Day 2 Predictions

From Cyberlaw: Difficult Issues Winter 2010
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Sheel: Cisco, with its involvement in China's Golden Shield Project and $16 Billion investment (, doesn't want to have to deal with issues of human rights that might diminish ROI. Notable quote from article and 2008 testimony: Chandler said, "Cisco does not customize, or develop specialized or unique filtering capabilities, in order to enable different regimes to block access to information." My guess: Mark Chandler will affirm this statement tomorrow, but the real reason is that following the GNI principles would be a poor business decision and CISCO isn't willing to make any sacrifice.

Elisabeth: we might push back on the idea that this would be a poor business decision, and solicit Cosson and Hope's opinions. Yahoo and Google have faced real backlash for their actions, and GNI serves as something of a safety net against that backlash. We could also ask Chandler if he can imagine how GNI could be structured such that it would be worthwhile for Cisco to join--it would be interesting to see if what he says matches up with what Cosson says GNI needs to do to recruit new members.
Andrew: I doubt Chandler would be cynical (frank?) enough to respond this way, but Cisco may be shielded from the kind of "PR risks" that Yahoo/Google/Microsoft face, since their products and services reside below the content layer and are less intuitively understandable to the general public. Along these lines, I hope to hear some discussion about the sources of contention between stakeholders at different architectural layers. How do differences in the type of actions governments request from these companies translate to materially different policy preferences, given the extreme broadness of the principles at issue?
Hector: I agree with Andrew and wonder whether Cisco will go to lengths to emphasize the hardware-side of its products/services. This may be a more palatable version of JZ's "gun's don't kill people" framing: "Look, we provide hardware and the software interfaces that are infinitely customizable." Such an argument works only to the extent that the products/services are general-use (generative?) and the extent that CISCO is truly removed from any immoral end-use.
Jason: I doubt that he will emphasize ROI and the need to make money to a group like ours - or, at least he won't explicitly mention his company's desire to make billions of dollars. Instead, I suspect that Mark will emphasize the need for more Internet infrastructure in developing countries, and the uncertain effect of the GNI in terms of continuing to do business everywhere. He would be right about that need - see, for instance, the Internet density map here. So he can ask us rhetorically, "What is Cisco supposed to do? Don't you cyberlaw students want people in China and Southeast Asia and the Middle East and Africa to get online, too? If so, those countries need our hardware - and we can't choose who runs their governments!" And you know what? If he says this, he will have a very, very good point.

Daniel: I believe Chandler will provide his professional - and hopefully personal - account on the role CISCO plays in [facilitating / enabling / providing neutral tools] to allow for "different regimes" to control their nationals' internet experience. Cosson and Hope will probably dedicate more time to in depth discussion of two issues: involvement of industry actors other than the GNI founding members and the types of incentives that are needed for that, including legal alternatives and public exposure of "do some evil" firms. Also, given that we will not have representatives from Google and Yahoo, these companies are likely to figure prominently in the examples of events, actions and concessions to be avoided.

Sanford Lewis: I predict that Mr. Chandler will not discuss in very much depth the extent to which external stakeholder and stockholder pressure has shaped company policy, unless he is prompted by student questions to discuss this.

Lien: The GNI principles are so general and an "implementation / repetition" of international standards. If a certain company (for whatever reason) does not want to join the GNI, this company still has to comply with these standards. To play the devil's advocate, does joining the GNI change anything in reality or is it just a good thing to join because of the company's image and reputation? Furthermore, the concept of the GNI (sort of self- regulation) is a very American concept. European companies are not very familiar with this kind of approach. The GNI might be a good starting point for a company to obey to certain principles. However, the privacy principles are so broadly written that, if a company would follow these principles, it would still not comply with European Privacy legislation. Why would an European company then join the initiative and do all the effort (e.g. audit, ...), knowing that it would still not comply with European legislation?

Elisabeth: I also wonder how true it is that these are "international" standards, rather than American or American/European standards.


Tyler: I believe Dunstan will try and draw a distinction between situations involving two types of countries. The first type is countries with laws in accordance with GNI principles but that are not enforced or poorly enforced. The second type is countries with laws that on their face are violative of GNI principles. I hope Dunstan will discuss strategies that corporations should use for situations that arise involving both types of countries and the different approaches that GNI stakeholders can collectively take to preemptively forestall problems in each of the two types of countries.

Daniel: It would be great if we further explored the (blurring) division between these two country-types. Was Google's first move in the negotiation with Turkey - accepting to block videos insulting Atatürk, but only within the country's limits - OK under the GNI principles? How much can a country legitimately curb freedom of speech, according to the GNI framework? IMO, its diplomatic language allows for an "American" interpretation, but also for an "European" one and perhaps others even more restrictive.


Tyler: I expect Chuck to express frustration that more corporations have not signed up for GNI and identify some specific reasons why he thinks GNI has so far been unable to recruit any additional corporations from the initial roster of three (Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft). I also hope that Chuck discusses what preparations Microsoft has made to allow GNI auditors access the sensitive Microsoft information.