The GovLab SCAN – Issue 37

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our thirty-seventh 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 U.S. federal judge has ruled that Microsoft must give U.S. law enforcement access to data it holds overseas in Ireland. The ruling has significant implications on the relationship between U.S. technology companies and the U.S. government, as well as on “data sovereignty”.
  • A new proposal by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) articulates principles for an enhanced ICANN accountability framework. The document is titled “Key Principles for Coordination of Internet Unique Identifiers”.


Board Extends Term of ICANN President. August 1, 2014.

  • “The ICANN Board has extended by two years the contract of President and Chief Executive Officer Fadi Chehadé.  It will now run until 30 June 2017.”

GNSO Review 360 Assessment: Participate and Make Your Voice Heard! August 5, 2014.

  • The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) “is responsible for developing and recommending to the ICANN Board substantive policies relating to generic top-level domains”. The GNSO is undergoing a review to “evaluate organizational effectiveness of the GNSO, acknowledge areas that are working well, identify areas that need improvement and affect needed changes”. The “360 Assessment” of the GNSO lasts from August 4th to September 10th; the survey for participation is here. Two webinars will also be held –on August 12th and August 13th—regarding the Review; details are here.

Kuerbis, Brendan. Solving the GAC-GNSO Participation Problem. Internet Governance Project. August 1, 2014.

  • Bottom-up policy-development processes at ICANN (largely conducted by the Generic Names Supporting Organization –GNSO) are often frustrated by late intervention by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), where the GAC produces conflicting policy-advice. Kuerbis argues that, although a GAC‐GNSO Consultation Group has been formed to “examine and develop proposed solutions to enable greater cooperation and coordination between the two bodies”, “the incentives of the two policy making organs, GNSO and GAC, are misaligned” –and hence the Consultation Group will likely not be able to solve this coordination problem. Instead, Kuerbis argues that the “only way to solve this problem is for the ICANN board to ensure adherence to the GNSO policy development process”, where the “GAC can only provide advice on those policy outcomes, it cannot reformulate or make policy”.

Internet Governance

Corwin, Philip S. Constituencies Coalesce on IANA Transition and Enhanced ICANN Accountability Principles. CircleID. August 7, 2014.

  • Discussing the “ICANN accountability update”, Corwin points to a recent Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) document articulating “the principles for an enhanced ICANN accountability framework” titled “Key Principles for Coordination of Internet Unique Identifiers”. The document proposes that ICANN’s policy-making, dispute resolution, and implementation functions should be strongly and clearly separated, and that “the community of ICANN stakeholders should be the ultimate overseer of the DNS”. The document also proposes that, “adoption and effective implementation of such guiding principles would need to be completed prior to the completion of the IANA functions transition”. Corwin notes that “what remains unclear is whether ICANN’s current Board and senior staff will trust its community of stakeholders enough to let them proceed [with enhancing accountability measures] on their own — or will push to implement the IANA transition before an accountability plan is completed, while simultaneously working to control the accountability process and dilute its final output”.

Fung, Brian. Obama on Net Neutrality: My Administration is Against Internet Fast Lanes. The Washington Post. August 5, 2014.

  • Addressing reporters at a summit for African leaders in Washington, D.C., President Obama said “making the Internet more accessible to some at the expense of others was against his administration’s policy”. The remarks contrast the FCC’s current proposal on net neutrality that considers “paid prioritization” as an option, as long as such prioritization is not “commercially unreasonable”.

Haddad, Aitza. The Fight for Net Neutrality Is a Struggle for Human Rights. Freepress. August 1, 2014.

  • Haddad argues that the open and neutral Internet “has given people around the world the freedom to hold opinions and express themselves without interference” and that paid prioritization (as proposed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission) “would curb our right to communicate freely” and effectively be a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stating that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that those rights exist “without distinction of any kind such as race, color or sex”. Rather, Haddad argues that, as it has the power to do so (if it treated Internet Service Providers as “common carriers”), the FCC should “adopt policies that promote freedom of speech and expression”.

Masse, Estelle. EU’s Growing Resistance to Include ISDS in Trade Deals. Access Blog. August 5, 2014.

  • There is “growing resistance to ISDS [Investor-State Dispute Settlement] in trade agreements taking place in the European Union at the moment” because ISDS gives companies in transatlantic trade deals the power to challenge government policies in special tribunals. This would allow, for example, companies not to comply with certain digital laws in the EU without having to use the judicial systems of the EU. The case is generating interest because if ISDS is excluded from a trade agreement underway between the EU and Canada, it may also need to be excluded from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the U.S. –and currently ISDS is included in the TTIP.

McCormick, Rich. Google Scans Everyone’s Email for Child Porn, And It Just Got A Man Arrested. The Verge. August 5, 2014.

  • Because “Google actively scans the images that pass through Gmail accounts to see if they match up with known child pornography”, a man using Gmail to send images of child sexual abuse was arrested last week. Google emphasized that its active scanning of user emails is limited to finding child pornography. McCormick points out that, “however widely it can be agreed upon that this current scanning system is good, it speaks to why privacy advocates have concerns about what Google and other internet companies can do with our private communications”.

Moody, Glyn. Big Pharma Given Control of New .pharmacy Domain; Only Available To “Legitimate” Online Pharmacies. TechDirt. August 5, 2014.

  • ICANN has granted the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) a Registry Agreement over the .pharmacy top-level domain, which “will be available only to legitimate online pharmacies and related entities located in the United States or other countries”. Moody points out that if the NABP uses its control over the .pharmacy domain to “police the online pharmacy world, and to protect the generous profits of big pharma”, then “we can probably expect other industries to follow suit in creating and controlling new domains, and for the Internet to become less free and neutral.”

Mueller, Milton. Students School Faculty on IANA Transition: The Meissen Proposal. Internet Governance Project. August 4, 2014.

  • Mueller discusses one of the outcomes of the European Summer School of Internet Governance, held this year in Meissen, Germany –with a class of some 30 fellows—which was a mock proposal for the IANA stewardship transition. The students’ proposal created a new “multistakeholder Oversight Committee with 20 members, 15 of them from industry and civil society and 5 representatives of a government, one for each world region”. Mueller points out that, under this proposal, ICANN would have no monopoly over the IANA functions, and, further, that “the new entity fulfills a role almost exactly the same as that of the NTIA”.

Nakashima, Ellen. Judge Orders Microsoft to Turn Over Data Held Overseas. The Washington Post. July 31, 2014.

  • In a case questioning “whether the [U.S.] government can assert a right to digital content wherever in the world it is stored”, a federal judge in New York has ruled that “Microsoft must comply with a U.S. search warrant to turn over a customer’s e-mails held in a server overseas”. Commentators argue that such a move will harm U.S. technology companies that store data overseas, as well as anger foreign governments “about the potential for intrusion into their sovereignty”. Microsoft will appeal the ruling.

Perlroth, Nicole, and Gelles, David. Russian Hackers Amass Over a Billion Internet Passwords. The New York Times. August 5, 2014.

  • Security researchers have discovered that a Russian crime ring “has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses”.  The article notes that, “for all the new security mousetraps, data security breaches have only gotten larger, more frequent and more costly”. The discovery has “prompted security experts to call for improved identity protection on the web”.

Sohn, Gigi B. FCC Makes Open Internet Comments More Accessible to Public. Federal Communications Commission Blog. August 5, 2014.

  • As of this posting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had received over 1.1 million comments regarding the FCC’s Open Internet rulemaking. These comments have been released in machine-readable format as open data. The FCC hopes that doing so will “allow researchers, journalists and others to analyze and create visualizations of the data so that the public and the FCC can discuss and learn from the comments we’ve received”.

Internet Technology

A First Step Toward More Global Email. Google Blog. August 5, 2014.

  • Google has announced that, starting now, Gmail “will recognize addresses that contain accented or non-Latin characters” –an example of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in practice. Currently, most email services do not support non-Latin script. Now, a user could choose to have an email address with, for example, Chinese characters. The challenge for wider use and implementation is that “every email provider and every website that asks you for your email address must adopt it”.

Papers and Reports

Ayoub, Joey. Netizen Report: Russia’s Official Blogger Registry is Open for Business. Global Voices Advocacy. August 6, 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.” In this week’s highlights: in Russia, as of August 1st, “any blogger whose site attracts more than 3,000 daily readers will be considered an “official blogger” and must register with the government” –making anonymous blogging illegal; in Malaysia, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has made calls for increased Internet censorship in the country; in China, “Internet public opinion analysis” is a growing sector, expanding at about 50% per year; Facebook, under the project, is providing free Web apps to Zambian mobile subscribers.


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

ICG Announces Second Conference Call. August 7, 2014.

  • The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) will hold its next conference call on August 19th, 2014, from 12:00 to 14:00 UTC. Remote participation is available here; a list of country-specific conference dial-in numbers for the call can be found here. The call will be translated into the 5 UN languages plus Portuguese.

Internet Society Briefing Panel at IETF 90. Internet Society. July 22, 2014.

  • The Internet Society (ISOC) held a briefing on Internet security and privacy at the 90th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force this July. The briefing discussed the questions, “how will security and privacy challenges be addressed ten years from now? What are the missing building blocks that need to be developed? Will current approaches allow us to catch up or is a change of paradigm required?” The video recording of the event is here.


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