ISOC, Civil Society Unhappy With NETmundial Initiative – “Not Consistent With Democracy”

In a statement issued last Sunday, the Internet Society (ISOC) has declared it “cannot agree to participate in or endorse the Coordination Council for the NETmundial Initiative”. The initiative was also criticised in a separate statement by the civil society group Just Net Coalition who stated “such initiatives are not consistent with democracy”. The move was described as a “a ‘UN Security Council’ for the internet – which would rule over the online world” by Kieren McCarthy.The NETmundial Initiative ISOC notes is different from the one-time NETmundial meeting that ISOC participated in in April 2014. ISOC endorsed the outcomes of that meeting. “This new and different NETmundial Initiative has been organised by the partnership of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the World Economic Forum (WEF). This announcement has resulted in considerable discussion and concern amongst various stakeholders regarding the purpose, scope, and nature of the proposed activity or organisation.”ISOC is “concerned that the way in which the NETmundial Initiative is being formed does not appear to be consistent with the Internet Society’s longstanding principles, including:

  • Bottom-up orientation
  • Decentralised
  • Open
  • Transparent
  • Accountable
  • Multi-stakeholder.”

The Just Net Coalition is equally critical, saying the “Net Mundial Initiative opens a new chapter in global governance. This is the first time that such a corporate-led venue – although sold as multistakeholder, open, and voluntary, among others – is positioned as being ‘the’ mechanism for global governance in a specific sector. In fact it is being openly and explicitly positioned as a direct replacement for existing UN based governance models, which are routinely the subject of harsh critiques by some of the NMI proponents.””The Just Net Coalition rejects out of hand the transfer of global governance prerogatives to corporate led initiatives such as the NMI, because such initiatives are not consistent with democracy. It additionally has grave concerns at the abandonment of traditional values of democracy and social justice as some civil society organisations are apparently choosing to enthusiastically enter into this unseemly collaboration with global corporate and other elites as represented most clearly by the World Economic Forum and their annual gathering of the 1% in Davos.”For more on the criticisms see the ISOC statement here and the Just Net Coalition statement here. Kieren McCarthy has written in The Register on the ISOC statement here.