Minutes of the RIPE Cooperation Working Group, RIPE 63
3 November 2011, 16:00 – 17:30 CET
Working Group Chairs: Patrik Fältström, Maria Häll
Scribe: Chris Buckridge
The Co-Chairs opened the session, thanked the scribes, and confirmed the working group's approval of the RIPE 62 meeting minutes.
B: RIPE Community Engagement with the European Commission, Andrea Glorioso, European Commission
Andrea Glorioso introduced himself and explained the role of the European Commission (EC), which works with a range of other organisations and bodies related to Internet governance. Andrea's role is to provide analysis and information to decision makers at EC. He also noted that the EC proposes legislation, but does not make law; this is done by the European Parliament. He stressed that the responsibilities of the EC pertain only to the European Union and its Member States, which makes up only part of the RIPE NCC service region.
Andrea explained that his goal is to determine how the Commission can better understand the needs of RIPE community and vice versa. He noted that the Cooperation Working Group is an excellent start, but that it cannot be the only way. A more coordinated information-sharing arrangement is required, though staff at the EC do monitor RIPE working group lists and take an interest in specific community discussions, such as that surrounding RPKI.
He noted that there have been community members, both in RIPE and the ICANN community, who have encouraged EC staff to be contribute more actively to community discussions. This will never be an ideal solution, as Commissioners cannot follow policy discussions in detail, and it can be quite difficult for lower level officials to take a strong position, particularly as many people would regard such an intervention as expressing the position of the Commission (even if it has been expressly noted that it does not). He stressed the importance of finding new ways to synchronize knowledge between the EC and the RIPE community, and welcomed any suggestions from working group participants.
Patrik Fältström noted the importance of providing input on proposed EC actions or legislation at the appropriate time, and suggested that too often the community is not aware of EC timelines. Synchronization between the RIPE community and the EC needs to happen as early as possible.
Andrea agreed that the community can often contribute to EC discussions before decisions are made, and it is through these discussions that the Commission tries to incorporate wider points of view. The community can monitor when these discussions are happening via the Commission Work Programme (CWP), which is published at http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/programmes/. This contains all initiatives for the coming year.
He noted that there are informal and formal ways to engage in these discussions. In terms of informal engagement, he stressed the importance of a human point of contact – this could be a national representative, but Andrea himself is also happy to provide this kind of role. He also suggested that people move quickly to engage on any initiative in which they have an interest.
More formally, there is an obligation on the EC to run public consultations for many of its actions or publications.
Patrik noted that some people who have engaged with EC public consultations have found issues being raised or discussed that have either already been discussed, or might more suitably be discussed, in RIPE community forums. There is therefore some duplication, and the possibility of confusion.
Andrea argued that while the RIPE community is a very important stakeholder in the Internet policy area, many other stakeholders also have an interest, and the Commission cannot be seen to prefer one stakeholder group over another. Patrik pointed out that the RIPE community is the primary forum for the discussion of IPv6 issues in the region. Andrea questioned whether all relevant stakeholders (for example, equipment manufacturers) are involved in RIPE discussions, but agreed that the Commission is open to identifying more efficient ways of working.
Constanze Bürger noted that it is important to talk about and improve this process of community input and interaction with the EC, and that the German government welcomes this both as an LIR and an EU Member State.
C: Update on Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2011, Chris Buckridge, RIPE NCC
Chris Buckridge outlined the activities of the RIPE NCC at the sixth Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place in September 2011. He noted that, working as part of the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the RIPE NCC had helped organise two workshops during the event, one on IPv6 adoption and capacity building, the other on improving understanding and communication between different stakeholder groups. He also observed that the event had been very well attended (more than 2000 participants on-site) and had provided some welcome examples of dialogue involving all stakeholders, including governments.
D: Update on United Nations CSTD Working Group on IGF Improvement, Nurani Nimpuno, Netnod
Nurani Nimpuno followed with an overview of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) Working Group on Improvements to the IGF, its history and way of working, and some related issues. She noted that the experience of the Group had emphasised the importance of not regarding "stakeholder" groups as single, static entities - there are tensions within many stakeholder groups, particularly those broadly identified as "government", as well as overlaps between the traditional stakeholder identities.
Paul Rendek asked what the RIPE community (and other RIR communities) can do to further this work? Nurani suggested more ongoing dialogue about the issues raised in relation to Internet governance – there are too many issues at stake to simply dip into the discussion at meetings of the RIPE Cooperation WG. She noted the Cooperation WG mailing list as an important resource, as well as the RIPE NCC Government Roundtable initiative, but noted the tendency at many meetings to report to each other, rather than engage in constructive dialogue. She noted that the IGF and the discussions surrounding it have forced different stakeholder groups to cooperate, and that in itself has led to new and important connections.
Paul noted that after a long period of establishing the position of the RIPE NCC and RIPE community in Internet governance circles, governments and other stakeholders are now turning to the RIPE NCC and the community for data and analysis. However, he noted that the wider RIPE community may not have a clear understanding of the Internet governance challenges that are now developing. The recent RIPE NCC Membership and Stakeholder Survey found relatively low levels of support for the RIPE NCC's engagement activities with governments, which perhaps means that the RIPE NCC is not adequately communicating the importance and relevance of these issues to the community.
Nurani agreed, and noted the danger of not engaging in processes such as the IGF: if governments don't get what they want through the IGF, they will find other, less inclusive avenues to achieve their goals.
Niall O'Reilly asked what community members could usefully be doing between events like the Cooperation WG meetings. Nurani stressed the need for ongoing discussion and local initiatives, noting that Sweden has a "reference group" to facilitate communication between government, regulators and the technical community. Paul Rendek noted that Norway has also done some work in bringing together different stakeholders to discuss issues such as IPv6.
Patrik observed that it doesn't scale for RIPE NCC to take part in all of these local activities, and that the input of local operators is required. Nurani suggested that the RIPE NCC play a coordinating role, helping to identify opportunities for engagement and speakers from the community. Paul noted the example of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE, which has asked for the RIPE NCC's assistance in identifying relevant experts.
Constanze Bürger stressed the importance of community members coming away from meetings like the RIPE Meeting or IGF and investigating how the lessons learned can be applied in a local setting.
Paul Wilson acknowledged the work of RIPE NCC staff in this area, and noted that a body such as the Cooperation WG hasn't been able to translate (yet) to the APNIC region. He noted that while many in the RIR communities had hoped that their significant investment in Internet governance engagement would not be ongoing, it is clear that all five RIRs will need to invest seriously in this area for the foreseeable future. He noted that the IGF is widely regarded as a success, but it needs to continue; if we want to maintain the Internet as an "extra-governmental" environment, there needs to be an extra-governmental forum to accommodate that. The threatened withdrawal of government funding for the IGF is something that the technical community needs to be aware of, and ready to respond to. He also argued that the IGF is actually a highly efficient operation when you look at the scale of what it is safeguarding.
Patrik thanked APNIC for their ongoing work in Internet governance. He also noted the fact that countries with strong operator communities are not necessarily the same countries taking an active role in Internet governance discussions, and gave the example of Ireland.
Michele Neylon noted that while the Interpol representative to the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC) is Irish, they do not represent Ireland, and the Irish government does not appear to be engaged in Internet governance issues. There was some discussion of how Irish operators could encourage the government to engage, and it was noted that operators often don't know who to reach out to in the public sector (for example, the national ITU delegate). Paul Rendek noted that the RIPE NCC has done some work compiling lists of relevant public sector contacts, and could share these with community members. Nurani Nimpuno noted that the IGF is also a useful venue for people to make these contacts, and Maria Häll noted that the ICANN website has list of all GAC representatives (https://gacweb.icann.org/display/gacweb/GAC+Members).
Olaf Kolkman noted that it is often difficult to know where to pay attention, or which issues are most urgent (now or in the future), and suggested that the RIPE Cooperation WG could be a forum to highlight the most relevant issues. Nurani agreed, and pointed out that even if you understand the issues, it's hard to find time to respond to them all, and that this is where some coordination from the RIPE NCC could be useful to the community.
Maria Häll closed the meeting, noting that the multi-stakeholder process needs to translate into Internet stakeholders' day-to-day business, and that operators need to be talking to their government, regulators etc.
She also noted that EuroDIG (the European Dialogue on Internet Governance) takes place in Stockholm, 14-15 June 2012 (http://www.eurodig.org/).
Desiree Miloshevic encouraged working group participants to attend or submit a position paper for an event being co-organised by the Oxford Internet Institute and the International Diplomatic Academy the following week.