The GovLab SCAN – Issue 12

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our twelfth edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at [email protected].

This week’s highlights:

  • The gradual roll-out of ICANN’s new generic top-level domains program (new gTLD program) is increasingly visible globally, as more and more new gTLDs open for end-user registration. Associated with the new gTLD program are a variety of new and difficult questions, such as how contentions between gTLD applicants can be resolved, and how various TLDs should be used (for example, what the guidelines should be when ccTLDs are “commercialized”).
  • Following the World Economic Forum in Davos and leading up to the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, there are many “strategy panels” and “high-level commissions” that are expected to produce reports to inform the discussions. Some have pointed out that these initiatives, in trying to change the status quo of Internet governance, in fact begin to take on very similar appearances. Coordination has therefore been identified as a key priority in aligning and organizing Internet governance debates in 2014.
  • Mobile connectivity is growing worldwide, as is the speed of broadband service. Progress in communications technology, however, does not ensure these communications technologies are always used for good. For example, while Pope Francis highlighted the Internet’s power for human connectivity “as a gift from God” –  several reports released this week show that an increasingly sophisticated Internet enhances security threats, such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.


Kamau, Macharia. “Communications Commission of Kenya proposes changes to commercialise ‘.ke’ Internet identity.” Standard Digital. January 30, 2014.

  • The Communications Commission of Kenya has “proposed an overhaul of the management and administration of the “.ke” domain name in a bid to grow its popularity and uptake.” In particular, CCK will step down from its board position at the Kenya Network Information Center (Kenic) – changing Kenic from a non-profit organization to a commercial entity.

Milam, Margie. “WHOIS Resources Enhanced by New WHOIS Primer and Global Lookup Tool.” ICANN Blog. January 24, 2014.

  • ICANN has released a “WHOIS Primer” in all six UN languages. The Primer is “designed to help the average domain name user better understand the framework surrounding WHOIS,” for example “the numerous contracts, policies, protocols, and standards that collectively support today’s WHOIS system.” ICANN also published a Draft Implementation Plan for the Global WHOIS Lookup Tool currently in development, which will “provide enhanced usability for consumers” via a common interface.

Mohnot, Sheel. “Exploring the Various Options of Private gTLD Auctions.” CircleID. January 27, 2014.

  • More and more new gTLD applicants with gTLDs in contention are turning to private auctions for resolution. Mohnot argues that clear communication is the best way to build consensus, and points to three important decisions that have to be made with regards to how the auctions will work: “how is the auction designed?”, “what happens with the winner’s payment?”, and “how does the settlement process enforce the auction outcome?”

Smolaks, Max. “Scotland To Get Its Own ‘.scot’ Top-Level Domain Name.” TechWeek Europe. January 28, 2014.

  • By this summer, the new “.scot” country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Scotland will be open for registration. The .scot ccTLD will be operated by the Dot Scot Registry.

Swinehart, Theresa. “Update: ICANN’s Strategic Initiatives.” ICANN Blog. January 28, 2014.

  • There are “many moving parts” to ICANN’s strategic initiatives, and Swinehart’s blog post briefly lays out what they are and how they are related to one another. As ICANN’s Senior Advisor to the President on Strategy, Swinehart notes that ICANN’s strategic initiatives fall into two broad categories: “strengthening and continuing to evolve and improve ICANN as a multistakeholder organization; and contributing as a partner in the Internet eco-system to strengthening awareness and the evolution of multistakeholder Internet governance and cooperation, in a manner that ensures the continued flexibility to adapt to emerging issues.”

Internet Governance

Braun, S., Mendoza, M., and Ortutay, B. “Gov’t, Internet Companies Reach Deal on Disclosure.” The Washington Post. January 28, 2014.

  • This week, the United States Justice Department reached an agreement with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn –the Internet companies active in discussions with the U.S. administration regarding intelligence gathering practices. The agreement would “allow [the companies] to disclose data on national security orders the companies have received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.” The companies “welcomed the deal” but believe more reforms are needed.

Davido, Bill. “The Internet Is the Greatest Legal Facilitator of Inequality in Human History.” The Atlantic. January 28, 2014.

  • “Will poorly designed government policies aimed at ameliorating the problem of inequality end up empowering the Internet-driven redistribution process?” Davido argues that the Internet-based companies “create opportunities for only a select few” and that if policy makers “ignore the power of the Internet when making policy decisions, we are in danger of allowing it to become the greatest legal facilitator of income inequality in the history of the planet.”

DelBianco, Steve. “Playing the Long Game at the Internet Governance Poker Table.” CircleID. January 27, 2014.

  • Brazil is part of the BRIC, an alliance of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) that has advocated for putting ICANN’s functions under the control of the United Nations. Discussing the recent agreement between ICANN and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to host an Internet governance summit in Sao Paulo this year, DelBianco suggests that “the smart play for Brazil’s long game is to show support for the multistakeholder model — if only to fatten the pot for when the UN eventually plays the stronger hand.”

Fung, Brian, and Boorstein, Michelle. “Pope Francis calls the Internet ‘a gift from God’.” The Washington Post. January 23, 2014.

  • In a Papal statement reminding us that religion also plays a role in Internet governance discussions, Pope Francis called the Internet a “gift from God.” In particular, the Pope pointed to the Internet as “ultimately a human rather than technological achievement.”

Hertig, Alyssa. “Bitcon-Inspired Project Launched to Decentralize the Internet.” January 27, 2014.

  • Bitcloud developers (belonging to the same group as Bitcoin, the “cryptocurrency”) are proposing the use of Bitcloud’s decentralized structure and tools to “decentralize the Internet.” Such a decentralized architecture of the Internet would, for example, allow users to sidestep NSA surveillance through mesh networks that do not depend on intermediary ISPs.

Kerr, Dara. “Pirate Bay is Free to Sail Through Holland’s Internet Once Again.” CNET. January 28, 2014.

  • This week, an appeals court in the Netherlands ruled that Dutch Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are no longer required to block IP addresses associated with The Pirate Bay – the popular peer-to-peer file sharing site – because “the blockade was apparently impossible to enforce as users would find new workarounds to get to the site.”

Kuerbis, Brenden. “The ‘Iron Cage’ of Multistakeholder Governance.” Internet Governance Project. January 28, 2014.

  • Kuerbis argues that the upcoming Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (GMMFIG) in Brazil and 1net are examples of “institutional isomorphism” – when organizations become increasingly similar as actors attempt to change them. For example, the High Level Committee strongly resembles the Internet Governance Forum’s Multistakeholder Advisory Committee (MAG). Both have a 50/50 balance between government and non-government individuals. Kuerbis concludes, “uncertainty about how to bring governments into multistakeholder governance is driving a mash-up of existing organizational approaches.”

Mueller, Milton. “US Cautiously Encourages IANA Reform, Brazil Meeting.” Internet Governance Project. January 26, 2014.

  • Mueller points to Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda (the State Department’s Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy) speech on Internet governance last week (covered in last week’s SCAN) as the first notable U.S. official statement on the topic since the NSA spying scandal became public. Mueller suggests “the speech signaled the Obama administration’s openness to reform as long as it is conducted within a multistakeholder framework” and “solidified the sense that there are serious reform opportunities before the world in the area of global Internet governance.”

Nothias, Jean-Christophe. “The Asymmetrics, the WEF, ICANN, Brazil, and the ‘Little Red Book’ of Multistakeholderism.” The Huffington Post. January 27, 2014.

  • Jean-Christophe describes the “Asymmetrics,” a “camp” in Internet governance debates whose “holly mission is to defend and protect the current status-quo, or any thoughtful evolution so as to preserve the U.S. oversight under a MS [multistakeholder] Internet governance and its current imbalance.”

Shelach, Shmulik. “Netanyahu: We need a UN of the Internet.” Globes. January 27, 2014.

  • At the Cybertech 2014 conference in Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed Israel lead a systematic approach to Internet privacy and security, saying that “decision-makers should meet and set up a kind of UN of the Internet,” that would be “a special organization, a cyber headquarters” made up of a “coalition of the leading companies” and government.

Papers & Reports

CENTR: Internet Governance in 2013 and What’s Coming Up in 2014.” CircleID. January 27, 2014.

  • Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR) has published an Issue Paper entitled “Internet Governance Landscape this year and next.” In particular, the report describes the many initiatives, panels, and meetings that each will inform the tenth anniversary of the World Summit on the Informaton Society, taking place this April.

Lim, Hae-in, et al. “Netizen Report: Somali Internet Service Providers Cave to Threats From Al Shabab.” Slate. January 29, 2014.

  • This Netizen Report by Global Voices Advocacy “offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.” The report describes, for example, Somali terrorists demanding Somalian ISPs to block Internet access; new censorship laws in Kenya; new pornography filters in the UK; the largest Internet blackout in Chinese history; surveillance laws in India; and the pirating of protestors’ data in the Ukraine.

SecDev Group. Think Big on Cyber. LawFareBlog. January, 2014.

  • This report “ties together the complex dimensions of global cyber security in pragmatic terms, based upon SecDev’s experience operating at the intersection of cyberspace, social and political change, competition and conflict.” The report points out that “cyberspace is a synthetic domain, but with a very real physical and human presence,” and that “a contemporary situational understanding (SU) of cyberspace and reality is widening”.

The State of the Internet, Volume 6, Number 3 (3rd Quarter, 2013 Report). Akamai. January, 2014.

  • This Akamai report provides a view of today’s online trends. In particular, the report describes the “top countries, networks, and universities for IPv6 adoption,” emerging global security trends (e.g., the rise of Distributed Denial of Service – DDoS – attacks), and the growth of global mobile connectivity and connection speeds.


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