International cooperation on data protection, a shoe, and a W.C. Fields quote that’s not his

As I started today’s research (further examples of successful cooperation by international organizations), I face planted on the table at Underwood. No, it’s not because I’m exhausted, though the “Seasoned Traveler” set of luggage under my eyes would beg to differ.

As an American, writing in 2017, how do I encourage anyone to do anything about an issue as important as data protection? My country is truly, I don’t care for all the PC-commentary about how we’re a “work in progress,” a mess. We are a great nation. But, just like any Real Housewife on Bravo, we are both great and a mess.

We cannot tie our collective shoe without focusing on 45’s false Tweet about it, the media’s inflated reaction to the lie/Tweet, a further fact check on the Tweet, a week’s worth of 45’s lackeys discussing the alternative facts of the Tweet, Sunday morning talk shows deciphering Morse Code from Russian spies about the Tweet, questions regarding whether or not the world needs Twitter, Congressional aides demanding the US live Tweet during TTIP negotiations…remember the shoe?

It needs to be tied. And, I’m not proud of this, the US can be the first country to a) distract IOs from the shoe and b) burn the shoe to avoid compromising on how to tie it. Problem there? You step on glass, have no shoe, and you bleed. A lot.

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit” used to be a clever quote by W.C. Fields, right? No and no. First, it’s not just a clever quote now, it’s used to wash away sins and make a joke about things like a presidential administration. But, more importantly, it’s not even a W.C. Fields quote and that’s not the quote. “Well, if I can’t dazzle them with my brilliance, I baffle them with my bull.” That’s the quote and no one seems clear on to whom we should attribute it.

As I’m reading the heavy and lofty Constitutions, Conventions, and Mandates establishing these bulwarks (WTO, WIPO, the UN, NATO, etc.), I see it – greatness. They were created and established for greatness. Through absolutely no fault of their own, unless you consider the members themselves at fault, these organizations are baffled by the bull these days.

I have no idea how to get them to focus on my little shoe. But, I know this…they can focus on my little ballet flat now or they’ll have to focus on a cowboy boot the size of Asia later.

Switzerland’s Great Obligation (Thoughts after my First Week of Legal Studies)

Many of my blog readers may have gathered (given that you are also Twitter followers), I started my legal studies this week. It’s only a decade (plus some change) after I started the first time. Totally normal.

It’s also totally normal to understand The Right To Be Forgotten because, unlike your colleagues, you’ve had to argue it to have videos of yourself removed.

It’s all normal. At least it is for me. It’s “my” normal.

You all also know that I am a fierce, steadfast defender of Switzerland. I bleed not only red, but small flecks of white. I am a die-hard Swissie (now, I can say it because it’s no longer a wish, I have ancestors).

After this really long, but completely fascinating week of study, I have learned too much to say too much at this point. I can say, it is my hope to be a small part, someday, of Switzerland’s Great Obligation. Switzerland holds the very heart of the globalization in Geneva; therefore, in my opinion, Switzerland has a Great Obligation.

Global policy makers, global human rights defenders, global jurisdiction deciders, internet dispute mediators, etc. all find their Geneva. Again, Switzerland has the heart of globalization because it has, within its borders, Geneva.

Is it dramatic to refer to it as a Great Obligation (my American term)? I don’t think so. This beautiful country of mountains, cheese, and chocolate is in a literal, geographical, and international position of great responsibility. Nations, private individuals, and public entities at war or in conflict look to Switzerland (and still the US in many circumstances) for a decisive understanding of how to move forward. Is there a greater responsibility and thus obligation for neutrality anywhere? I can find none to rival Geneva.

There is, in Geneva, unique ability and possibility, because of the shared physical location of these powerful bodies, to institute lasting, productive, globally-applicable change…in cooperation and consort…face to face…with each other. I watched them do it this week! Also, the landscape of the location and approach that is deemed “acceptable,” it matters. I truly believe that has an impact at a high level to most, and at a subconscious level to others, that Switzerland has historically held the approach, one with which I concur and from which I have learned, to deal with issues affecting the current and future global landscape with “everything on the head in proportion” – two ears, two eyes, a large brain, and ONE mouth. I feel Switzerland exercises its Great Obligation by using this appropriate proportionality. It sets the tone for all discussions happening under a Swiss flag.

I finish the week knowing the difference between bitcoin and blackcoin. I know the argument about ICANN being in the US is more about political grumblings than substantive policy issues or geographical location problems. I know there is no clear answer to the question, “What are alternative resolution systems for Internet-related disputes today and tomorrow?”…but! I know there are so damn fine ideas in the works. Some of which were formulated because Professor Jacques de Werra brought these international leaders together this past week…face to face…in cooperation…in Geneva.

Interestingly enough, what I really know is that I am, yet again, in the beginning stages of something I will master. I will. Hell, my own computer says I need to spell check “bitcoin” and “blackcoin.” This field into which I am headed is an abyss. Dealing with either area (international trade policy or IP) will require me to follow the behavior demonstrated to me in the past week by esteemed leaders and also by Switzerland’s approach to it all. I need to first listen without my own filter. Then, I need to make a proportional response – two ears, one brain, one mouth.

It’s all about listening more and talking less (and with very concise, thoughtful words).

Something I should truly enjoy after a career that required my mouth to usually be open, my decibel level to be (fairly) loud, and my words to be both many and also not my own.