The GovLab SCAN – Issue 16

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our sixteenth 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:

  • Various activities are underway or wrapping up at ICANN as the next ICANN meeting – ICANN 49 in Singapore – gets closer. For example, a Cross-Community Working Group on Internet Governance will be taking contributions leading up to the Brazil meeting; the ICANN Strategy Panels have released their reports; and ICANN has set up it’s President’s Globalization Advisory Groups. The ICANN Policy Staff will also be holding a Webinar before the Singapore meeting.
  • Internet governance organizations all over the world are setting up forums and online platforms for dialogue as so many Internet governance debates come to a head this year. Awareness of Internet governance issues is a critical factor in having productive discussions that involve all the stakeholders that are affected by decisions concerning the Internet.
  • There are more and more reports being published (e.g., by BCG, Pew, and Deloitte) on the economic impact of Internet connectivity. This shows that Internet-related debates are increasingly making their way into larger (and more entrenched) debates around trade and international cooperation.
  • Internet technological innovation continues to happen everywhere. Increasingly, it would seem that technology development around Internet-related applications, software and devices have privacy, digital freedom and openness as main design priorities.


Announcement: ICANN Future Meetings Strategy.” February 25, 2014.

  • ICANN has launched a Public Comment process on the Recommendations of the “Meeting Strategy Working Group.” The purpose of the WG is to propose a “new strategy for the structure, purpose and locations of the ICANN public meetings to support broad, informed participation and reflect the functional, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Internet at all levels of policy development and decision-making.” Public comment is now open here and closes on March 20th.

Corwin, Philip S. “ICANN’s Uncertain State: 2014.” CircleID. February 21, 2014.

  • Corwin provides an executive summary of a report in which he discusses current Internet governance debates and how these are affected by and affect ICANN. He discusses, for example, the potential consequences of ICANN and IANA globalization; that ICANN and IANA “globalization” requires U.S. government acquiescence; the outputs of ICANN’s Presidential Strategy Panels; and various aspects of the new gTLD program. He suggests that, “central to all of [these topics] is the issue of whether ICANN is currently operating with sufficient accountability and transparency, through a bottom-up consensus process, and in the interest of the global Internet-using public.”

Crepin-Leblond, Olivier, and Dammak, Rafik. “An Update on the Cross-Community Working Group on Internet Governance.” ICANN Blog. February 21, 2014.

  • During ICANN’s last meeting (ICANN 48 in Buenos Aires), the ICANN Community came together to form the Cross-Community Working Group on Internet Governance (CCWG IG). The purpose of this WG is “to the provide the ICANN community with an opportunity to contribute to the dialog and outcomes of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance.” The CCWG IG will: “give guidance to ICANN Staff and CEO regarding Internet governance issues; organize SO and AC-focused sessions at ICANN events; disseminate and summarize relevant information related to the Internet Governance events and processes; draft and submit Position Papers and Statements on its own behalf.”

ICANN Strategy Panels – Draft Reports.” (February 2014).

Malancharuvil, Kiran. “ICANN Board Approves ‘Thick’ Whois Requirement for .COM and .NET.” CircleID. February 25, 2014.

  • ICANN will adopt the ‘thick’ Whois requirements for the remaining two TLDs (.com and .net) that were on a ‘thin’ model. The difference is that a ‘thin’ Whois entry separates data by registry and registrar (the one holding registrant information and the other holding domain name registration data) and a ‘thick’ Whois entry does not, which lowers potential for abuse and facilitates “intellectual property enforcement online.”

Pearce, Rohan. “ICANN Seeks to Tackle DNS Namespace Collision Risks.” Computerworld. February 27, 2014.

  • A JAS Global Advisors report commissioned by ICANN has been released. The report contains recommendations that “describe a comprehensive approach to reducing current and future DNS namespace collisions, alerting operators of potential DNS namespace related issues, and providing emergency response capabilities in the event that critical (e.g., life safety) systems are adversely impacted.”

Pre-Singapore ICANN Policy Update Webinar Invitation.” AG-IP News. February 25, 2014.

Swinehart, Theresa. “Video: Details on the President’s Globalization Advisory Groups.” February 25, 2014.

  • In this video interview, ICANN’s Senior Advisor to the President on Global Strategy, Theresa Swinehart, explains the rationale behind the creation of ICANN’s new President’s Globalization Advisory Groups (discussed in last week’s SCAN) and “how they will provide guidance on globalization issues.”

Internet Governance

Gunter, Janet. “Digital Surveillance in Angola and Other “Less Important” African Countries.” Global Voices Advocacy. February 26, 2014.

  • Gunter discusses the detection of malware and other unsophisticated surveillance technologies in African countries that “through a western lens” are seen as “less important” than other, larger African countries. She suggests that this perspective has resulted in “little public discussion about data security, surveillance and the law” in countries like Angola. In particular, she argues that pervasive surveillance practices in places where there is little awareness of digital rights and freedoms will eventually placate a population so that “activists and journalists do not feel any particular urgency about protecting their online activities.”

Highlights from Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote at Mobile World Congress.” February 25, 2014.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg gave a keynote address at the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) in which he discussed the initiative aiming to make “Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world not yet connected.” In particular, Zuckerburg discussed the fact that the main obstacle in increased connectivity is not the cost of devices (e.g., smart phones) but the cost of data access.

Kenyanito, Ephraim. “Internet Governance: Why Africa Should Take the Lead.” CircleID. February, 25, 2014.

  • Kenyanito argues that African Internet Stakeholders use a “’wait and see approach’ in matters as critical as Internet Governance” and that African voices are missing in Internet governance discussion fora like CircleID and 1Net. He suggests some reasons for this approach: Africa lacks well trained Internet governance experts, and Africans see “Foreign Affairs & International Relations as an East versus West interaction space. He urges for a change in this situation as the “’wait and see approach’ is gravely interfering with basic human rights of Africans.”

Lagarde, Christine. “A New Multilateralism for the 21st Century: the Richard Dimbleby Lecture.” International Monetary Fund. February 3, 2014.

  • In this lecture, Lagarde, the Managing Director of the IMF, discusses the historical legacy of multilateralism and international cooperation and how such connections have brought wealth and opportunity as well as tension and strife to different parts of the world. She discusses two “broad currents that will dominate the coming decades” – increasing tension in global interconnections and in economic sustainability.

Luckerson, Victor. “Why China is a Nightmare for American Internet Companies.” Time Business & Money. February 27, 2014.

  • This week, LinkedIn launched a local Chinese-language version of its website for the first time. However, Luckerson discusses how technology businesses in China have to face significant obstacles, especially where it comes to complying with China’s online regulations. For example, “to run a site hosted within China’s borders that is easy for users to access, LinkedIn needs an Internet content provider license from the government. For such a license, China typically requires that Internet companies actively censor certain content.” Luckerson argues that China’s competition and human rights issues create complicated and uneasy financial and moral calculi for businesses that want to be present in China.

Moody, Glyn. “Another Area Where TPP Will Cause Problems: Internet Domain Names.” TechDirt. February 27, 2014.

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement has suggested regulatory parameters which would “limit the flexibility” of ccTLD policy-development, especially by creating enforceable standards for ccTLD policies where these standards do not otherwise exist or “clash with pre-existing policy.” Susan Chalmers suggests that “such [TPP] requirements may come about not out of consideration for what is best for ccTLD management, but as a result of a trade. Countries’ concessions on IP issues may come as a result, for example, of their desire to export more sugar or beef to US markets.”

Napolitano, Antonella, and Neubauer, Miranda. “After Snowden Leaks, Is a Promise Enough to Protect Digital Rights in Europe?TechPresident. February 21, 2014.

  • Launched on February 6 by European Digital Rights (EDRi), WePromise is an online petitioning platform pushing “to keep digital rights and privacy a hot button issue” as the European Union leads up to European Parliamentary elections. It is meant as a two-sided platform where EU parliamentary candidates can engage citizens and vice versa; candidates can sign a “Charter of Digital Rights” and citizens can “sign a pledge to vote for candidates that have endorsed the Charter.”

Patrick, Stewart M. “The Obama Administration Must Act Fast to Prevent the Internet’s Fragmentation.” Council on Foreign Relations. February 26, 2014.

  • Patrick argues that “the Obama administration has a closing window of opportunity to safeguard international support for an open global Internet” and that this would have enormous consequences on the open Internet as a vehicle for global economic growth and trade. For example, without global norms on surveillance and data privacy online, U.S. technology companies are on extremely uneven footing in the European market. Patrick urges the Obama administration to shift “from a ‘war room’ footing” to a more cooperative stance in which it might “cobble together an international coalition committed to preserving the foundations of an open Internet.”

Press Release: Unilever and partner on internet study for communities across India.” February 24, 2014.

  • Unilever will partner with (a Facebook-led alliance of partners) to “understand better how internet access can be increased to reach millions more people across rural India.” In particular, the partnership plans to make use of Unilever’s “extensive experience developing and deploying programmes for rural consumers.”

Tiezzi, Shannon. “Xi Jinping Leads China’s New Internet Security Group.” The Diplomat. February 28, 2014.

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is personally leading a new “central Internet security and informatization” group which met for the first time this week, and whose membership also includes Premier Li Keqiang. The group will focus on “cyber issues in all its aspects, including economic, political, cultural, and even military issues.” The article describes China’s impending shift from “big Internet country” to “powerful Internet country.” The group will take a dual approach to Internet governance in China – it will focus on technology development on the one hand, and cybersecurity and content-control on the other.

Internet Technology

Danigelis, Alyssa. “‘Outernet’ Project Seeks Free Internet Access for Earth.” Discovery News. February 25, 2014.

  • The Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) plans to develop “Project Outernet,” which will “build and launch hundreds of miniature satellites into low Earth orbit to transmit data streams from several hundred ground stations.” This would blanket the globe with broadband connectivity. The main purpose of the initiative is help people skirt censorship measures in countries with strict controls on online activity as Outernet’s broadband service would not be located in nation-state physical boundaries.

Ericsson and Facebook create Innovation Lab for” Ericsson. February 24, 2014.

  • Ericsson and Facebook have created a “joint innovation lab” supporting the initiative. It is meant as a facilitator to provide an environment for “optimizing applications, networks, devices and services for the next five billion Internet users.” For example, it mitigates the problem that developers only have access to the network environments of their location (be it 2G, 3G, 4G, or WiFi) by providing a space where all network environments can be used for testing new products. The goal is to purse’s goal of “making Internet access available to all” by expanding “the reach of the Internet to emerging markets and [creating] better mobile experiences.”

Talbot, David. “How the ‘Internet of Things’ Will Become as Mainstream as Dropbox.” MIT Technology Review. February 26, 2014.

  • At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, IBM unveiled its new “Internet of Cloud Things.” Experts predict that cheap sensors and processing power will usher in a new era of connectivity, allowing users to monitor and measure such information as health, energy consumption, home management, and even help reduce car accidents. Users connect their first ten devices for free, an added bonus to incentivize enrollment. The technology enabling this enhanced device connectivity is not new, per se, but IBM’s “Internet of Cloud Things” appeals to consumers because the devices are user-friendly, the set up is seamless, and the enrollment is incentivized.

Papers & Reports

Value of Connectivity: economic and social benefits of expanding internet access. Deloitte. February 23, 2014.

  • Deloitte’s new report finds that taking dedicated steps to ramp up Internet penetration will have sustained development benefits in the global south. Not only will increased Internet access expose global south users to new health-related information, education, and financial services, it could potentially increase productivity by 25% and create over 140 million new jobs. The report posits that Internet access could help lift over 160 million people out of poverty.

Whitney, Lance. “Internet now used by 87% of American adults, says poll.” CNET. February 27, 2014.

  • Pew Research commemorated the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web by releasing a new poll about Internet usage among Americans. Age, household income, and educational attainment are the surest determinants of Internet use. Individuals with the highest rate of Internet adoption are those in households that earn over $75,000, are between ages 18-29, and hold college degrees, with adoption rates at 99%, 97%, and 97% respectively. Most of those polled (90%) believe that the Internet is a force of good and 53% reported that it would be “very hard” to give up.

York, Dan. “Papers Now Available Publicly for W3C/IAB “Strengthening the Internet” Workshop.” CircleID. February 26, 2014.

  • The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) are sponsoring a workshop on “Strengthening The Internet” (STRINT) preceding the IETF 89 meeting happening next week. This workshop included a call for papers on “how to strengthen the security and privacy of the Internet.” There were 66 papers accepted and they are now available for public viewing here.

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