I am at this moment co-moderating the Democracy, Terrorism and the Open Internet panel at the Club de Madrid International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security with Marko Ahtisaari. We worked all day yesterday drafting a document we are calling "The Infrastructure of Democracy". The draft is currently available on the Global Voices wiki. Please give us some feedback.

Special thanks to Martin Varsavsky for giving us the opportunity and to John Perry Barlow, John Gage, Dan Gillmor, Chris Goggans, Pekka Himanen, David Isenberg, Rebecca MacKinnon, Andrew McLaughlin, Desiree Miloshevic, Jeff Moss, Ejovi Nuwere, Kazuhisa Ogawa, Marc Rotenberg, David Smith, Wendy Seltzer, Gohsuke Takama, Noriko Takiguchi, Paul Vixie, David Weinberger and Ethan Zuckerman who came all the way to Madrid to work on this. Thanks also to the other people in the room who contributed.

UPDATE: Transcripts of IRC discussion with Ethan Zuckerman's transcript of most of the comments. Thanks Ethan!

The official summary of the session is on the conference site.

UPDATE 2: Here is the full text of the recommendation draft:

The Infrastructure of Democracy
Strengthening the Open Internet for a Safer World
March 11, 2005

I. The Internet is a foundation of democratic society in the 21st century, because the core values of the Internet and democracy are so closely aligned.

1. The Internet is fundamentally about openness, participation, and freedom of expression for all - increasing the diversity and reach of information and ideas.
2. The Internet allows people to communicate and collaborate across borders and belief systems.
3. The Internet unites families and cultures in diaspora; it connects people, helping them to form civil societies.
4. The Internet can foster economic development by connecting people to information and markets.
5. The Internet introduces new ideas and views to those who may be isolated and prone to political violence.
6. The Internet is neither above nor below the law. The same legal principles that apply in the physical world also apply to human activities conducted over the Internet.


II. Decentralized systems - the power of many - can combat decentralized foes.

1. Terrorist networks are highly decentralized and distributed. A centralized effort by itself cannot effectively fight terrorism.
2. Terrorism is everyone's issue. The internet connects everyone. A connected citizenry is the best defense against terrorist propaganda.
3. As we saw in the aftermath of the March 11 bombing, response was spontaneous and rapid because the citizens were able to use the Internet to organize themselves.
4. As we are seeing in the distributed world of weblogs and other kinds of citizen media, truth emerges best in open conversation among people with divergent views.


III. The best response to abuses of openness is more openness.

1. Open, transparent environments are more secure and more stable than closed, opaque ones.
2. While Internet services can be interrupted, the Internet as a global system is ultimately resilient to attacks, even sophisticated and widely distributed ones.
3. The connectedness of the Internet – people talking with people – counters the divisiveness terrorists are trying to create.
4. The openness of the Internet may be exploited by terrorists, but as with democratic governments, openness minimizes the likelihood of terrorist acts and enables effective responses to terrorism.


IV. Well-meaning regulation of the Internet in established democracies could threaten the development of emerging democracies.

1. Terrorism cannot destroy the internet, but over-zealous legislation in response to terrorism could. Governments should consider mandating changes to core Internet functionality only with extraordinary caution.
2. Some government initiatives that look reasonable in fact violate the basic principles that have made the Internet a success.
3. For example, several interests have called for an end to anonymity. This would be highly unlikely to stop determined terrorists, but it would have a chilling effect on political activity and thereby reduce freedom and transparency. Limiting anonymity would have a cascading series of unintended results that would hurt freedom of expression, especially in countries seeking transition to democratic rule.


V. In conclusion we urge those gathered here in Madrid to:

1. Embrace the open Internet as a foundation of 21st Century democracy, and a critical tool in the fight against terrorism.
2. Recognizing the Internet's value as a critical communications infrastructure, invest to strengthen it against attacks and recover quickly from damage.
3. Work to spread access more evenly, aggressively addressing the Digital Divide, and to provide Internet access for all.
4. To protect free speech and association, endorse the availability of anonymous communications for all.
5. Resist attempts at international governance of the Internet: It can introduce processes that have unintended effects and violate the bottom-up democratic nature of the Net.

11 Comments

As someone attending the safe-democracy conference, I find the enthusiasm of your group for an open society and the potential of the internet to promote democracy very refreshing. However, in an earlier panel today, Steve Lukasik, the inventor of the internet was much more negative, and was highly alarmed about the vulnerability of the internet, and its infrastructure, like open democracy, to those unafraid to attack openness and civility.

Yes. We discussed the vulnerabilities. It is very vulnerable to attacks that would interrupt it's service. However, we had many experts and people who deal with attacks every day and almost all of the major attacks against the Internet itself have NOT been from terrorists, but from teenagers. Even if a terrorist were able to attack the Internet, it would take it down for a period of time, but it could be brought back. We wanted to point out that attacks against the architecture through legistlation in response to terrorism could permanently break the Internet.

It was pointed out that critical infrastructure such as power plants, power grids, banks, etc. are extremely vulnerable, but most attacks would not be conducted over the Internet, but rather through open modems and other modes. We didn't have time to go into this in detail, but several members stressed that we need to make people who are tasked with securing this intrastructure to be held more accountable. It's less about the Internet and something more fundamental with the way we secure infrastructure.

Apologies for posting this note in this section. A colleague put me in touch (Reza Ghaem-Maghami from Paris). We are working together with colleagues from 14 countries around the world on a study of mobile technology marketing. Reza suggested you are a great person to contact on the subject. Could you send me yr email address please so that I can get in touch directly? Best wishes, Mat Mildenhall

A professor of mine who is teaching at Temple University Japan Law School this semester, Jan Ting, will be at this conference. I hope you might have a moment to say hello.

(Excuse me while I have a small world moment.)

Joi, where is John Robb?

Global Guerrillas
"Networked organizations, infrastructure disruption, and the emerging marketplace of violence. An open notebook on the epochal war of the 21st Century."
http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas

Dimitar, my bad. We should have tried to get John Robb here.

VoIP is the natural evolution of the Internet.


The Internet created the "visual and writing society" VoIP will create the "Talking society".


But for doing so VoIP must be what the internet is: OPEN.



1. Open, transparent environments are more secure and more stable than closed, opaque ones.


2. While Internet services can be interrupted, the Internet as a global system is ultimately resilient to attacks, even sophisticated and widely distributed ones.


3. The connectedness of the Internet – people talking with people – counters the divisiveness the miriades of VoIP companies are creating.


Close Networks that cannot communicate among each other.


Absurdly what they proposed against the Telecom Monopoly was a cheap and more restrictive copy of it.


At least with the old telephone system people all over the world could communicate using the same devices.
With the actual VoIP people can connect to people inside the same Network.


Of course they could tell me they can communicate with the rest of the World using a termination.
But I AM TALKING OF VoIP and not PSTN.


I want a World on IP, not part on IP and part on PSTN.
I agree it cannot be done immediately, but in between for reaching the goal the VoIP infrastructures and codecs and devices must be intercommunicating one with the other.


No More new Monopolies, if the Internet is the Infrastructure of Democracy, VoIP must provide a democratic infrastructure.



Open and not closed networks.



Skype looks like the most democratic of VoIP, they talk about P2P, but if you do not use Skype, if , for example you choose a provider like Vonage, you will never be able to reach any of the Skype users.


And you will be obliged to use a termination for the rest of your life.
Where are the democratic infrastructures of VoIP?




Patrizia, more than ever form a "World on IP"



PS."Resist attempts at international governance of the Internet: It can introduce processes that have unintended effects and violate the bottom-up democratic nature of the Net."

patrizia@worldonip.com
http://woip.blogspot.com
http://www.worldonip.com
http://www.easymediabroadcast.com














Patrizia wrote @7:
Skype looks like the most democratic of VoIP, they talk about P2P, but if you do not use Skype, if , for example you choose a provider like Vonage, you will never be able to reach any of the Skype users.

For a end-user, one (somewhat unsatisfactory) workaround to establish Vonage-Skype interconnectivity might be to use actual phone numbers as a lingua franca, to make the calls transit through each VoIP provider's telephony gateways...

From Skype's FAQ:


Can someone reach my SkypeIn number from another country? Yes, SkypeIn numbers act as regular phone numbers and are reachable from anywhere in the world. Just remember though, long distance charges might apply if someone is calling your number from another country. Also, some phones plans may not support calling specific ranges of special numbers (such as "non-geographic" (0845) numbers in the UK), and you might not be able to call the SkypeIn number based on that outbound calling plan.


Just remember though, long distance charges might apply if someone is calling your number from another country.

I am talking about IP to IP call, which is FREE from wherever you CALL. Because your call travels through the NET.
It is clear that if both have a SKYPE connection both can call each other, but it is also clear that this looks like a kind of Monopoly to me.
YOU MUST BE A SKYPE MEMBER.

What I dream is that you can be a member of anybody and call a member of anybody.

That in my opinion is freedom from a Monopoly.

Patrizia

If Skype — like most other VoIP service providers — allows incoming telephone calls with their planned SkypeIn offering, then I don't consider that the barriers guarding the VoIP providers' "monopolies" are too onerous or constraining from the consumer's point of view.

Besides,

• competition ensures that with most VoIP providers, the cost even of intercontinental phone calls is kept very low

• nothing prevents me from keeping, say, both a Vonage and a SkypeIn subscription active at the same time on my computer.

While I appreciate the focus on modern "terrorism" as a function of a memorial to the victims of March 11, I object to some of the language used and to some of the assumptions taken on what exactly terrorism is.

For centuries terror and violence has been a tool of the state. To assume that terrorism is defined in the distributed organisations typefied by Al Qaeda is to swallow whole the projection of reality endorsed by factions responsible for far more carnage.

"[...]the difference between the operatives of the military-industrial-political-journalistic complex and the small fry maligned by the media as “terrorists” is only the difference between wholesale and retail." (bob black)

If we are to presume to outline an infrastructure of/for democracy, freedom, then I feel we must recognise that terror under a banner or in a uniform is as much so as that proliferated by the disperse zealots who utilise the tools left behind in the march of progress.

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I was encouraged by the discussion of our working group at the Safe Democracy summit. Although we're still refining the statement, the group agreed relatively quickly that the open Internet was a tool of democracy, and that broad restrictions in the na... Read More

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