Open letter to President Sarkozy on eG8 meeting plan
Dear President Sarkozy,
The Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (IGC) is an open forum of individual and organisational civil society actors who came together in the context of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to promote global public interest objectives in Internet governance policy making (see http://www.igcaucus.org).
We understand that the French Presidency of the G8 proposes to hold a G8 Internet meeting - the "eG8 Forum" - immediately prior to the G8 Summit in Deauville, with a view to prepare or influence the agenda for the G8 Summit regarding key global Internet issues. We also understand that many heads of states of G8 countries are expected to attend this meeting. The meeting is especially important since in the past G8 has set up the global agenda on many key issues, especially in the information society arena.
We are very concerned about the manner in which the eG8 Forum is being organised which is ignoring current best practice in public policy making. It also jettisons the principle of multistakeholder participation that has evolved globally, especially in the area of Internet governance. It appears that the eG8 Forum is organized by large Industry with access given only to industry and government actors. We have also understood that there is a linkage between donations and invitations.
Big businesses already have a disproportionately large influence on public policy processes. For governments to sanction a dedicated meeting with top G8 leaders and officials to plan the global agenda for Internet related policies is inappropriate. What is required is a discussion that includes civil society actors, who will bring to the table the concerns of global public interest derived from a diversity of peoples, of many sections of society, interests and concerns.
It is also pertinent to state here that since the Internet is essentially a global phenomenon, policies framed together by the most powerful nations, quite likely, will become the default global norm. This is most true for architectural and economic issues, while the global impact on other areas will also be substantial. It is therefore appropriate that G8 countries engage with the same, and other issues, of Internet policies at the more democratic global forums where all countries are present at an equal footing. In this connection, there is the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) mandated set of processes for dealing with pressing global Internet related issues. Multistakeholder participation is an important part of these global IG related processes. We see the eG8 Forum as a significant step backwards both for global democracy and for multistakeholder participation.
The issues we face with internet governance and internet developments are global in nature, and adequate solutions to the problems we face will need to involve all countries, as well as a wide range of civil society, business and technical interests.
We therefore request you, and other G8 leaders, to make the eG8 Forum genuinely multistakeholder, following the model of the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF). We are impressed with the solid support provided by the G8 countries for upholding a multistakeholder model for the IGF. The strong support that many G8 countries, including your own, have shown for full multistakeholder participation in relation to the IGF makes this current decision to limit discussion to vested interests of governments' industry partners baffling, and unacceptable to the IGC, which advocates for civil society's Internet governance interests.
Jeremy Malcolm and Izumi Aizu
Internet Governance Caucus