The GovLab SCAN – Issue 32

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our thirty-second edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at SCAN@thegovlab.org.

This week’s highlights:

  • ICANN’s 50th public meeting concluded this week. Topics of particular focus included the transition of the NTIA’s stewardship of the IANA functions; ICANN’s accountability update; and issues arising from the new gTLD program.
  • Issues of privacy and cybersecurity have led to a shift in the global data services marketplace, with a trend away from using U.S.-based companies.
  • The World Summit on the Information Society +10 High-Level Event concluded this week, producing two outcome documents –one reviewing ICT developments in the past decade, and one laying out a vision for ICT development in the next decade.

ICANN

Allemann, Andrew. Over 800,000 Domain Names Suspended Due to 2013 RAA. Domain Name Wire. June 24, 2014.

  • ICANN’s 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement requires that registrars must verify the contact details of domain name registrants. One way registrars do this is by emailing registrants asking the registrants to confirm their registrations. According to Allemann, this requirement has shown that many registrants contact details are invalid or outdated, and has led to the suspension of “at least 800,000 domain names”.

Drazek, Ketih. IANA 2.0: Ensuring ICANN Accountability and Transparency for the Future. CircleID. June 25, 2014.

  • Drazek, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations at Verisign, discusses the IANA stewardship transition and the relationship between the transition and ICANN’s accountability and transparency structures. Pointing out that the global multistakeholder Internet community has been “handed a singular opportunity to define the terms of any stewardship transition and the fundamental responsibility to get it right”, Drazek argues that there is “a rapidly growing and strong consensus that ICANN’s accountability reform is a key dependency for any successful IANA stewardship”.

Goldenberg, Suzanne. Battle Gets Under Way for Control of the .Eco Domain Name. The Guardian. June 26, 2014.

  • ICANN is in the process of deciding to whom to delegate the .eco top-level domain. The domain name has been applied for by a range of different applicants, some of whom are applying as “community applicants”, meaning that they claim to represent a specific community (in this case, the “eco community”). A community-based application is defined as one that serves more than a commercial purpose. If a community application for .eco is rejected, .eco will instead be sold as a commercial top-level domain at auction.

ICANN 50 High Level Governmental Meeting. June 23, 2014.

  • This session which took place during ICANN’s 50th public meeting convened ministers and high level officials from governments around the world to discuss ICANN, the IANA stewardship transition, the role of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) in ICANN, the outcomes of the NETMundial meeting, and the report of the High Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms.
    • The video recording of the event is here.
    • The meeting agenda, audio recordings, and transcript are here.
    • Kathy Brown, CEO of the Internet Society’s remarks are here.
    • Lawrence Strickling, Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)’s remarks are here.

Little, Trevor. International – Call for Independent Accountability Mechanism to Oversee ICANN. World Trademark Review Blog. June 26, 2014.

  • The leaders of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) –the multistakeholder body responsible for the development of policy related to the generic domain name space—have called for the creation of an independent accountability mechanism that “provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community”. The GNSO has labeled this as “a necessary and integral element of the IANA stewardship transition”.

Murphy, Kevin. France Slams ICANN After GAC Rejects Special Treatment for .Wine. Domain Incite. June 26, 2014.

  • At ICANN’s 50th public meeting, France stated that ICANN is unable “to take into account the legitimate concerns of States and to ensure common resource management in the direction of respect for cultural diversity and balance of interests in economic sectors that its decisions affect”. In particular, this is because of controversy around the delegation of .wine and .vin top-level domains, which France believes should be accorded Geographic Indicator protections (e.g., “bordeaux.wine” or “champagne.vin”). There little consensus around this issue.

Murphy, Kevin. GAC Rejects Multistakeholder, Tells ICANN to Ignore the GNSO. Domain Incite. June 26, 2014.

  • On the issue of domain name protection mechanisms for the Red Cross and Red Crescent (i.e. that names such as .redcross  and .redcrescent should be protected and reserved for use by the Red Cross and the Red Crescent), ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has formally advised the ICANN Board via its London Communiqué that these protections should “not be subjected to, or conditioned upon, a policy development process”. This is particularly contentious because the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) has already completed a formal policy-development process (PDP) on the subject, and this PDP was executed through a formal multistakeholder process.

Internet Governance

Amadeo, Ron. Google Formalizes Commitment to “Access and Energy” with New Division. ArsTechnica. June 23, 2014.

  • Google has announced that it will launch a new division called “Access and Energy” which will focus on the problem of bringing Internet access to the entire world. According to Amadeo, almost all Internet users use Google and thus such a project involves a great deal of business logic. Google initiatives such as Project Loon will likely belong in this new division.

Goldstein, Gordon M. The End of the Internet? The Atlantic. June 25, 2014.

  • Goldstein traces and describes the theme of “fragmentation” of the Internet – what has been called the “splinternet”—as what is being seen by many as a serious concern for Internet development going forward. Goldstein observes that while the Internet has been a force for economic growth and increased connectedness, it has also created “enormous friction”. Goldstein concludes that while a “federated Internet” may be a possibility in the future, it would come at a huge cost to Internet companies that operate globally and “would make international communications and commerce more costly”.

Gray, Sarah. Decoding the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision: The future looks hazy for cloud computing. Salon. June 25, 2014.

  • This week, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the “Internet startup” company Aereo violated broadcasters’ copyrights by “performing” copyrighted works “publicly” within the meaning of the Copyright Act’s “Transmit Clause.” While the decision, penned by copyright law expert Justice Breyer, tries to limit its reach to just Aereo’s service – NYU Law Professor Jason Schultz notes that the decision raises legal uncertainty for innovators when it comes to future uses of cloud computing and other emerging technologies for streaming content.

Greene, Robyn. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014: A Major Step Back on Privacy. Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation. June 23, 2014.

  • Greene argues that the recently introduced Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA) would, in its current form, “create an expansive new information sharing program that would give the NSA access to vast quantities of new information”, “authorize private entities to engage in an array of countermeasures that could potentially harm average internet users”, “fail to adequately protect individuals’ personal information”, and “absolve companies of all liability for harms resulting from negligent or improper information sharing”.

Holland, Byron. The Essential Ingredient of Politics is Timing. CircleID. June 26, 2014.

  • Holland discusses the timing of the transition of the NTIA’s stewardship over the IANA functions and argues that while “getting it right” is more important than setting a hard deadline, missing the current September 2015 goal to finish the transition proposal could mean delaying the IANA stewardship transition indefinitely. In particular, Holland points to several recent amendments passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that seek to delay the transition, as well as the possibility that U.S. Republicans (who have been opposed to the transition) have the opportunity to control both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the next year.

McKenzie, Jessica. Mexican Telecoms Law Delayed, For NowTechPresident. June 24, 2014.

  • A vote on “Mexico’s unpopular telecommunications legislation” that sparked protests in April of this year has been put on hold until July; even so, concerns from those opposing the bill remain high. While Mexico’s governing party promised to revise the legislation before passing it, many believe these changes were merely cosmetic – noting that the legislation still contains “provisions that threaten net neutrality, user privacy and the right to free expression. Telecoms would have to retain user data for 24 months, and police would have unfettered access to user data, even real-time location tracking, without needing to get a court order. The authorities would also have free reign to shut down telecommunications companies at the drop of a hat, as long as it is ‘critical for public safety.'”

Meyer, David. Germany Dumps Verizon for Government Work Over NSA Fears. GigaOM. June 26, 2014.

  • The German government will cease to use Verizon as its network infrastructure provider, citing the National Security Agency’s surveillance revelations as a reason. In particular, the announcement indicates concern over Verizon’s legal relationship with the NSA. The contract between Verizon and the German government will expire in 2015.

Micek, Peter, Ella Cheng, and Kayla Robinson. Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems: Data Retention Rears Ugly Head in U.S. Surveillance Reform Debate. Access Blog. June 25, 2014.

  • This article discusses the relationship between data retention practices and the USA Freedom Act. The authors observe that there is a trend amongst legislators to shift data retention from government to private companies, “in effect ‘privatizing’ the mechanism that would continue to allow for pervasive government surveillance and access to data”, and argue that this would be “a significant step backward for privacy, freedom of expression, and related rights”.

Powers, Shawn. WSIS+10: Connected, and Unprotected. CGCS Media Wire. June 20, 2014.

  • Discussing the outcomes of the recent World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) +10 High-Level Event (which took stock of ICT developments in the last decade and laid out a vision for ICT development in the next decade), Powers remarks that state interests have a dominating power over what should be “multistakeholder” events. According to Powers, the outcome documents (here, and here) positions on freedom of expression where particularly “captured” by state interests. Powers concludes that, “despite the widespread proliferation of ICTs and growing awareness and appreciation of the centrality of communication flows to our modern existence, freedom of expression is on the decline around the world”.

Papers and Reports

Akamai’s State of the Internet Q1 2014 Report (Volume 7, Number 1). Akamai. June, 2014.

  • This quarterly report traces key Internet-related themes and trends, including cybersecurity, Internet penetration, global connection speeds, regional connection speeds and broadband connectivity, mobile connectivity, and “Internet disruptions and events”.

Huston, Geoff. The Open Internet? CircleID. June 23, 2014.

  • This extensive article traces the idea of the “open Internet” and attempts to match current understandings and descriptions of the “open Internet” (often extolling its virtues) to actual realities of the Internet environment that is faced by users today. While Huston agrees that the “open Internet” is both promising and certainly a positive objective, it is currently more an aspiration than a reality. Huston concludes that the Internet could be “open”, but that getting there will require the proactive efforts of Internet users.

Report of the Internet Content Governance Advisory Group. Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Ireland. May, 2014.

  • This report focuses on regulatory challenges and frameworks for Internet content in Ireland. The report looks at how the Internet is used by Irish society; regulatory and legislative frameworks for Internet content governance; online abuse, cyberbullying, and harassment; harmful and age-inappropriate content; and provides a set of recommendations for developing safer Internet strategies, for example with regards to the relationship between Internet service providers, online content providers, governments, and citizens.

Resnick, Pete. RFC 7282: On Consensus and Humming in the IETF. Internet Engineering Task Force. June, 2014.

  • This memo, published for informational purposes, describes processes of consensus-development at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and in particular how different views among IETF participants on technical matters are taken into account when trying to reach consensus. This document explains some of the features of “rough consensus”, what it is not, how it works, and how it can be done better.

World Summit on the Information Society +10 Statement on the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes. WSIS+10 High-Level Event. June, 2014.

  • This document reviews the implementation of the Geneva Action Plan and the Tunis Agenda and observes the success of efforts to develop the inclusive “Information Society”, to raise awareness of “the importance of promoting digital inclusion”, and to draw attention to “the crucial role the ICTs can play in many areas including reducing poverty and promoting literacy”. It also reviews the challenges during the implementation of “Action Lines” and new challenges that have emerged.

World Summit on the Information Society +10 Vision for WSIS Beyond 2015. WSIS+10 High-Level Event. June, 2014.

  • This document lays out priority areas to be addressed in the implementation of “WSIS Beyond 2015”, in particular pointing out that there needs to be increased interaction between the Post-2015 Development Agenda (of the Millennium Development Goals review process) and the WSIS implementation process. The document emphasizes that the mandates of the Tunis Agenda must continue to be respected and that the Geneva Action Plan continues to remain valid. The document states that more attention should be paid to human rights in the Information Society, the role of youth, the importance of gender equality, and equitable access to information and knowledge by all.

Events

2014 Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute. The Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania and the Program for Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford. June 30 – July 11, 2014.

  • This is the 16th annual Media Policy Summer Institute, to be held at Oxford University in the U.K. The event discusses “important recent trends in technology and international politics and the influence that these developments have on global media policy”. The objective of the program is to “help prepare, motivate, encourage and support students and practitioners who aspire to pursue a career in a media-related field, may it be in academia, business or in policy-related fields”.

 

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