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IRAN Nuclear Deal; the Flag of Changes? the End of Civil Society Isolation? or What?

CircleID - 5 hours 49 min ago

Lack of Engagement & Pathological Report

The crucial importance of Iran Nuclear Deal and, hopefully, the imminent expectation, for reaching to an indisputable solution and agreement among 5+1+ Iran (as well as the other parties who claim to have interest in this matter) all have created a special climate and proper ground for all the activists and the observers in order to seriously sit and make a review of the actual situation and the potentials of the main player of the field, say Iran, or Civil Society of Iran; a unique opportunity ever afforded to the Iranian Civil Society within the various economic, social affairs and political fields of concern.

Drastic and significant changes are observed in the governmental policies by the coming of President Rohani to the Office. This period of changes have proved the meaningful achievements of the peaceful preferences in the Nuclear Dispute, mutually adopted by the parties concerned and declared on April 2, 2015 in the form of a Statement on: "Parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding The Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program"

This is basically expected to be a heralding effort towards the end of the 21st century Cold War. It is time also for the Iranian Civil Society to wake up and to take a joint effort on adoption of a serious Plan of Action toward the fulfillment of its own demands and at least reaching to the minimum understanding of what are its actual position and standing, and what it should be?

It could be undoubtedly stated that at least, in the realm of cyberspace and utilization of internet, all during the past years and by far, Iranian users have suffered disrespect and the worst of treatments from two sides: firstly, on the part of UN and the Western countries by application of the economic sanctions and the other deprivations, and secondly, by the Iranian people's enduring the repressive policies of state administration which has been claimed to be exercised just for the sake of control of the internal situation and preservation of stability of the country, on the other part.

Disregard of the fact what we would call these, as good or as bad, however, it was the filtering and applying the extreme control and monitor on the media, newspapers, journalists and Civil Society activities which comprised the core of Iranian government social policies, though necessary for the control and protection of the national security and stability, and for holding the flag of independence during all the critical years of dispute.

The evolving Office of President Rohani and the structure of this government have lighted up some new hopes and prospects toward the expansion of Iranian nation's collaboration with the global community; it is still on the beginning of its way and much trying to overcome the barriers on the way of the people's engagement, on the way of finding solutions to the social concerns, and on empowering the drive and engine of the economic activities.

It would be a regret to say that the harmful legacy of the past still remains within the warp and woof of the society, in every corner of the community, and in the various snags of underground economy; this legacy, unfortunately, could even be further traced in the complicated exercise of public policies.

For years, the economic policies and social conditions and even some bureaucratic obstacles did not allow the Iranian Civil Society and Private Sector to grow enough and practice their essential roles in the dealings with the other major stakeholder, i.e. Government; the international situation, too, increasingly deteriorated the conditions of Civil Society.

By the way, the only way which Private Sector, as one of the main stakeholders, had got to learn was just to keep the safe side during these years, just to follow up the Government's policies while all are aware of the negative adverse effect of the state-run and state-owned economy; they have simply forgotten indeed, their essential role as the main unbiased and independent stakeholder in the process of development.

The main injuries were aimed at and practically hit the body of Civil Society; it was like a body which was wrapped and put aside in a detached and isolated condition; this was created for Civil Society by both sides in forms of sanctions, and domestic repressive policies. Consequently, year by year the scattered Civil Society fainted so much to lose even the necessary confidence and motivation for being engaged in social activities.

A Look at Destiny of PersianIGF & Iran ISOC Chapter??!

The very seldom efforts of individuals to initiate communities and get appropriately involved in the progressive advancement of the world communities in the various fields of environment, cyber-space and human rights, unfortunately, failed due to the above-mentioned local and global conditions.

One a witness case of these is the effort for establishing ISOC Chapter for Iran. Just in alignment with the practices in the area of Internet Governance, the meaningful silence taken by ISOC administration against the frequent applications and persistent correspondence from the Iranian activists, just for the purpose of establishing Iran ISOC Chapter, has resulted in a bitter experience forever, circumscribed by these climate and conditions.

The other failure which can be talked of as a similar experience was the destiny of PersianIGF initiative. Many cases like these two confronted with illegal, unreasonable and biased position of the so-called supporting organizations as well as the absence of Civil Society participation. In fact, the result is a total challenge and cause for reflection on the matter of legitimacy of their actions, and even the mere existence of both.

In the present situation, as among the very first priorities, will be actions for rescuing and revitalizing the Iranian Civil Society, technical communities and the academia, as the very urgent, essential and necessary action for making soon a balance in terms of remedy and solution for the absence of the Iranian players in this field.

The patient's illness is so acute and dangerous that a series of actions should promptly be taken for raising awareness in respect of the urgent operations to be taken to push the patient alive.

Urgent Operations, Solutions

Public Awareness and Capacity Building Programs, aimed at the domestic communities, should be arranged to develop and accelerate the procedure of Iranian players' engagement in the matter of internet governance. For a specified period of time, there should be taken some actions that may not seem to be required in the other societies, while these are necessary for the Iranian people, at least up until the time a minimum required balance is acquired in the society in terms of 'Public Awareness'. In the absence of the required awareness and knowledge in the community, no one would feel sick and no one would stand for cure. So, the emerging activities to be comprised of individuals, small groups and NGOs need to be observed and supported by the Government as well as the Regional and Global Communities and Agencies.

International Community's Remedial Burden to Rescue Iranian Civil Society

International Community, in remedying the pressures which have been applied to keep the Iranian nation deprived, will be obliged to negotiate with State Authorities in organizing and making the required structures for launching Short-Term and Mid-Term Urgent Programs of Action so as to push it for some degree of progress.

Specialized and motivated groups of various disciplines should be gathered and organized in various Working Groups and Task Forces for accomplishing the initial and preliminary studies and researches, and also for implementing public awareness projects in various places of the country.

Fortunately, the recent developments in nuclear issues and the would-be imminent elimination of international sanctions are going to pave the required ground for the global community to partake in and collaborate with Iranian people to improve the national, regional and global targets of development.

APrIGF 2015 Workshop Proposal, another effort to Move Forward

In this regard, A Workshop Proposal with a similar topic has been submitted to Asian Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum for defining the framework and the main objectives in the course of designing collaborative plans in alignment with preparing the ground and accelerating the procedure for the Iranian Internet Community's Engagement in the Global Internet Governance Program. The Proposal for a Workshop seeks to find responses and solutions to the issues and topics covering a wide range of objectives, including but not limited to the following:

• Analyzing limitations and barriers existing on the way of Iran Civil Society in the course of its engagement in IG discussions;

• Discussing the destructive role which the UN Sanctions and OFAC limitations would play in increasing the digital divide and bringing further international misunderstanding and also the role they would play in putting aside the effective collaboration with the people and communities who would be isolated and harmed as the result of their actions and omissions.

• Discussing the legal grounds to the convincement on the matter that how the barriers should be removed, and following up the appropriate mechanisms to persuade ISOC for approval of Iran Internet Society chapter.

• Finding the processes and ways for the recovery and revitalization of PersianIGF by pursuing the procedures as were noted at last PersianMAG meeting, for the purpose of cancellation of past initiatives and submitting letter to UNIGF entailing renewal of initiatives;

• Discussing on the solutions along with the attraction and increase of effective participation with global Internet communities and universities, and as a part of the relevant objectives in this field, holding IG Schools and introductory courses in IRAN.

• Discussing on the other solutions for assisting the Iranian people to be heard and collaborated with regional and global Internet governance communities, disregard of the existence of governmental disputes and sanctions.

Written by Mehrzad Azghandi, Strategic Adviser on Internet Governance

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Categories: External commentary

Debunking eight myths about multi-stakeholderism

IGFWatch news - Sat, 2015-04-25 06:44
From being the darling of civil society during WSIS (and soon after being repurposed by the technical community as their own guiding principle), multi-stakeholderism has entered a rough patch during the last 18 months. The phrase, and—worse—the underlying concept have quite swiftly begun to acquire a distinctly negative connotation in the public eye (at least, among those who have heard of multi-stakeholderism at all).  Amongst the civil society voices who are now treating multi-stakeholderism as a failed cause or worse, here are a few recent examples from commentators across a range of political views:
Categories: External commentary

Celebrating the ITU's Anniversary with "Abandonment"

CircleID - Fri, 2015-04-24 16:20

The ITU is attempting to puff up some vestige of a value proposition this year by celebrating what its PR material purports to be the 150th anniversary. In reality, it has actually only existed as the ITU since 1934, and the pieces prior to that point stretch back 165 years to 1850. It was at that point that nations operating electric telegraph systems met at the first international meeting in Dresden to cobble together all the basic intergovernmental provisions that still exist today, and dubbed the organization the "Union." But, no matter, the organization has never been really interested in its history, and it patently doesn't really matter anymore.

This month the ITU's three principal telecom standards study groups met in Geneva — dedicated to security (SG17), new networks/cloud (SG13), and signalling/protocols (SG11). Except for inordinately large delegations from China at all three meetings, almost no one else showed up except for a few national representatives doing "wack-a-mole" duty to tamp down mischievous work items slipped-in and which attempt to duplicate the real industry activities done in other organizations. Indeed, there were so few participants, that the new networks/cloud group — SG13 — took the extraordinary step of convening an adhoc group on "abandonment" of what was one of its most active subgroups dealing with security and identity management.

Patently, the constituents here have "voted with their feet" and sent the message that in a world of apps on smartphones and virtualized services on cloud data centers served by huge, active, industry bodies and collaborative activities, an intergovernmental technical standards body run under a U.N. model has no real relevance. The ITU-T meeting metrics answered a long standing question about how such bodies fade from the scene — they get abandoned. China may want to send a bunch of volunteers there to keep it alive, but that doesn't make it a viable international organization; and even China will eventually realize its interests are not being served by sending delegates to Geneva to talk among themselves.

In the face of this stark reality, a few lonely ITU staffers put on a brave face and toil to advance anniversary activities "highlighting ICTs as 'Drivers of Innovation'" — complete with exhibitions, commemorative stamps, awards, and speeches. One has to feel sorry for the new Secretary-General who in his website message, asserts that the "ITU has reaffirmed its reputation worldwide as one of the most resilient and relevant organizations." The newly elected leader of the ITU — who has spent his career ably serving the organization — clearly faces a challenging task going forward that is not well served by ignoring the reality of the organization today, or pursuing expansion of the remit of the organization to include a vast unbounded world of "ICTs," or by having what remains of the ITU-T packed by representatives from a single country.

What is needed is an honest appraisal of the ITU as it exists today together with an understanding of what vestigial role remains for a 165 year old intergovernmental body that began by cobbling together electric telegraph networks. What should occur next is clearly difficult. The ITU needs to be a much smaller and more focussed organization — likely where it still has some remaining, unique value propositions such as the radio spectrum management sector, and a global reach to point all nations to the venues where real work occurs today rather than pretending it is the self-anointed driver of innovation in the mobile or ICT worlds. Looking in the mirror and facing reality would be the most valuable ITU anniversary celebration — whether 150 or 165 years.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC

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More under: Internet Governance, Telecom

Categories: External commentary

Largest IXP Files Complaint Against Snooping

CircleID - Fri, 2015-04-24 16:08

Decix, the largest internet traffic exchange point (IXP) worldwide, has had it with the snoops. The Frankfurt company on Thursday confirmed a report by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that it will file a complaint at the German Federal Administrative Court against the obligation to grant broad access to the German Intelligence Service (BND) to the traffic transiting its large switches. Decix management thinks the constitutionality of the activities is highly questionable and the G10 legislation (allowing for preventive surveillance under certain conditions) is not adapted to an international IP communication network.

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More under: Privacy

Categories: External commentary

Research Finds Mobile Malware Infections Overblown

CircleID - Thu, 2015-04-23 16:13

Advanced threat detection company, Damballa has released findings of a new research on Wednesday, detailing the overblown nature of the mobile malware problem. According to the company, the research, based on Big Data (50% of US mobile traffic), was used to determine actual malware infection rates — not just samples found, or vulnerabilities/theoretical attacks.

"This research shows that mobile malware in the Unites States is very much like Ebola — harmful, but greatly over exaggerated, and contained to a limited percentage of the population that are engaging in behavior that puts them at risk for infection," says Charles Lever, senior scientific researcher at Damballa. "Ask yourself, 'How many of you have been infected by mobile malware? How many of you know someone infected by mobile malware?'"

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More under: Malware, Mobile, Security

Categories: External commentary
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