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[liberationtech] Request for Endorsement for UN Working Group on Internet issues

Yosem Companys companys at
Sat Mar 2 09:41:27 PST 2013

From: michael gurstein <gurstein at>


The UN General Assembly is in the process of establishing a "Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation". The function of this Working Group is to deliberate on an institutional framework for identifying and responding to issues concerning the global impact and operation of the Internet.   

As you know a wide range of Internet related issues have been rapidly emerging concerning privacy and surveillance on the net; infrastructure, access and cost of Internet use; freedom of expression and censorship; the economic and other uses of personal data by mega-corps like Facebook and Google; among others.  To date there are no structures in place where discussions can be undertaken and, where necessary, decisions can be made concerning these matters as they impact on the entire world.

This Working Group is being established in response to a specific direction from the World Summit on the Information Society where all voices concerning these matters were given an opportunity to be heard. This Group will function under the convenorship of the Chair of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development. The outcome of the Working Group will be one small, but not insignificant step in a very long process, but as the first such development it will be significant.

The Chair of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development is required to ensure that the working group has balanced representation between Governments and invitees from all other stakeholders, namely, the private sector, civil society, technical and academic communities, and intergovernmental and international organizations.

In consultation with colleagues much more knowledgeable about these processes than myself, I have decided to forward my candidacy as part of the "technical and academic community". This in itself is something of an innovation since the formulation "technical and academic community" to date has included only those with a specifically technical interest in Internet infrastructure and technical operation althoughI believe this was not the original intention which was rather, to have a broad range of such inputs including those with an end-user oriented research interest.

I believe that it is important that "non-techie" Internet academics/researchers be represented in this most important discussion and I believe it  especially important that someone whose academic/research interests are with ensuring the broadest base of digital inclusion including among the marginalized, the rural, the indigenous, women and others be also included and that matters concerning these latter groups be raised as these global internet governance structures are being discussed.

I see my role here as being something of a placeholder as I believe that once the principle is established that technical and academic interests with respect to the Internet must go beyond simply the technical community there will be a range of opportunities for such participation in other Working Groups that might follow.

I should perhaps add that this participation is unfunded and it is as yet unclear whether participation will be virtual or through face to face meetings.  (The absence of funding for these kinds of multistakeholder activities should not be surprising since for the most part the stakeholders involved including the technical community folks are participating as part of their normal work activities with their travel being covered by their employers.)

So colleagues, with this note I'm asking you, and particularly those of you with academic or research positions to "endorse" my candidacy by sending an email to the focal point for the "technial/academic" community Ms. Constance Bommelaer bommelaer at and with a copy to myself.

Your note need not be elaborate but it would be most useful to indicate your academic title(s) as an indication of the breadth of support for this candidacy. This matter has come up quite quickly and the deadline is that endorsements should be forwarded no later than March 6.

Feel free to pass this along to others you think might have an interest but my preference is to not have this too broadly distributed outside of the wider Community Informatics community at this time.

With thanks,

Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
Executive Director: Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training (CCIRDT)
Vancouver, BC CANADA

tel/fax: +1-604-602-0624
email: gurstein at
twitter: #michaelgurstein

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