IGF meeting gets spicey

Thought it was all going a little too smoothly.

Apart from Nitin Desai trying to drag the main focus on the first IGF meeting from being about spam to covering instead the digital divide, there was barely a harsh word and a strange amount of broad consensus.

But this cosy mood has been shaken up slightly thanks, very unexpectedly, to Bill Drake and Milton Mueller – two individuals that have been involved from the academic side of things for years.

Bill Drake, president of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and Milton Mueller, driving force behind the The Internet Governance Project, blew apart the agreement reached by a large number of governments over the past few months – namely that the whole issue of ICANN and US governmental control of the Internet should not be discussed at the IGF.

The wording of the IGF formation covered precisely this issue and the offered issues of spam, multilingualism etc are merely vertical issues, rather than “horizontal, cross-cutting issues”, Drake said. Mueller argued that a forum should be precisely where these issues should be discussed. He characterised the push away from the controversy issues as a “blocking” and asked: “If you try to prevent them being discussed in the forum – how will they ever be resolved?”

Clearly there was some discussion over this at lunch because the same point has been made by several members now.

This in turn has sparked others to push the previous line – that of having a big international topic that will help reach international agreement. The dream ticket appears to be spam with multilingualism running as the vice-topic.

The fight has shifted from business and most governments on one side, and academia with the remaining governments on the other. It should be interesting viewing.

Incidentally, Nominet has just spoken and mentioned the important role of the press and the media – the first time that this vital part of all our societies has been mentioned in the market. The press is also only mentioned once in all the consultation papers – again by the UK government.

More as more comes…

Incidentally, Net observer, lawyer and honorary journalist Bret Fausett is here and blogging, supplying very useful insights and information on his site Lextext.