Critical Analysis on a proposal for a New Internet Governance Setup by the French Senate

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The French Senate is proposing a new Internet governance Setup under the United Nations, specifically the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Reading through the paper published by the french senate with raporteur Mrs Catherine MORIN-DESAILLY, Senator for the Seine-Maritime with notice the following issues:

  1. An outcry for survival: The French senate considers the present Internet as an "American Thing" Mrs Catherine MORIN-DESAILLY reports "The Internet in fact appears as an extension of legal and economic power. Since the beginning of the 1990s and even before the World Wide Web was generally used, the United States had taken legal and fiscal measures to achieve a leadership position in this technology. Thus today for example, out of the 50 leading digital media companies, 36 are American. In the 2000s, both China and Russia built up their own ecosystems of leading digital companie" 
  2. The fall of the State power: French rapporteur expresses her fears of the State loosing its power to private companies. It should be noted that 36 out of the top 50 private companies championing the Internet world are Americans. She goes on "Because of the network effect, the Internet is becoming hyper-centralised, favouring major private companies which are 
    organised as verticalised silos, particularly in the mobile sector, where they provide devices, operating systems and applications. These 2 EUROPE TO THE RESCUE OF THE INTERNET major players defy States
  3. Denouncing a new form of colonization: She considers Europe as a colonized territory by the Internet magnets, arguing that this old continent has lost its grip on the Internet. In her own words mrs DESAILLY says that Becoming a ‘colony of the digital world’, Europe is largely outdistanced by this redistribution of powers. The Old Continent is even going backwards – considering the drop of top EU companies from 12 to 8.
  4. An outcry of the American domination: She demonstrate the continuous challenge of the American domination of the Internet Governance. She says "Such American domination of Internet governance is being increasingly challenged. The Tunis Agenda, published at the end of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005, recognises the equal importance of all stakeholders –governments, the private sector, civil society -in Internet governance and calls for their 
    enhanced cooperation. It created for this purpose the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)"
  5. A call for action: She demonstrates the importance and indispensability of the open standards of IGF and calls on EU states to agree to embody the founding principles of the NETmundial of Sao Paolo in an international treaty open to all States, 
    which could be ratified on line by Web users.This Mission also recommends globalising the governance of Internet on the basis of the NETmundial principles and calls for:- the creation of a network of bodies to provide a distributed and transparent Internet governance, by formalising the roles of and interactions between ICANN, Internet registers...
  6. Reforming ICANN (Internet cooperation for Assigned names and numbers) to WICANN (World ICANN)
  7. Giving political powers an upper hand on digital issues:  She argues that the governance of digital issues should be better structured politically : within the Council of the European Union through specific ministerial meetings on digital technologies so as to overcome political barriers; within the European Parliament by creating special committees to examine Internet-related texts; in France, through the creation of both an interministerial Committee on Digital Technologies, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, and a Digital Committee in the French Senate whose members would also be members of a standing legislative committee.Furthermore, the European Internet model should be promoted through a proper digital diplomacy policy.

What the founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Barner Lee thinks of an ITU cordination of the Internet.

He told BBC, "I think it's important that these existing structures continue to be used without any attempt to bypass them. These organisations have been around for a number of years and I think it would be a disruptive threat to the stability of the system for people to try to set up alternative organisations to do the standards."

QUESTIONS FROM AFRICA AND OTHER COUNTRIES FROM THE UNDER DEVELOPED WORLD

We are wondering what will become of Africa if the Internet governance is handed to the United Nations in its present configuration with five countries dominating the world. What will be the constitution of the World council Mrs DESAILLY is talking about? we are interested to know how the members of this council will be nominated or voted and what is the guarantee of transparency. Will the outcome not be influenced by the Internet giants still from the private sector?

These are just a few preoccupations  I think we should ponder before giving the French proposal a chance.

Download details on the French Proposal @ http://www.senat.fr/fileadmin/Fichiers/Images/commission/MCI_nouvelle_gouvernance_de_l_internet/EUROPE_TO_THE_RESCUE_OF_THE_INTERNET_english_summary.pdf