The GovLab SCAN – Issue 45

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 45th 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 Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC) this week held the Evolution of the Internet Governance Ecosystem event (the Torino Symposium), bringing together academics to “examin[e] existing and potential models of distributed and collaborative governance with the goal of informing the evolution of – and current debate around – the Internet governance ecosystem in light of the NETmundial Roadmap and the work of various forums, panels, and committees”.

ICANN

Crocker, Steve. The Chairman’s Blog. ICANN Blog. September 26, 2014.

  • Crocker – Chairman of ICANN’s Board of Directors – points out that it can seem as though ICANN’s “Board is not visible enough and the community doesn’t understand what the Board does”. Crocker emphasizes that “the Board is not a separate operating arm of ICANN, and our role is distinctly separate and complementary to the volunteers and the staff”. This post, written by Suzanne Woolf –the RSSAC liaison to the Board– provides an informal view of what ICANN’s Board does and how it operates.

Inne, Anne-Rachel. ICANN Brief in Geneva: Distributed Internet Governance at Work. ICANN Blog. September 30, 2014.

  • ICANN President & CEO Fadi Chehadé last week briefed over “one hundred representatives of Country missions to the UN including some 30 Ambassadors, IGOs and NGOs” in Geneva, describing “ICANN’s ongoing efforts to promote globalization” as well as discussing “global challenges such as network security, cyber crime, human rights and children’s safety; issues that are constantly brought to ICANN’s doorstep by the global community”. Chehadé emphasized that while “ICANN can help by participating in the discussions”, “these wider governance issues require a different focus and process”.

Swinehart, Theresa. IANA Functions Stewardship Transition & Strengthening ICANN Governance and Accountability: Monthly Update. ICANN Blog. September 26, 2014.

  • The next in-person meeting of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) will take place following the ICANN 51 meeting in Los Angeles. See the group’s charter and RFPs for both an independent secretariat and for soliciting transition proposals, as well as an anticipated timeline for the transition. Archives from all ICG discussions can be found here, and see the main IANA Stewardship Transition page here. Concurrently, the Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance “track” (see FAQs here) caused ICANN community leaders to submit a letter to ICANN asking for clarity on the process, to which Board Chair Steve Crocker and President Fadi Chehadé responded.  Swinehart points out that the success of the two processes is “necessary for achieving the transition of stewardship of the IANA functions”.

Internet Governance

Badii, Farzaneh. The UN and the Future of the Internet Governance Forum. Internet Governance Project. September 28, 2014.

  • Badii emphasizes the critical nature of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) for the world of Internet governance in general, as it is “the only institution that aggregates, openly and inclusively, the entire multistakeholder community” – or “at least, it has the potential to do so”. However, Badii points out that there are fears that the IGF is “undermined by a 5 year mandate” and that the Internet governance community often calls for prolonging IGF’s mandate indefinitely. However, Badii argues that “having sustainable funding mechanisms might not have anything to do with the temporary mandate but with the modality of raising funds, such as how the budget is planned, where the funding goes and the methods of reimbursement if the mandate is not extended” – stating that “having an indefinite IGF mandate” and “having an IGF” are not the same thing.

Carnegie Corporation Grant Supports SIPA Programs in Cyber Policy. Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). September 23, 2014.

  • A $1 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) to create a “global hub for research and consultation on cyber policy” that “will promote multi-disciplinary research in the growing area of cyber policy and internet governance, drawing together faculty from across the University and engaging them with senior practitioners in both the public and private sectors around the world”.

Carr, David. Growling by Comcast May Bring Tighter Leash. The New York Times. September 28, 2014.

  • Last week, Comcast submitted a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) in defense of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. The uncharacteristically aggressive response said in part that ‘the significance of this extortion lies in not just the sheer audacity of some of the demands, but also the fact that each of the entities making the ‘ask’ has all but conceded that if its individual business interests are met, then it has no concern whatsoever about the state of the industry, supposed market power going forward, or harm to consumers, competitors, or new entrants.’” Carr states that “going on the attack is probably not good strategy” for Comcast, and that “in reminding the F.C.C. to scrutinize motives behind the arguments it will hear as it weighs whether to approve or challenge the deal, Comcast seemed defensive and frantic.”

Demidov, Oleg. Does Russia really want a fragmented Internet? Russia Direct. September 30, 2014.

  • The Russian Security Council has plans to ensure the protection of RuNet, the Russian Internet, from external threats; Demidov argues that “it is hardly likely to take the radical step of making the Runet completely autonomous from the global Internet.” Demidov states that the “key question is on what infrastructure layer the potential transformation of the Runet might take place,” for example, at key Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), or the national segment of the Domain Name System (DNS). He states that Russia is unlikely to take steps that lead to real fragmentation of the Internet, and that the “true problem is the politicization of Internet governance issues, which results in the West accusing Russia of oppressing Internet freedoms, while Russia is actually is trying to resolve its security concerns about the critical infrastructure.”

Kroes, Neelie. Adapt or die: What I would do if I ran a telecom company. European Commission. October 1, 2014.

  • Neelie Kross, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, delivered this speech at the Financial Times ETNO Summit 2014 on the New Digital Agenda: Towards a European Renaissance. In her final speech in this position before stepping down, Kroes states that “digital is central” to the challenge of getting the economy back on track, and asks “what is the telecoms sector’s relationship to that digital future?” Kroes argues that telecommunications companies must “adapt or die” and that while the current European market is “fragmented, ring-fenced, and subscale,” the connected continent proposal is a step towards seeing “equally open and unified markets on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Mattusek, Karin. Google Ordered to Change Handling of User Data in Germany. Bloomberg. September 30, 2014.

  • Google has been “ordered by a German regulator to limit how it combines user data that could be used to find out customers’ personal preferences, including marital status or sexual orientation.” Google’s 2012 privacy policy allowed it to combine user data derived from various services, and its policy will now be modified so that users can determine how their data is used. According to Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s privacy watchdog, combining data from various services can yield “conclusive and almost complete personality portraits” and has no basis in national or European law.

Meyer, David. Russia orders Google, Facebook and Twitter to comply with local storage and censorship laws. GigaOm. September 26, 2014.

  • Russia has ordered Google, Twitter and Facebook to store Russians’ local data and metadata within the country. The companies are also being told to make a decision on compliance with Russia’s blogger register, “a full-on censorship move, as those on the register have to abide by the same restrictions as those placed on traditional broadcast and print media. These include the avoidance of “extremist calls”, hate speech, slander and obscene language.” The companies will face fines or being blocked in the country should they not comply with the bloggers’ law and local storage demands.

Möller, Christian. Online Freedom & Internet Governance. CGCS Media Wire. September 30, 2014.

  • Möller “discusses past developments in and the prospective future of internet governance”, arguing in particular that “the internet is not free by nature, but by design and by the decisions of many stakeholders, including legislators, the technical community, academia, and users”. As a result, Internet freedom going forward will only be possible through active input by all stakeholders. Möller emphasizes that the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has not been satisfactory in safeguarding Internet freedom – first, “the lack of robust implementation of human rights principles online is not a matter of missing institutions, too few meetings or a lack of fora, but rather a lack of consensus”, and second, “it sometimes seems that many stakeholders see their responsibilities fulfilled by participation in the annual meetings” without taking further action to implement Internet freedom policies at home.

Strickling, Lawrence. Remarks of Assistant Secretary Strickling at The Media Institute. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). September 29, 2014.

  • Strickling – Administrator of the NTIA – discusses the position of the U.S. government regarding Internet governance and the IANA stewardship transition, primarily centering around the mission “to ensure the Internet remains an engine for economic growth, innovation and free expression” and the belief that “the multistakeholder model of Internet governance has enabled the growth we enjoy today and offers the greatest assurance that the Internet continues to thrive”. Strickling points out that both the IANA transition and ICANN’s accountability “must be addressed before any transition takes place”. Finally, in discussing the NTIA’s transition from its contractual oversight role of the IANA functions, Strickling emphasizes that the U.S. is “not walking away from ICANN or exiting from the debate over Internet governance” and “will continue to be vocal and active players in all Internet governance forums including ICANN”.

Walker, Molly Bernhart. Data localization movement won’t improve privacy, says Internet governance panel. Fierce Government IT. September 22, 2014.

  • After the NSA revelations, the data localization and technological sovereignty movements have gained strength in Europe and South America, but according to some Internet governance experts, “it’s a knee-jerk reaction to require that data reside within a country’s borders and it doesn’t necessarily ensure security or privacy.” For example, 80% of Brazil’s Internet traffic is routed through the United States; however, the Brazilian Parliament voted to remove a requirement that multinational internet service providers store Brazilian data within the country. Joseph Nye, a professor at Harvard University, states that favoring in-country vendors is “a political move and not a technical solution,” and that “localization is attractive for a populist politician because it’s cheap, easy and fits many other agendas.”

Wyatt, Edward. With Perspective From Both Sides of His Desk, F.C.C. Chairman Ponders Net Neutrality. The New York Times. Sept 28, 2014.

  • Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.), “was handed the issue of net neutrality two months into his tenure, when a federal appeals court threw out F.C.C. rules enacted in 2010 that forbade broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against any legal content. The court said the F.C.C. was treating broadband companies too much like regulated utilities.” The article discusses various factors that may have influenced his perspective on net neutrality. Despite being a lobbyist for cable and wireless companies, the author points out that Wheeler “has established a record as a formidable opponent to the industries he used to represent” during his tenure at the F.C.C.

Papers and Reports

Biddle, Ellery Roberts. Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship. Slate. October 01, 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 Hong Kong “a new round of pro-democracy protests has been met with mass police abuses of protesters and fears that cellphone networks might be shut down in the special administrative region”; Chinese authorities appear to have blocked Instagram in mainland China but not in Hong Kong; Egyptian and Saudi authorities have used geolocation data from gay dating app Grindr to track down gay men and imprison them; new legislation in Laos may have Internet users and Internet service providers face criminal charges for spreading “false” information about the government; the Australian senate has passed new legislation “giving its intelligence agency new powers to monitor the entire Australian Internet with a single warrant”.

Case Study Abstracts. Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers. October 2, 2014.

  • These case studies are part of “a globally coordinated, independent academic research effort by the Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers” (NoC) that seeks to inform “existing and potential models of distributed and collaborative governance with the goal of informing the evolution of – and current debate around – the Internet governance ecosystem in the light of the NETmundial Principles and Roadmap as well as the discussions at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), other forums, panels, and committees”. The case studies seek to study “a geographically and topically diverse set of local, national, and international distributed governance models, components, and mechanisms from in and out of the sphere of Internet governance, with focus on emerging lessons learned and (contextual) good/best practices”. Cases include (amongst others) the Turkish Internet Improvement Board, Brazil’s Marco Civil, and the Enquete Commission on Internet and Digital Society.

Cortes, Carlos. Internet Governance and the Struggle for Control: New Study from CELE. Global Voices Advocacy. September 29, 2014.

  • The Center for Studies on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information at the University of Palermo, Buenos Aires has published a new study that suggests that “Internet governance, rather than just being the host of institutions and multilateral formulas, is a contested space for the control and management of this unique technology.” They argue that “online architecture is all but a spontaneous structure: Power influences configurations, and configurations distribute power. Hence, each of the actors involved in the Internet –intermediaries, content owners, users, and governments– exert their share of influence in an effort to achieve their own goals” and that “the Internet governance struggle should open to all the forces and actors that exercise power in the network, regardless of their visibility and readiness to debate the issues in question.”

Oxford, Adam. [MAP MONDAY] Who’s censoring the internet in Africa? Htxt Africa. September 29, 2014.

  • This map uses information from Freedom House to illustrate Internet censorship in Africa, in which “[c]ountries are rated and coloured according to a scale of 1-100, where 1 is complete freedom and 100 is lockdown.” South Africa and Kenya score highly as some of the most free countries for internet users, while Sudan and Ethiopia rate among the most censored countries for users.

Events

(The below includes both past and upcoming events. See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)


Kende, Michael. SMART Rwanda Days: Boosting Local Content. Internet Society. October 02, 2014.

  • SMART Rwanda Days “is an annual event bringing together national and international stakeholders in the ICT sector – industry experts, policy makers, and development partners – to discuss how Rwanda can leverage Information Communication Technologies for economic transformation in line with Vision 2020.” According to the Internet Society, no more than 5% of Internet content in Rwanda is sourced locally, and the organization is working with the Ministry of Youth and ICT in Rwanda on a study “to help build a robust hosting environment for content in Rwanda.”

Marconi Society 40th Anniversary Symposium: Internet 2025. Marconi Society. October 2, 2014.

  • This symposium and awards ceremony hosts a selection of Internet and wireless experts in a series of panels looking at the potential for expanding broadband capacity; the issue of spectrum allocation; and the future of the Internet. The event was livestreamed by the Internet Society – see video recordings here.

W3C20 Anniversary Symposium. World Wide Web Consortium. October 29, 2014.

  • The Web turned 25 in 2014, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) will hold the W3C Anniversary Symposium on October 29, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The topic of the 3 hour symposium will be “the Future of the Web” and will feature speakers such as Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web and W3C Director, Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, and Fadi Chehadé , President & CEO of ICANN.

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