MM 2017: Proposal about transparency in rulemaking about the Internet


Submitted by member Our World is Not For Sale


  1. that the founding principles of the Internet, such as universal, free and open access to information, and the ability to connect to people around the world, have been implemented through collaborative, open and transparent processes throughout the years since its inception;
  2. that most of the Internet community has long held the belief that issues related to the Internet should be discussed in transparent and inclusive multi-stakeholder forums and that governance should be decentralized;
  3. that, deviating from these principles, some states have proposed to negotiate binding international rules on core Internet issues like cross border data transfers, data protection and e-signatures in so-called “free trade agreement” (FTA) negotiations and in a to-be-created Working Party on E-Commerce in the World Trade Organization (WTO);
  4. that WTO and so-called “free trade agreement” negotiations are not sufficiently transparent, do not provide for participation of civil society and other non-state actors, and are certainly not multi-stakeholder forums;
  5. that WTO disciplines go far beyond trade issues, promulgating hundreds of pages of rules that interfere with food safety standards, environmental laws, social service polices, intellectual property standards, government procurement rules, and more; and it “is intentionally designed to insulate against democratic pressure for change”(1);
  6. that WTO has a track record for concluding agreements whose effects have been contested, for example regarding intellectual property rights, which have negative effects for developing countries and for consumers of medicines around the world;
  7. that discussions of Internet-related matters, whether in WTO or in FTAs, could:
  1. that a letter signed by 300 civil society organizations from around the world criticizes the current state of play of the negotiations in the WTO;

the members of May First People Link thus resolve:

to demand that governments refrain from negotiating Internet-related matters in the WTO, or other trade negotiation forums, until such time as the WTO, or the forums, are fully transparent and inclusive, in line with the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.

  1. Lori Wallach & Patrick Woodall, Whose Trade Organization? A Comprehensive Guide To The WTO (2004)
  2. For more details, see Given that many of the e-commerce proposal submitted to WTO are similar to those in FTAs, see analyses of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):; the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA):; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Agreement (RCEP):