How not to make Policy

How not to make Policy
With reference to the ECT Bill
Bretton Vine
Yet Another Internet Activist...
[email protected]
Process overview
Personal experiences in Parliament
Lessons to be learnt
How it could be done better
Process Overview
• legislative process
Draft papers
» Green Paper
» White Paper
» Draft legislation
» Debate
» Law
Ecommerce Debate
• Ecommerce Discussion paper
» Outlined the issues to be discussed
» Covered relevant international issues
» Defined problem areas
• Working groups
» Break problem down into components
• Tools for facilitating communication
» Web site + email + document sharing mechanism
» Foresight of potential communication problems, and tools
provided to deal with these problems
Problems though
• Tools not used
» Perhaps familiarity with existing tools of meetings, phone
calls and dead trees preferred to computers which don’t
always work well
» Over dependence on Microsoft software? <wink>
• Exclusions
» Only representative bodies, not individuals
» Email went unanswered
» Geographic meetings of working groups
• Urgent need for legislation
• As a result of rapid pace:
» documents produced through seemingly erratic process
» bundling of extra components not necessary to the process
» critical databases
» cyber inspectors
» domain authority
• Legislative process:
» stop-start pace
» mixed public input
» running under it’s own timetable
• One you start the legislative process, you end up in
Parliament at some point
» Draft legislation released
» Debate under auspices of PPCC
Personal experience of
Lack of trust, group suspicion
Logical debate complicated by political infighting
Scheduling difficulties
PPCC acknowledged administration difficulties
Media misconceptions seemingly promulgating incorrect
• Testimony from experienced technical people not given
due consideration
Obvious observations
• Geeks don’t understand politics and have little time for
» seemingly illogical processes?
• Politicians don’t understand geeks
» What’s he saying?
» Who is he?
» Why doesn’t he speak a language I can understand?
• Black-White tensions
» informed parties vs informed parties
• ZA and Uniforum in one corner
» ICANN rules for re-delegation of ccTLD’s
» RFC1591
• Chairman of PPCC in the other
» South African law applicable
» Black-White integration representative of the country
• Stand off
» But both sides seeking similar objectives
» However not seeing each other’s perspectives
» Complicated by commercial/political agendas
• The Internet will submit to the law of South Africa
» <jargon> Read The Fucking Manual
» An (unhelpful?) guru's traditional response when someone
asks a question in a newsgroup or mailing list which he
could have easily answered for himself had he bothered to
» Personal objective was to point out the obvious oversight.
• Threatened with arrest by MP
» Informed parties?
Lessons to be learnt
• Internet industry still learning the lobby process
» e.g. success of SAPO in becoming preferred authentication
Technical concepts don’t translate well
Lack of trust
Participants seemingly there to speak, not to listen
Use tools provided in their intended fashion
» possible that correct use of electronic forums can facilitate
good communication
» concept translation easier when everyone using same
medium of communication
• Historical communication barriers still to be overcome
How it could be done better?
• Internet is a ideal communication medium
» Sustainable
» Open standards
» Ubiquitous connectivity when everyone adheres to same
technical standards for connectivity
• Participation
Use existing Internet policy as guideline
Use Internet as communication medium
Remember we’re all just human beings at the end of the
Onus on you as individual:
• To get involved
» Challenge apathy
» Challenge assumptions
• To listen to one another
• To contribute when you have something of value to add
• To ask questions of each other to prevent
• Where to from here?
» e.g. iWeek been successful in getting people together and
communicating with each other

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