The GovLab SCAN – Issue 17

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.

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

  • A proposal has been made for how to globalize the IANA function. This is significant given the European Commission two weeks ago called for a roadmap of IANA function globalization.
  • Several important meetings took place this week with regards to Internet governance. The Internet Engineering Task Force held its 89th meeting in London, discussing technical standards development. RightsCon was held in Silicon Valley, discussing digital rights and ICT sector risk.
  • Internet technologies can have both negative and positive consequences in civic contexts. In the Ukraine, for instance, increased cyberattacks accompany recent social unrest. And Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen discuss how data permanence allows for both pattern analysis and forecasting, but can also be used to discriminate against and track user behaviors and identities.
  • A proliferation of research activities around Internet governance and cyberspace are bringing many previously disparate conversations and areas together. There is a need to clarify the meanings of terms that are being used so that discussions do not get lost and issues do not get obfuscated by hazy understandings of, for example, “cyber attacks,” “cyber warfare,” “security and surveillance” and “cyber weapons.”


Astruc, Maëli. “Will ICANN Be The Next International Organisation In Geneva? | Intellectual Property Watch.” Intellectual Property Watch. March 2, 2014.

  • ICANN President and CEO announced this week that the ICANN Board of Directors has approved moving forward with the possible creation of “a parallel ICANN international structure, likely based in Geneva.” The announcement came with the creation of different presidential advisory groups, one of which has been tasked with exploring the establishment of a “complementary parallel international structure to enhance ICANN’s global legitimacy.”

Ball, James. “Meet the seven people who hold the keys to worldwide internet security.” The Guardian. February 28, 2014.

  • Ball describes the ICANN “keyholder ceremony,” which has taken place four times a year since 2010. There are 21 keyholders spread around the world who come together in this regular ceremony, which is an effort to make the domain name system more secure through a hierarchical security measure. Each of the keyholders holds a key, which together create a master key, which is used to validate entries in the DNS as authentic, thus reducing fake web addresses that lead to malicious websites that spread malware.

Chao, Rebecca. “Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?TechPresident. March 4, 2014.

  • Tunisian activist Achref Aouadi describes the trajectory of his efforts to instate an online voting and deliberation platform called in Tunisia. He describes how, through GitHub, he found an open-source software called DemocracyOS that had been recently developed in Buenos Aires, which he used to develop the platform. He suggests that while the Internet connects civic activism around the world, one difficulty of using such digital platforms is that they exclude people who are not connected to the Internet. Aouadi raises interesting solutions to this problem such as using crowdring, which logs missed calls as votes (so that users are not charged on their phone plans).

Milam, Margie. “A Model for Exploring WHOIS Accuracy.” ICANN Blog. March 3, 2014.

  • ICANN has several efforts underway in studying and evaluating the Whois system and making improvements. A particular focus of these improvements is Whois accuracy. ICANN is now developing a program “in which ICANN will conduct periodic WHOIS accuracy studies, publish the findings, and forward for follow-up WHOIS records that have been flagged as inaccurate to some degree.” The Whois accuracy program takes into account “syntactic, operational, and identity validation, and assigns a scoring methodology.”

WEBINAR: ICANN Strategy Panels – Draft Reports.” February 28, 2014.

  • ICANN’s four Strategy Panel chairs will hold a webinar on Tuesday, March 11 from 15:00 to 16:30 UTC to discuss draft recommendations and recently released reports. The webinar seeks community input as panels “fine-tune their reports and bring their work to a conclusion.” This webinar will also be an opportunity to ask questions.

Internet Governance

Brown, Deborah. “Spotlight on Internet Governance: Part Three International Telecommunication Union.” Access Now. March 2, 2014.

  • This third piece in a series looks at what major Internet government “moments” are on the radar for 2014 – including developments at the International Telecommunications Union such as the Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy, the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) and the Plenipotentiary Conference. The piece notes that major developments this year have potential to “inject urgency to resolving some of the power disparities and policy gaps that have plagued the global internet framework for years.”

Dawson, Christian. “Best Practices in the Global Internet.” CircleID. March 3, 2014.

  • Dawson argues that the global Internet industry faces many different and diverse issues that need to be addressed coherently. Any approach to developing best practices should aim to strike “the right balance between security, safety and privacy.” Such a coherent approach, suggests Dawson, would “strengthen [] businesses and create room for the Internet to grow by heading off unnecessary government regulation.”

Hill, Richard. “UN Internet Governance Discussion: Why Did It Fail To Agree And Why Will Discussions Continue?Intellectual Property Watch. March 3, 2014.

  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) was unable to agree to key issues at what was supposed to be its last meeting in February and will therefore meet again in May. In particular, the WGEC (which came out of the Tunis Agenda) failed to agree on whether there are “existing mechanisms that allow [sovereign states to] effectively carry out their public policy role at the international level.

Internet Society’s Rough Guide to IETF 89’s Hot Topics.” Internet Society. February 28, 2014.

  • The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) this week had its 89th meeting in London. In this article the Internet Society (ISOC) gives an overview of highlights in this meeting including sessions on Internet Architecture Board (IAB) protocol parameters, DNSSEC and DNS security, IPv6, “routing and resilience,” and scalability and performance.

Maurer, Tim, and Morgus, Robert. “How the Politics of Language Can Get In the Way of Policy: On Convergence and Framing.” Open Technology Institute. February 28, 2014.

  • Maurer and Morgus argue that one of the results of recent Snowden disclosures as well as Stuxnet is that policy areas, policy communities, and policy agendas are converging. The authors suggest that, “as they continue to merge, the politics of each risks getting in the way of policy for all.” This shows, for example, in the recent proliferation of Internet governance panels, conferences and events. The authors suggest that research “will need to invest additional resources in making sure [various areas] understand each other in the first place before they can try to come to an agreement.” This involves using more technically informed language.

Morin, Norman E. “Tough to Trust DNS Security.” The Lowell Sun. March 4, 2014.

  • While there is a distributed network of Domain Name System (DNS) servers on the Internet, ICANN is in control of the main DNS servers that have the ultimate authority for address resolution, and Morin here reminds readers that “if someone was able to hack the main DNS servers, we would all be in serious trouble.” Therefore, DNS servers have extremely complex security procedures to prevent hackers from compromising DNS resolution and pointing users to fake or malicious websites.

Mueller, Milton, and Kuerbis, Brenden. “A Roadmap for Globalizing IANA.” Internet Governance Project. March 3, 2014.

  • Mueller and Kuerbis have co-authored a proposal for “removing root zone management functions from ICANN and creating an independent and neutral private sector consortium to take them over.” The goal is to end the U.S. government’s special relationship with ICANN. The proposal will be presented at ICANN 49 in Singapore, and submitted to the “NETMundial” Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in São Paulo, Brazil.

Napolitano, Antonella. “Open Internet and Open Democracy at PDF Poland-CEE 2014.” TechPresident. March 3, 2014.

  • From March 13 to 14, Personal Democracy Forum will be hosted in Warsaw, Poland. The conference will look at the “question of how civic participation will evolve in the region” with a special focus on Ukraine. It will also look at citizen engagement more generally, for example: “how do we strengthen civic movements and give them long-term sustainability?” and “how do we use open government and data to improve transparency?”

Netizen Report: “Journalists Dive for Yanukovych Documents, Literally.” Global Voices Online. March 5, 2014.

  • In their search for official documents that detail corruption, journalists are literally diving into reservoirs to retrieve documents discarded by Viktor Yanukovych’s Ukrainian government. So far, these journalists have found evidence of a black list of Kiev-based journalists as well as plans to address military crackdown in the wake of the recent political and civil unrest. In neighboring Russia, blogger-activist and opposition figure Alexey Navalny has been placed under house arrest and ordered not to use the Internet or telephone for two months after supposedly violating the terms of his travel ban. The travel ban was initially ordered after Navalny organized a peaceful protest again Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, in the United States, a court ruled that the inflammatory and anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims” must be removed from YouTube, which the Electronic Frontier Foundation cautioned against on the grounds that it prioritizes copyright over freedom of speech.

Parbat, Kalyan. “India for setting up global agency to manage internet.” The Economic Times. March 6, 2014.

  • India is pushing for the creation of a new ITU-like establishment in attempts to promote “multi-government role in formulating Internet governance rule.” India stands aligned with Russia, the Soviet Union and Iran in that it believes governments should “collectively drive Internet management worldwide.”

Perlroth, Nicole.“Cyberattacks Rise as Ukraine Crisis Spills to Internet.” Bits Blog. March 4, 2014.

  • Cyberattacks are emerging in the ongoing Ukraine crisis, with experts noting the increasing number of “DDoS attacks, in which hackers flood a website with traffic to knock it offline.” The attacks are directed at “both pro-Western and pro-Russian Ukrainian news sites” and some attacks have resulted in websites being defaced or breached.

Schmidt, Eric, and Cohen, Jared. “The Awkward ‘Privacy Talk’ Parents Should Have With Their Kids.” Wired. March 4, 2014.

  • Schmidt and Cohen describe the profound effects “data permanence” has on how people around the world behave online and think about how their digital identities impact their real-world lives. The authors suggest that bulk data leaking will happen again – it is just a question of when – and that governments and businesses must “think carefully about what information they collect and record and what the effect will be on our security if those records are disclosed to the public.” Data permanence affects everyone, rich or poor, and is therefore a defining question for the current two billion and the next five billion Internet users – and that parents must therefore “consider having a privacy talk with their children” to teach them about “the double-edged nature of data permanence: emphasizing how much good it can do but also enabling the actions that we take from a young age to live on forever.”

Torres, Joseph. “Coalition Calls for Protecting Privacy Rights of Communities of Color.” Freepress. February 27, 2014.

  • A coalition of civil rights, media justice, and public interest advocacy groups have released a set of principles “that address the danger of corporate and government surveillance of communities of color in the digital age”. Through these principles, the coalition aims to “influence the national [U.S.] discussion on how to protect civil rights and civil liberties from corporate and government intrusion.”

Internet Technology

Monks, Kieron. “This is what the Internet actually looks like: The undersea cables wiring the Earth.” CNN. March 4, 2014.

  • A series of maps/visualizations show the layout of fiber optic cables that connect Internet networks around the world to each other to create the flow of traffic which is “the Internet.” The maps show how many cables collect at major “nodes” in the global network, and also show how remote parts of the world are connected with just one or two cables in place.

Papers & Reports

Rainee, Lee, and Fox, Susannah. “The Web at 25 in the U.S.: Summary of Findings.” Pew Internet Project. February 27, 2014.

  • On March 12, the World Wide Web will turn 25. In this report Pew takes stock of the growth and impact of the Internet, finding that Internet adoption is almost at 100% in some U.S. demographics, and that this adoption has tremendous impact in all areas of life. According to Pew, “digital technology is viewed as increasingly essential.”


RightsCon 2014. March 3 – 5.

  • RightsCon was held this week and you can find the video recordings of the various sessions here. A series of roundtables addressed the following themes: “measuring and preventing risk in the ICT sector; tech solutions for human rights challenges; innovations in digital rights; Internet governance reform; restoring rights in the age of surveillance.”


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