Feeds

Unseemly 'elitism' row rocks PrepCom3

Government-only meetings provoke ire

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Frustration with an elitist approach taken by governments at the crucial PrepCom3 meeting in Geneva boiled over yesterday.

In two strongly worded interventions, first the civil society and then the private sector condemned the decision taken in some meetings to exclude everyone but government officials.

Ayesha Hassan, representing a consortium of business interests calling itself the Coordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors (CCBI), later told us that the meetings were being run on an ad hoc basis - sometimes they were entitled to stay and speak; at others only observe; in some, they were banned from entering.

Both Ms Hassan and, earlier in the day, Ms Avri Doria, speaking as a civil society representative, pointed out two fundamental points: one, that the both civil society and the private sector had, and continue to have, an enormous influence on the internet’s success and future; and two, that their role has been explicitly recognised by the UN and is written numerous times into the very text being decided at the conference.

In an impassioned plea, Ms Doria stated that: "The decisions to exclude non-governmental stakeholders from meaningful participation in the drafting groups are not acceptable as a matter of principle." They were also breaking "fundamental conditions" and undermining the WSIS’ legitimacy, she said.

Ms Hassan drew a wider historical point. "In the case of the internet, multi-stakeholder participation is not just a political and moral commitment, it is an acknowledgment of the genius of people from around the world from every stakeholder group that have driven the internet’s growth.

"A lack of full and active participation in all phases of this process is thus not only inconsistent with WSIS’ commitment, it is a historic departure from how internet stakeholders have dealt with each other."

Her statement, which was loudly talked over by some in the room, was greeted with applause by those relegated to the fringes.

The entire WSIS process has come as something of a culture shock to many government officials who have been consistently stymied in their attempts to cut deals behind closed doors. With the UN stating time and again - and the US and European governments enforcing it - that a "multi-stakeholder" approach (meaning the inclusion of businesses and internet organisations) be taken, they have had little choice.

Earlier this week, several countries sought to exclude non-governmental observers, fearing a precedent would be set for future UN meetings. Hours of subsequent debate produced a series of options ranging from exclusion to full involvement. However, a vote was never taken, a consensus never reached and now the decision of whether or not to allow "observers" in is dependent on the general feeling in the room.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of meetings remain open, to the bemusement of some who have consistently asked this reporter how he got in.

It is unclear what governments fear from holding open meetings. Certainly the petty political squabbles could prove embarrassing if extensively reported on. And the general sense that they can’t speak freely if observed by "outsiders" is no more than cultural inertia. The reality is that the deals struck and the alliances made occur in corridors and phonecalls, not in front of a commission meeting.

The point made by civil society and private sector is a good one: we built a big chunk of the internet and if you want to produce a document that will hold up in future years, you will benefit from our knowledge. In one sense, both are superior delegates to WSIS meetings for the simple reason that their self-interest lies only in improving the internet.

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.