RE: WCIT outcome?

"Tony Hain" <> Fri, 04 January 2013 21:45 UTC

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From: "Tony Hain" <>
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Subject: RE: WCIT outcome?
Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2013 13:44:58 -0800
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> Ted Hardie wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 4:59 PM, Tony Hain <> wrote:
> Like it or not, governments are fundamentally opposed to the open nature
> 'the Internet', and they always will be (even the 'reasonable' ones).
> Managing information flow is how they derive and exercise power
> Aside from the whole "consent of the governed" issue, this perspective
> historically fairly short-sighted. 

And that consent is based on information availability. Manage the
information, and you manage the consent.

> ...
> Yes, there were treaty-based efforts to set some common
> understandings.  Some of those were quite useful, but whenever they
> impinged on workings of the real network you got smuggling.  In some
cases, lots
> and lots of it, with encouragement from some of the participating nations.
> other words, some countries tried to control their participants in these
> international networks very tightly.  Some were content to let their
> get fat off it instead.  There was no universal response.

Shipping Merchant / Harbor Master == ISP    : As you see with the resolution
signatories, there is still no universal response.

> ...
> In this new effort at a multilateral framework, we are seeing a clash
between a
> desire for sovereign control of the Internet and a desire to reap the
benefits of
> open participation.  I think our role in that is to make sure all involved
> understand:  the benefits of the Internet's network effect; the risks in
> nations through which traffic passes to assert sovereignty over the flows,

As if professional information control practitioners do not understand the
risks of information control at a much deeper level than anyone in the IETF
could ever hope to ...  

> especially given both the pace and chance of topological change; and the
> that entities outside of governments control the paths that packets actual
> traverse.

The entities that operate and control the paths do so at the pleasure of the
governments, just as the merchants and harbor masters did in your example
above. As long as governments are pleased, the operators can live in a
fantasy land where they are outside government control. The Dubai
discussions show what happens when a collection of governments are no longer
pleased ... If that noise level gets high enough the non-signers will have
to respond just to maintain some degree of cooperation on other matters they
care about.

Our role is to recognize that there are much bigger issues than the simple
process of bit delivery. Yes bit delivery is important, and dynamic, but it
is equivalent to laying the tracks. Standards must be maintained for
consistent interworking, but it is not the path that matters; just as with
rail cars, it is the content that provides the value. Being highly dynamic
makes things harder to control, but not impossible. Even in the 'open'
countries, a few changes in something as apparently disconnected as tax laws
would dramatically change the decisions and behaviors of the operators that
are 'outside of government control'. 
> ...

> Patrik Fältström wrote:
> On 4 jan 2013, at 01:59, Tony Hain <> wrote:
> > Like it or not, governments are fundamentally opposed to the open
> > nature of 'the Internet', and they always will be (even the 'reasonable'
> Because I do not think generalization is really a reasonable thing to do,
and even
> dangerous when discussing governance issues, I disagree with this

I agree there is danger here, but I believe the greater danger is embodied
in this thread due to the lack of acknowledgement that governments always
have control, even if the control points are not obvious.

> Governments want just like businesses success in whatever they do. That
can in
> general be divided in two wishes. Short term, in the form of being
re-elected (or
> not thrown out of their office) and long term, as in growth of the revenue
of the
> country they govern.

The second point (restated as 'prosperity for their constituency') is really
just a continuation of the first point.

> They of course have pieces of their operation that belong to law
> agencies, but they also have those that are responsible of finding rules
so that
> non-public sector can grow (to later increase for example tax revenue).
> Because of this, I encourage people to not generalize per stakeholder
group, but
> instead acknowledge that there are different *forces* that are orthogonal
> each other, and calculating "the correct" balance between them is hard. Or
> rather, different people do for different reasons get different results
> calculating what the for them proper balance is.
> That is why I personally am against generalization that a stakeholder
group have
> one specific view.

I would agree that they all demonstrate a different calculation for the
importance of various aspects of controlling information flow. My primary
point here is that the IETF has to accept this as a reality. So far the
position has been 'this is the technology, & governments need to adapt'. At
the end of the day though, it is the governments that are really in control,
and if the IETF does not want a 'forced adaptation', it need to evolve and
listen to the needs of a stakeholder group they have tried hard to ignore.

> Specifically governments.
> If when pushed to be forced to choose between two choices *all*
> wanted to have control, we would have had many more governments signing
> proposed treaty that was on the table in Dubai.
> Instead, when being forced to choose, they picked openness and multi
> stakeholder bottom up processes.

As noted above, this is due to relative happiness, and limited noise. If the
noise level grows or they become unhappy, the independence of the standards
process is a minor pawn in the game, and will be sacrificed to protect
something more important. 

> ...