>> MODERATOR: Hello. Excuse me for a second. Hello? Hello? Excuse me. Could I interrupt some conversations for a moment? Could those... I'm sorry. We've had an overlap in the schedule. Could I encourage people from the previous session to continue their conversations outside? Thank you.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Good morning everyone. Some of you probably saw the old program and came here early. Others are probably not here yet, but we will compromise and start at the middle. I'm pleased to be able to moderate this session. It's about accountability and internet related policies. And maybe I should specify our context that we are especially interested in national government accountability in internet governance. So we see increased government and ministerial regulation of internet related issues at the present time, and all indications are that that regulation by governments will increase.
A lot of that government regulation is coming from ministries and not necessarily through legislative processes of parliaments. So that raises questions about accountability in the sense that how are these ministerial actions then accountable? All the more because ministries are often working these days, if I can show my academic colors for a moment, are often called transgovernmental networks. That means they are meeting together in venues like the GAC, the government advisory commit eye at ICANN. Or OECD committees. Outside the purview of parliament.
For that, we have a great panel here from five world regions and sectors.
Let me introduce in alphabetical order by first names: we have Grace Githaiga. We have Leon Sanchez from Mexico. You might know him as one of the co‑chairs in a recent IANA transition. Mark Carvell, working at the ministry for culture, media and support, and also the newly elected chair of the GAC. Salam Yamout, on the executive board of ICANN. And Tsuyoshi Kinoshita, our next Vice President of the internet association of Japan with business perspectives. That's our panel.
We will take two rounds. The first round where they briefly introduce their contexts and let you know what's going on. Then I will go back to you, the audience, for any clarification of the initial presentation. Then we will do a second round of presentations from the panel where they will reflect on what is working and not working in their particular situations. I will hand it over to Mark, to get an example from the UK to start?
>> MARK CARVELL: Thank you. And great to see so many people here for our session here on accountability. And as described, I lead on internet governance policy for the UK government. I'm in the ministry, which is the... has responsibility for ICT policy, generally, including internet policy, so I'm advisor to our minister, dealing with internet policy issues. I want to emphasize that the UK government has a long tradition of public consultation before proposed laws and instruments meets the stage of parliamentary consideration and scrutiny. So it's against that background that I want to speak.
But in the age of multi‑stakeholder internet governance, clearly we're working in a different way and we're working in a much more transversal way in terms of engaging with other stakeholders in determining how internet policy globally is going to roll out and develop. It is incumbent on me to keep my ministers informed. Also at ICANN and elsewhere where discussions are leading to outcomes that reflect inputs from governments irrespective of public policy. Constituencies of stake holders. So we... keep our ministers informed of what is happening in the stake holder community. That's very important. Specifically, on the ICANN the government committee meets every time that ICANN meets. And also, every two years, we have a high level governmental meeting to which ministers and senior policy officials are invited. Bearing in mind the membership of the GAC is now 168 governments and territorial administrations plus the African union commission and the European commission. It's a very big commission. We had a lot of ministers there and a lot of senior policy people there. There are opportunities the other contextual point I should make is that we have a national IGF, the UK IGF, and that's a platform also for government policymakers to engage with stake holders. And not only officials, people like me but also ministers. We had two government ministers there presenting on the policy issues relating to their more specific issues. And now support for the transition. And also the importance of governments being engaged in ICANN policy development. And so on. And secondly we have our minister responsible for child protection and use welfare in relation to the internet. She has spoken at the UK IGF as well.
So we have those opportunities to engage with stake holders for more constituencies through the UK IGF. And the UK IGF also was, you know, had remote participation from across the world. It was quite amazing. We had people joining the discussions from Latin America, sub Saharan Africa. A very high profile multi‑stakeholder environment for ministers to speak at.
Up until 2013, our specific consultations were pretty much on an ad Hoc basis, but in the run‑up to the ten-year review at the general assembly, and there's a long process for preparing for that, we took a decision that we wanted to be a bit more systematic about how we undertook those as stakeholders. The original concept was to be what you might describe as a task and finish group connected to the review. We didn't envision it as having a long life. It was focused on what was happening in preparations. It was the opportunity for us to coordinate with stakeholders in the UK on how we were approaching that U.N. multilateral process. But it was a very successful exercise in establishing that group, and since then we've decided to maintain it as a permanent forum for us for discussing information and discussing what was coming up and coordinating UK engagement and international meetings and debates. We used the MAGIG really to identify non‑government stakeholders that we can include in our national delegations at our conferences and so on. So it's actually a pool of expertise in that group from business, from technical community, from the society and academics as well. And it provided a successful sounding board for us to use in terms of allowing us to explain what was happening at the multi‑lateral level, but also to get inputs from stakeholders so the positions we were proposing to take were properly informed, if necessary could be corrected, but it was essentially information sharing, turning to what was happening in the U.N. or wherever, and then getting the feedback on the prospective UK policy. So we've used the MAGIG for big conferences, for the conference in Sao Paulo, for the IGF last year, and for this one for discussing ICANN, what was happening in the transition process where governments were discussing us. And following on from the plus ten review. That's the main opportunity for us to identify what stakeholders were signaling as critical issues where they want to put their views forward to us as a government group. I should emphasize that MAGIG is not a decisional body. It doesn't actually take decisions on what the UK position in these various conferences and events and processes might be. It's ensuring that they are fully informed and that we get their views and that we can actually have an opportunity to correct anything that we're not getting quite right in preparing for these events and so on. But ultimately decisions will stay with the UK government. But we are confident that that empowers us to be more effective in our negotiations and not to make we also have the national IGF, and then when it comes to specific national policy initiatives, for example, on child protection, there's another separate process for consulting and informing policy.
Okay. I think I've probably gone on for too long, but I hope that introduced the idea of advisory group for stakeholders and how it works and its functions.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Thank you very much, Mark. Salam?
>> SALAM YOMOUT: I won't be that long because I won't have that many things to say about the Middle East. It's a very varied region. The countries are not similar to each other. As a whole we can say that it's a region that is characterized by non‑democratically elected government. They don't like the word multi‑stakeholder. I'm talking decision makers, they like to go somewhere invited by their peers, that means another government. They don't feel the necessity to grow. And talk to everybody, especially the technical community about ICT and ICT development. As a whole, I could say that in general the decision‑making process in the Middle East is top‑down, unlike the UK. And unfortunately, top‑down does not take advantage of the expertise. So a lot of time the regulations that come out are the laws that are not implementable. Because when the decision‑maker there is not such culture of dialogue before taking the appropriate policy decision.
And my observation over the last six years working with the government is that the governments in the Middle East are more control and protection. As opposed to growth. What they want to legislate is they think there is a problem that they want to solve. They will think about it as a control. This should be the government doing that or this. There is no idea of what should we do to grow the ICG sector or to grow the name, etc., etc. I find this is very, very difficult to deal with. And the countries that are while I try to report to you or to say that in the Middle East region that we don't have such great numbers, but also we don't have the consultation mechanisms.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Suggestions of a causal connection. Can you tell us a bit about Japan?
>> YSUYOSHI KINOSHITA: Hi. I'm from Japan and I'm from the private sector. I have been involved with respect to the portion and the framework on accountability from the government in Japan, it's possible that we in particular from the private sector are very grateful and consistent opposition maintained by the local development that has been unchanged since the commercialization of internet. What that means is that overall, ICG strategies sit on information and communication council. Basically, appreciating the fundamentals of internet. It is helpful to drive innovation. Therefore, the government in Japan is more, how can I say? Open to consult with the private sector.
Based on that understanding, in order to drive the philosophy, to drive innovation, the philosophy that the government has been taking has been expecting that global consistently rather than trying to come up with local or unique practices to go through the internet related portals. When it becomes absolutely necessary, of course the government has been providing a necessary support. By facilitating but normally, the position from the government is to list a group of experts concerning with use of internet to lead their development of a robust internet by corroborating.
So, let me just spend time on more specific about the elements of the framework I just talked about, what we have in Japan with regards to development of the internet related policy. First, the government normally installs the consultation committee or study group by providing the expert to bring the skills and knowledge to discuss and review it is normally comprised from 20 people from the technical and also users. We do actually see those are the members of the dais as well. When the committee or study group come out with recommendations for policy matters, the government in Japan normally actually through the outreach inviting a broader audience to debut and the provide the feedback on the recommended order of their new policies to be adopted we have a very open forum. The other examples are the location based application in conjunction with privacy. Everybody is actually seeing a new business opportunity by utilizing location‑based information or the various customer experience. So let me start here. Know that it's a high-level player of what kind of a framework we have in Japan.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Thank you. We'll come back for more detail in the second round. Grace?
>> GRACE GITHAIGA: In 2010, we got a new constitution, which now places a requirement on anyone making public policy to consult those that are affected.
So, the process is a draft is developed and then shared with holders drawn from businesses from the civil society. The process has been that the regulator publishes the community's input into its website. And therefore, stakeholders are able to see if their contributions are on board. However, as is indicative of such processes, many of you have not even considered adopted. We don't even see compelling reasons. So the presence has its own challenges. For example, even as the constitution has that requirement of public participation and policy‑making, we still have not set standards for public participation. And therefore, many institutions are still struggling how to make public participation meaningful.
Therefore, it needs to have a public participation framework that provides clarity on the submissions are not reflected in the final outcome and just provide results that stakeholders would accept that actually on the morality for just something that is not acceptable within the law. Thank you.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Great. Thank you very much, Grace. Any initial reflections on what you're hearing, Leon?
>> LEON SANCHEZ: Thank you very much. My name is Leon Sanchez. We have a different approach consulting with the incumbent parties. I would like to talk about how things are done in ICANN and designing the process related to the transition. So within ICANN we have a policy development process where the organizations begin discussing an issue. And if it gets enough traction, then the process actually begins formally. And we provide input from the different stakeholders and the different constituencies from ICANN. The feedback is gathered and it is received so before we have the transition, literally the board was so as the transition needed to take place, ICANN coordinated this effort with the different committees. And while the initial proposal than a group of people within ICANN won't have the back strap of the U.S. government, then we need to enhance ICANN's accountability. So for this, our second group, which was the press community working group, we're in charge of designing the proposal. When forming the board, it would be accountable to the different bodies that actually fund the organization.
For this we designed a structure that was based on building blocks to the process.
And we looked at ICANN as... a way in which we faced a state or a nation. And our judiciary which would be the IRP process. With this in mind, we begin the process of identifying which were the accountability measures that were already in place and so there were more that needed to be put in place and assigned so we can achieve the balance and community between the board as the directing body within ICANN. So throughout the many efforts and the tireless hours that many volunteers worked in this process, we came up with the report it is to try to find the balance between what the board can actually decide and do with whatever is from... within ICANN and the policy processes. And what the community might see or perceive. Appropriate action for the board in some cases. Some of the powers that have invested into the community have to do with budget approval with bylaws approval. We designed a new set of by‑laws and regular by‑laws and the supervisors as some might call them, but fundamental by‑laws right? The difference is the threshold of approval that the community needs to actually so what happened before we designed the accountability measures and the mechanisms was that if they were going to be any by law changes, the board would be able to... a project, it would go to public comment and gather the feedback from the different stakeholders and it could or it could not incorporate the feedback received. And then afterwards they would approve any by law changes. Now that has changed. The empowered committee has the ability to first reject any changes to the regular by laws and secondly to approve... it actually needs a positive action from the empowered committee to get approval on any changes to the fundamental by laws and give me structure. We have mechanisms to remove directors from the board. We can have the whole board removed or have certain specific members of the board removed. So the new powers, as I said, are trying to bring this balance into the interaction between the community and the board of directors. And the other essential change in the transition is the new IRP which also set to be the jewel and the crown.
In an appropriate way. Let's say, could have some kind of harm or detriment. So, these, in a bird's eye view, what we did in the accountability... the first committee working on accountability. And we're now continuing to flesh out certain topics that were reserved for a second phase of our work, which is commonly known as stream 2, for those who are involved with this.
These topics include some issues that have to do, for example, with building a framework of interpretation for human rights with enhancing for the ICANN community, for transparency, and how do we achieve accountability as well. What we understand as accountability in the context of ourselves and see staff accountability and also the role of new bylaws and these new organizations. This will continue to evolve and provide the new set of accountability efforts that hopefully at the end will serve the purpose of actually bringing that balance and having an accountable organization to its community. Thank you. Shin?
>> SHIN YAMASAKI: Remember our question was how our governments as they make regulations about internet related issues, how are they being accountable to those who are affected by those regulations. And we've heard different things about more formally institutionalized mechanisms in the UK. Expert consultations more ad hoc in Japan. Top‑down lack of dialogue is the picture that Salam gave us in the Middle East, and then Kenya from Grace, and then a whole array of new accountability mechanisms that have been created there. We have a lot to reflect on. Are there any in terms of clarification? If we could take the three and maybe we will come back to the panel? Yeah? There is one in the middle and one there? Malcolm? Please let us know who you are, if you can.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: This is probably something close to what the UK has done. We are a multi‑stakeholder group. People appointed to advise the government, four from each stakeholder group. After three years of experience working within the structure. I feel accountability is absolutely key. I would love to hear more about the report, by the way, on accountability, into those governmental structures like the UK advisory council. There are five stakeholders that meet and happy to provide advice to the government, but if the government doesn't listen or care to listen, then either we meet without a purpose or even worse, we become people who are there only to get their particular interests across to the government. And that's very dangerous. I believe that kills the multi‑stakeholder model. If we care for the multi‑stakeholder model, we need to think about getting the government on board. I was wondering whether you have any ideas how to get that done. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Just for the clarification, your example was from Poland?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: There was one in the back. Go ahead.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was struck by the contrast between the first two speakers in the situation in the UK and the Middle East. Not just in terms of the practice but in terms of the outcome. Mr. Carvell was saying that he felt as a result of their engagement, they felt not only did they have the confidence of the broader community in the UK, but they were able to draw on expertise even to extent of bringing in multi‑stakeholder experts and having discussions on their behalf. And Salam, you described policies as being stillborn because of refusal to engage.
My concern is, in your person, if you don't mind me putting it that way, we have a government person that is practicing opens to multi‑stakeholder consultation willing to come here and talk about it. But from the Middle East, what we actually have is a representative from the technical community expressing frustration. The government, as you said, did not feel the need to come here. So maybe they're not going to learn from the opportunity to learn from these experiences. How do we get past that. I would like to particularly put that to Grace, actually. What we heard there was less of the extremes there, but more report from the country that still has some challenges in the degree of consultation, but certainly to my mind, it sounded like it was moving in the right direction. In particular, you said that the constitution had been changed and adopted this principle that there must be consultation. And so even if that isn't fully developed yet or it's a work in progress, that sounds like movement in the right direction that maybe the situation for the Middle East. You know, we might hope to get there.
So I would ask, particularly Grace, how did Kenya move to start to believe that this sort of thing was important? And to get started on that path?
>> JAN SCHOLTE: I initially saw a third hand. Did it go down? Here in the front. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello. I'm in Japan. I think I have a question for all of you. I see most of the panel focused on our institutional design in making internet related policy accountable such as multi‑stakeholder based constitutional advance. I think to make internet related policy accountable, you can also give some kind of justification or review after making the policy, and putting the policy in place.
So what do you think about this?
>> JAN SCHOLTE: So accountability exposed to what happens. I understand you. It's good. Let's go back to the panel. May I also abuse the chair and ask you a question, too? Apart from the one reference to the diet, no one talked about parliament. And traditionally, if we think about a government's accountability, it's to the elected representatives of the people in the parliament. Is it the case when we move to internet‑related governance, that parliament doesn't count and not part of the equation? I tease you with that. Shall we go down the line? Whatever you like.
>> TSUYOSHI KINOSHITA: Let me ask this of the last question, which is easier for me to answer. So once again, based upon the practice we have in Japan, accountability is not just to get the expert consolidated during the course of policy development. In Japan, the Japanese government has been adopting the full space management called the PDCA. Plan, do, check, and act. Meaning the last policy that's adopted and implemented, there is a mechanism actually being used in Japan to measure whether or not the expected effect of a policy is actually there or not as the outcome. And if not, then on a periodical basis, based on the PDCA cycle, there is actually a mechanism to adjust or select a course of actions after the policy gets implemented. So that's kind of the order of how we do it.
>> GRACE GITHAIGA: In 2005, one thing that was brought up was broadcasting legislation. And broadcast has drawn from different broadcasting sections, the public, community and commercial. And once, you know, they had finalized their draft, it's emerged that there were issues of convergence that could not be dealt alone by the broadcasting sector. And so the process was stopped. And at that point, it was agreed that there needed to be a policy that then would inform in what should come in the broader ICT realm.
And then in... in 2006, stakeholders came together. Different stakeholders because, you know, the movement on new technologies had begun. There had been processes and Kenya had been following their world summit on informational society. So there are all of the new things that had come up, and it was agreed that they would have to be together in order for them to make sense.
So in 2006, different stakeholders drew from new technologies and the broadcasting sector and the information sector. They came together now and collaboratively developed the ICT policy of 2006. And I think that is where multi‑stakeholder policy began, and that is when the Kenya ICT network was born, because it was the platform that then was used to bring people together and to work with the government. So everybody who was a stakeholder worked very well.
In the sense of the government, there was a very progressive minister who actually agreed that these issues were complex and needed a multi‑sectoral approach. So that is how it started and from there on, any law that has come has had to engage different stakeholders. Even before 2010, where now this requirement was put in the constitution. Thank you.
>> SALAM YAMOUT: The first is to have somebody enlightened or have a need to do that. In Lebanon, what has worked is they had this law by the... not the government. By the parliament about the E transactions laws. That's the framework law for doing E signature and all of this. It stayed five years in negotiations and blocked at the end of the whole circuit by the private sector because it contained some things that were unacceptable to the private sector. The private sector did lobbying and stopped it. What happened is the Prime Minister, an enlightened person himself, decided to have a committee where they put inside the committee members of the private sector and professional organizations as well as the other ministries. This is something that worked and that anybody can do. We can start thinking like this.
The other way we can do is learn from bottom‑up processes that work. For example, the technical community. Policies are made... I mean they're discussed on the mailing list. People raise their hand and talk about them and people meet face to face and the policy is discussed again. At the end, it's bottom‑up and there is loose consensus. We are far away from reaching this in the government frame of mind. But what we can do, what we have been doing is to foster the dialogue between the state and non‑state actors. We start talking to the governments how their legislations can become better and how their policy will be better if they sit down and they talk to people who have experience in this domain.
And as newly appointed head of the regional bureau in the Middle East, I intend to do the same thing, foster good governance from this point of view. Talking will help solve the problem.
>> MARK CARVELL: Thanks for the questions and comments. It's excellent points that have been made. If I pick up firstly on review of the process of policy, delivery, review of outcome of negotiations, it's a very important exercise to undertake. And it should be a very inclusive exercise.
Our advisory group, the MAGIG, is the opportunity for us in government to feed back to the stakeholders. It is where we had succeeded in advancing UK positions and where we had defeated proposals that were red lands for us. That we would not support. There were a number... I won't go into detail. But WTSA, those who are familiar with that will know that there are crucial proposals there, but that had to be challenged. At the political level, in respect to policy, there are vigorous processes of scrutiny through the parliamentary processes, through the parliamentary committees, third party committees in the parliament to scrutinize what the parliament has done, the positions it has taken. How the laws have performed with a view to, you know, identifying what could possibly be reconsidered or corrected. And speaking of parliamentary engagement, to Leon's point, I'm afraid that I'm going to give another acronym, to add to the ones that overwhelm us in the sphere of internet governance. PICTFOR. It's quite a long acronym. Parliamentary internet communications and technology forum.
Now this is a re‑branding, if you like, of previous designation, which was a parliamentary IT committee, another acronym, PITCOM, but now it's PICFOR. This is a grouping of parliamentarians. You have academics involved, and technical people. So it's an opportunity for parliamentarians to discuss those issues and bring us ministers and officials into those discussions. Just across the road from the parliament, where this... the agenda engaged on all of those issues. We have a lot of parliamentary engagement. There are members of the European parliament that is here. Thank you.
>> LEON SANCHEZ: If you ask me how to apply it to the governments, I wouldn't know how to do that because of course, governments as my teammates have said, they have different accountability measures to the parliament and to the institutions and to the people that elect those governments. I don't think that's something that we could just appoint from the private sector to the governmental sector. If we refer, we think of the decision‑making process, that's another story. There is a chance in Mexico, if we have internet related policies that may affect some of the eco‑system or some of the stakeholders, what we do is we discuss widely with the government. They have been involved enough to realize that participation of different stakeholders in relation to internet‑related policies is important. We formed a group which is the internet governance initiative group that is formed by the different stakeholders from private sector, of course, academia, civil society, governments, so on and so forth. And we hold regular meetings in different venues within Mexico, and we discuss any topic that we think or that any of the stakeholders raises as being important to the group. We have the capacity to create awareness on internet governance. One of the outcomes from this group is that we also hold an annual event on internet governance in Mexico. So you could say it's a local idea, but it isn't really, because it's not even branded as such. But the effort is to as I said first, create awareness and then capacity. So the civil society of different stakeholders understand how the multi‑stakeholder model works. And lastly, but not least, to create this awareness in the government. One of the most difficult parts is to make sure the government is a facilitator and not a coordinator. That would be an answer to your question. I hope that's useful for you.
And as for the question from the gentleman from Japan, I think that a constant view is needed, both before and an example of exposed... the policy development process. So I think that if you have this kind of organization or inertia between the government and the different stakeholders, then it will come natural to continue to do these consultations. Beforehand and afterwards when a policy is in place. Yes, I definitely agree that the efforts should be continuous and not just something that needs to be done previous to affecting any of the policies that are internet related. Thank you.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Thank you. We have had a confusion with the schedule at the beginning and we have been given permission to continue on beyond 11:45, so we can take more questions if you would like to raise those. Governments are accountable? No problem?
All right. I have two questions for the panel myself. One is that people are saying, Leon, you said that governments are elected. They are elected but officials are not. And a lot of the times these are official regulators who have not been elected. So, it's not always necessarily that clear that they're accountable. They are being put in place to be sure that the official regulators are as well. Is this enough? And second related question is accountability is about consultation, evaluation, and transparency. And how much when you are describing these different mechanisms in Japan, in Kenya, in the Middle East, in the UK, and Mexico, how transparent are those? The colleague from Poland was raising the issue, how did these consultation groups not become vehicles for lobbying and then special interest? So maybe if we could finish with those questions unless there are other questions that would like to come from the floor.
>> GRACE GITHAIGA: So people have been asking, why is it that our submissions never, you know, reach that standard? That it could reach that final outcome document. And I think that's still... that is still a challenge. That's why we are saying we would like a framework. A public participation framework that outlines the processes and even reports back. So that it's stipulated clearly that either your submission answers, or it has no relation whatsoever from what is required.
The second thing, there was a government about government accountability. And I have had that. We've even had that argument internally. You go to this and these are committees that have been appointed by the government. They claim that the government elected by the people, and therefore they have the mandates to represent the people. So sometimes it's not even necessary to have that multi‑stakeholder approach. Because that government has been elected by the people to represent the people. Which I don't necessarily agree.
The second argument that is put forward is that governments give legitimacy to processes. But they also provide the environment for all of us to do what it is that you do, including policymaking in ICT processes. And therefore, I think we have not been able to come up with hard and fast responses to some of those challenges. And I can only say that we still have many rivers to cross when it comes to this issue.
>> TSUYOSHI KINOSHITA: Just one comment from me, the internet policy on it. The internet‑related policy matters gets complex and touched from a variety of aspects around the world. We do see inter‑ ministerial coordination is happening. Now we do clearly see that the inter‑ministerial coordination is necessary to make decisions going forward. That area we do see as an improvement going forward.
>> SALAM YAMOUT: Yes, so, I want to touch on the legitimacy concept that has been talked about at the opening remarks at this IGF. We have to talk about what gives you the right, right? It has a right to be correct all the time or has a right to do this or that. When people take their time and resources and money to meet several times and come together to consensus, that's not respectful and not taken seriously. We need to think about what is legislative material and what is not.
For your second point, absolutely transparency. It is... we have to learn to be transparent. Being transparent is a lot of work. You have to document what you're seeing. You have to publish it. And maybe that's the shining light that is going to make rulers behave differently when they know that they are watched. That somebody knows what they're doing and can then elect them or not elect them in the next election.
>> MARK CARVELL: Just a couple of comments from me, reaching out to stakeholders and communities and engaging many key processes that will impact on the evolution of the internet. Including transition from my seats, the UK seat, and the governmental advisory committee. The committee itself has to reach consensus decisions, and that involves sometimes quite challenging negotiating situations. So how am I accountable for that? I'm accountable primarily through my minister, who then is accountable... the minister is a member of the elected government, of course. And accountable to parliament. And so that is a kind of chain of accountability if you like, primarily.
Of course in the UK, we also have freedom of information act, which enabled anybody to access official documents. So any of the reports I do, any of the recommendations I make to ministers on what positions I should take in ICANN or elsewhere or whatever. They are readily available for anybody to access as a right of a citizen to access that information in accordance with the freedom of information act. So there are those important mechanisms.
On transparency, yes. On the MAGIG, we have a bit of work to do to enhance our transparency. We are, and are working as a group, we're about 30 members of government, private sector, technical, academic and civil society members in the group. Everybody sees the documents and has a right to say their piece and the right to go against majority views. So there's absolute transparency about how those discussions develop. In the group we stay informed on government and on policy, as I described earlier.
So there's that. So in terms of why the public access to our information and our deliberations as a group, we do need to do a bit more in order to maximize that. We will do that. We've been reviewing the MAGIG recently, its membership and so on, ensuring that we have the right people. That the people who are in the group are fully committed. We've got a process of evolution. The group hasn't been active that long. Was it three years? Transparency is a very important aspect. We're looking at that now. Thanks.
>> LEON SANCHEZ: Some are legitimately elected and some others may not be that way. But I think what's important in this context is to realize or at least, I believe that we are living in times in which we might be seeing a new kind of democracy. On internet‑related issues, at least I believe that the legitimacy of any policy will be given not because those who are participating in shaping those policies are elected or anything like that. I believe that the legitimacy will come from having all the interested parties contributing to the effort and being, as you said, transparent about it. That will be the factor that will bring legitimacy to any internet related policy.
So I guess this might or might not evolve to a new way of governmental policy‑making process. But I'm sure that for the years to come, the multi‑stakeholder model and the exercise that has been evolving will gain legitimacy, as I said, by having a wide participation and exemplary transparency in the way things are done. That will support the positions themselves. If you can think of maybe free trade agreements, somehow they are negotiated by the different parties to date. And if we act to that model of negotiation, the participation of the different stakeholders that will be affected by the free trade agreements, then another story in negotiation will come in the years to come. Thank you.
>> JAN SCHOLTE: Okay. We're getting close to finish. Any last comments from the floor? Okay. I think then we will wind this up. We've been looking at a key question of accountability and internet governance, this time focusing on the government and the ministries and regulators at national level. There are many other issues to address as well. We looked at the ICANN case as a comparison and many other places to go. The accountability was sure one and one. I want to thank the panelists who have come together. They have not worked and spoken together before. This is the wonderful thing about the IGF, you can bring people from all of these different regions and sectors together and they immediately have a conversation that goes very deep. So I want to thank you very much for coming together. I want to thank our coordinator. Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
[ Ended at 11:55 a.m. CST ]