The GovLab SCAN – Issue 42

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 42nd 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:

  • The 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) concluded last week, spurring much subsequent commentary about the current state of global Internet governance. This year, the usual discussion topics and participants at the IGF “leaked” into other fora –for example, the World Economic Forum/NETmundial Initiative and the Internet Ungovernance Forum— and some have observed that these leaks undermine the role of the IGF as a global discussion forum for Internet governance.
  • Google is holding a series of meetings in European legislators in European capitals to discuss the implications of the EU “Right to be Forgotten” ruling. Google is simultaneously facing European pressure regarding its dominance of the European online search market where European companies are unable to compete.
  • IFEX has released a glossary of Internet governance terms: Internet Governance Forum 2014: Glossary of Abbreviations and Terms.
  • The U.S. State Department has launched an Open Internet campaign.

ICANN

Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process. ICANN.org. September 5, 2014.

  • In response to community requests for opportunities to provide input for the “ICANN accountability enhancement”, ICANN has opened a 21-day public comment period (from September 6 – 27). The public comment period is “focused on addressing questions about the design of the Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process – not about the potential solutions or outcomes of the review”. Some questions that should be answered include the “role of the Cross Community Group”, the “composition of Cross Community Group”, the “composition of the Coordination Group”, and the “risk of undue influence”.

Internet Governance

Arkko, Jari. IANA Transition Update. IETF Blog. September 10, 2014.

  • Arkko discusses the current state of the IANA stewardship transition, observing first that because “the community has already taken on much of the oversight role” once performed by the NTIA, “the transition is not necessarily the abrupt change one might think it is”. Nevertheless, the transition faces several challenges, such as the timeline (a final plan should have been developed one year from now), accountability (especially without the external accountability provided by the NTIA), and inclusivity (according to Arkko, “a broadly supported transition plan has to have buy in from different corners of the Internet community, from engineers to domain name experts to the businesses and governments”). The IETF has created a working group to address the transition.

Bandurski, David. Lu Wei: The Internet Must Have Breaks. China Media Project. September 11, 2014.

  • Speaking from the World Economic Forum’s “Future of the Internet Economy” session, Lu Wei (Director of China’s State Internet Information Office) argued for  “’mutual integration’ of international rules for internet governance and the national laws of various countries”. Lu linked the Internet to a car, “for which brakes are an absolutely necessary feature”, making the point that the development of the Internet should happen with certain controls built in.

Bommelaer, Constance. IGF 2014 Takes Action. Internet Society. September 9, 2014.

  • During the 9th Internet Governance Forum in Turkey, Internet Society CEO outlined four calls to action: “1) demonstrate that the IGF is essential to the future of the Internet; 2) strengthen the IGF by producing tangible results; 3) be fearless in tackling the tough, important issues; and 4) ensure the IGF belongs to everyone through broad engagement both inside and outside of the Forum.” Bommelaer states that the IGF was productive and that the community “faced the challenges head on with new collaborative processes designed to turn dialogue into action and numerous, substantive results.” She urges for continued support of national and regional IGFs in the run up to IGF 2015 in Brazil, and a commitment “to preserve this important Forum for neutral, inclusive, global collaboration, dialogue and debate.”

Castro, Daniel. Cross-Border Digital Searches: An Innovation-Friendly Approach. InformationWeek. September 5, 2014.

  • Daniel Castro argues that it is “imperative that the federal government not only establish an innovation-friendly process for cross-border digital searches, but also work with its trading partners to do the same.” Castro uses the example of an unidentified US law enforcement agency obtaining a warrant for Microsoft for data stored in Ireland, instead of using a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Supporting the use of search warrants will suggest “the best way to protect data from the prying eyes of the US government is to store data overseas with a non-US provider, which wouldn’t be subject to US warrants.” If the US court rules that search warrants cannot be used for data stored overseas, “foreign governments may try to force companies to store data within their countries’ borders to make it impossible for the US to execute a search warrant.” Castro argues that the best option is to strengthen the MLAT process so that it offers “a timely and efficient international framework for allowing governments to request access to data stored abroad.”

Chehadé, Fadi. Internet Governance is in Your Hands. ICANN Blog. September 11, 2014.

  • Chehadé, President of ICANN, points out that the question of “who will run the Internet and how?” has recently galvanized the mainstream media, and that discussions around this topic tend to contain some inaccuracies. First, “the United States is not giving up control of the open Internet” because “the U.S. does not have control of the Internet”. Chehadé then points to the IANA stewardship transition and the ICANN accountability “enhancement” as two open, public processes as examples of “the power of stakeholders within the multistakeholder model [] engaging through mechanisms to address concerns”.

Echeberria, Raul. The Integral Link between Internet Governance and Development. Internet Society. September 3, 2014.

  • The Internet Society’s Echeberria argues that there is “an integral link between Internet governance and development, whether the latter involves deployment of open standards; extension of infrastructure and localization of traffic exchange; capacity to operate that infrastructure; accessibility and inclusion; or the promotion of permission-less innovation.” He states that successful deployment depends on whether all key stakeholders have a seat at the table. He outlines three Internet Society efforts where local efforts, collaboration, and development led to effective results, including their work developing national and regional Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in Africa and using the support of local authorities in India to bring the Internet to rural communities.

Goh, Gabey. Post-Snowden revelations, action still a long way away. Digital News Asia. September 5, 2014.

  • A panel discussion at the Internet Governance Forum titled “Privacy, Surveillance, and the Cloud: One Year Later” explored developments since the Snowden revelations last year. In the U.S. and Europe, “there has been recognition across the industry that the balance in power in many countries has tipped too far towards the state, and away from individuals.” Bertrand de La Chapelle, director of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project, pointed out the lack of parliamentary oversight of activities as well as “the added difficulty of finding criteria to determine what are applicable laws when only territorial laws that govern sovereign rights are used.” According to the panel, there had been minimal response from the Asia Pacific region. Open Technology Institute’s Bankston also noted two positive outcomes post-revelations: an increase in transparency reporting both in industry and by the US Government, as well as an emphasis on cryptology and encryption as a vital part of Internet infrastructure.

Hakim, Danny. Google Is Target of European Backlash on U.S. Tech Dominance. New York Times. September 8, 2014.

  • Google has been the target of much criticism across Europe, and most recently, regulators have called for the company to make changes to its search algorithm. Other companies facing backlash in Europe include Uber, Whatsapp, Apple, and Amazon. Google has 90% of the search market in Europe excluding Russia, and after the Snowden revelations, Google has been on the receiving end of some of the anger over the mass data collection by the US Government. Joaquín Almunia, Europe’s competition regulator, argues that there is “a pressing need for E.U.-wide common approaches to the challenges posed by Google and other players in the digital era.”

Kanter, James. European Commission Delays Google Antitrust Settlement After Competitors’ Complaints. New York Times. September 8, 2014.

  • The European Commission has made a formal request to Google for adjustments to its antitrust settlement. Complainants in the case include Microsoft and powerful German publishing groups, who have objected to the tentative settlement put forth to give competitors more equal status in search results. The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, states that Google’s power has been exaggerated by complainants in Europe. The EU’s antitrust chief is due to leave his post in November, and “could effectively leave a resolution to his successor — who has yet to be named but might be less likely to negotiate as patiently with Google.”

Mueller, Milton. Internet Nation? Internet Governance Project. September 5, 2014.

  • In his speech delivered during the closing ceremony of the 9th annual Internet Governance Forum, Mueller discusses the concept of “multistakeholderism” and argues that “the global Internet governance debate is not really about having multiple stakeholders in the same room to discuss and negotiate policies” but that “the key difference is that multi-stakeholderism elevates transnational non-state actors to the same status as governments” and hence Internet governance debates challenge state sovereignty. Mueller points out that “what matters is whether [the] Internet community can be organized to assert, and gain, its political independence”, and suggests some avenues for doing so, including “globaliz[ing] technology and content flows”, keeping “the core technical coordination functions out of governmental hands”, undermining “the exclusivity of the data and intelligence that national governments enjoy”, and using non-state currencies such as Bitcoin.

Parkinson, Joe. Turkey Tightens Grip Over the Internet. The Wall Street Journal. September 9, 2014.

  • On Monday, the Turkish parliament passed a bill granting its telecommunications authority more power to tighten control on the Internet by quickly blocking content deemed to threaten national security or public order without any legal delays. As stated by Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, this development allows the government to block content “with no delay, meaning it decreases the odds that people will see content they don’t want them to.” Tech companies and government officials in Brussels and Washington have opposed this move and are apprehensive that Turkey may set a precedent for other countries that want to tighten their control on the Internet.

Post, David. Abortion, ICANN, and Internet Governance. The Washington Post. September 1, 2014. [and] Post, David. ICANN and Internet Governance, Contd. The Washington Post. Sept 04, 2014.

  • Women on Web is a Dutch website that allows people to obtain advice on “medical abortions” from medical practitioners based in the Netherlands. The website will also arrange in appropriate cases to have the abortion drugs shipped from India to pregnant women who elect to have an abortion. This service enables women living in countries with restricted or banned access to abortion clinics to obtain the drugs to terminate their pregnancies. Post uses this example to highlight the many issues and legalities that arise due to the transnational nature of the Internet. He also states that ICANN is in a position of power to adjudicate and enforce local law, due to its control of the Internet domain name system. In a follow up article, he points out that “there is a vacuum in the world of international legal enforcement at the moment” and discusses the troubling implications if ICANN and domain name registrars were to step into this role.

Schechner, Sam. Google Seeks Views in Europe on Right to be Forgotten. The Wall Street Journal. September 9, 2014.

  • Google executives will discuss the “right to be forgotten” in a series of meetings in seven European capitals, starting in Madrid on September 09. This 2 month tour “is part of a broader effort from the Silicon Valley firm to engage in debate in Europe, as it faces a growing wave of opposition from European politicians, regulators and rivals.” Google also faces opposition in Europe due to its dominance of the market, a potential EU antitrust enquiry into its Android mobile operating system, and disputes that its privacy policy violates European law. The panels will also create guidelines to address the ethical and legal issues that arise as Google attempts to implement the Right to be Forgotten law.

Scola, Nancy. The State Department’s Plan to Spark a Global SOPA-Style Uprising Around Internet Governance. The Washington Post. September 9, 2014.

  • The U.S. State Department has launched an online campaign around the “future of an open Internet” advocating for the global multistakeholder governance of the Itnernet. Scola points out the significance of the campaign in the context of debates around multilateral and multistakeholder models of Internet governance, especially leading up to the ITU Plenipotentiary taking place this October in Busan, Korea. The campaign is framed similarly to the actions against the Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S. some years ago as it advocates against “new online gatekeepers determining what happens online.”

Sepulveda, Daniel A. Remarks at United States ITU Association. U.S. Department of State. September 8, 2014.

  • In his remarks at the United States ITU (International Telecommunications Union) Association, Sepulveda discusses the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary gathering in Busan, South Korea, in October, and emphasizes the importance of the ITU, saying that “the successful execution of its responsibilities are critical to the health of [telecommunications] and the ability of people at home and abroad to reach each other for the purposes of making the world more peaceful and prosperous”. Sepulveda outlines what the U.S. believes will constitute success in Busan, including working to “ensure a stable Union by avoiding major changes to the ITU Constitution and Convention”, constructing “a more accountable ITU by strengthening the role of the ITU Council in the management of ITU resources and by expanding opportunities for nongovernmental stakeholders and experts to play a role in ITU deliberations and decision-making”, and bringing about “greater transparency in ITU budget processes, prioritization of ITU activities, and support for a balanced budget”. While acknowledging the role and importance of the ITU in “scoped capacity building, sharing best practices, and developing consensus standards related to the underlying infrastructure” of the Internet, Sepulveda also states that “the United States will oppose management, coordination, oversight, operational, or regulatory roles for the ITU pertaining to the Internet”.

Schwartz, Molly. The “Right to Be Forgotten” and the Quagmire of Global Internet Regulation. R Street Institute. September 2, 2014.

  • Schwartz highlights the problem of Internet regulation that has extraterritorial effects, such as Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten” legislation that currently applies only in Europe (i.e., to Google.fr and Google.be, but not to Google.com). Schwartz shows that such cross-border policy impacts are not limited to the Right to be Forgotten case, pointing to “the Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack case in Canada, in which the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that Canadian laws would force Google to remove content from all of its global web properties, not just in Canada”, as well as a case in Russia concerning the location of Russian citizen’s data that would “effectively ban the use of websites ranging from Facebook to Amazon unless they locate all data centers in Russia”.

Papers and Reports

Biddle, Ellery Roberts. Netizen Report: Social Media Sites Grapple with Pressure to Censor ISIS Content. Global Voices Advocacy. September 10, 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: social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook are facing government requests to remove content related to ISIS (see “YouTube’s Policies are Clear: Beheading Is Not An Act Of Free Speech”) raising “questions about what role, if any, Internet companies should have in making these decisions”; German technology companies have been found to be selling unlicensed surveillance technologies to countries with human rights violation records; Russia is developing a “more autonomous Internet that can function without being connected to the global Internet”; in Shenzhen, China, a man is suing his Internet Service Provider over being unable to access Google online services due to a government block.

Castro, David, and Atkinson, Robert. Beyond Internet Universalism: A Framework for Addressing Cross-Border Internet Policy. The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. September, 2014.

  • This paper focuses on the extraterritorial effects of domestic Internet policy and regulation and argues that the ability of the Internet that allows for seamless data transfers across geographic borders simultaneously exacerbates “international conflicts that arise between nations with different laws and values”. The paper goes on to propose a framework that “allows nations the right to customize Internet policies to their own national needs and rules, while at the same time constraining those rights in ways that enable global internet commerce and digital free trade while also preserving the underlying global Internet architecture, like the global domain name system”. The paper concludes by giving case study examples of such a framework “in action”.

“India’s Surveillance State” – Our Report On Communications Surveillance in India.SFLC.IN Software Freedom Law Centre. September 3, 2014.

  • The report “India’s Surveillance State”, released by the Software Freedom Law Centre in New Delhi, “delves into communications surveillance in India and takes an in-depth look at various aspects of India’s surveillance machinery, including enabling provisions of law, service provider obligations, and known mechanisms.” The report had several notable revelations, including that the Central Government issues an average of 100,000 telephone interception orders per year, and that state surveillance of private communications is authorized by the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act.

Internet Governance Forum 2014: Glossary of Abbreviations and Terms. IFEX. August, 2014.

  • This glossary gives definitions of terms related to Internet governance and Internet technologies. Terms include, for example, “ALAC” (the At-Large Advisory Committee), “encryption”, “IDNs” (Internationalized Domain Names), “Registrar”, “Registry”, and “Registrant”.

The Open Internet: What it is, and how to avoid mistaking it for something else. Internet Society. September 3, 2014.

  • The objective of this paper is to “reconcile our different understandings of open and openness in principle and in practice” in resolving Internet policy issues, because “sustaining [the Internet’s success] will require a commitment by today’s policy makers to understand and respect those principles—not because they are honored by time or tradition, but because they confer tangible present and future benefits”.

Events

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


Annual Meeting of the New Champions: The Future of the Internet Economy. World Economic Forum. September 10, 2014.

  • This World Economic Forum panel focused on the question, “what drives a thriving, accessible and global Internet economy?” Speakers included Lu Wei, Minister of the Cyberspace Administration of the People’s Republic of China, Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, Anne Bouverot, Director-General of the GSMA, and and Lawrence Strickling, Admnistrator of the NTIA. Among the topics addressed were Internet openness and security, infrastructure quality and access, and decision-making platforms and principles.

Internet Policy Conference. Harvard University Institute of Politics, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the Internet Association. September 4 – 5, 2014.

  • This special event brought experts and leaders in Internet governance together for a series of panel discussions. Topics included “how government policies affect the Internet entrepreneur”, “will governments break the Internet?”, and why Internet policy impacts business development. Click through the link for video recordings of the sessions.

Resolving Cross-Border Internet Policy Conflicts. Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. September 9, 2014.

Top web companies join Internet Slowdown protest for net neutrality. Fight for the Future. September 4, 2014.

  • The “Internet Slowdown” held on Wednesday September 10 involved many companies, Internet users, and net neutrality activists posting a “spinning wheel of death” on their sites “to symbolize what surfing the web could be like without net neutrality.” The campaign, organized by Fight for the Future, is protesting the creation of Internet “slow lanes” and is calling for the FCC to protect net neutrality through Title II reclassification. The Battle for the Net website details ways in which to get involved, and also shows a breakdown of the results of Wednesday’s Internet Slowdown. Some of the impact includes the fact that 1,573,482 emails were sent to Congress, and 524,494 comments were filed to the FCC on net neutrality. Over 10,000 sites participated, including imgur, reddit, Tumblr, Vimeo, Netflix, and Etsy.

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