[IGFmaglist] Participation at IGF by MAG members

Peter Dengate Thrush barrister at chambers.gen.nz
Thu May 19 20:37:32 EDT 2016

Fellow MAG members,
With apologies for the delay, I’d like to return to a topic raised in our call last month - the public participation in events at IGF meetings by MAG members.

It appears there was a time when MAG members played an active part in not only proposing sessions of various sorts at IGF meetings, but chairing/moderating, speaking ( on panels and other formats) and generally taking a very public role at IGF meetings.

Over time, it has seemed more appropriate for MAG members to play a lesser public role. The possibility of a conflict of interest in proposing sessions which MAG members are involved in, even if they personally refrain from evaluating their own proposals, is one obvious reason for a reduced role.

When I joined the MAG last year, there were various comments made to the effect that MAG members should not assume public roles, but should encourage, coach and facilitate new talent to  emerge.

Last year, it appeared to me (entirely subjectively) that MAG members generally took a lower profile, but that was not uniform. Some MAG members appeared in a variety of public roles.

It seems to me we should have a discussion then come to a quick conclusion about the parameters of the public performance by MAG members.

The points on both sides of the issue are obvious: on the one hand MAG members are (typically) leaders in their communities, and have a good grasp of a wide range of topics, and serve well as speakers on topics they are familiar with, if not experts upon. One of the reasons for joining the MAG is to increase one’s involvement in these issues. For some if not many MAG members, active participation ( being in the published programme) is a pre-requisite for getting funding from employers or other parties. In other cases, it is the groups putting the sessions together that seek the participation of MAG members because of their high profile and expertise.

On the other hand, MAG members are leaders in their communities, and don’t need to increase their profiles. They could be using their positions to bring on new talent.The conflict of interest point extends across all formats - many worthwhile and interesting sessions are not approved for inclusion, and it weakens the IGF to have any appearance of favouritism. MAG members should do other things to enhance the profile of the IGF.

Doubtless there are more points, with many nuances around each one.

I suggest, for the purposes of the discussion that I now invite, that we consider three broad options;

(1) No Limits on MAG member involvement:
(2) Some limit (TBD after debate, but probably along the lines of the “Rule of 3” some have cited ( as if it were a rule);
(3) A complete limit (ban) on MAG member involvement ( probably with a let-out clause that would allow a MAG member to apply for dispensation in certain circumstance).

I look forward to some discussion on this, and then a move to closure.
I note that the Main Sessions draft produced by that WG takes the position that all Main Sessions need to be facilitated by MAG members ( a continuation of the same position taken in the 2015 paper.) I’d be interested in learning of the reasoning behind that.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.



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