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Recap of day 2 of network of networks advisory group meeting

Author's name: 
Chad Lubelsky
Montreal, Canada

On Monday February 8th, APC convened Day 2 of its advisory group for its network of networks for a free and open internet project.

Day 2 was originally intended to solely focus on action planning, but given the discussions of day 1 – where much time was spent examining past collaborations – we decided to spend some time making sense of the data that emerged. This involved breaking into two groups to continue discussing how we wanted to work together, while also tasking another group with identifying what we wanted to work on. Both groups then reconvened to share their discussions

Highlights of important elements to consider when working together include:

  • The what (issue, goal) informs the how (strategy, tactics)
  • Participants need to have a sense of added value.
    • Can you know the added value in advance? ** Trust and pre-existing relationships play an important role in deciding whether or not to join a network.
  • Deciding whether the focus of the network is broad or narrow is fundamental. Each has their advantages but striking the right balance is essential:
    • Difficult to sustain a network when the focus is too broad
    • Difficult to rally participants when focus is too narrow
  • Important for network to have a positive approach (working toward something)
  • Capacity building of network members is important.
  • Network should enrich agenda and not distract.

With a clearer idea of how we wanted to work together, and with a clearly expressed intent for deep collaboration, we brainstormed potential avenues for collaboration:

  • Net neutrality and an open internet emerged as an issue with significant traction. Spectrum got discussed within this, as did intermediary liability.
  • A development agenda within internet governance also attracted significant interest. Since the agenda changes depending on how it is framed, framing the internet governance conversation from a developing country point of view could shift the agenda and hence the results. Some in the group saw this as more of a cross-cutting theme and not something that was immediately actionable.
  • In terms of immediate opportunities for action, the ongoing ACTA negotiations were highlighted. ACTA involves strands of many different internet governance issues, including: intellectual property, access to knowledge (A2K) and the global democratic deficit and as such could be a good opportunity for action.

An idea that kept coming back was holding an annual strategy summit that would be a driver for change. The A2K Yale summit was cited as an example.

Next steps for the group include setting out the research agenda and also planning a strategic retreat. For more information, contact me: chad [at] apc dot org

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