The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> LUCA BELLI: Good morning to everyone. Apologizing for the slides delayed. I am Luca Belli here at the CTS‑FGV law school, and the Co‑Founder of the Internet Commons Forum here with many friends from APC and beyond. The goal of this yearly addition of the Internet Commons Forum is to precisely bring into the discussion some of the perspectives that we felt were miss from the traditional IGF discussions, and that can be very impactful for the progress of inter‑global discussions, and, indeed, I think we will speak about this with Anriette in her introduction, discussions on Digital Commons becoming over the past couple years very important at the human level, including the ongoing efforts on the global compass. So, we have decided to use a classic format for this session that we have used already last year.
So, we will have two segments with some presentations and provide question‑and‑answers. We will start with an introduction by Anriette, and before her, we will still have ‑‑ you will have to bear with me and Adam for a couple of introductory remarks to context lies so everyone is on the same page with what we are trying to achieve here, and why we are here.
So, the main reason we are here, as I mentioned before, we have felt over the past years that digital common, or internet common, or Commons discussions in general were a little absent from the IGF community, so we decided to bring them inside the IGF community with a little bit of provocation, creating an Internet Commons Forum to, let's say mimic in a fun, hopefully way, of trying to introduce to the discussion the inter‑governance forum with the Internet Commons Forum. The great thing we face here, this absence of IGF discussion and Commons, reflects an absence of this discussion about this alternative, this third way of governance, the Commons governance.
It is basically visible in the mainstream policy and politics, and that is a pity, because we have seen over the past decades that, actually, the Commons is a very interesting.
If you think about community networks, it is crowd force structure, a shared design managed as a Commons, a very good example of how Digital Commons can actually not only exist, but thrive, be sustainable, allow people previously in connective, disconnected people to connect, set the scene, the great difference from traditional management and governance system is that the community is at the center of the model. It is not possible to separate community for the resource that is managed, because the great difference between the Commons and the other models or systems is that the Commons requires the community to understand and care about the shared interest, the shared resource that is managed, which sometimes cannot be economically quantified. If you think about the value of the forest, or a thriving ecosystem ‑‑ as long as there is shared enforcement, and that people respect the rules to manage the common resources so that is precisely what we are bringing to the discussion, several, good examples of brilliant initiatives and people working in the Internet Commons.
Without further ado, I would like to give the floor to my friend, Adam, and then get into the lively part of the discussion. Please, Adam, the floor is yours. I think you are muted. I think you are muted.
So, I would like to ask the technical assistant to unmute Adam Burns so he can speak, please.
>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: I have to leave, do you mind if I make my remarks before Adam, because I have a session starting at 5:00.
>> LUCA BELLI: Sure. No problem. We are grateful you have time to be with us today, so, please go ahead.
>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: it is a bit challenging. Thank you, my name is Anriette Esterhuysen. I am from South Africa. I am happy to see you all at the African IGF. I am the past chair of the MAG and the Co‑chair of progressive communication, one of the organisations that started convening this, so it is really good to see you all here.
Luca asked me to say a little about the global digital complex. I will make a few remarks about that, because we heard Luca talk about the value or need for shared principles when we are looking at Commons and thinking of the Internet as a Commons.
I think in many ways we are only just starting this conversation of looking at the Internet as a Commons, but in many ways it is actually a conversation that is not a new one. Because I think the roots of the internet is very much in looking at it as a Commons In the global digital compact, which we will all hear a lot about today with the process initiated by the UN Secretary General, open‑sources, getting input from the broader multi‑stakeholders internet governance community and lots of other communities to come up with some kind of shared principles that would then theoretically be negotiated and agreed on, and by member states at the global summit of the future in 2024.
They are not intended to be binding instruments. They really are just intended to take us a little bit closer to having a common framework for thinking about the internet, developing the internet, and the digital sphere more broadly with the global digital compact taking on a much broader scope than just the internet.
But I think for those of us concerned about the internet as a public goods, from a public interest pre‑or common perspective on the internet, it is an opportunity to be looking at capturing those principles.
I think the one thing we should not try to do with the global digital compact is to put too much detail into it, and to make it a huge, big treaty with lots different provisions. It really is an opportunity for us to pause, to reset, and to consider what the principles are that really matter to us in the digital space.
And particularly principles that can help us as a global and multi‑stakeholder community come up with policy and regulation, and other practices that are not harmonized in a legalistic manner, but are harmonized at the level of broad‑based agreement and at the level of values and principles.
So, just my own remarks here, which I really am so grateful that Luca and Adam keep organizing this, and everyone who participates in it. My perspective on this ‑‑ and I think the association for progressive communications is interested in exploring this ‑‑ is how can we actually use the concept of the common, or the concept of the public works, and maybe think about birth, the elements of birth that come from very different places, but use them as a way of how we reset the internet commons. As Luca pointed out, there are tensions around market‑based approaches to regulating, organizing and developing the internet, and tensions linked to state‑based approaches. There are also real risks.
For many years we have taken the open internet for granted. We now know we can't take it for granted. There are encroachment from state integrations, fragmentation, national boundaries, and encroachments coming from the corporate sector in terms of violation of human rights and the monetization of harmful use. And increasing the internet seem as place that we have to intervene in.
I think the European Union, the European Commission has taking the leadership in attempting to deal with some of these challenges through regulatory responses. We also see the challenges related to regulatory responses.
So, really, I think that is my message here. I think that this is a wealth of thinking, and it comes to the Commons that I think we can draw on when we think of resetting the governance. It is multi‑stakeholder, it is inclusive, and it is global.
So, Luca, I think that will be my last remark. I think, what else did I want to stress? Perhaps just, you know, the idea that if we really want to overcome this period of, I think we are in a little bit of a limbo at the moment, where there is a broadbased recognition there is a need for intervention of some kind, a need for regulation at the market regulation level, the content regulation, but that we approach this in a very open way, looking at what we value most about the internet, its openness, its inclusiveness, its character as a Commons and platform that can grow the information Commons and other forms of Commons, and also look at taking lessons from other sectors.
We just had the case of Twitter, for example. Is there a way, perhaps, we can take good practice from market regulations where you have mergers and acquisitions in the public sector that have to be bettered or reviewed from the perspective of what the impact of that merger and acquisition will be on the public interest.
So, that is sort of my other takeaway. Let's be open‑minded, let's look at the practice from the Commons, from community‑based practices, from public interest and our own multi‑stakeholder practice and all the tool and processes we created within the IGA space. Back to you, Luca. I can't stay.
>> LUCA BELLI: What you mentioned is fantastic. I think the Twitter example is paradoxically a very good example of what is usually called, with a very wrong definition, the strategy of the Commons, because the classic economist thinking when you have Commons, it leads to foyer because of overexploitation by people.
Actually, what has been demonstrated is that the failure is because of the lack of regulation, the lack of norms, that then leads to abusive behaviors. I think the Twitter example is a very good example for a potentially public sphere where people can ‑‑ it is curtained by one single individual that then starts to do whatever the hell he wants with no limitations, because there is no shared governance system impeding him or whomever, whatever doing this, so it is very useful to bring this discussion.
I would like now to give the floor to Adam for his initial remarks, and then really get into what promises to be an interesting and very lively discussion. Please, Adam, the floor is yours.
>> ADAM BURNS: Good evening, hello, everybody. I cannot enable my video at the moment, as it seems to be disabled by the host. If that can be corrected, please, I would appreciate it.
>> LUCA BELLI: I would like to ask the technical assistant to enable Adam Burns' video, as well. Thank you very much.
>> ADAM BURNS: Thank you, Luca. Hopefully that will come on. Not yet. Anyway, Anriette ta, as always, brought up some central concerns of the disparate nature of centralized internet governance as we have it, and the role of the Commons as the internet has grown.
Seeing as we are running a little late, I would like to introduce, first of all, our first speaker straight away. Osama Manzar is the founder/director of the Digital Empowerment Foundation, empowering more than 30 million people in 20 years. He is the Senior Fellow, British scholar and IVO scholar that served on many boards of international organisations working in the area of digital development and especially on issues of the Commons, as I think he has joined us before in one of the Internet Commons sessions. I still do not have video enabled, so perhaps, without further ado, Osama can be more successful with audio and video. Host, can you please enable Osama Manzar in both audio and video?
>> LUCA BELLI: I would like to request technical assistance to enable Osama Manzar's audio and video. Thank you.
>> OSAMA MANZAR: Hi. Good evening, good afternoon, good morning. Am I audible?
>> ADAM BURNS: You are audio, but no video signal yet.
>> OSAMA MANZAR: I am trying to push the button, but the iPad is saying you are not allowed, you are disabled.
>> ADAM BURNS: Identical to my issue earlier, Osama.
>> OSAMA MANZAR: That is the first challenge to Internet Commons, I guess. Yes. Now I think I am online now. Thank you very much. Thank you, Adam, and thank you, Luca. It is always good to be here.
I was expecting to join speaking a little later half, but thank you very much for pushing me to come forward. As a starting comment, I would very much like to echo what Anriette said earlier about the preciseness of the message, and in regard to digital impact and bringing all the voices together.
In fact, I was in New York a couple weeks ago, and I met with the voices on technology and we decided to work together to bring in the voices not heard. You know, I would like to bring in the concern of the voices not heard on this platform, which is very important when we are talking about Internet Commons. There is something called right to information, right to food, right to connectivity, but do we have access?
You know, after giving rights we take away the access, or we do not give the access. If we talk about Internet Commons, it is extremely important to know that just by making internet available is it really available and accessible to me if I am living as a tribal person, not speaking the language that the world understands. and I live in a place where not even electricity comes, nothing comes, and you still make a policy that actually requires me to give my biometric authentication to get my ration, or to get my education, or to get my draw of money, and so on and so forth.
So, the journey of internet and the internet commons in the last 20, 25 years, is while we have connected half the world, we are still making internet uncommon to the rest of the half of the world, and difficult, and not affordable, and not available in my natural language, in my natural medium, in my natural ecosystem, and how do we get that? How do we do that?
How can we make not my language internet‑enabled, but can we make internet language enabled? Or by medium enabled? The medium I like, the medium that I can convene, the medium that I am comfortable with, the medium that I can afford, and so on and so forth.
And working in Indian subcontinent, as you know, we have this privilege to have hundreds of languages, hundreds of cultures, hundreds of regions, all kinds from coastal to geographic challenges and all that, we somehow have an ecosystem of the remoteness of the geography and, you know, the affordability challenge, as well.
Therefore I would take an example of India, but for the whole group in the world, the people who are not connected yet, are the people, are the most desirable, are the people who are the most challenging in terms of affordability, in the terms of accessibility, in terms of affordability. And how can we actually bring in principles under Internet Commons to help to go to digital compact discussions, or to go to UN discussions, and to go to various international policies of various countries.
How can we make this most important infrastructure necessity, a most commonly available, more easily available, and most, you know, affordably available. I don't have to really stress what kind of examples we have.
We all know if you go to the statistical data, the language highest on the internet, what kind of people are highest on the internet what, kind of people are highest and well‑connected, but having said that, on this platform we would like to challenge ourselves to take responsibility to bringing Internet Commons principle to the doorstep of the people who are not connected. Thank you.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Osama. That is a very good way to start connecting the dots, and also, with a little bit of well‑deserved criticism. I mean, it is essential, the point that you are making, that while we claim that we have half of the world connected, but, actually, that is the easiest half, the most homogeneous and easy to connect half. It is much harder to connect the rest, and it will be even more hard if we do not think that the rest that is not connected yet, is also characteristics, specificity that need to be not only respected, but also preserved, and cannot be eradicated simply because it is more convenient, or cheaper to use existing strategies.
To speak about this, actually, it is very good to have our next speaker, Nicolas Echaniz, our very good friend, that also has been contributing for the past years in these discussions. Not only with virtual, how the internet works, but really to create ‑‑ we can call them digital goods, digital common goods, new platforms, new hardware and software, open‑source hardware and software, that has enabled, really, literally, thousands of people who have access to the internet, who have connectivity, to produce, to create new content services and culture.
Please, Nicholas, the floor is yours. I would like to ask the technical assistant to enable his audio, as well. Thank you.
>> NICHOLAS ECHANIZ: Hello. Yes, I am unmuted now. Thank you very much for the introduction, Luca. I was thinking about a few points.
At Altermundi, we were in the development of technology of open‑source technology, both hardware and software. And we are usually confronted with the standard way of doing software, hardware, internet deployment, etc.
And, to us, it is interesting that the internet which was like ideally born as a Commons, is now in a state where Commons is not the common ground. You know? It is not the standard. It is, like, for example, when you receive your alternate system number and IP blocks, you negotiate your BGP border with a network, for example, in our case the national University of Cordova, but then we are blocked upstream. Our system number is blocked upstream. And there is no technical issue here. It is just an administrative issue, and it is a big fish decision, no?
Like the big fish here in this example is the state operate, the outside network, which decided that it will not good traffic coming from alternate system numbers that are behind the system numbers they are connecting, unless you ask for it specifically, and you are convincing. It is like, it is not granted. And this is completely broken, like the internet is broken when you do this.
And, to us, this is a perfect example of how the internet works nowadays. It is mostly concentrated by big operators, the biggest ones are private, and then we have, in some places, we have important state actors. But even the state networks still take the decisions based on market observations, and market rules.
For us, this is really strange. It is like, I go to talk with the State, and I say, well, if you can provide us with transport over your fiber network, which means that we won't cross your network toward another network, no? Transport is just over your network. So, it doesn't have an external cost. It is just using capacity that is there, that is unused, and we, a Commons‑based initiative, are asking you, the State, to have the mandate, who has the mandate to bring communication and relevant access to every citizen to just share a resource, for which you have no cost, yes?
And I even, like, write the contract to do this legally, like, it is all there, you know? You know what we will do, what we won't do, all the specifications, we can network whatever you need. Usually they start by saying this is quite logical, this makes sense. But then it gets stranded somewhere in bureaucracy. It is like it is impossible.
We, at least, haven't been able to convince the state operator, being it a national or regional operator, about the convenience of sharing their network with community networks. And the convenience is both ways. Because community networks would very much profit from having access to a big fiber network in their region, because they could interconnect different community networks in different small villages and exchange content, culture, et cetera.
But, also, they could share whatever international transit agreements they have. For example, we have an agreement with the University nationally, the University of Cordova, where Altermundi uses all the bandwidth that is not being used by the University, and it is shared with a number ‑‑ about 12 community networks. Yes?
If we could use the State fiber network, we could bring this bandwidth to many, many more community networks that are not accessible to us because of the distance, but that could connect to the State fiber network. And the University bandwidth is like very big in comparison to what community networks need.
So, all the resources are there, like the University wants to share international transit. The communities need it, the state provider has the network to interconnect all of this, and no one has to lose a penny, and nobody will be earning a penny over this.
It is just bringing connectivity. But, still, they won't understand it. Because they don't think about the internet from a Commons perspective.
So, we are working with this, very specifically. We think it is needed for the state operators to understand this concept. And even here in Argentina, where we have been very successful with programmes from the regulator regarding funding for community networks using the universal service fund money, even here we still are not able to convince the state operator to work from this frame of mind in regard to the transport over the network.
And, another small issue ‑‑ do I have a couple more minutes, Luca, or?
>> LUCA BELLI: Yeah.
>> NICHOLAS ECHANIZ: Another issue very important regarding the Commons is devices, and technology. What are the end‑users using to access culture nowadays. We have been cornered to devices which are not always connected to power outlets, which are connected to a metered network which we cannot just use. It is metered.
We have limited storage, and we have a limited capacity. And all of this, which is what most of the people uses to connect to the network, create as network of consumers, of consumer end‑users.
When you need to store your own family photographs, instead of storing them on your own device, you will store it miles away, hundreds of thousands of miles away in the quote unquote Cloud.
We believe we need to push back. We need to push back regarding what is the technology that we use to connect to the internet? Because otherwise we are limited by both the hardware and software, and services that are provided as a mass product, and we are cornered in this idea that we are only consumers, and we cannot produce, and we cannot provide content from our (?).
So we believe we need to connect to this front. We are building software over the year called the culture repository, which is distributed repository of culture, and we are working on this matter, like how do we add an additional device to mobile devices so that families can share, sort of, local Cloud, where they can store their own culture, their own productions, their own content, and then share through the phone, but owning what is theirs, instead of giving it for free to corporations to make money and money to make the public capacity. I think that is it for now.
>> ADAM BURNS: Thank you very much, Nicholas. It is great to hear you talk about. Always inspiring, especially as you seem to compliment many of the topics, Anriette said, but in a practical, measured way. The technical governance of the internet, as with scaled, the governance in a Commons perspective seems to have broken down from corporate and regional and State access, down to just practical, everyday, from the technical administration of trying to connect your local network to the greater internet who issues over the corporatization of our own personal data and, indeed, our regional culture, as well.
So, I think you wrapped up so many layers of the Commons as a stack, so to speak, in your presentation. I want to thank you for that. It also touches, I think, on some of Osama's points. That is the lack of autonomy. You know, even after access that we have as individuals, or regions.
So, it really does seem to me that this year's topic of internet at a Commons needs to start thinking about tackling the issues of the tremendous growth and importance and economic rise of the internet itself. And the players that now dominate this space at all the layers from platforms to infrastructure, to data pools themselves, and Clouds. We need to look at ways in which this larger stack really can be governed in a way more compatible with Commons aesthetics.
Of course, you know very well, there are many people like yourself, Nico, who haven't given up hope yet, and most are emerging from the edges of a community network that are also joining. Especially people such as Ramon Rocco from Spain, whose governance model as they role out infrastructure, is based on Commons principles.
You, Nico, Ramon and many other people, are inspiring many groups globally to take some of that back.
I would like to, just before I introduce the next speaker, I would just like to check with Jane Coffin who is actually present at this session. Luca, would you have any knowledge on that?
>> LUCA BELLI: Yeah. Unfortunately Jane is not able to connect now because she is in transit. And maybe we can take advantage of her absence to have a quick ten minutes slot of questions from the audience and participants. I see there are already interesting questions in the Chat. Maybe we can take one just to break a little bit between this first slot and the next one.
I see there is an interesting one by Sibus Branyon on the question of ownership platforms and also open‑source community. Asking what safeguards are thought of or to prevent the governance of Internet as a Commons from digital rating like a badly managed public trust, which is, indeed, a very good question. My answer to that is that, if we take the global governance and take the internet from a very wide perspective, it is, indeed, this kind of seekers are rendered missing.
Maybe we should disagree a bit to what Anriette was saying of the principles. If one considered the work of the Commons spearheaded, what is important is not to only have principles and norms, but also effective enforcement mechanics to make sure that people respect those principles, and to avoid examples of failure, right? Badly managed public trust that Sibus mentioned. Maybe we would like to open the floor for a couple of reactions or questions from the participants.
I don't know if anyone has a mic in the room, but I guess so. If there is any reactions about this from the people in Addis Ababa, we are very happy to hear you, otherwise we will ask Nicholas or Osama if they have any thought on this? Do we have any reactions from the floor from Addis Ababa? If you want to ‑‑ if you want to provide any comments, please just state who you are, because I am not sure everyone can see you so for the record it is be to have your name and village. Thank you.
>> Yes, I am Dr. Amutt Yiseen from the University of (?) in France. I just want to ‑‑ this thing of automatic writing is sometimes different than what is said, so I recommend you not to rely too much on it. That is one of the technical observations.
Luca, you mentioned that Twitter is owned by one person and is dictating what he is doing on global users of internet and so on. So, like, you ‑‑ what is your suggestion in this case, to avoid this, somebody, or corporation's control and dictate what they are doing on the people?
How can the Commons ‑‑ suggest the Commons overcome such a problem. Is there the possibility that users migrate from such big platforms when they are not fully satisfying them? Is there any mechanism to avoid such behavior? Thank you very much.
>> LUCA BELLI: This is a question directed to me. I will abuse my position as a moderator to reply. I think what you are raising, they are two interior twined aspects here. On the one hand, the one is considerably blacked by financial plastic, the richest man in the world easily raising $50 billion to purchase and make private a previously publicly‑traded company, and which also means that it makes it totally opaque, because all the transparency obligation that the publicly‑traded corporation needs to comply with in terms of transparency what, you are planning to do, how you are using your money, why you are firing people and how are you planning to be accountable to the public, they have disappeared, right?
That is something extremely, in my perspective, extremely negative for, if you consider the health not only of the internet, but also of the specific platform. This could be, actually, avoided, either to prohibit this takeover by a single man of an entire platform that is so essential for public debate nowadays.
Understand, maybe easier and more advisable on my perspective to make such platforms interoperable, to invest, to define how those platforms could be interoperable. If one day someone purchases your email provider, you can download your emails and upload them to a different email provider that offers you better conditions, and you will keep on being able to exchange messages, videos, whatever you want, with other people through email, because email is interoperable, and that is how the interpreter was born, right? Through intervalidity.
So, I think one of the key elements we need to focus on in order to ‑‑ and we also have a session on this, on the interoperability, and interopenness for those interested, one of the key elements that one has to focus on, one of the key principles that one has to focus on is, indeed, interoperability, and trading also a mechanism that allows this not only to be empty words, an label interoperability, as some regulation does.
If we take a trivial example, but the very praised GDPR that the EU general protection regulation creates a right to data portability, so everyone has ‑‑ every data subject has to right to export their personal data, import them to the competitor, by the fact that this is impossible, because they are not defined standards of interoperability on how to do that.
So, even when the regulation aims at being very refined, the de facto is a failure. One of the make issues, probably, as we have this discussion in Internet Commonss is how to create standards that allow interoperability, competition and digital commons to flourish and not to be taken over at will by billionaires, because I don't think this is the internet, certainly not the regional internet philosophy, and not the philosophy of us who would like to communicate it.
Sorry if I am speaking too much. I would like to take other reactions. I said Nicholas has one. Please, Nicholas, go ahead.
>> ADAM BURNS: Nicholas might be muted there. Yes.
>> LUCA BELLI: Nicholas, I think we can hear you now.
>> NICHOLAS ECHANIZ: Yes, okay. I just wanted to comment that you bringing the email example is interesting, because email was, like, the last standardized service. And it was, and still is, the one thing that is standard in communication. But I think it is interesting what happened with instant messaging, with the XMPT protocol, which was the standard, and is the base technology for both WhatsApp, Google messenger and many of now acknowledges and now has broken the standard so that it won't operate with other instant messaging platforms.
If you remember, it was impossible to install free software for XMPP instant messaging communication, and still be able to communicate with people on Google Messenger for a long time, if you remember. But then this was broken. to me, the most important thing about the service being broken, to one, it is transporting most of the communication of the people nowadays, right? WhatsApp, instant messengers in general. Not being standardized and not being open‑source, you have things like, for example, WhatsApp is now encrypted. It has been encrypted for many years.
But we do not have access to the code of the client or the server. So, for example, if our communications are encrypted not just with the keys from the receiver and the intermediateuator of the communication, but also encrypted with the general key which is owned by the (?) we can now know the statistics, it is impossible to know they are not encrypting your communication with a key they can then use to decrypt communication.
So, what this makes is a global theater where the only government with access to most of the communication data in the world is the United States, because they have a legal system where they can force any company to disclose all information and to make it secretly, and it is treason if the company denounces that they have been asked to disclose private communication.
So, to me, all the blocks are there. I would say, I know my communication is being monitored by only the US Government, and this creates this balance in communication, where other governments are not just us as users, and private users of the internet, but whole countries, whole governments, have an opaque technology that their citizens are using to communicate, and foreign countries have access to the communication content.
This is, I think, like, one of the most extreme examples of how bad it is to not have the internet governance Commons, and to have standards enforced on corporations.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you, Nico. All right. I think we can get into the next segment of the discussion, for which the presentation Will Ruddick from Grassroots Economics in Kenya. Will, can you hear us well? Let me try to, if I can, unmute you. I have to find you here.
>> WILL RUDDICK: Hey, guys, can you hear me?
>> LUCA BELLI: Yes, very well. We can hear you and see you. Welcome.
>> WILL RUDDICK: Very good. Okay, I am going to try to share something, see if I can. No, I can't share the screen. I will just talk and share screen later.
I guess what I have to talk about is a little bit different. I have been working a lot with David Johnson from South Africa on the innettic system, but specifically working on economic Commons around mesh networks and trying to create incentive systems and essentially credit systems in local communities to be able to pay for the usage of these mesh networks.
The way that looks is essentially that the operators of the mesh network that are running these antennas from their houses and keeping them on, and what not, they create a voucher redeemable for the services of the network.
And on the inNetty system, what we have is a whole bunch of offering content like next cloud, Wikipedia, Com academy and the ability for people to upload their own content. So, if you can imagine this group of people providing this mesh network, they create a bunch of vouchers, so it is a mutual credit similar to like a malvoucher. We have used a blockchain as a voucher, as well, held on the network.
So, these vouchers are sold for cash, but they are also very much sold in‑kind into the community. So, when people want to get access to this mesh network, which also has a backhaul, as well, of actual internet they get from vouchers, people have to have the voucher. People get free access. There is a free layer that you don't need any vouchers for that is like the local content. Then there is a cost for getting the backhaul of the internet.
So, what happens is that these tokens, or these subscriptions, if you will, these are subscriptions to the internet, end up flowing around the community and acting as kind of a local currency, in a way.
So, people will end up accepting them for tomatoes, for instance. You can pay for internet with your tomatoes, or your eggs, or what not. So, someone who a pays with eggs for this voucher can now use them in the community and redeem the them for internet access. One voucher, for instance, gives you three hours of internet. It is not three hours of time ‑‑ it is three hours of usage, so we actually track them being active on the network. And something like three vouchers ends up being like a day on the internet.
That is three times more effective as the major Telecoms, so we can offer very, very cheap distributed internet services, and we can also offer a free level or free Intranet mesh services, as well all the trade of these vouchers ends up creating secondary circulation and trade.
The internet ends up becoming the basis for a local economy, as well. It is a backing of last resort for the trade of tomatoes and all kinds of stuff in the community. So, that is what we have been working on here in Kenya, in South Africa and also in Ocean View. There is an interesting concept around economic Commons and looking at the subscription model and the promise of services in some ways being an opening of a different type of Commons backed by a redemption as payment in local services.
We have also done the same kind of economic models without internet, but with other types of backing, goods and services. For instance, maze Mills, business networks coming together, things like coconuts and coconut oil acting as a backing for a local voucher economy.
I don't know if you have heard of like air time credit in Kenya, you can also Sam ambassador SSA or trade that air time credit. The air time credit is a promise of the services against the telecom, and is also tradeable and people will use it as a currency, as well. So, in this case we have a malvoucher, a promise as is service against the network. As the people buy the vouchers, the vouchers get redistributed to the node operators of the network runs the antennas, so let me pause there. Thank you, guys.
>> ADAM BURNS: Thank you very much, Will. It is really excellent to see this trade alternative, local economic system, that your initiative is triggering, and how this actually is not only including people in digital system, but also creating a new local economic ecosystem, so it is really demonstrating the benefits of connectivity. Both as a driver of inclusion but also a driver of creation of value at the local level for the local communities, right?
Now, I am going to now invite our next speaker, Laureen Van Breen from Wikirate. She is based in the Netherlands, and she has been working with Wikirate, exploring how data can be opened to make corporations more accountable. So, please, Laureen, the floor is yours. I would like to ask our technical assistant to, yeah, unmute Wikirate. Laureen, can you hear us?
>> LAUREEN VAN BREEN: Yes. This is great.
>> LUCA BELLI: Can we see you? Can we also activate Laureen's camera?
>> LAUREEN VAN BREEN: Yes. Here I am law enforcement fantastic. Welcome, Laureen.
>> LAUREEN VAN BREEN: Magic. Thank you, everybody, for having me today and sticking with us. It is a lot of technical content. I will try to share some details with you, but not go too deep into the material.
As you heard, I will talk a little bit about a different Commons than what you have heard so far, which is the data Commons. I will start by grounding ourselves. It might be repeating the obvious, but really is a Commons.
So, a Commons is a land or resource that is belonging to, or effecting the whole of a community. I think particularly what I would like to pick up on is the belonging to part. That is, from a data perspective, from a data Commons, is what from our perspective it must be open data that we are talking about. It means access for everyone. It means a shared responsibility and brings in the ownership of governance.
That is something that is quite important. Today I will dive deeper into, yeah, what is really the case when it comes to the private sector and the public sector data. So, data about companies. And this is exactly where ownership and governance create an interesting dynamic, it complicates things. I am going to talk a little more about that in just a minute.
But, maybe to give us a bit of an overview of where are we coming from, where are we now, and where are we headed, right? A data Commons probably most of you will know is Wikipedia, which came about at the turn of the millennium and the it was created in the 1990s and made for the open encyclopedia on the internet.
About a decade later, we started in 2013, with the open internet. Really, is idea was there is a lot of information out there about companies when it comes to their financial performance, but we know very little about them when it comes to sustainable performance, the environmental and social impacts of their actions. The information is out there, but it is incredibly hard to get an overview. There is not one place you can go to, there is not one site where there is an aggregate. And if there is, you have huge cables to get through.
Even though the information is out in the public domain, the public doesn't really have access. Our mandate was to make this a public resource once again, by bringing it together in one place, cleaning it, standardizing it, and giving access for free to everyone.
So, this is one of the big things that we were trying to change. And, really, our role as an organisation that sits behinds all of this is to develop the infrastructure, to create tools and support the community in their use of this platform. And the community is the people. It is the whole of the community, right? Anyone interested in this information can collect it, use it and extract it, so it is all of these activities, and it is driven by what the community is interested in.
How do we gather and bring the information into our data system. There are three ways. As much as we can, we automate. We are integrating with the other data systems, the interoperability piece.
Of course, as we just heard, standards, there is not just one standard for that. There is a lot of work that comes into always working with these different groups and setting it up in a way where you can really share information between your systems.
Then you get into the semi‑automated techniques of scraping and importing techniques into a platform like ours and allowing anyone to access that again.
The last element there is why we are Wiki. It is all of this information stuck in encyclopedia ports incredibly hard to process with machines, so we are bringing together the community around these sources, and asking them, can you help us extract particular information that we are looking for in these documents?
And that is really the Wiki element, as well. Not only is the community able to access, use and analyze this information, they are also the entrypoint for us, they are helping us gather all of that information. And this is really important, because it really is the basis of why we would never be able to sell our data.
We cannot sell data that was gathered by a community. It is not ours. So, it laid the foundation for us that, of course, we had to be a Commons, right? Not only can we say we are a free resource, we have to be a Commons.
And this is really, also, then brought into the question of, okay, well, there are so many sources out there, right? We are collecting data on companies, the overwhelming majority of information is coming from companies themselves. But, if a company tells me they are sustainable, is that really the only source I want to check?
If I do a job interview, I have references that get checked. I can tell you I am a nice person, that doesn't mean much, right? You want to check with others. And the same goes for the performance of a company.
So, we are collecting data not only from what companies are telling us about their actions and impacts, but also collecting data from workers, right? Is so, working with NGOs on the ground, bringing in perspectives. Not only do we want to see, for instance, what the commitments are of brands on supply chain wages, but what are the actual wages being paid in factories.
There is a project I would be happy to share in the Chat, as well that does compactly that. We are comparing the gap between what companies are telling us in terms of what is reality on the ground in terms of supply chain wages. It is the triangulation piece that really shows the power of a Commons.
Workers are traditionally not a group associated with ESG data, this environmental sustainability data, right? It is a group that consistent have access to the information, didn't have a way to provide information, and this is what we are trying to switch around, and say, well, if you are impacted by company, then surely you should have a voice in this space that is driving decision‑making on whether the world is going in a sustainable direction or not.
It is not just investors who know best. So, this is really what we are working toward. Can we actually bring this information into the hands of those most impacted by companies, as well?
Now, so, we, as I already mentioned, there is no way we would ever sell data, and this is so important to us that it is part of our statutes. It is when we founded the organisation that is the basis of what we said we were going to do. So, that is one way to protect that Commons, that approach. But we also really have different systems in place in terms of governance. We are doing updates to the governance in the coming months where we are bringing community members onto the Board and making sure they can govern the organisation behind everything, right? That is maintaining this infrastructure and providing this access to the information.
So, there is also that element to it. So, that gives you a little bit of background about Wikirate's journey. But while we were going through all of these steps, we weren't the only ones that caught onto the data Commons, a rise, really.
To highlight a few big ones, in 2018, Google's initiative, the dataCommons.org where they are aggregating a wide range of sources from the public that they are trying to make more easily accessible. Then you had in 2019 the EU had that a directive on open data and making it easier to reuse public sector information.
Earlier this year we had, also, the corporate sustainability reporting directive in the EU, where they also embedded this question of, like, okay, it needs to be open data, and there needs to be a European single access point where anyone can access this information and extract it.
We also had earlier this year the announcement from Macron, from the French government, and Bloomberg together, saying they will create an open data repository for climate action data. So, we are really starting to see large political players and large private sector players taking a stance on open data, and wanting to, yeah, test the waters. Can they get involved, can they help this movement?
But when you dive into the practicalities of all these initiatives, that is when it becomes clear that these players, companies, governments, this shared ownership, this idea that data belongs to the community as a whole, is something that they are struggling with. It is not something that comes intuitive for them. It is actually counter‑intuitive. It is a mindset shift. This is actually what we are seeing in how they ‑‑ in the practicalities of it. So, what steps are they actually taking? What legal frameworks are they using to create these initiatives?
So, you start to see, for instance, non‑profits that are data portals that become privatized, and become a social business, or business with purpose. You see complicated business models popping up where, for instance, they are charging for the infrastructure, so the use of an API, rather than the data itself, which, of course, can work sometimes really well, but then you start to compete as an access point. Do you understand what that means, then?
And another thing that we are seeing is the certain stakeholders are completely forgotten. For instance, with the Bloomberg initiative, you are starting from a perspective of reserve the financial sector, and it is going to be open data. Well, if it is open data, there are also other stacks to consider. Are you considering them as use cases? Are you making it easy for them to access the information? Do they have a say on the service you are providing and what data you are providing? Right?
So, these are the things we are starting to see that they are still struggling with. The access the public, there is licensing that comes with that and lots of other things, but also helping them understand what practicalities, what practical steps do you need to take to really ensure that you are going toward a data Commons system, rather than just making a few tweaks and says that something you previously would hoard and sell, is now free for everyone.
So, I would say the path is slightly messy and chaotic, but the rise of the data Commons is undeniable. Thank you.
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Laureen. I think there are three main points that are emerging as very clear and very important from your talk. First, it is need to involve the community that is affected by the Commons, in this case the people, the work in the corporations, but also that have an infrastructure, the data Commons then to utilize, so in the accessibility of community of the people, from the human element of the Commons.
Then, from the fact that this kind of initiative may very well, and very frequently end up being privatized. And, again, my point about treat before, not like (?) treater was Commons, but it is possible, feasible, for some people to purchase an entire organisation or structure that previously was managed in the common ‑‑ and, again, I don't want to say this is how Twitter was managed before, but the fact that the privatization of the Commons is feasible may be something in which we want to think and discuss.
And the last point is necessity. If you do not have a government framework, the sustainability of the Commons as a key priority, of course, as anything, the management needs, occurs costs, so it is interesting to discuss the financial sustainability of the Commons as a point that if faced, tackled from the very beginning, then leads to the sustainability of the Commons.
Now, I would like now to open the floor for our second segment of discussion. I don't see our last speaker, unless he is connected with a pseudonym, in this case I would like him to manifest himself in the Chat, otherwise I don't see him, right?
So, I think, Adam, I can pass you the floor so that you can open for our final segment of Q&A. So, please, Adam, the floor is yours.
>> ADAM BURNS: Yeah. I assume Alvaro isn't in the audience, in the room? As a remote participant?
But, yeah, we heard a lot ‑‑ and thank you, Laureen, for your input into the space of data Commons ‑‑ it is very interesting that more and more data Commons are opening up, as you say, not only in public spheres, but also concerning corporate activities within the public spheres, opening up to, perhaps, more transparency and accountability, which is certainly part of a healthy governance of a Commons.
Yes. So, I would like to, perhaps, open up to the floor of the venue in Addis Ababa to ask whether we have any questions, or open discussion points in the room. If the technical people on the ground can please help in relaying questions with the microphone, et cetera?
>> LUCA BELLI: When you have comments or questions, please identify yourself, and in case the captioning doesn't work probably, as before, you can even correct the captioning we are stating your name. So, yes. I guess we have some comments and questions from the floor? Sir, we cannot hear you. It looks like the mic on the floor is muted. So, let me unmute, or ask to unmute IGF host.
>> Can you hear me.
>> LUCA BELLI: Now we can hear you. Thank you very much.
>> So, Nigel pointed on a nice point on the Chat. Something should we be regulating this on the level of the United Nations. And I think, well, that sort of spurred me to think of a question that has been ‑‑ and what Nicholas was saying about the transit of the information and the data between the networks. My question is, is there any push for regulation that would actually give the margin of the communications from the ISP networks to this Commons initiative?
Because I think there should be. Like, the officials have a share, like, that is sort of reserved for the official use, and I think there could be a margin for the Commons use, as well, instead of just, like, basically reserving bandwidth for not for profit and community networks data streams. So, is there any push for this kind of regulation? I think there should be.
>> LUCA BELLI: Well, let's see if there is any reaction to this comment.
>> NICHOLAS ECHANIZ: Hello. Well, we are trying to push for this. Because it is not easy for them to understand, or the state to understand what we are asking for, because it is usually ‑‑ the commons is not the framework they come from. So, you have to explain, like, for example, here in Argentina, we have an interesting point, because, as you know, I think it was in 2013 that the media (?) was approved here in Argentina. This low, one of the things that it stated was that spectrum ‑‑ radio spectrum, should be divided in three. One‑third for the public sector, one‑third for the for‑profit sector, and one‑third for the non‑profit sector.
And this was related to radio and ‑‑ frequencies and it did not address internet bandwidth. But I think that is a very interesting point to raise. Like, if that makes sense, why doesn't it make sense to reserve bandwidth in state networks for community data? I think it makes complete sense.
>> ADAM BURNS: Yes. Thank you, Nicholas. I think Osama has raised his hand, as well, but to use co‑host privileges, I think there is a comment there about how can, say, the UN or such other bodies govern such things? It is really complex. That scale. I am not sure, but I think there can be a feedback mechanism. We have all these growing demands from groups at the edges, community networks, people interested in particular data Commons and so on. But the centralized governing structures for this are not equipped, they are not enabled, they don't have the tools enabled to carry the conversation bidirectionally. I think it is something very much of scale, and of scope of data. But, Osama, you have your hand up there? You have a comment to make? You might need to unmute Osama?
>> OSAMA MANZAR: Okay. Yes, thank you. I was trying to unmute, two people together unmuting is like muting yourself. So, thank you very much.
So, I had one interesting intervention, is that, you know, internet access is pretty much topped out. All over the world it has been done by telecom, which is 90% of them are private and in several countries government. It is pretty much like creating a highway. But can we liberalize internet access totally from the responsibility of telecom all together, so anybody can build their own internet, can build their own, you know ‑‑ it doesn't mean it won't connect to the internet. Just if I have private or Civil Society, or collective have money, I can build my road, if you are not building my road.
Similarly, I can build my own mall, my own shopping mall, I can build my own optic, build my own internet. So, literalizing this will enable people to create the network then interconnecting with other network or other kinds of things that can be Libyaed and transmit into my own data infrastructure or internet infrastructure. Community network is pretty pretty much like that, but it is also seen as a subset of internet, but I can saying can it be liberalized, an approach for the rest of the world which is supposed to be connected, affordability is a big issue, because telecom will not connect if it doesn't make sense for it, right?
Therefore it is important. I directed the example of several community networks, that is what they are doing, but are they becoming policy? What are the things that can make them policy?
So, liberalization is one side. Itself will give them an open hand to build their own network, so we don't have to work ‑‑ like community radio, right? So, liberalizing the whole requirement of licensing itself should be something deleted from the law book, you know?
You don't need to. First you deliberallize, then, therefore, you don't need a separate license to connect, because I am automatically liable to build my own network and use my own network to have, like Bolivia, private colony, secluded colonies and so on and so forth. and, therefore, the document that I shared on the Chat that you joined in was the community network as an alternative digital infrastructure or digital transformation model, can be one of the things that we can use it as an excuse.
The second thing is that something about internet, digital infrastructure, there are many Commons available all over the world, communities. So, what are those models that can be applied to create digital colonies or digital models of connectivity, like audible India. Audible has their own payment system, connectivity system, regardless of whether the internet system was there, or not.
Similarly in Scotland there are many like that. I am sure in Brazil there are many. There are many communities that live with their own laws, rules and regulations and are very happy with a lot of liberalism, and common principles can apply it to digital and interpreter connectivity and share it together to see how its own Internet Commons have been created.
>> LUCA BELLI: I see in the Chat by Nigel, if we want the UN to be the organizer and regulation of such sensitive issues, while in this forum, we recognize there are limits to the UN, and the pass of policy regulation in the UN is absolutely not the same pace as the revolution of technology, but ‑‑ there is a great but here, there is an alternative.
Which better alternative we have? Mostly, I understand ‑‑ I sympathize very much with all the criticism, really. I am not saying this just for politeness, but I sympathize very much with the criticism with the UN is not the most agile organisation in the world, of course, but we have to recognize there has also been increasing openness, including to discuss this type of issues.
And I also think we deserve some credit to have brought this issue into IGF discussions not only with the Internet Commons forum, but a lot with the community networks, over the past years. It is leading to fruit. With all due respect for the very well‑deserved criticism for the UN, only some weeks ago at the ITU Plenipotentiary, there was the adoption of the revolution that gives instructions to the ITU development rule to support sharing experiences and information on alternatives and complimentary access networks.
So, this means the factor that all the efforts of all the people that have been working for community networks over the past decades, and ups within the IGF and then the UN level over the past seven or eight years as we have been doing, is hopefully is leading to some fruit. Of course, things do not happen magically overnight. And, of course, the UN is very ‑‑ pardon me for being so blunt, lethargic times sometimes.
But I don't see ‑‑ I open this as open questions maybe for Nigel or others in the room, what other forum may be more suitable for the deliberation of shared rules and shared principles that advocate for a different and complimentary approach, this Commons‑based approach that could be, that can have, on one hand, the same relevance, the same impact, but also the same alternative that the UN can have.
So, if you have any other suggestions, I really would be very happy to hear them, and with this provocation, I think we could continue having debate. Yes? I think there is already some replies from the floor. Please.
>> Good afternoon. Perhaps I could very briefly say something. Nigel Hixson, the UK government. First of all, thank you very much for the session. I think it touches on extremely important issues. As we heard from contributors and also the data, of course, as well, these issues are of importance to everyone. I am certainly not trivializing the importance of this panel and the people you brought together.
I am certainly not criticizing the UN, at all. It is not my role. The UN IGF is something that certainly the UK government passionately believes in, and I passionately believe in.
You know, I was at the world information summit in 2003 when we first started discussing this. the point I think I was trying to make was really in relation to technical standards. And, you know, there had been a discussion about how we, you know, how we can ensure this interoperability, and this interconnectivity, and how everywhere can have the appropriate internet experience.
I think our concerns is that, and we fully ‑‑ I think what Anriette said earlier, is we really positive to have principles, to discuss this further, and to understand exactly what we mean by Internet Commons and what we think the principles are behind it.
But when you get down to the technical issues of standards, then I think, you know, the UN is probably not the best area to negotiate, you know, technical standards. But, clearly, at the principle level, at the policy level, as you rightly said, as pointed to the ITU Plenipotentiary a few weeks back, I think we all have a role to plan this. So, thank you.
>> ADAM BURNS: If I may jump in with a quick response. Thank you for that, those comments. I really do think it is about scale. I think the UN should be, probably, quite slow, because it has a larger scale to consider. I think perhaps some of the challenges are finding regional governance structures that work for more fragmented, or for fed rated communities whether that is in a larger forum or regional forum geographically to help speed this governance process up.
I am not quite sure where it should lie. Whether it should be in the Civil Society region, whether it should be in the State. These are still questions we really need to understand. Does the multi‑stakeholder model work, still work, with our modern requirements now at a policy level for guidance and governance?
These are all interesting questions. Are there any further responses on the floor? Or speakers virtually?
>> LUCA BELLI: If you have any questions or comments please identify yourself before starting to speak. Thank you.
>> Hello, can you hear me?
>> LUCA BELLI: Hello, yes.
>> I have a small comment, question. I am Boga ‑‑ from the business school in Barcelona, I recently wrote the paper for the Commons but this is the ethics journal. Me and my colleagues were trying to find out the ethical aspects of the comments that should be highlighted, focusing basically on the regional Commons and we focused very much on the Treasury of the Commons, as (?) pointed out in 1968. We found out it doesn't really apply so much to the Digital Commons as it does the traditional Commons, and we are wondering if should be applied to both or if it should be a different definition for the Digital Commons, especially in terms of instructability and how the Digital Commons can be endlessly extracted are where the traditional Commons have worked toward tradegy and the Digital Commons not so much? I don't know if anyone has a comment?
>> ADAM BURNS: Thank you for that comment. Allen Ostrum (?) published one on Digital Commons and geographic resources. I think the principles of Commons and common‑space structures can fit into the digital realm as well as the physical just as well. But you make a good point that extract systemic racism and the infinite copiability of digital assets are a distinct difference when it comes to the Digital Commons as opposed to traditional land‑based Commons. That is true. We need to think more about that in some of the full Commons stack.
>> LUCA BELLI: Actually, also, if I may chip in again with quick comments. I think what is also very interesting to note is that in one of the most renown formulas about Commons is the strategy of the Commons. But this is really a scenario that consists in the over‑exploitation and destruction of the Commons by people that, as they don't ‑‑ not having any property rights, they do not know how to manage a resource, and they automatically ‑‑ this automatically leads to over exploitation and destruction.
But this is really not a composition of the Commons. It is a complication of the lack of principles governing a shared resource. So, by the antithesis by the Commons. As I was trying to stress at the very beginning of the session, what is ‑‑ and I think what was very well explained example recounted by Laureen, what is very important to understand is the indesociability between the elements and the resources.
The community organized the Commons model, they understand, they care about the common resource, and how it will be managed and even passed through to next generations.
So, what is it classically considered in a very appealing for those who know Commons models, the strategy of the Commons is the de facto, the strategy of the lack of normative and governance framework that can prevent failure. If we see, for instance, I myself as a Brazilian citizen living in Brazil, I have seen an enormous station of the Amazon, not because ‑‑ it is not a strategy of the common. It is a strategy of oversight of individuals destroying a common resource.
So, I think we should be very careful, also, of how this translates into the digital environment. My point before speaking about the takeover by one individual of Twitter is, I think, going in the same sense, meaning if we do not have any safeguards that may avoid the takeover of a single individual or entity, something very essential for the public good, is a problem. The problem is not it leads to strategy, but the problem is the lack of principle, governance mechanism of the rules, and the enforcement of the rules that prevent this to happen is what leads to the strategy.
Now, do we have any following comment or so remarks. We have ten minutes left, I am seeing, so it will be good to have also some final comments by the other participants and panelists. Maybe, if there is anymore from the audience, from the participants in Addis Ababa ‑‑ and, we cannot see you through Zoom at this moment, but if there are comments or questions from the floor, please go ahead.
We are not hearing anyone, so we will assume there are no comments.
>> ADAM BURNS: There is one more.
>> LUCA BELLI: Oh, there is one more.
>> Again, Mohamed (?) the question for the Wiki date common platform, to sustain itself, how to be financially sustainable and guarantee the usability of the Digital Commons. Thank you.
>> WIKIRATE: Yes, we are a non‑profit. You can think of it as Wiki encyclopedia, for instance. We have a lot of individuals giving donations, larger donors or corporate donations, anything like that, but most of it is coming from foundations at the moment.
There is often for these kinds of infrastructure projects, also, public funding is a big kind of supporter. But, I think one of the more interesting things for the larger scale Commons models that we are talking about, right, is one of the things that the Wiki media foundation has done.
They have created a trust pretty much for themselves to sustain their future, right? They had donations that went into a bigger trust and they are investing that and using that so they can sustain themselves. They are no longer just dependent on all the donations and this kind of fluctuation of supports, so they can manage and secure themselves in that way.
So, there are also models that can be, ensure, independence long‑term for larger data Commons or other types of Commons. I though that answers your question.
>> LUCA BELLI: Do we have any final remarks from the other panelists? I am checking the Chat to see if we have forgotten ‑‑ yes, there is a point about the interesting of transparency and accountability, indeed, to successful Commons management. Yes. And then, yes, I see that also, Desiree (?) is agreeing with the fact there is important lessons about the strategy of the Commons, or, indeed, the strategy of the lack of regulation and governance, that can be applied and must be applied to the Digital Commons.
There are actually an important point that I would like to include in the discussion that I think was raised by the last interventionist, which is that Commons, again, does not mean ‑‑ is not a synonym of free for all. The sustainability of the Commons precisely also includes debating how the Commons can be financed and funded.
Last year we published a very interesting booklet that was presented to the IGF on the sustainable funding models for community networks, exploring how this actually has been put into practice, and how the various funding models of each of the commons that Nicholas was very eloquently mentioning are funded, and Wikipedia, again, is also a very recurrent example of how this could also scale at a global level, again, thanks to donations, thanks to a variety of funding models.
I mean, for those of us, like me, for instance, that use Signal, Signal is a very good example of an open‑source common. It is instant messaging platform that millions of people use on a daily basis both for private and work interactions. There are donations that work exceedingly well.
It doesn't mean a common is not necessarily a small park or garden by a dozen neighbors that manage and paint the benches once every few years, could be something digital. Something both from the infrastructure, hardware or software level can play out, and can be very successful and scalable.
Now, to think as the speaker from the floor, from the University of Barcelona was mentioning, one of the greatest problems we have is the lack of knowledge, the remarkably few literature that has been dedicated to this, and how this could be, could play out in practice. Again, thank you to (?) that won a prize on the Commons, we know we have, how serious the debate is, but there is still a remarkable lack of knowledge and research, and the translation of this knowledge and research into policy proposals that is probably the greatest obstacle that we have.
I think one of the outcomes of this discussion of today, it is now tending toward an end, is precisely that maybe the need for the community that has been gathering over the past four year, the Internet Commons forum community, try to provide concrete suggestions and maybe feed them to the global digital compact that Anriette was mentioning in the beginning, trying to create the resurgence described over the past four years here into policy suggestions that could be used, maybe and can be potentially become scalable.
Again, as I mentioned before, the UN, we may criticize it, but I am not sure there are any other viable alternatives that may allow us to have these kinds of debates in a meaningful way. Again, as the very recent Plenipotentiary conference of ITU demonstrates, it may take years, but then some interesting, meaningful and actionable results, even in temples of policy can happen.
I would like to see if there are other time comment, otherwise I will give the floor to my good friend, Adam, for his final wrap‑up.
>> ADAM BURNS: Thank you, Luca. In case there are other participants ‑‑ I don't see any hands up.
Yes, I would like to make the observation that the governance of the Commons doesn't stop with Helena you will strum. It will be an ongoing process. Helena did edit a book on Commons applied to the digital realm, but it is really seen as a very early attempt as structuring the Digital Commons governance structure in the same way as the physical Commons.
I think we have had other people who have influenced this, not to mention, one of the most famous, Aaron Schwarts, who has done a lot of work and inspiration in terms of data Commons over opening up of access information, and their continues to be a vibrant community, network of community networks globally that are looking at such issues, along the whole stack of information from services that Nico mentioned to data spaces that Laureen mentioned, and, of course, infrastructure that Nico also mentioned.
All these issues in terms of accessibility has become more and more difficult. Osama mentioned that internet access has been wonderfully successful in terms of increasing some proportion of human accessibility, but, of course, accessibility is not the only issue in terms of just connectivity. It is accessibility in a lot of other levels of this self‑same stack.
It is grappling this together with what I also still see as vital, of scope of size, and how these Commons governance can work, and effectively. Just, again, repeating the UN might be seen as a slow body, but then, perhaps, it has to be in terms of being able to listen to comments and demands given its global scope.
Again, small regional or sectorial groups might be able to have a voice within news structures that we form, I believe, in part, voiced by people at the edges, such as community networks and specific sectoral groups that are interested in the sharing of data, the sharing of Commons across the full stack.
Final words, Luca?
>> LUCA BELLI: Thank you very much, Adam. Thank you very much to all the friends, old and new friends, that joined us for this Internet Commons Forum 2022. It has been a real pleasure to discuss with you. Of course, as usual, you will find the recordings of the session on www.intcomforum.org. Our website, and, let's keep in touch to try to convey the outcomes of today's discussion and of the past years of discussion on Digital Commons at the UN level so we can have a meaningful impact.
Thank you very much and have an excellent IGF. Ciao‑ciao.