An Internet Policy Commission in Argentina: Good news, but ...

On April 22, the Official Gazette of the Republic of Argentina published Resolution No. 13/2014 by the Secretariat of Communications of the Ministry of Federal Planning, Public Investment and Services. By that resolution, the ARGENTINA INTERNET POLICY COMMISSION (AIPC) is created within the SECRETARIAT OF COMMUNICATIONS "to establish its rules of procedure, to coordinate the participation of the various stakeholders and to design a national strategy on Internet and governance." It should be considered good news the decision of the Government to create a specific office to develop Internet policy. In Argentina, it was necessary because, to be honest, it is difficult to determine a concrete public policy in this area, which is frequently subjected to regulatory measures from various government offices. Concentrating initiatives or plans in a single entity to give way to broad and serious discussion can yield positive results. But we must closely follow the steps taken by the Commission recently created. Here, I propose some suggestions in order to contribute to the success of the committee and prevent it from becoming a useless bureaucratic entity.

First, there is an ongoing very important international meeting in San Pablo, Brazil -Net Mundial-, these days that was called to discuss the future of Internet governance. Without regard to the outcome, the meeting is important because there are not only government representatives discussing the matter at hand. The governance that we defend on the Internet is based on a model of multi-stakeholder supervision that brings together governments, businesses, academics, technicians and representatives of civil society, and NGOs related to the subject. The Commission created in Argentina, should follow this model, and one of the first steps should be to form a panel discussion that brings together these sectors and gives them effective, not only formal, participation.

Second, in the preamble to the resolution, the potential treatment of different topics by the Commission which go beyond Internet governance are included. Among them is a range of topics including cyber crime, net neutrality, and the domains related problems. These issues often are part of what we commonly call "Internet regulation." Respect for human rights should be put at the centre of public policies in these areas. Doing anything differently could be very dangerous. Therefore, I propose that the Commission should
carry out a human rights impact assessments prior to the formal submission of draft laws or administrative rules linked to Internet regulation. This is key for the Commission to function properly. 

Third, it is important that the resolution assumes, at least implicitly, the deficit of official representation in major forums that Argentina has shown in recent years. Without detracting from the advisors of the Ministry of Foreign Affaires and other officials coming from the Secretariat of Communications who have participated in recent meetings, the truth is that at the "Internet Governance Forum" -IGF-, the most important forum dedicated to discussing issues of governance and regulation created under the auspices of the United Nations, and at the meeting held in Brazil, even with the attendance of the Secretary of Communications for the first time in this type of events, Argentina has lacked high-level delegations and has not had a major voice in the debates. This was most likely due to the absence of a clear national policy on these issues. Therefore, it is essential that the Commission works in partnership with multiple stakeholders in the field, and as stated in the resolution, works to "provide support and contribute to more and better Argentine representation at international forums and events."

In short, the creation of this Commission should be welcome. But we have to see how its work will be implemented before we cheer.

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