I was in­ter­viewed by the CGCS Me­di­awire, and the text is be­low:

IN­TER­VIEW WITH CELIA LER­MAN ON IN­TER­NET POL­I­CY IN LATIN AMER­I­CA

In this in­ter­view, Celia Ler­man, pro­fes­sor and re­searcher of In­tel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty at the Uni­ver­si­dad Tor­cu­a­to Di Tel­la law school, dis­cuss­es her path to in­ter­net gov­er­nance work and her re­cent pub­li­ca­tion on in­ter­net pol­i­cy in Latin Amer­i­ca. Ler­man re­flects on the cru­cial role of mul­ti­stake­holderism in the move­ment for open democ­ra­cy and the broad­er is­sues fac­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a suc­cess­ful mod­el of in­ter­net gov­er­nance. Click here to read the full pub­li­ca­tion.

How did you first be­come in­ter­est­ed in in­ter­net gov­er­nance and mul­ti­stake­holderism?

I be­came in­ter­est­ed in in­ter­net gov­er­nance ear­ly in my ca­reer when I was work­ing as an in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty lawyer in Buenos Aires, work­ing with in­ter­na­tion­al do­main name dis­putes. The pro­ce­dures for solv­ing these dis­putes caught my at­ten­tion: it seemed so strange to me that the do­main name dis­putes I was work­ing on had to be sub­mit­ted to a pan­el based in Gene­va and hold the pro­ce­dure in Eng­lish, even when both par­ties were based in Latin Amer­i­ca and spoke Span­ish as a first lan­guage. That sparked my in­ter­est in ex­plor­ing bet­ter rules and so­lu­tions for Latin Amer­i­can in­ter­net users re­lat­ing to their rights on the In­ter­net.

Soon af­ter I start­ed work­ing in acad­e­mia in 2011, I par­tic­i­pat­ed in my first ICANN meet­ing as a fel­low in Dakar, Sene­gal, and in the Glob­al Con­gress on In­tel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty and the Pub­lic In­ter­est or­ga­nized by Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty. Both meet­ings were in­cred­i­ble win­dows to in­ter­net gov­er­nance and pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions for me.

What over­lap is there be­tween the fields of in­ter­net gov­er­nance and your oth­er ex­per­tise, such as in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty law?

The over­lap be­tween in­ter­net gov­er­nance and in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty law is feared and loathed by many, es­pe­cial­ly when IP laws are used to re­strict the shar­ing of con­tent over the in­ter­net and jeop­ar­dize free­dom of ex­pres­sion. But the in­ter­sec­tion is not nec­es­sar­i­ly neg­a­tive. In­ter­est­ing­ly, IP laws are unique­ly help­ful to think through nov­el is­sues of in­ter­net pol­i­cy and gov­er­nance, and what the rules about in­tan­gi­ble prop­er­ty should be like. This may be why many IP schol­ars are in­creas­ing­ly in­volved in the field of in­ter­net pol­i­cy.

Your re­cent IPO pub­li­ca­tion, “Mul­ti­stake­holderism and In­ter­net Gov­er­nance,” fo­cus­es on mul­ti­stake­hold­er in­ter­net pol­i­cy as a key to im­ple­ment­ing oth­er types of pol­i­cy in the re­gion. How would you de­scribe the cur­rent in­ter­net pol­i­cy land­scape in Latin Amer­i­ca?

As I ex­plain in more de­tail in the ar­ti­cle, we can talk about two lines of mul­ti­stake­hold­er in­ter­net pol­i­cy de­vel­op­ment in Latin Amer­i­ca. One line in­volves Brazil, a coun­try which im­ple­ment­ed in­sti­tu­tions and mech­a­nisms for mul­ti­stake­holderism as ear­ly as 1995, and to­day holds ma­ture mul­ti­stake­hold­er par­tic­i­pa­tion with strong in­ter­nal ac­tiv­i­ty and in­ter­na­tion­al in­volve­ment. The oth­er line re­lates to coun­tries like Ar­genti­na, Cos­ta Ri­ca, Mex­i­co and Colom­bia among oth­ers, where mul­ti­stake­hold­er struc­tures de­vel­oped more slow­ly and grew strong es­pe­cial­ly since 2012 when dif­fer­ent forces com­bined. These forces in­clud­ed a height­ened gov­ern­ment in­ter­est in in­ter­net and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions pol­i­cy, af­ter in­ter­na­tion­al events such as the Snow­den leaks made in­ter­net pol­i­cy a mat­ter of in­ter­est for lo­cal vot­ers. Hold­ing in­ter­na­tion­al in­ter­net gov­er­nance events in the re­gion (such as the IGF, ICANN and Net­Mundi­al meet­ings) al­so helped to at­tract at­ten­tion and ob­tain sup­port for mul­ti­stake­hold­er in­ter­net gov­er­nance. Cur­rent­ly, we see that lo­cal and re­gion­al mul­ti­stake­hold­er ini­tia­tives are grow­ing rapid­ly and syn­er­gi­cal­ly in the re­gion.

In your pa­per you con­nect mul­ti­stake­hold­er­sim in in­ter­net gov­er­nance to a wider move­ment for open democ­ra­cy. How do you see this pol­i­cy trans­fer process oc­cur­ring, if it is oc­cur­ring? What are the op­por­tu­ni­ties?

In­ter­net pol­i­cy is unique­ly suit­ed for cre­at­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties for mul­ti­stake­hold­er in­volve­ment in in lo­cal pol­i­cy de­vel­op­ment.

For ex­am­ple, in Ar­genti­na, the Supreme Court held one of its first live web broad­cast­ed pub­lic hear­ings in the case of “Ro­dríguez, Maria Belén vs. Google Inc.,” which dis­cussed search en­gine li­a­bil­i­ty. The court al­lowed the par­ties and the am­i­cus cu­ri­ae to present their ar­gu­ments, giv­ing the court the op­por­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er a wide ar­ray of opin­ions and pro­vid­ing the am­i­ci and the pub­lic with a trans­par­ent and ac­ces­si­ble chan­nel to be­come in­volved. This case cre­at­ed the struc­tures and opened the door for dis­cussing oth­er cas­es through the same chan­nels, even if the is­sues at stake are not re­lat­ed to in­ter­net pol­i­cy. The op­por­tu­ni­ties are enor­mous.

What dis­par­i­ties ex­ist be­tween the ways in which the mul­ti­stake­hold­er mod­el is im­ple­ment­ed on the glob­al scale and how it is im­ple­ment­ed in Latin Amer­i­ca?

One in­ter­est­ing dis­par­i­ty is that, on the glob­al scale, the pri­vate sec­tor has been a key ac­tor in pur­su­ing and re­in­forc­ing mul­ti­stake­hold­er gov­er­nance. In Latin Amer­i­ca, how­ev­er, the in­ter­net in­dus­try is still timid­ly in­volved in In­ter­net gov­er­nance. Lo­cal and re­gion­al dis­cus­sions are led main­ly by NGOs, in­ter­na­tion­al in­ter­net or­ga­ni­za­tions such as LAC­NIC and LACTLD, and some gov­ern­ments. The rel­a­tive­ly low par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pri­vate sec­tor is main­ly due to the small­er size of the in­dus­try and the more lim­it­ed re­sources to par­tic­i­pate in in­ter­net gov­er­nance fo­ra. Luck­i­ly, the ten­den­cy is re­vert­ing and hope­ful­ly we are to see a stronger in­volve­ment of the lo­cal in­ter­net in­dus­try in the years to come.

What more can be done (and by whom) to cre­ate a more a more suc­cess­ful mod­el of in­ter­net gov­er­nance in Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries?  What about in oth­er re­gions in the world?

As men­tioned above, it would be very en­rich­ing to have in­creased and sus­tained par­tic­i­pa­tion from the lo­cal pri­vate sec­tor in the In­ter­net in­dus­try. This would in­ject dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives in­to the lo­cal and re­gion­al in­ter­net dis­cus­sions, and help in­ter­net pol­i­cy feed the ac­tiv­i­ties of in­ter­net com­pa­nies and vice ver­sa.

More ac­tive gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment would al­so be very help­ful for con­sol­i­dat­ing cur­rent mul­ti­take­hold­er ini­tia­tives and cre­at­ing new ones. While gov­ern­ments of the re­gion have worked to­geth­er in ICT de­vel­op­ment through chan­nels like eLAC (a plat­form for gov­ern­ment po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue host­ed by the Unit­ed Na­tions Eco­nom­ic Com­mis­sion for Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean), there is still a need for na­tion­al sup­port to con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ing na­tion­al mul­ti­stake­hold­er dis­cus­sions.

Last­ly, con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion with in­ter­na­tion­al or­ga­ni­za­tions like ICANN, though for­mal chan­nels cre­at­ed for this end such as the ICANN LAC Strat­e­gy, are al­so unique­ly help­ful. These con­tri­bu­tions would help mul­ti­stake­holderism ma­ture and thrive in the re­gion.