The GovLab SCAN – Issue 39

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our thirty-ninth 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 ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take place from September 2 – 5, 2014.
  • ICANN has released a proposed revision to its Bylaws that would require a two-thirds majority vote for the ICANN Board to reject Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice.
  • The Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) of ICANN has released a report detailing and explaining the history and management of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.


Accountability & Governance Public Experts Group Members Announced. August 19, 2014.

  • In the context of the construction of the Strengthening ICANN Governance and Accountability Track, ICANN’s President and CEO has selected four members of a Public Experts Group who will be responsible for the further selection of up to seven advisors to sit on the ICANN Accountability & Governance Coordination Group. ICANN has announced a process which will structure ICANN’s “accountability enhancement” to include a Cross Community Group (“envisioned as the place for representative participation for the ICANN community) and a Coordination Group (“a smaller, more intensive work group). According to ICANN, the Public Experts Group “will remain available as a resource to the review and may help access a broader network of expertise as needed”.

Public Comment Invited: Proposed Bylaws Changes Regarding Consideration of GAC Advice. August 15, 2014.

  • ICANN has posted proposed revisions to its Bylaws “that would incorporate a higher voting threshold for the Board to determine not act consistently with the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee [GAC]”. “Currently, the Bylaws require a simple majority of the Board (50% + 1) to vote to act consistently a piece of advice from the GAC. The proposed amendments to the Bylaws would require 2/3 of the voting members of the Board to vote to not act consistently with a piece of GAC advice.” Public comment on the revisions is invited through this announcement.

Solomon, Howard. Controversy over proposed ICANN voting hits Internet governance. IT World Canada. August 19, 2014.

  • Solomon outlines some reactions to ICANN’s recent proposal to revise its Bylaws concerning Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice, notably that there are fears that formalizing a voting threshold for rejecting GAC advice will make it more difficult for ICANN’s Board to overcome government demands. However, Solomon also points out that the GAC has “occasionally protected end user interests in a way that hasn’t come from the rest of the ICANN community” and that giving governments greater say at ICANN could therefore be both good and bad. The proposed revisions can be found here.

Internet Governance

African Union Adopts Framework on Cyber Security and Data Protection. Access Blog. August 22, 2014.

  • This article discusses the possible positive and negative impacts of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, approved by leaders in the African Union (AU) in June this year. Positively, the convention helps to establish data protection standards by mandating each AU member state to institute Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), and the” cybersecurity sections of the Convention specifically protect human rights”. Negatively, the convention contains broad provisions on content restrictions; may rule out user consent for certain uses of personal data; and contains “v ague, broad provisions defining computer fraud [that] hinge on “unauthorized access,” an undefined term”.

Cerf, Vinton G. How to Save the Net: Keep It Open. Wired. August 19, 2014.

  • Cerf argues that the “openness principle” (“the idea that anyone can reach any site online and that information and data should be freely exchangeable”) has been fundamental and beneficial to the development of the Internet and to the development of global interconnectivity. However, the same “openness principle” sometimes conflicts with principles of national sovereignty, “leading to national and regional legislation that may splinter the Internet and interfere with end-to-end connectivity”. Cerf points out that the IANA Stewardship Transition presents “a unique opportunity to redesign the Internet’s governance by enshrining the openness principle and the concept that all stakeholders should participate in policy development”.

Chehadé, Fadi. An Initiative for Action. ICANN Blog. August 18, 2014.

  • Chehadé –President and CEO of ICANN—discusses the beginnings of “the process of shifting some of ICANN’s recent role in Internet governance to a broader group” in order to transition ICANN’s role in the Internet governance ecosystem “from leader to participant”. According to Chehadé, “ICANN will soon join several countries and multistakeholder organizations to begin to build a global initiative for Internet cooperation and governance with an emphasis on action”.  The initiative, which will be announced next week from the World Economic Forum, will “explore in a very practical way the decentralized operationalization of a 21st century collaborative and distributed Internet cooperation ecosystem”. Furthermore, the initiative “will not have any authority over governance organizations like ICANN, nor will it have any role in the oversight of ICANN or the IANA functions”.

Gillmor, Dan. The New Editors of the Internet. The Atlantic. August 22, 2014.

  • In the wake of the murder of James Foley by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), Twitter and YouTube have removed photo and video content depicting the incident. Gillmor points out that, even while this seems like the “right thing” for Twitter and YouTube to have done, the actions raise important questions regarding the ability of Internet content providers to decide what content users can access online. Gillmor goes on to discuss the centralization of information control to big media and content providing companies, the concern of intermediary liability of Internet Service Providers, and the efforts of software developers to produce tools that give users more control over their own information.

González, Juan Alfonso Fernández. Internet Governance and Celestial Mechanics. Intellectual Property Watch. August 19, 2014.

  • In these remarks made at a recent meeting of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), González –Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Communications of Cuba—points out that the use of the word “ecosystem” to describe the complex world of Internet governance is problematic because “it recognizes the existence of ‘unknown factors’ in the complex relationship between the different actors (organisms of the business world) of the ecosystem”. According to González, “when in any topic we have no idea of what is happening we call it an ‘ecosystem’”. González therefore suggests the use of the term “celestial mechanics”, because, similar to the formation of the solar system, “Internet governance is at an early stage of its formation, where many actors, processes and institutions repel and attract each other”.

Karr, Timothy. Net Blocking: A Problem in Need of a Solution. FreePress. August 20, 2014.

  • Karr points out that while representatives of the telecommunications industry have often called net neutrality “a solution in search of a problem”, there is a history of cases in which telecoms providers have blocked content or access, and that these cases show the need for real net neutrality protections. This article contains a list of relevant cases spanning from 2005 to today. Karr concludes a Federal Communications Commission reclassification of broadband providers as “common carriers” “is the only approach that would enable the agency to create and enforce strong Net Neutrality protections” and that “in the absence of any rules, violations of the open Internet will become more and more common”.

Kleinwächter, Wolfgang. Sailing Backwards: WSIS 10+ Avoids Entering Uncharted Territory. CircleID. August 18, 2014.

  • This month the United Nations General Assembly “agreed on the procedures how to review the results of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) from 2005”. WSIS 10+ will take the form of a high level intergovernmental meeting to be held in New York in December, 2015. The meeting is expected to adopt an outcome document, and “non-governmental stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and technical community will be invited for ‘informal interactive consultation’ in a parallel process” to negotiate the outcome document draft. Kleinwächter points out that the exclusion of non-governmental stakeholders from the drafting of the outcome document may take away from the legitimacy of the outcome and produce political conflict.

Mueller, Milton. What’s More Important than Accountability? Internet Governance Project. August 17, 2014.

  • Discussing two ICANN-related process concerning the accountability of global Internet governance (the IANA transition and the “enhancing ICANN accountability and Governance process”), Mueller argues that “the ongoing debate about ICANN’s accountability cannot be detached from broader concepts of ICANN’s mission and its role in the overall system of Internet governance” and that “accountability is relevant only insofar as it serves the bigger goal of keeping the internet open and free”. Mueller points out that “the community is getting so deeply involved in the details of both of these processes that they are losing sight of the fundamental issue at stake” which Mueller argues is that question of “how much power [] ICANN [should] have”. The article concludes with a proposal for a “contract that limits the scope of ICANN’s binding policies”.

Papers and Reports

Biddle, Ellery Roberts. Netizen Report: Ukrainian Journalists Confront Kremlinesque Censorship Scheme. Global Voices Advocacy. August 21, 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: A new draft law in Ukraine empowers the Ukrainian government to shut down media outlets and block websites; the Malaysian government is considering banning Facebook in the country; a new Russian law may require Internet users to provide official identification when using public WiFi hotspots.

SAC067: Overview and History of the IANA Functions. ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee. August 15, 2014.

  • This report by ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) –which “advises the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the security and integrity of the Internet’s naming and address allocation systems”—“provides an overview of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions—what they are—and a history of how they evolved from the informal activities of a single person into the structured set of activities that are performed today in the context of a variety of contracts and agreements”. Topics covered include DNS root zone management, Internet numbers registry management, protocol parameter registry management, as well as contractual agreements related to IANA. According to the report, “understanding this background is particularly important as the community considers the transfer of IANA Functions stewardship from the United States government to some other, yet–to–be–determined structure”.


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

Internet Governance Forum 2014, Istanbul, Turkey. September 2 – 5, 2014.

  • The ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held from September 2 to 5, 2014, in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme for this year’s IGF is “Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance”, with subthemes including: “Policies enabling Access”, “Content Creation”, “Dissemination and Use”, “Internet as engine for growth & development”, “IGF & The Future of the Internet ecosystem”, “Enhancing Digital Trust”, “Internet and Human Right[s]”, “Critical Internet Resource”, and “Emerging Issues”. An official invitation issued by Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo can be found here. The schedule for this year’s IGF is here. Remote participation details can be found here.

Johnson, Nicole Blake. Seen and Heart at ILTA 2014. BizTech Magazine. August 19, 2014.

  • The 2014 conference of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) has just concluded. Topics covered include information management, technology operations, data security, data encryption, the predictive coding, and cybersecurity. Session recordings will be available through the main ILTA website soon; BizTech Magazine also maintains a content hub for ILTA coverage.

#PP14Youth: Online Consultation for Young People. International Telecommunications Union News Log. August 21, 2014.

  • The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) “is inviting young people around the world to share their thoughts and opinions on the scope and mandate of [the ITU’s] future work related to youth”. A policy document which will be presented to ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) in Busan, Republic of Korea from October 20 to November 7, 2014, is open for input through the online consultation which can be accessed here. Main questions include, “what if we were able to crowdsource public policy?” and, “what if we had the tools to connect policy-makers and citizens in an open dialogue on governance processes? What if policies were created by those upon whom they have the biggest impact?”.

Roberts, Phil. New CEA Webinar Archive on IPv6 and Broadband. Internet Society. August 14, 2014.

  • The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has organized a webinar series focusing on IPv6. The first webinar in the series saw network operators discuss “their own IPv6 deployments, their challenges, their solutions, and remaining obstacles to more IPv6 deployment”. A recording of the webinar is available here. An upcoming webinar from 2 – 3pm Eastern Time on September 16, 2014 will “feature a number of large website operators who have also enabled IPv6 on their networks”.  Registration for the upcoming webinar is available here.

Vint Cerf August 25th Webinar – Internet 2025: Can we keep it open and evolving? The Marconi Society. August 25, 2014.

  • Vint Cerf will lead a webinar to take place at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on August 25, 2014. Aside from the primary topic of Internet governance, topics likely to be addressed include “privacy, safety, fraud, cyber-attacks, economics and business model disruption and social conventions in online environments”. Advance questions for Vint Cerf may be sent to [email protected] (put “Webinar question” in the subject line).


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