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Has President Macron Thrown Multistakeholderism Under the Bus at UN IGF 2018 Paris?

Khaled Fattal

Today, President Macron threw down the gauntlet to President Trump and the US administration on Multistakeholderism.

In his welcome address to IGF 2018 Paris a few hours ago, President Macron challenged IGF to become more relevant by reinventing itself in factoring in multilateralism into IGF's non-decision-making body and to move beyond the mere talk-ship lip service it has been for the last 13 years.

Macron stated that he (and France) will support a new direction by IGF under the direction of the UN Secretary General, if it decides to factor in multilateralism. He argued that with the new global cyber threat landscape requiring regulation and legislation, such a step is inevitable if IGF is to remain relevant.

Was Macron reminding his "ami" in the White House that his nationalistic divisive stance towards the world and Europe and the actions of previous administrations have not been forgotten, and that they carry a very high price?

Today was the 2nd time US domination of the Internet through Multistakeholderism has been challenged by Europe. Only a few months ago, the 1st challenge came in the form of the EU's GDPR, when it became law on May 25, 2018. The GDPR has been a serious challenge to ICANN and its core role and mission, on many fronts.

What effect will the Macron speech have on the new religion of Multistakeholderism? It remains to be seen how this doctrine, created by the US back during the UN WSIS days (2001-2005), will fare.

Multistakeholderism's goal, for the record, has always been to promote internet self-regulation, and to keep all barriers to the internet around the world very low. This all under the banner of "openness" and "freedom of speech". Governments who legislated (or even considered) the blocking or monitoring content deemed inappropriate, including porn or worse, were often criticized and labelled as oppressors of freedom and democracy. This happened while American tech giants continued to grow at an unprecedented pace, and dominate the Internet. Just recently the world saw its two 1st ever trillion-dollar companies which happen to be American: Amazon and Apple. Meanwhile, no European company is in the top 10 world ranking.

Was Macron paying the US back for PRISM and the Snowden revelations that exposed to the world the unprecedented and illegal mass surveillance by the US security agencies? Not to mention similar abuses by UK's GCHQ, in snooping on Americans and the world under the banner of fighting terrorism?

Macron did state in his speech that France and Germany (who is next year's IGF host) are on the same page. So was he stepping up to support the German leader Merkel, herself one of the targets of PRISM when the U.S. snooped on their friends, allies and enemies alike?

It will be interesting to start reading and observing the usual devout voices of Multistakeholderism when they begin calling on IGF to resist Macron's sacrilegious call and to keep IGF a talk-shop that cannot conclude or make decisions.

Yes, we do live in interesting and unprecedented times. It is entertaining to watch smart politicians fire at each other, with different ammunition at different targets and on different battlegrounds while continuing to sound like collegial, friendly and cooperative.

Seems to me like Macron just hit back at Trump on his disparagement of the NATO Budget, the Iran Nuclear deal, and the Paris climate change accord. Now, this is making IGF more interesting.

Let's see if Trump is smart enough to realize by himself that his 'ami' Macron just fired a shot across his bow that ruffled his hair.

By Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, Multilingual Internet Group & Producer "Era of the Unprecedented
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President Macron and the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace John Curran  –  Nov 13, 2018 12:06 PM PST

Khaled -

Perhaps it is best to focus what President Macron actually said, rather than hypothecating connections to Climate Change, PRISM, the Iran Nuclear deal, and NATO's Budget?

Many of President Macron's statements covered views that have been expressed by others previously, but his remarks were still incredibly important as one of the clearest articulations of the overall Internet governance situation at present and as perceived by governments.

For instance, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)'s non-decisional nature is quite well-known in the Internet governance community, as are many of the challenges that governments face today when translating their public policy objectives into the Internet context.  Similarly, the fact the Internet continues to evolve, and that evolution is being predominantly driven by commercial endeavors (except when directly dictated in some countries by regulation) is also quite well known.

What President Macron accomplished thru his remarks was raising the existing cybersecurity situation to the public stage, and his imperative for doing so is contained in the first line of "The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace" that was released by France's Digital Diplomacy team in parallel -

Cyberspace now plays a crucial role in every aspect of our lives and it is the shared responsibility of a wide variety of actors, in their respective roles, to improve trust, security and stability in cyberspace.

You should take an opportunity to review the Paris Call document, as it contains explicit regarding support for multistakeholder efforts in this regard -

"We recognize the necessity of a strengthened multistakeholder approach and of additional efforts to reduce risks to the stability of cyberspace and to build-up confidence, capacity and trust."

It is clear that governments are becoming increasingly aware of their need to be active participants in facilitating security on the Internet (and such activities could include regulatory approaches), but that doesn't mean a diminishing of the multistakeholder model for Internet governance – so long as activities of all are guided by international norms that are collectively produced. 

While it is aways possible to find fault in any call for change, President Macron's remarks (and the associated Paris Call) reflect an understanding of the importance of the multistakeholder approach to the success of the Internet – certainly a significant improvement from proposals made in other forums over the years that lacked such understanding.

Hi John,thx for comment. hope you and Khaled Fattal  –  Nov 13, 2018 12:48 PM PST

Hi John,
thx for comment. hope you and family are all good.

question: when was the last time the president of a host nation of IGF spoke at an IGF event? How about the president of a super power? Never on both. Macron's presence, speech, and call at IGF are unprecedented and in my opinion positive steps forward.  these are politicians, not techies nor administrators. As an expert in cyber security and cyber terrorism and creator of the cyber Survivability strategy and model i am fully aware, if not more aware than most of the new cyber risk on global level which I and my group have been thought leading on and offering new solutions in their mitigation since 2013 we called these new threat Poli-cyber and Geo-Poli-Cyber attacks.Some of them are politically motivated others are destruction motivated. so Macron's call is critically needed and perhaps 7 years late but better late than never. the only question is if the puritans in IGF want to keep it a talk shop or a forum of significance which needs to have regulation and legislation infused in.

if anyone doubts there are were many subliminal messages to Trump and US administration for actions of the past in Macron speech, just read Trump's tweets today in reply to Macron reminding the French that if it was not for America france will be speaking German today.

on a positive note Moving forward, we need to infuse Multistakeholderism with Multilateralism so that both can work together to save society and democracy which are both under unprecedented threat. I suggest readers watch our Era of the Unprecedented Investigative Program trailer to realise the seriousness and effort and length my side is taking to create awareness and to mitigate these 21st century threats of today. https://eraoftheunprecedented.com/eotu-program-trailer

BR.

https://eraoftheunprecedented.com/eotu-program-trailer Khaled Fattal  –  Nov 13, 2018 12:50 PM PST

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