The GovLab SCAN – Issue 33

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

  • Digital Venice is a conference focused on digital development in Europe held this week in Venice, Italy. Focus topics include how to invest in ICT infrastructure in Europe using both public and private funds, and particularly how to leverage the European Single Market to promote digital competition and innovation in Europe.
  • Pew Research Internet Project released a report regarding the state of the Internet in 2025. While respondents overwhelmingly believe that the Internet will not experience “significant changes for the worse”, the report highlights threats to the Internet as we know it and has resulted in many further reflections by other news outlets on the “state of the Internet”.


Corwin, Philip S. GNSO Constituencies Issue Unanimous Joint Statement on ICANN Accountability. CircleID. June 28, 2014.

  • At ICANN’s 50th Public Meeting in London in June, the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) “unanimously endorsed a joint statement in support of the creation of an independent accountability mechanism” to provide review and redress for those harmed by ICANN’s actions. Corwin points out that the creation of a new accountability structure is “meant to accompany the transition of the IANA functions away from US control and is intended to encompass accountability issues beyond those that are IANA-specific”.

Mueller, Milton. Does ICANN Violate Human Rights? The Council of Europe Report. Internet Governance Project. July 2, 2014.

  • In this article Mueller discusses the report recently released by the Council of Europe on ICANN’s procedures and policies in light of human rights. Mueller remarks that the report  “provides a systematic review of how specific ICANN practices and policies intersect with fundamental rights” and “brings official confirmation to what this blog and the civil society groups in ICANN have been saying for more than a decade: not only do ICANN policies intersect in important ways with free expression and privacy rights, but many ICANN policies and procedures are obviously inconsistent with those rights”. Mueller points out that many of these inconsistencies arise from the involvement of governments through ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

Naimark, Marc. Can dotHIV Turn ICANN’s Domain Name Boondoggle Into an Opportunity to Do Good? Slate. July 7, 2014.

  • Naimark highlights the dangers of allowing certain top-level domains (TLDs) to be operated for commercial purposes as opposed to for the public interest (as defined by the “community application” for new TLDs). A Berlin-based company is applying for .hiv as a community applicant and plans to use the .hiv domain to raise funds for HIV/AIDS causes. Naimark points out that .lgbt has already been granted to a commercial operator and wonders whether .hiv may undergo the same process.

Internet Governance

Ashton-Hart, Nick. It’s Time to Talk Solutions on Mass Surveillance. CircleID. July 3, 2014.

  • Ashton-Hart discusses the “state of mass surveillance debates” one year since the Snowden revelations and argues that continuous “outings” of company and government practices “create an evergreen source of new justifications for security services to demand more money for a surveillance and counter-surveillance arms race”. Ashton-Hart goes on to point out that Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) can be a promising tool for intergovernmental information exchange. However, Ashton-Hart also points out that most MLATs are bilateral, outdated, or underfunded and that serious reform is necessary in this area.

Cullis, Tyler. Has Iran’s Internet Been “Seized” by US Courts? National Iranian American Council. July 2, 2014.

  • Last week, U.S. lawyers issues a subpoena for ICANN to “to turn over all documents that list and reference contracts and agreements with Iran’s government and all Top Level Domains (TLDs) and IP addresses issued to Iran”. The lawyers’ claim is part of a civil lawsuit brought against the Iranian government in connection with bombings in the Gaza Strip in 1995. Cullis argues that it would be an “injustice were the lawyers to succeed on their claim that Iran’s Internet belongs to Iran’s Government” as Iranian domain names and IP addresses are not “Iranian property” and a move to cut Iranians off from the Internet would severely disempower ordinary Iranian citizens.

Kende, Michael. The Digital Divide is Not Binary. Internet Society. July 2, 2014.

  • Kende argues that although “the common view of the digital divide is that it separates the Internet haves from the have-nots”, the digital divide is in fact more nuanced and not simply the result of access availability and affordability concerns. Kende points out that non-Internet users largely indicate that they are not online because of a lack of interest, understanding, or time –not simply because they cannot afford Internet access. Thus Kende recommends that for more people to become connected, content must be made locally relevant, and should be “hosted in-country to lower the latency and cost of access”.

Kroes, Neelie. Will Decision-Makers Agree to Build a Digital Europe? – A Blog for Digital Venice. European Commission. July 7, 2014.

  • Kroes –European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda—discusses the Digital Venice event and emphasizes the importance of digital development in Europe. Kroes points out that the Internet affects all areas of society from healthcare to education to energy, and that structural investments are necessary to maintain positive economic growth. To that end, Kroes recommends an increase in human capital (e.g. skilled programmers), physical infrastructure (e.g. broadband), and to use the European single market “to its full power”.

Masse, Estelle. The European Commission Wants Your Views on ISDS. Access Blog. July 1, 2014.

  • This article concerns the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) launched by the European Commission this year in relation to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States. The ISDS is a dispute resolution mechanism that “the European Union and the United States are seeking to integrate into a far reaching trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”. Access argues that “ISDS could severely influence future legislation on digital rights and other important topics” because it creates “incentive for policymakers to avoid extending or updating laws to bring them into the digital era”.

Mueller, Milton. Clarity Emerging on IANA Transition. Internet Governance Project. June 28, 2014.

  • Mueller discusses how discussion around the IANA/NTIA transition developed during ICANN’s 50th public meeting in London. Mueller argues that the notion of ICANN’s accountability has become more clear as it has become deconstructed into two separate problems. One is the accountability of ICANN’s policy-making processes for domain names. The other concerns the end of U.S. government oversight of the IANA functions. Thus there is policy-making accountability and policy-implementation accountability. Mueller concludes that although these distinctions have become more clear, there is a great deal of coordination and planning that still needs to happen as the global multistakeholder community crafts the IANA transition proposal.

Neil, Martha. In First Case of Its Kind, Feds Use RICO Statute to Pursue Claimed Internet Credit-Theft Ring. ABA Journal. July 9, 2014.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice is prosecuting individuals accused of buying and selling stolen credit card numbers and fake identification online under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) –- the first time this act has been used in the prosecution of cybercrime. See the Department of Homeland Security press release here.

Rothrock, Kevin. Everything You Need to Know about Russia’s Internet Crackdown. Global Voices Advocacy. July 6, 2014.

  • This article provides a chronological list of the most important laws related to the Russian Internet in the last two years. Each law links to the full text in Russian as well as a description of the details and significance of each law in English.

Thomas, Daniel. Drive Towards Single European Digital Economy Proposed. Financial Times. July 6, 2014.

  • In the context of the Digital Venice conference happening this week in Venice, Italy, European lawmakers are proposing plans to “make digital goods and services freely available and media content such as TV portable” across Europe. In particular, European policy-makers want to “make it easier for users to access content across different devices, regardless of national borders”. Thomas observes that the role of public funding in the growth of the European digital economy is critically important, as well as setting clear targets and monitoring provisions for digital development.

Zuckerberg, Mark. Mark Zuckerberg on a Future Where the Internet is Available to All. The Wall Street Journal. July 7, 2014.

  • Zuckerberg argues that universal Internet access is not a given and is not inevitable and that the primary challenges to Internet accessibility everywhere are to show that Internet access is valuable and to make Internet access affordable. As connectivity is “one of the fundamental challenges of our generation”, the “challenge for [the Internet service] industry will be to develop models for Internet access that make data more affordable while enabling mobile operators to continue growing and investing in a sustainable way”.

Internet Technology

Hornyak, Tim. Google Launches Invite-Only Domain Registration Service. PC World. June 24, 2014.

  • Google has launched the Google Domains division as an invite-only service for registering and hosting domain names. Google is already an ICANN-accredited registrar. The move represents competition for the largest domain registrar GoDaddy, as Google plans to provide services along with domain name registration such as branded email and forwarding to other domains or websites.

Seward, Zachary M., and Wong, Herman. YouTube, Following Netflix, Is Now Publicly Shaming Internet Providers for Slow Video. Quartz. July 5, 2014.

  • YouTube is now displaying a message when videos load slowly or are fuzzy asking users to “find out why” their service is performing poorly. The message link leads to Google’s new website that displayed video playback quality for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in various countries. In the context of net neutrality and “paid prioritization” debates, the authors point out that, “the message of these reports is clearly that ISPs are responsible for whether your video playback is smooth”.

Papers and Reports

Anderson, Janna, and Rainee, Lee. Net Threats. Pew Research Internet Project. July 3.

  • This survey report on the Future of the Internet by Pew Research has as its main conclusion that “by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online today”. Respondents to the survey largely said that they “expect that technology innovation will continue to afford more new opportunities for people to connect” over the next decade. The biggest threats to the Internet were identified as “actions by nation states to maintain security and political control”; the evaporation of trust following revelations of surveillance; ”commercial pressures” endangering the open Internet; and efforts to block content-sharing online.

Digital Citizen 1.8. Global Voices Advocacy. July 9, 2014.

  • “Digital Citizen is a monthly review of news, policy, and research on human rights and technology in the Arab World”. This report looks at “the ongoing crisis in Iraq and how it is affecting Internet usage, as well as new developments in surveillance in Egypt and Tunisia”. The report also looks at human rights and technology related issues in Palestine, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Sudan.

Shull, Aaron. Global Cybercrime: The Interplay of Politics and Law. Center for International Governance Innovation. June 20, 2014.

  • This paper examines global cybercrime and “explores the recent unsealing of a 31-count indictment against five Chinese government officials and a significant cyber breach, perpetrated by Chinese actors against Western oil, energy and petrochemical companies. The paper concludes by noting that increased cooperation among governments is necessary, but unlikely to occur as long as the discourse surrounding cybercrime remains so heavily politicized and securitized. If governments coalesced around the notion of trying to prevent the long-term degradation of trust in the online economy, they may profitably advance the dialogue away from mutual suspicion and toward mutual cooperation.”


(See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)

Digital Venice 2014. City of Venice, the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission – DG Connect. July 7 – 12, 2014.

  • Digital Venice (held on July 8th) and Digital Venice Week (July 7th to 12th) are complementary events gathering policy, industry, and innovation leaders from Europe to “trace the road to a growing, sustainable digital economy”. The conference coincides with the start of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and is intended to mark emphasis placed on “digital innovation as the key to sustainable economic development and boost to new employment”. Remote participation is available here.

IETF 90 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Internet Engineering Task Force. July 20 – 25, 2014.

  • The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will hold its next meeting in Toronto. Topics covered include the evolution of Internet infrastructure and the various protocols and standards that ensure the stable operation of the Internet. The meeting will also discuss the IANA/NTIA transition. Remote participation is available through the event’s homepage.

Robachevsky, Andrei. Announcing the Internet Society Briefing Panel at IETF 90 – “Internet Security and Privacy: Ten Years Later”. Internet Society. July 7, 2014.

  • This session hosted by the Internet Society will discuss how Internet security and privacy landscapes have changed since the Internet’s inception, as well as the challenges that still need to be addressed, and what tools will be used to address those challenges (in particular protocol and standards-related tools).


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