The last public meeting before the 46-member Advisory Board of the [tag]IGF[/tag] (Internet Governance Forum) meet for the first time has just ended in Geneva.
Sadly, I couldn’t go, and, even worse, I couldn’t get the live streaming to work despite digging into my computer’s guts and manually making it almost impossible not to work. However, the transcripts of the day (morning, afternoon) are already up on the Web, and I have given them a quick skim.
From what I’ve read – and I stress, I have only skimmed them – is looks pretty much as expected. And, sadly, the issue of “enhanced co-operation” i.e. not letting the Americans continue to run the Internet by themselves is still continuing to poison any international dicussions over the Net.
Masood Khan represented the G77 (actually G123, I think) — which is basically developing countries — *and* China. He pushed for an emphasis on, unsurprisingly, developing countries. He wants larger, cheaper Net access.
The Americans couldn’t really care less about that, all they want is a pro-business, low-government approach to the Net and most definitely no discussion about this whole Department of Commerce/[tag]ICANN[/tag]/IANA thing.
Which is precisely what the Brazilians most wanted to talk about, as ever. They did have a point though when they said: “How can we have an Internet Governance Forum that doesn’t discuss internet governance?”
They also made some sharp comments about ex-commerce secretary Michael Gallagher being on the Advisory Board, and noted how many people alligned with ICANN there were on the Board (which there are).
As ever, the path had to be cut by Nitin [tag]Desai[/tag], and it seems that he was impressed by the interaction at the We Media conference in London the other day – particularly by the level of interactions provided by blogs. In fact, Mr Desai mentioned blogs numerous times and how these views could and should be pulled into the whole process.
I think Desai has realised that the more information pulled in from the wider community on the Net, the less friction there will be, the more people will take part, the more will actually be achieved and – most crucially – the smaller the emphasis on Internet power politics.
But he had to concede – for what much be the 10th time with respect to Internet meetings – that there was a long way to go.
I note that alot of the afternoon session was taken up by the Greeks explaining what they had in the place for the inaugural IGF meeting in October/November. I suspect this may have been because there wasn’t much else to be discussed. Everyone is waiting for the closed-door two-day session of the Advisory Group on Monday and Tuesday to thrash things out.
What did look promising – although you can never be sure unless you are in the room – is that there may have been broad agreement that the “enhanced co-operation” element is left out of the IGF. The EU stressed that it was very important to the EU but it felt that it should be run in parallel to the IGF. Brazil, incredibly, appeared to agree.
The fact is that the IGF can avoid the political fighting of enhanced co-operation *so long as* something is actually done about it. There has been lots of talk about it, but it is noticeable that there have been lots of IGF meetings and a date set for a global meet-up, but there has been nothing on enhanced co-operation.
Until this is dealt with, all discussions on improving the Net for everyone will be bogged down by politics. Desai knows this as well and stressed at the end that he was available for one-on-one meetings. I’ve not heard him say that before. And I can’t decide whether that’s a good or a bad sign.
Anyway, that’s how I see it from way back here in England with some knowledge of how previous international meetings over the Internet. I warmly welcome any insights from people there. I haven’t been able to find any blogs covering the event.