[ccwg-internet-governance] Fwd: [Internet Policy] Proposals to WTO regarding e-commerce

Marilyn Cade marilynscade at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 20 18:11:18 UTC 2017

This is the kind of external threat I was referencing when I said that I fear that many within ICANN are not aware that cross border transactions can include registry and registrar activities and could affect also other aspects of ICANN's role and that some governments are seeking oversight. While WEOG countries are not of course included, let's understand that the friends who attend the GAC from governments are  not always the final decision makers in their countries but having them  informed and engaged can only help ICANN.

But it is only one example. Jimson and I are part of the CSTD WG EC and there are other proposals. And of course, ITU is holding WTDC shortly with some other interests of oversight of certain aspects.

I would like to propose that the CCWG-IG itself also have a frank update on some of the external activities. I am not proposing that we bombard the community at this point but that we get more up to date and then, perhaps we consider how we do an educational/awareness session for ICANN60.  Just an idea.


From: ccwg-internet-governance-bounces at icann.org <ccwg-internet-governance-bounces at icann.org> on behalf of Greg Shatan <gregshatanipc at gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 12:47 PM
Subject: [ccwg-internet-governance] Fwd: [Internet Policy] Proposals to WTO regarding e-commerce

I thought the CWG-IG would find this of interest.  No endorsement, express or implied; I am but a mere conduit.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Richard Hill <rhill at hill-a.ch<mailto:rhill at hill-a.ch>>
Date: Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 8:59 AM
Subject: [Internet Policy] Proposals to WTO regarding e-commerce
To: internetpolicy at elists.isoc.org<mailto:internetpolicy at elists.isoc.org>

You will find attached leaked versions of documents that have been submitted to WTO.

I find these documents to be truly shocking, but perhaps I misunderstand them.  For what it is worth, here are my thoughts.

First, the scope of JOBSERV248 is such that WTO would take over essentially all aspects of everything related to ICT policy.  That would be a vast expansion of WTO’s mandate and scope, and would come close to the creation of the “new body” that Parminder Jeet Singh and others have advocated. I thought that the TRIPs experience would have led people to stop bringing non-trade issues into WTO.

Second, WTO is the least open and least transparent intergovernmental organization that I know of.  The proponents of JOBSERV248 consistently insist that Internet governance discussions (and by extension discussions of ICT policies) should take place only in so-called multi-stakeholder forums.  While there is some disagreement about what is or is not an appropriate multi-stakeholder forum, it is obvious that WTO is not at all multi-stakeholder.  So I find it astonishing that these states are proposing to discuss e-commerce in WTO.  I realize that hypocrisy is common in international relations, but it seems to me that this is taking it to new heights.

Third, it seems reasonable to assume that the purpose of the JOBSERV248 exercise is to negotiate the issues it mentions under the principles that (1) more free trade is always good and (2) data is just one more commodity that should be flow freely.  Neither principle is correct.   See my submission to CWG-Internet at:


The TNSW from the UE is even more stunning as an example of hypocrisy.  The measures that they propose to combat spam (which are sensible) are far weaker than the measures that they refused to accept in the 2012 ITRs.  Why propose in WTO things that were vehemently rejected in ITU?  Perhaps because the goal is to discuss matters on the basis of the principle that “free trade is always good” and in a setting where the OECD countries can exercise their economic power to obtain concessions from developing countries?

Another obvious problem with the TNSW is that WTO would be duplicating or contradicting the work of other agencies.  For example, why should WTO discuss electronic contracts?  The matter has been handled by UNITRAL.  If more work is needed, then UNCITRAL should be asked to carry it out.

TNWS asks WTO to handle a vast range of issues that are not normally considered to be primarily trade issues, e.g. consumer protection, spam, etc.  As for JOBSERV248, it appears to me to be an attempt to move all policy discussions into a secret forum in which OECD countries have a competitive bargaining advantage.

In my view, discussing e-commerce in WTO is anathema because (1) it is not even a semblance of a multi-stakeholder forum and (2) it will surely result in a very bad deal for developing countries.

Maybe US President Trump will be kind enough to oppose this, which will be the easiest way to avoid it.  But I don’t think that he will.

Or maybe I misunderstand the scope, implications, and/or intent of these papers, in which case I would appreciate being corrected.


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