved in some form since it started. I've contracted to APNIC, I've worked for resource holders (and still do) and I currently chair the Policy SIG. I care about the work APNIC does but I believe that if I see things that are wrong I should speak up.

        So what's the problem with Internet Governance? I think the real problem I have is that I don't know what it is. I've hunted around for some definitions I can use. For example, the NRO used this definition in its recent submission to the upcoming  NETmundial -

        The subject of Internet Governance is the Internet as we know it and its core values, including a set of essential evolutionary and identifiable, technical, operational and organizational features which have been critical to its success.

        This document then goes on with:

        âThe subject of Internet Governance discussions is the Internet as we know it and its core valuesâ

        "the Internet as we know it and its core values"? Really? I suggest that can mean just about anything you want it to.

        The document then makes several recommendations including:
        • a renewal of current IGF arrangements for a further 10 years 
        • The IGF must continue as a ânon-bindingâ forum, and produce useful outputs
        • The IGF needs to evolve and be strengthened
        •  Further improvement of the IGF requires a strong, stable Secretariat, with the human and financial resources to effectively meet a range of administrative tasks, including IGF site selection, negotiation with hosts, design of the event, funding and fundraising, reporting, planning and resourcing.
        So I think it's very timely for this organisation to be really clear about what commitment it is making to this idea.

        That's the NRO position which is what *all* the RIRs have agreed to. Paul Wilson talked in his session at the AMM about substituting the term Internet Cooperation for Internet Governance and he showed us a slide that had these points:
        • APNIC recognizes and affirms the multistakeholder nature of Internet coordination, cooperation, and governance
        • APNIC supports the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as the agreed venue for these matters to be advanced
        • The healthy functioning and evolution of the IGF is important to APNIC
        So what do we mean by "multistakeholder"? It gets used a lot - from the Montevideo statement:
        • They identified the need for ongoing effort to address Internet Governance challenges, and agreed to   towards the evolution of global multistakeholder Internet cooperation.
        There are also high sounding phrases like "address IG challenges" and "catalyze community-wide efforts".

        We hear about "transparency" and yet this community has little idea about exactly what all this involves apart from the apparent endless travel by senior members of APNIC to endless meetings where high minded but meaningless statements. My big concern with all of this is that the so called Internet Governance multistakeholders meet on a regular basis, with many of the same faces every time as the caravan progresses from IGF to NETMundial to ICANN to RIR meeting and so on, and tell each other what a great job they're doing of protecting the net. In the meantime, governments are enacting laws allowing spying on citizens, diluting net neutrality legislation, removing safe harbour provisions and so on. 

        Our community's decision making process is supposed to be bottom up and consensus driven. This model looks much more like top down and "we'll decide what's best and let you know".

        And other critical tasks that APNIC should be driving like IPv6 adoption languish. Perhaps the many hundreds of thousands of dollars APNIC spends on IG should be focussed on engaging with major industries at the CEO level explaining the business risks of not having a future proof addressing strategy. We may do that - I'd like to see the reports.

        So let's have a real debate on whether whether this is a good use of resources. I say it's not.