Analyzing public submissions to CWG-Internet online consultation

With only two days left for submissions to the ITU’s Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) online consultation, there have been 10 submissions received so far. The vast majority of words come from the three contributions by Richard Hill, ex-ITU staff member. In total, his almost 13,000 words make up a fraction over 59% of the 17,500 words received to date.

Below is a summary of contributions, including small biographies on contributors for context:

Issue 1: effectively countering and combatting spam

There have been two submissions:

1. Submission by Richard Hill, Hill & Associates, Switzerland

Richard Hill was Counsellor to the ITU for ten years and has now started the Association for Proper Internet Governance (with the rather unfortunate acronym, APIG). On 8 July this year, Hill chaired an ITU workshop on spam in South Africa. It is only on this first issue of spam that Richard Hill submits under the name “Hill and Associates”. For Hill’s remaining two—and significantly longer—submissions, he uses his “APIG” designation. It’s unclear why this is the case.

Hill’s first submission focuses on ITU documentation related to combatting spam:

He also refers to the Internet Society’s web page documenting ways to fight spam.

Discussion of human rights issues also creeps into the submission, reflecting how deeply embedded human rights rhetoric has become in all things Internet-related these days. Hill refutes that the ITR Article dealing with spam—the Article previously known as 5B, but renamed Article 7 in the post-WCIT editing process (let’s just call it “the Article formerly known as Prince“, shall we?)—could lead to restrictions on freedom of speech. He also refutes the other criticism aimed at the Article—that it strays into content management—by explaining that it specifically refers only to technical anti-spam measures.

2. Submission by Sami Salih, NTC, Sudan

Sami Salih has participated as a representative of the Sudan government in the ITU’s IPv6 Group and WCIT, and has also participated in AfriNIC meetings.

Salih’s submission is only one paragraph long. He refers to Article 5B (now known as “Article 7”) of the ITRs and suggests all stakeholders be asked to “adopt policies to minimize the impact of spam on the ICT services”.

Issue 2: (a) unused legacy IPv4 addresses, and (b) inter-region transfers of IPv4 addresses

The fact that this issue has been included in the consultation after having already been discussed in the ITU’s IPv6 Group is significant. So is the fact that there have been four submissions to the online consultation process in response to this issue. Clearly, there are still strong views about the best way to manage the rapidly depleting puddles of IPv4 as the Internet moves slowly into the IPv6 world.

1. Submission by Tim McGinnis, McTim Consulting, United States of America

Tim McGinnis is a member of the Internet technical community and participates in development of IP addressing policies in the Regional Internet Registry system.

McGinnis refers the CWG-Internet members to IANA policy document ICP-2, Criteria for Establishment of New Regional Internet Registries, and suggests that the IP address issues up for online consultation are out of scope for the ITU.

2. Submission by Jan Flodin, Internet Society Sweden Chapter, Sweden

Jan Flodin is policy advisor to .SE and Chair of the ISOC-SE board.

Flodin notes the online consultation is the CWG-Internet’s first towards openness but regrets that the limited context in which the consultation issues are presented makes it difficult to know if ISOC-SE’s response addresses the issues CWG-Internet members had in mind. Flodin notes that there has been “extensive work done on policy development and procedures by existing multi-stakeholder forums, including the Regional Internet Registries” and that to “interfere with this working allocation system would do more harm than good”. Instead, he suggests focusing on the transition to IPv6.

3. Submission by Sami Salih, NTC, Sudan

Salih’s intent appears to have been obscured a little by writing in English, a language that is not his first language. So I apologize in advance if I misunderstand his original intent. Salih expresses his belief that the Internet community needs to support developing nations to develop their ICT sectors. In relation to IP addressing, this can be achieved by ensuring the 40% of unused IPv4 addresses are returned to the free pool. Salih believes that it is not acceptable to hold back Internet resources from developing nations.

4. Submission by Richard Hill, APIG, Switzerland

Hill frames the slow transition to IPv6 as a “standardization failure” rather than a “market failure”. He doesn’t recommend any particular solution, but does leave Member States with three things to consider:

  • “[I]f it is felt that the relatively slow rate of transition to IPv6 simply reflects market and economic realities, then there is no need for government intervention apart from the current awareness and capacity building efforts”
  • “[I]f it is felt that the relatively slow transition to IPv6 perpetuates the historical geographical imbalances in IP address allocation, then some consideration could be given to taking steps to expropriate under-utilized IPv4 blocks and moving towards geographical allocation of recovered space, even perhaps to national allocation of the recovered space”
  • “[I]t has been suggested that the increasing concentration of IP address allocations may indicate some abuse of dominant market positions, so competition authorities may wish to consider this matter”

In his main text and reference notes, refers to a number of ITU documents and activities, including:

The submission also refers to blog posts by the “well respected technologist”, Geoff Huston, and a smattering of articles in academic journals.

Issue 3: developmental aspects of the Internet

There have been three submissions on this issue:

1. Submission by Poncelet Ileleji, The Gambia YMCA Computer Training Centre and Digital Studio, The Gambia

Poncelet Ileleji participates in the Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns (NPOC) constituency (part of the ICANN GNSO), is a member of the Diplo Internet Governance Community, and has participated in the West Africa IGF and global IGF. He participated as the sole representative of Gambia at WCIT in 2012.

Ileleji recommends in his submission that ITU can help Member States understand the importance of having national Internet Governance Forums. He also notes that such forums are not decision-making forums.

2. Submission by David Sarokin, XooxleAnswers Research, United States of America

I could find very little on David Sarokin’s background. His LinkedIn page says he is an Online Business Writer and Research Specialist. He doesn’t appear to have participated in ITU activities in the past. Nor does he seem to have been a participant in any of the various forums and organizations that address Internet governance issues.

Sarokin’s submission is a good example of what happens when the description of an issue in an online consultation is unclear. Sarokin’s submission—a proposal to create a new protocol that supports permanent, unchanging links to documents, video and images on the Internet—interprets Issue 3 as being related to Internet technical development rather than about efforts to bring Internet infrastructure, content and the benefits of the Internet to developing parts of the world. I don’t think this submission is what the Member States were expecting, and hopefully will encourage them to be more specific in their calls for online contributions in future.

3. Submission by Richard Hill, APIG, Switzerland

Ten thousand words. A list of eighty references. As an aside, it’s slightly odd that, in the main text, Hill doesn’t refer to authors of the documents he refers to. Instead, he uses general descriptions: “a well respected academic” (Milton Mueller) and “a well-known Internet technologist” (Geoff Huston) being the most frequent.

This is a tome. Due to the nature of its contents, it’s also the submission most likely to encourage members of the Internet governance community to decide to submit something of their own to the CWG-Internet online consultation.

The title of the piece, “Developmental Aspects of the Internet: The Last Gasp of Colonialism, or Imperialism by Other Means?”, is a good indication of its content. Because I’m rushing to get this post out in time to allow people to hopefully write last minute submissions to the CWG-Internet, my summary of Hill’s 10,000 word submission is necessarily brief and may not accurately reflect the weight Hill himself gives to the issues in his document.

The submission refers to criticism about ICANN (including the assertion that ICANN was never created to be a multistakeholder entity), distrust about the USA’s role in Internet governance in the wake of PRISM revelations and discussions on the financial implications of international Internet traffic arrangements for developing countries. Hill suggests that the current Internet governance model can be seen as a new form of “techno-imperialism”, with the US government and private companies using the multistakeholder model to extend the USA’s economic and political authority well beyond its territorial boundaries.

Hill proposes a few ways to move the current Internet governance model forward, which I have included in shortened form below:

  1. “Accept the discussion, rather than refuse it (WCIT and WTPF both provide good examples of refusal to discuss the situation, as do numerous other meetings)”
  2. “Accept discussion of the fundamental issues, rather than peripheral issues on which there isn’t much disagreement (for example, at WTPF there was much discussion of the role of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) but no discussion of the Internet financial flow issues”
  3. “Accept comparison with other infrastructures, in particular the mobile telephone infrastructure”
  4. “Seek an agreement that gives equal rights to all countries, that is, address the current asymmetric role of the US government”
  5. Go “back to the future”: “[develop] a multi-stakeholder multi-lateral memorandum of understanding similar to the one originally proposed in 1997

Hill ends his submission with “As suggested elsewhere, the ITU would appear to be a proper forum in which to conduct some of those discussions”.

4. Submission by Mawaki Chango, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Cote d’Ivoire

Mawaki Chango has participated in the ICANN GNSO, the IGF and has worked as a consultant for UNESCO. The APC is an active civil society participant in Internet governance discussions.

Chango notes that there is still much to be done to bring down the cost of Internet access for African users. He is pleased to note, however, that the ITU, in one of its WTPF Opinions, recognized the work being done to create and support Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and local content. Chango suggests that the ITU work in synergy with the African Union to support the region’s efforts to develop Africa’s Internet infrastructure. Chango also recommends that Member States move towards new and more dynamic regulatory approaches in their management and allocation of radio spectrum.

Chango also suggests that ITU members consider gender balance and universal access issues when deploying Internet infrastructure.

In relation to future public policy related discussion, Chango states that APC welcomes initiatives by the ITU, such as the CWG-Internet online consultation and the WPTF Informal Experts Group, and, for the future APC seeks a “clear and stable Internet-related public policy-making framework that ensures:

  • Public policy development can be initiated by state actors as well as non-state actors;
  • All stakeholders, regardless of the originator of the policy proposal, co-develop public policy, on equal footing, with all proposals and views to be weighed on their merit;
  • Balanced representation between and within stakeholder groups, across the five UN regions, and with best effort towards equal distribution between developing and developed countries.
  • Input and engagement of stakeholders via a well-facilitated remote participation platform”

General impressions of submissions made to date

1. A bit too much ITU navel gazing

Five of the submissions were made by two people with a substantial level of participation in the ITU environment. These five submissions also refer to a lot of ITU documents, many of which are unavailable to non-ITU members.

2. Lack of information about the breadth of work already underway to address the three issues

I suspect that when supporters of the CWG-Internet open consultation were drafting the text of this first open consultation, they were hoping for input about non-ITU activities, discussions, information and processes on the issues up for consultation. Right now, what the members of the CWG-Internet have from the online consultation is really no different to the sorts of Member State contributions they would be reading had there never been an open consultation.

I’ll be honest here. When I talk about “the breadth of work already underway to address the three issues”, I’m not saying that processes outside ITU have solved, or will solve, all the public policy issues associated with IPv4 transfers, spam, or developmental challenges. But unless CWG-Internet members have access to information about positive activities to address these issues, we certainly can’t blame various Member States for continuing to fear that gaps in Internet policy will get wider and more problematic and that intergovernmental organizations alone are interested in solving the issues.

Right now, the contributions to the CWG-Internet online consultation show little of the wonderful diversity of actions that have been taken, are underway, or are under development to address the three issues of concern to the CWG.

What next?

The deadline for submissions is 1 August 2013. I suspect more submissions will slip in just before the deadline (probably just before 5 pm Geneva time). I’ve heard that at least a couple of other submissions are in the works as I write this.

Now that there are ten submissions available for all to read, I’d like to think that other organizations might now have a better idea of what sorts of submissions they can make.

I’d also like to think that the contents of the current ten submissions could prompt other organizations to write brief submissions to the CWG-Internet, either to support the sentiments in one or more of the submissions, or to express contrasting views on the issues. (I’ve previously blogged on the CWG-Internet consultation and included a proposed template here.)

Finally, I really hope that remaining contributions focus less on references to ITU documents and more on external sources of information that the CWG-Internet members probably don’t know exist and would be interested to learn more about.

Let’s show the CWG-Internet there’s public interest in their work

Only a few weeks ago, the ITU Council 2013 had a long debate over whether it was appropriate to open the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) to non-government stakeholders. The conclusion of that debate was they would have to wait until ITU Plenipotentiary 2014 in Busan, 20 October – 7 November 2014, to discuss any potential changes to the Guadalajara version of Resolution 102, which started the CWG.

In the meantime, however, the first ever open online consultation conducted by the CWG-Internet is about to close on 1 August 2013.

Any stakeholder can submit responses to the three following topics that the CWG is seeking further information on:

  • Issue 1: Consultation on effectively countering and combatting spam.
    The Council Working Group on International Internet-Related Public Policy Issues invites all stakeholders to provide input on international public policy issues related to effectively countering and combatting spam.
  • Issue 2: Consultation on international public policy issues concerning IPv4 addresses.
    The Council Working Group on International Internet-Related Public Policy Issues invites all stakeholders to provide input on international public policy issues related to (a) unused legacy IPv4 addresses, and (b) inter-region transfers of IPv4 addresses.
  • Issue 3: Consultation on developmental aspects of the Internet.
    The Council Working Group on International Internet-Related Public Policy Issues invites all stakeholders to provide input on international public policy issues related to developmental aspects of the Internet.

Given the interest so many non-government stakeholders had in the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and the Fifth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-13), you’d probably expect the CWG-Internet consultation to be inundated with responses, yes? Well, actually, in reality, the answer is “no”.

Since the open consultation opened in February this year, it has received exactly four responses. And not a single one of those four responses are from any of the Internet-related organizations that have pushed so hard to be able to participate in ITU’s Internet-related activities. It’s a little perplexing.

Why the lack of response to CWG-Internet’s Online Consultation?

Having asked a number of people why their organizations aren’t responding to the online consultation, I’ve heard two main responses:

  1. The information about the online consultation topics is very vague.
    Probably the worst offender here is Issue 3, which asks for input on international public policy issues related to “developmental aspects of the Internet.” With a topic is so broad, people don’t have a clue how to begin framing a response to it.
  2. There are so many Internet governance related processes underway, that organizations are losing the capacity to respond to all of the processes.
    In the first half of this year, we’ve had UNESCO’s WSIS+10 review, ITU’s WTPF (plus its final Informal Experts Group meeting in February), the WSIS Forum, the formation of the CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC), two IGF preparatory meetings, an ICANN meeting, Regional Internet Registry meetings, and much, much more. The ever-expanding Internet governance calendar is growing at such a rate that it’s not just developing country stakeholders that have trouble following it all. Even the best-resourced stakeholders are having difficulties fitting in all these consultations with their actual day-to-day work.

Why it’s important that stakeholders do respond

Despite the very understandable reasons stakeholders haven’t responded to the CWG-Internet consultation, it’s vital that we do have a decent response rate to the consultation.

If we don’t respond, then it gives the governments who have a “let’s keep the CWG-Internet closed” stance a fantastic argument for keeping the status quo. After all, if the community shows no interest in interacting with the CWG-Internet even when the CWG-Internet has asked for submissions, what could possibly be achieved by opening up the CWG’s meetings?

Instead, we need to help bolster the case for opening the CWG-Internet by showing that non-government stakeholders do have something very important to contribute to the governments’ work on international public policy issues related to the Internet. By providing submissions to the online consultation, we can support the ongoing efforts of governments who have been trying to open the CWG-Internet.

A template to help stakeholders respond to the online consultation

To make it easy for stakeholders to respond to the online consultation in the short time that remains, below is a proposed structure for responses to CWG-Internet:

  1. Thank the CWG-Internet for seeking input from the larger community.
    Your organization understands that the members of the CWG-Internet are discussing a very wide range of international public policy issues related to the Internet. As it’s unreasonable to expect that government representatives in the CWG-Internet are experts in all areas under discussion, your organization welcomes the CWG-Internet’s recognition that it needs the input of subject matter experts in specific Internet-related fields.
  2. Explain what your organization is and why it can help the CWG-Internet with its work.
    Don’t overdo the introduction to your organization, but do explain why you have expertise or interest in one or all of the three issues CWG-Internet is seeking input on. Do give links to, or append, any documents you have produced on the issues CWG-Internet is interested in.
  3. Note that, unfortunately, it’s not possible to give specific advice to the CWG-Internet given the overly broad parameters of the consultation, but welcome the opportunity to respond to more specific questions from the CWG-Internet.
    Including this will help pro-“open the CWG” governments argue for the need to make CWG-Internet’s documents available to non-government members, even if we can’t get the CWG-Internet meetings opened. By offering to answer any specific questions the CWG-Internet has on the issues they have sent to open consultation, we can hopefully get a more meaningful and informed dialogue happening between governments in the CWG-Internet and the wider ecosystem of Internet governance stakeholders.
  4. Provide links to forums that are already discussing the issues CWG-Internet is interested in, and encourage them to engage with those forums.
    In the interests of “enhanced cooperation”, take the time to direct governments to organizations and forums that are already discussing the issues that are the subject of the online consultation. If there’s a page associated with the forum that explains how to participate, include a link to that, too.
  5. Thank the CWG-Internet again, and tell them you look forward to engaging with them in future to assist in their deliberations.
    If you’re feeling really bold, you may want to encourage the CWG-Internet to consider more direct interaction with your organization and other non-government stakeholders in future, via more open CWG-Internet modalities.

CWG-Internet discussions at ITU Council 2013

ITU Council 2013

Photo credit: ITU pictures via Flickr

After the divisive discussions about the ITU’s role in Internet issues at WCIT in December 2012, the harmony that appeared to reign at WTPF-13 in May this year signaled hope for better relations between governments and other stakeholders in future Internet governance discussions. The ITU Council 2013, however, held 11-21 June 2013, showed that there are still many speed bumps in the road ahead.

The CWG-Internet decision at ITU Council 2013

The issue was discussed on four separate occasions during the two-week council meeting: 13 June, 14 June, 19 June, and 20 June. There were five formal proposals related to the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) and the Chair of Council 2013 proposed two ways forward.

Ultimately, the decision on the CWG-Internet by the ITU Council 2013 was not to make a decision.

Instead, Member States informally accepted that the Secretary-General could, in his work to support ITU activities, energize the public consultations that the ITU Council 2012 agreed to adopt in Resolution 1344.

How the Secretariat-General will achieve this is not clear. However, it does seem very probable that the informal mechanism proposed by the Chair of Council 2013—that the Secretariat-General convene a meeting of an Informal Experts Group on the day prior to CWG-Internet meetings—will not be implemented. This is because Resolution 1344 requires a full month’s gap between when the public consultation period ends and when the CWG-Internet meets.

Please note that there was no resolution or decision related to this. Instead, there was simply informal acknowledgement that the Secretary-General will do something to encourage non-government stakeholder involvement in the existing open consultation process.

When is the next opportunity to open the CWG-Internet?

We now have to wait until the next ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14), 20 October-7 November 2014, for Member States to consider whether or not to open the Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy issues (CWG-Internet) to non-government stakeholders.

What can non-government stakeholders do in the meantime?

  • Ask your government to allow you to be part of its delegation to CWG-Internet meetings. This is in keeping with the Secretary-General’s statement on a multiple occasions that multistakeholderism can occur in ITU through multistakeholder composition of Member State delegations.
  • Ask your government to share the CWG-Internet documents with you. If you’re particularly public-spirited, be one of the lovely souls who sends them to WCITleaks so others can read them, too.
  • Respond to the CWG-Internet online consultations. As of the time of writing this blog, only four responses have been received to the public consultation first announced in January. That’s less than one submission per month. Closing date for submissions is 1 August 2013. Respond, people!

More detail on what happened at ITU Council 2013

I have a habit of writing too much for a single blog post, so below are links to smaller sections, containing summaries and analysis on the CWG-Internet discussions that happened at ITU Council 2013:

Reflecting on what the Council decision means for the multistakeholder model

[This post is part of a series on the ITU Council 2013 discussions on CWG-Internet. To read from the beginning, go here.]

It’s all very well for pro-open CWG-Internet parties to use WTPF-13 as a shining example of multistakeholder participation, but in reality, the majority of multistakeholder participation happened in the preparatory Informal Experts Group (IEG) work and not at the WTPF-13 in May.

Photo credit: ITU pictures via Flickr

Photo credit: ITU pictures via Flickr

A number of States had, for various reasons, not participated in the three IEG meetings and, instead, expected WTPF-13 to follow the usual pattern of intergovernmental meetings: you turn up, you debate the proposed texts, you play around with square brackets, and make changes to the proposed texts until everyone is equally unhappy.

At WTPF-13, however, there was a strong push by governments who’d participated in the IEG process not to reopen debate on the carefully developed IEG consensus draft Opinions. Sure, remote participation was available for the IEG meetings, and many governments chose not to use it. The fact is, however, that in hindsight, WTPF-13 reinforced the main two opposing views held by governments in discussions about the Internet governance model:

  1. Multistakeholderism is effective in getting all views represented and included.
  2. Multistakeholderism benefits those with the money to participate while penalizing the developing world.

Those who participated in the IEG meetings tended to be the pro-multistakeholder crowd and were happy with the largely pro-multistakeholder text that came out of the IEG meetings.

Those who doubt the virtues of multistakeholderism tended to have skipped the IEG meetings, or, if they’d attended the IEG meetings, believed that IEG consensus texts could be reopened at WTPF-13. When those texts weren’t reopened in Geneva, they felt like their views had been excluded in a process that, ironically, was lauded for being “multistakeholder”.

Those holding the latter view were, quite understandably then, concerned that their last refuge of equality amongst governments, the CWG-Internet, might be opened. Given the rhetoric of multistakeholderism and its inclusion in the Tunis Agenda, however, it’s hard for States to openly reject multistakeholderism. Therefore, in the end, the formal proposals to open the CWG-Internet were defeated by the procedural issue of whether or not it was legal for the Council to change the contents of a Plenipotentiary resolution.

Of course, the Member States of the ITU will replay the CWG-Internet argument all over again in Busan during Plenipotentiary 2014. In Busan, however, there will be one major difference: the procedural arguments that defeated attempts to open the CWG-Internet, even on a limited trial basis, will no longer apply. The Plenipotentiary in 2014 will have the authority to update the resolutions made at Plenipotentiary 2010. The debate, therefore, is likely to focus on the value, or otherwise, of including non-government stakeholder participation in the CWG-Internet.

At this June’s ITU Council meeting, we caught a preview of the arguments that some Member States will probably use to keep the CWG-Internet closed during Plenipotentiary:

  • Multistakeholderism does not ensure equal representation of all views.
  • Multistakeholderism does not mean that individual stakeholder groups can’t hold their own (closed) meetings.
  • The Tunis Agenda states that each stakeholder group has a distinct role in Internet governance and “policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the sovereign right of States”.
  • There are lots of other forums that other stakeholder groups can participate in, both at the ITU and in the wider Internet governance landscape

The last argument is the weakest, so I won’t deal with it any further here. But the first three arguments merit further consideration. For now, though, I’ll only address the first argument. I’ll blog later on the second two arguments later.

Argument against opening CWG-Internet: “Multistakeholderism does not ensure equal representation of all views”

Photo credit: ITU pictures via Flickr

Photo credit: ITU pictures via Flickr

It’s true that multistakeholderism, as practised today, leads to an unbalanced representation of stakeholder views. I disagree, however, with the Member State representative who said at ITU Council 2013 that until the problems of multistakeholderism are fixed, it shouldn’t be invoked in the CWG-Internet. If we waited for perfection before doing anything, the Internet, and many other things we rely on, would still not exist. However, we shouldn’t passively accept the problems with multistakeholderism either. Instead, we should all be looking for ways to ensure there are no barriers, financial or otherwise, for participation by all stakeholders in multistakeholder settings.

Unbalanced multistakeholder participation isn’t a problem limited to ITU. We also see it in the so-called “I* organizations”: ICANN, ISOC, IAB, IETF, the RIRs and W3C. Yes, there has been much work by the I* organizations to enable participation through fellowships, remote participation, multilingualism and more. But is it enough? Could the I* organizations do more? Can the large companies who have benefitted from the Internet plough some of their profits to help less well-resourced stakeholders participate in Internet governance discussions? Could governments from developing countries work more closely with stakeholders in their own countries to ensure a wider range of views are included?

Finding ways for those with more resources to assist stakeholders with limited resources is about ensuring that the Internet ecosystem survives. If supporters of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance really want to ensure that the model thrives and grows—even to the point of opening up the CWG-Internet—then it’s vital to use a community-developed approach to making that model more effective.

It can be very easy to criticize an opponent’s point of view. We’ve seen many times over the years how pro-multistakeholder parties point out the deficits of a government-only model. (I’ve done this myself). And we’ve seen pro-government parties point out the deficits of the multistakeholder model.

The problem with this model is that in focusing on our opponent’s flaws, we forget to about our own flaws. Or, even worse, we work so hard to hide our flaws from our opponent, we are scared to even admit to ourselves that what we do is less than perfect. The risk in such an approach is that it can alienate our own supporters.

This is where organizations invoking multistakeholder practices must be careful today. We must acknowledge where multistakeholderism isn’t working so well and fix it. We must listen to those who criticize our practices and find ways either to explain the merits of those practices or to examine those practices to address their concerns.

Of course, not all criticisms will be legitimate. But we should never reject a criticism out of hand simply because we don’t like the overall philosophy of those who are making it. Multistakeholderism is about embracing a variety of views, even if they are different to our own.

Right now, a number of governments are concerned about embracing multistakeholderism because they see it as a messy process where the loudest and best-resourced voices continue to dominate. They have a point. If we want them to let us in the CWG-Internet room when they’re having discussions, then we also need to make sure they feel that they can participate on an equal footing with better resourced governments and other stakeholders in other venues too.

We should all work on improving multistakeholder practices to ensure that all stakeholder voices, particularly those who have found it difficult to participate, are included. If we can do this, then one of the major arguments against having multistakeholder processes for the CWG-Internet will disappear.

Finally, if we are truly committed to multistakeholderism, we should ensure that we demonstrate good multistakeholder etiquette when interacting with the ITU. And how better to do that than ensure the full diversity of stakeholders respond to the current CWG-Internet’s open consultation before it closes on 1 August 2013? With only four submissions received since the consultation opened in February, we’re currently doing a terrible job of demonstrating the existence of even the faintest multistakeholder interest in participating in the CWG-Internet’s activities.