The GovLab SCAN – Issue 20

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our twentieth 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 U.S. government announcement regarding transitioning oversight structures for ICANN and for the IANA functions continues to generate a great deal of coverage and discussion around the world. Notably, there is a marked divide in opinion around the transition –for example, leaders of most technical organizations have embraced the announcement, while U.S. republicans are actively seeking ways to prevent the transition from happening too quickly, or from happening at all.
  • ICANN held its 49th meeting this week in Singapore. Important topics included the design of a transition plan for the oversight of ICANN and the IANA functions; the outputs of the ICANN Strategy Panels and how these will inform ICANN’s 5-Year Strategic Plan; and various issues related to ICANN’s new gTLD program.
  • Brazil passed the Marco Civil da Internet, a so-called “Bill of Rights for the Internet”, which includes provisions on the collection of citizen metadata, data-storage practices, and net-neutrality requirements for Internet Service Providers in Brazil.
  • Several articles, reports, and videos highlight a growing theme in discussions around Internet governance: the dual-nature of how Internet technologies can be used both to violate human rights and also to protect them, and also the dual nature of privacy and security measures, which most suggest need to be viewed as mutually constructive, where legitimate policy-making needs to involve the stakeholders who are impacted by decisions.


Gift, Chris. Introducing a New Site. ICANN Blog. March 25, 2014.

  • ICANN is due to migrate to its new website in April. Gift, ICANN’s VP for Online Community Services, describes the new website as an important step for ICANN, whose main point of contact with stakeholders is ultimately the ICANN website. The new website is meant to make it easy for people to understand ICANN and its work, engage newcomers in ICANN’s current and future work, and give users ways to better engage with content and each other. A timeline image for the roll-out can be found here, and a walk-through video for the new website is here.

ICANN, ZACR sign landmark dotAfrica agreement. Biztech Africa. March 26, 2014.

  • ICANN and the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) signed an agreement at ICANN 49, officially announcing that ZACR will launch and administer the .africa top-level domain name, which will be active as early as May of this year.

Murphy, Kevin. Under Global Spotlight, ICANN Forced to Choose Between GAC and the GNSO. Domain Incite. March 27, 2014.

  • One issue of domain-name policy has become particularly contentious at ICANN and, as Murphy suggests, highlights the challenges that ICANN’s multistakeholder model will face and have to consider as ICANN’s oversight transitions away from the U.S. government and towards the global multistakeholder community. The issue has to do with the “protection of the names and acronyms of intergovernmental organizations [IGOs]”. Both the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) have developed positions on this issue –but their recommendations to ICANN’s Board conflict. Faced with a lack of consensus, ICANN’s Board is considering a compromise policy. Murphy observes that “this bind is especially tricky” because it shows when the multistakeholder model comes to potential deadlock, where a top-down Board policy would undermine the effective participation of different stakeholders.

Sessions of Interest, ICANN 49, Singapore. March 23 – 27, 2014.

  • The following sessions from ICANN’s 49th meeting this week in Singapore are of particular interest. Click through to get to the audio stream archive, presentation slides, and full session transcript for each session.
    • ICANN & Global Internet Governance: The Road to São Paulo & Beyond. March 21, 2014.
      • ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) had a special session to discuss the upcoming NETMundial meeting in Brazil in April, with a keynote speech by Lawrence Strickling, Deputy Director of the NTIA.
    • IANA Accountability Transition. March 24, 2014.
      • This is the official launch of ICANN’s convening process for the global multistakeholder dialogue to design a transition proposal for oversight of the IANA functions. In this session, the leaders of various bodies that make policy for and implement policy related to the IANA functions each describe the roles of their respective organizations and their views on the transition.
    • ICANN Strategy Panels & the Planning Process. March 24, 2014.
      • Each of the four Strategy Panel chairs presented their final reports and opened to questions from the ICANN community. Comments include that many of the Strategy Panel recommendations were “tactical rather than strategic”, or that many missed the intricacies of ICANN’s everyday work, and therefore further discussions regarding next steps need to be had.

Internet Governance

Boadle, Anthony. Brazil’s Anti-Spy Internet Bill Clears Lower House Vote. Reuters. March 25, 2014.

  • Brazil’s lower chamber of Congress on Tuesday approved a bill “aimed at guaranteeing equal access to the Internet and protecting the privacy of its users in the wake of U.S. spying revelations”. The bill drops a provision that Internet companies like Google or Facebook would have to store data on Brazilian servers inside Brazil’s borders. Instead it subjects those companies to Brazilian laws when cases arise involving Brazilian nationals. The bill also has a net neutrality provision that bars Internet service providers from charging different prices for different content. The bill has been widely praised around the world as striking a balance between Internet access and privacy. An English translation of the bill can be found here.

DelBianco, Steve. A Programmer’s Perspective on the IANA Transition. CircleID, March 26, 2014.

  • Suggesting that the IANA transition should be designed keeping in mind how a programmer might do it, DelBianco advocates for identifying use cases – i.e. worst-case scenarios ICANN may encounter, so that appropriate and legitimate responses can be planned. A programmer would need more than high-level principles to guide the transition, he notes, laying out a few example use cases to contemplate, from: “What happens if ICANN cancels the Affirmation of Commitments, which it can do with just 120 days notice?” to “What happens if ICANN becomes financially insolvent?”

Gofus, Nancy. 25 Years of Community and Philanthropy on the World Wide Web. Huffington Post. March 25, 2014.

  • Gofus, Chief Operating Officer of Public Interest Registry, discusses the impact of the World Wide Web’s 25 years of history on philanthropy and social activism. In particular, she discusses the open nature of web standards as a basis for the Web’s public interest commitment, and also points to how the Web’s connectivity has given non-profits a dramatic increase in reach and knowledge.

Gurstein, Michael. The Multistakeholder Model, Neo-liberalism, and Global (Internet) Governance. Gurstein’s Community Informatics. March 26, 2014.

  • Gurstein argues that the “multistakeholder model” is an idea that is so unclearly defined that this lack of definition itself comes to define the multistakeholder model. He warns that “multistakeholderism” has become the “mobilizing Internet meme of choice”, replacing “Internet Freedom”, and that people should regard this meme with skepticism because multistakeholderism as it works in practice effectively is a “transformation of the neo-liberal economic model”. Gurstein observes that the discourse around multistakeholderism at present implies that countries and a strong private sector should make decisions in a context in which they are not really accountable to anybody –and that this is especially problematic where definitions are unclear and yet important global discussions are occurring without addressing the lack of clarity.

Johnson, David R. Perspectives: U.S. Plans to Divest Control Over Internet’s ICANN; Dilemma for Some European Registries. The European Institute. (March 2014).

  • Describing the US decision to transition the IANA functions, Johnson draws attention to questions of ICANN accountability and from where it can legitimately be derived. He highlights proposals from others like Milton Mueller at Syracuse University to create a new entity, a Domain Name System Authority (made up of top-level registries) that could bind ICANN through contract from imposing requirements on registries and registrars to police content and online behavior and from operating beyond its technical, narrow remit. In exploring this proposal and others, Johnson notes that, moving forward, a more accountable, independent-from-the-use ICANN would create more pressure on EU ccTLD registries to decide whether to formally sign agreements with ICANN to abide by policies created through its multistakeholder policy-development processes.

Kuerbis, Brendan. Fadi’s Railroad: Are the I* Organizations Getting on Board? Internet Governance Project. March 23, 2014.

  • Kuerbis argues that the current direction of conversations about the transition plan for ICANN and the IANA functions is deeply flawed because it does not structurally separate policy functions from implementation functions, and does not provide adequate or concrete accountability mechanisms for decision-makers. In particular, Kuerbis points to the GNSO, a body that is wholly housed within ICANN, which in a proposed blueprint for the transition would move towards a model where “no external authority or contract” keeps it in check.

Ledgett, Richard. The NSA Responds to Edward Snowden’s TED Talk. TED. March, 2014.

  • The deputy director of the NSA appears at the annual TED conference in response to a talk given by Edward Snowden at TED a few days earlier. Ledgett states that Snowden’s leaks rendered the NSA’s surveillance capabilities less effective and “put people’s lives at risk”. Ledgett also describes the difficulty of balancing citizens’ privacy and national security concerns, and concludes that the most important way to have productive conversations about privacy and security is to “learn the facts” and “look at the data”.

McDowell, Robert M. Opportunities, Threats, Internet Governance and the Future of Freedom. Hudson Institute. March 19, 2014.

  • McDowell describes some of the nuances of the NTIA’s announcement to cede oversight of ICANN and outlines some important characteristics of the Internet’s development that should inform any transition plan for oversight of critical Internet resources. In particular, McDowell argues that the Internet is “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time” and that the U.S. administration must be resolute in its current position to remove government-led oversight, and make sure not to give actors who desire greater governmental oversight of the Internet extra fodder for their arguments.

Mondini, Christopher. Engaging with Global Civil Society and Business at RightsCon Silicon Valley. ICANN Blog. March 26, 2014.

  • RightsCon, a conference convened by Access Now, took place in March and had as its focus a mission “to defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world and to fight for open and secure communications for all”. An important conclusion drawn at the conference is that “Internet governance is complicated, and it is not always easy for the newly informed to get involved”. Mondini points out that the diversity of attendance at RightsCon suggests that it is imperative to make participation easier as many are eager to get involved in Internet governance issues.

Murphy, Kevin. Republicans Introduce Pointless ICANN Bill. Domain Incite. March 28, 2014.

  • Three U.S. Republican Congressmen have introduced a bill –the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act—to “prohibit the National Telecommunications and Information Adminitration [NTIA] from relinquishing responsibility” over ICANN. It would prevent the NTIA from ceding root zone oversight until a report is published describing the “advantages and disadvantages of the transition”.

Price, Monroe. Reflections on Multistakeholderism and Internet Governance. Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) Media Wire. March 26, 2014.

  • CGCS Director Monroe Price comments on a submission to the Internet Policy Observatory, “Mapping Internet Terrain”. The preliminary study looks at “evolving meanings of critical internet governance terminology” such as “multistakeholderism”, “enhanced cooperation”, and “equal participation”. Price observes that as the “definitions and usages of these terms change over time to reflect shifting narratives and agendas” such research is useful for informing policy discourses.

President and House Intelligence Committee Propose End to Bulk Collection: Significant Progress, but Both Flawed. Center for Democracy and Technology. March 25, 2014.

  • This piece discusses two new major US proposals entering the spotlight – Reps. Ruppersberger and and Rogers’ FISA Transparency and Modernization Act of 2014 bill and the Obama Administration’s plan to overhaul NSA bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. The CDT believes both efforts show “near consensus across party lines and in the White House that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records must end.” However, the CDT notes that the Ruppersberger bill would allow collection of certain data types without court order and the Administration’s plan presumably allows bulk collection of other data types to continue.

Public Launch of Secure Domain Foundation: Non-Profit Organization of Internet Infrastructure Operators and Security Experts Join Forces to Identify and Stop Cyber Criminals. PR Newswire. March 23, 2014.

  • Leading Internet and domain name industry companies and organizations have announced the formation of a Secure Domain Foundation (SDF) –a “non-profit, community-driven organization devoted to the identification and prevention of Internet cyber crime”. Formed to help prevent abuse on the Internet through cooperative efforts between organizations (e.g. information sharing), the SDF will “provide no-cost tools, technology, research, and security intelligence to an initial market segment of Internet domain name registrars, registries, ccTLD operators, and gTLD operators”.

Raine, Lee. I am Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, which studies the social impact of digital technology, including communities like reddit. AMA. Reddit. March 27, 2014.

  • Lee Rainie of Pew Research does an “ask me anything” with Reddit, discussing topics from wearable technology to research prioritization to the IANA functions transition to the impact of Reddit and AMAs on society. On the latter, he noted: “I really am drawn to the ideas of my friend, David Weinberger, that the performance of the reddit community is a harbinger of new knowledge structures, new information flows in society, and new ways that engaged community members can interact with experts and the powerful.”

Sepulveda, Daniel and Strickling, Lawrence. Celebrating and Protecting the Global Internet. Bloomberg BNA. March 21, 2014.

  • Responding to claims that the IANA transition announcement “opens the door for certain authoritarian states to somehow seize control of the Internet, blocking free speech and inhibiting a multitude of legitimate activity” – Sepulveda and Strickling note that the transition is actually about “taking stewardship by any government or group of governments off the table” and that the “fiercely devoted Internet community will serve as appropriate stewards of these functions, and we and like-minded governments will defend their right and ability to do so.”

Snowden, Edward. Here’s How We Take Back the Internet. TED. March, 2014.

  • Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance practice leaks, speaks with TED curator Chris Anderson about his views on the NSA, privacy, security, various NSA programs, and what he thinks can be done to protect Internet users. Snowden argues that Internet companies should “represent the interests of the user”, as well as enable security encryption on the Web by default. Snowden suggests that when people do not pay attention to surveillance practices, they make their privacy rights difficult to reclaim, and concludes that coordination between governments, citizens, and businesses is needed if we want “both open government and private lives”.

Touray, Katim. S. NTIA & You: NTIA’s Intention to Transfer IANA Functions to the Global Community Is Welcome, But…. Circle ID. March 24, 2014.

  • Although Touray welcomes the US government’s IANA transition announcement, he presses on the fact that it presents a “tall order” that will not be easy to implement. He highlights a few particular challenges to designing the transition proposal, for example: getting “non-Americans involvement”; expanding consultation “beyond ICANN’s usual platforms”; addressing the fact that the US government relationship with Verisign for root zone management isn’t set to expire until 2018; and getting involvement from developing countries.

TWO-FOUR-SIX-EIGHT – Who Do We Appreciate? IANA! The Internet Society. March 21, 2014.

  • Addressing responses to the NTIA’s IANA announcement, ISOC details the history and progression of the DNS and DNS management and notes that the decision of the US government is not about “a government letting go of the Internet, as headlines would have you believe – rather, it’s about removing the footnote on the second page of the “Shared Internet Resources” diagram that explains that some IANA functions are carried out under contract assigned by the US Government.” The piece goes on to note that moving forward, what’s important is ensuring that “whatever replaces that footnote is consistent with the principles that have allowed the Internet to flourish to date, and continues to provide the secure and stable functioning we enjoy today.”

Weinstein, Mark.Yes, ICANN. Huffington Post. March 26, 2014.

  • Calling freedom of the Internet a “fundamental principle of a cooperative world,” Weinstein explores the US government’s motivation for its recent IANA transition announcement. He suggests that the NSA scandal has likely made “ICANN guilty by association,” but the task at hand is creating a new governance model for ICANN that offers “a viable new oversight solution.” He proposes that ICANN needs “a charter of protection similar to our [US] Constitution in that it protects the rights of freedom and accessibility for all and enables change only with clear due process and support.”

Zittrain, Jonathan. No, Barack Obama Isn’t Handing Control of the Internet Over to China / The misguided freakout over ICANN. New Republic. March 24, 2014.

  • Zittrain addresses numerous responses to the NTIA’s recent announcement that suggest the US is giving up control over the Internet. Describing the historical creation of the IANA functions and of ICANN, Zittrain aims to explain that the announcement is one that will have little practical effect on how ICANN operates and leaves no possibility for a government takeover of the IANA functions.

Zuck, Jonathan. In Defense of Process: Identifying the Problem Before Seeking Solutions. CircleID. March 26, 2014.

  • Discussing NTIA’s announced transition away from oversight of the IANA functions, Zuck argues that the global community has to first ask the right questions before it can start offering solutions –it has to “come to some sort of consensus about the problem we’re trying to solve”. It’s clear there is no agreement on what exactly is being transitioned.  Zuck argues therefore that, “we need to define the scope of the challenge that the [transition] process will be required to meet”.

Papers & Reports

Lim, Hae-in et al. Netizen Report: Egyptian Activists To Be Tried Under Anti-Protest Law. Global Voices Advocacy. March 26, 2014.

  • This Netizen Report (published weekly) by Global Voices Advocacy provides “an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.” This week’s highlights include: Brazil’s approval of the Marco Civil da Internet bill; a 48 hour Internet blackout in Gambia; Turkey blocking Twitter access first through DNS and then through its ISPs; new censorship in Jordan and in Mongolia; and the beginning of a formal investigation into the German government’s involvement with U.S. NSA data collection via the German federal prosecutor.

Maurer, Tim et al. Uncontrolled Global Surveillance: Updating Export Controls to the Digital AgeNew America Foundation. March 24, 2014.

  • This paper “focuses on export controls as one policy option” to address the problems that arise from the dual nature of surveillance technologies as having legitimate uses and also being used in the “violations of fundmanental human rights”. Focusing on Germany, the UK, and the U.S., this paper finds that “existing export control regulations have become out-dated and have not kept up with new technology”.

St. Amour, Lynn, and Tapscott, Don. The Remarkable Internet Governance Network, Part I and Part II. Global Solution Networks. March 21, 2014.

  • This report investigates “multi-stakeholder approaches to global problem solving, co-operation and governance”, including an overview and explanation of the global multistakeholder Internet governance ecosystem, the key players in the governance network, as well as a “perspective on what the Internet governance network needs to do in order to move into a new era of complete independence and of tackling the broader policy issues of effective governance of the Net”.

 “They Know Everything We Do: Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia”. Human Rights Watch. March 25, 2014.

  • “The 137 page report details the technologies the Ethiopian government has acquired from several countries and uses to facilitate surveillance of perceived political opponents inside the country and among the diaspora. The government’s surveillance practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, association, and access to information. The government’s monopoly over all mobile and Internet services through its sole, state-owned telecom operator, Ethio Telecom, facilitates abuse of surveillance powers.”


Sifry, Micah L. PDF14 Theme: Save the Internet | The Internet Saves. TechPresident. March 25, 2014.

  • Personal Democracy Forum takes place June 5th and 6th, 2014. Sifry, co-founder and executive director of Personal Democracy Forum, writes that although in previous years themes have been rather aspirational, this year’s many discussions around cybersecurity, privacy, surveillance, and the less-positive sides of the Internet have given this year’s PDF a “double-edged” theme: “Save the Internet | The Internet Saves”. PDF 14 will focus on “ubiquitous data collection… and how we can best defend the values of a free digital society in the face of this new reality” as well as “social and civic innovation” and how positive opportunities are created through the Internet.

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