In correspondence from the closed Advisory Group mailing list that has just been leaked, it has come to light that during the last consultations in Geneva, Chris Disspain of auDA attempted to privately influence the IGF Secretariat to drop proposed reforms that had (by his own reckoning) been agreed through an open, multi-stakeholder process, by threatening the withdrawal of auDA’s sponsorship of the IGF. Disspain wrote on 24 May:
…we are concerned that there appear to be fundamental changes being mooted which are unacceptable to and may lead to the withdrawl of some non government and perhaps even government participants. … Chief amongst our concerns is the concept, that seems to have been “agreed” in today’s session, of final recommendations arising from the igf. In effect, a negotiated document. This is way outside of the mandate of the igf and is, simply, unacceptable to the majority of non government people here. … There is a grave danger that financial support and general involvement of non government participants will be withdrawn.
In reply, and to his credit, Markus Kummer wrote:
The issue of recommendations came up in these discussions. We have to accept that this is part of the IGF mandate, whether or not we like it. Whether or not it is possible to agree on any recommendation is yet another story. … I take issue with your remarks with regard to your continued support. As you know, I very much appreciate the financial support of the Internet community, including your company’s contribution. However, your remarks in the long run tend to undermine the independence and neutrality of the Secretariat. Having said that, I would like to invite those who share not your views to contribute to the financing of our Secretariat, thus broadening the base of our support.
Disspain’s attempt to bypass the process of open, multi-stakeholder dialogue over the IGF’s role and processes, using the threat of withdrawal of funds is absolutely deplorable. It has considerably undermined the impression of the Internet community’s good will towards the IGF process, and provides ample grounds for his exclusion from the Advisory Group when it is reconvened.