[arin-ppml] RIPE/ITU

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Fri Mar 5 21:06:22 EST 2010

From: David Farmer [farmer at umn.edu]

>I've been thinking about this for a couple days, I'm not necessarily
>sure big changes are required in government or in the way we do things
>either.  It may really only take some subtle changes, more in the way we
>each think about things, we need to help each other understand there is
>a roles for both parties to play here.  Then maybe some tweaks in our
>process could help too.

I believe it will take big, long-term cultural changes, but on the whole your attitude and suggestions are constructive. 

>I'll point out that our PDP is not unlike a notice-and-comment
>rulemaking process that is common in many governments.  But, our PDP has
>been turbo charged with Internet technologies like email and remote
>meeting participation over chat and video streaming, etc...  Rather than
>only using 19th century technologies like face-to-face meetings and

first, don't underestimate the degree to which RIRs, IETF and ICANN rely on f2f meetings using "19th century" technologies like jet planes and computerized travel reservation intermediaries. Of course these meetings build on an underlying infrastructure of online discussion, texts and coordination, but speaking from experience, if you don't go to an ICANN meeting you don't really know what's going on and won't be that influential, and I suspect the RIRs are similar (will go to my first ARIN meeting in toronto; have been to a RIPE). 
second, you're right about notice and comment, but to understand and intervene in those processes via N&C one must be quite specialized. anyway I think your idea about allowing written submissions is great, that would help some civil society organizations not just govts, but it wouldn't fundamentally alter the dynamics, because whoever comments still would have to be a highly specialized follower of the process with sufficient technical expertise to understand what it means, e.g., to understand the policy implications of changing the way SWIP data is collected and distributed. 

>So maybe we need to work with governments to get them a little more
>comfortable using Internet technologies in the policy making processes.

Good luck with that. And I am not being sarcastic, I am wishing you well. It's taken about 10 years for us to get the businesspeople and IP lawyers in ICANN to feel comfortable with online discussions via email or wikis. We're still working on the govs. But some of them have insitutional constraints on what they can say, they are part of a hierarchical structure which requires the rep to go back to their superiors for approval before they can say anything. This will not change overnight. 

A good experience if you want to "train up" for this work with governments would be to attend a meeting or consultation of the Internet Governance Forum, which succeeded in combining business, internet techies, govts and civil society but its interactions still reflect the significant cultural/organizational differences, with a few notable exceptions. Or maybe accompany John C. and me to the ITU meeting. Breathe the atmosphere....

>The tweaks in our process could be as simple as providing an opportunity
>for formal written comments to be submitted relating to Draft Policies
>that are up for adoption consideration at public policy meetings.  Such
>formal comments could maybe be included in the meeting materials, and
>maybe a summary provided as part of the presentation prior to the floor
>discussion of each Draft Policy.
>Then maybe a final opportunity for formal written comments again in the
>Last Call step of the process.

Noted. I like this idea. 

>Further, make it clear that is any
>government, not only those in ARIN's geographic region, just like anyone
>else in region or not is welcome to participate.

Another good idea. 
But again, the essential constraint is the supply of someone from a government willing to follow ip address arcana. Following RIRs is extremely hard for ME; you can imagine what it would be like for a mid-level bureaucrat in the Ministry of Information. 

>I completely agree with you that some group of government
>representatives with special powers is not a good idea.

Good. Hold on to that thought. 

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