The GovLab SCAN – Issue 46

Shruti Sannon and Samantha Grassle also contributed to this post.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 46th 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:

  • ICANN’s 51st meeting will begin next week in Los Angeles, California. Topics of particular significance include the IANA Stewardship Transition, and the Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process.
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has argued that increased encryption can make it harder for law enforcement to collect evidence.
  • The European Union may soon have two new digital commissioners – Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger – replacing Neelie Kroes, whose term as EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda is ending.


Goldenberg, Suzanne. Icann: environmentalists to control use of .eco internet domain name. The Guardian. October 9, 2014.

  • ICANN has granted a community application for the .eco top-level domain “to a coalition of about 50 environmental groups”. A community application is only granted when the applicant can prove that they represent a specific community –in this case, environmental groups. Now, environmental groups that control the rights to .eco must “work to determine the criteria for approving .eco status – and that could prove contentious as groups fight it out over whether the nuclear industry, or groups in favour of GMOs or geo-engineering, make the grade”.

Swinehart, Theresa. Evaluation of the Enhancing ICANN Accountability Comment Period. ICANN Blog. October 6, 2014.

  • The public comment period for the Enhancing ICANN Accountability and Governance process has closed. According to Swinehart, “themes among the comments included the structure of the process, what role the Board should play in process, participation, scope, and timeline”. All of the comments are publicly archived here. Swinehart states that it is foreseeable that “some modifications will be made to the currently posted process”.

Internet Governance

Barr, Alistair. Google Fiber Leaves a Digital Divide: Survey Finds Few Low-Income Residents in Kansas City Subscribe to Super Fast Service. The Wall Street Journal. October 2, 2014.

  • The Wall Street Journal conducted a survey which revealed that residents in low-income communities in Kansas City have a low subscription rate to Google Fiber Services. Approximately 10% of  low-income Kansas City residents subscribe to Google Fiber, and an additional 5% subscribe to the free slower version that requires a $300 installation fee. This finding suggests that Google Fiber is not making significant progress to close the digital divide, a mission that Google cited when initially launching the service in select U.S. cities.

Bleiberg, Joshua, and West, Darrell M. How to Stop the Internet from Breaking Apart. Brookings Institute. October 6, 2014.

  • The authors describe the Internet as “having three distinct layers” — “at the core is the network itself, then the World Wide Web, and finally, the applications built on top of the web”. According to the authors, it is not the core of the Internet, but “the web and Internet enabled applications [that] are at risk due to shortsighted policies”. The authors argue that the “key to stopping the balkanization of the Internet is to use smart policies to ensure data flows freely across international boundaries and overcome specific barriers that threaten the web and Internet supported applications”.

Corwin, Philip S. Beyond NETmundial: Initiative or Inertia? CircleID. October 7, 2014.

  • Corwin discusses the NETmundial Initiative – an effort in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF) that has been inspired by and taken form since the NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance held in April this year. This article comprehensively “explores the history of and reaction to the WEF Initiative to better inform those interested in forging a productive path forward on [Internet governance] issues.”

Dong, Leshuo. China’s Opportunity: A ‘De-Americanized’ Approach of Global Internet Governance.  Center for Global Communication Studies. October 3, 2014

  • As actors throughout the world continue to question the United States’ role in Internet governance, the Chinese government has recently become more involved in global Internet governance debates. This is a significant shift from the government’s traditionally silent positions on Internet policy toward global audiences. At the recent ICANN 50 meeting in London, China put forth a new framework of seven principles of global Internet governance based on the idea of “Internet sovereignty”. These principles all seek to legitimize the government’s heavy regulation of the Internet and the idea of “safety” over “openness.”

Hardy, Quentin. Cisco: The Internet Needs More Control. The New York Times. September 29, 2014.

  • Cisco Systems is making the “unusual” case that “the Internet must be subject to a higher amount of control, and big companies will work with governments to make that possible”. The argument comes as Cisco develops Intercloud, a “proposed network of cloud computing systems with high performance, security and control” that “is meant to help companies comply with the regulations of countries regarding the information that moves within their borders”.

Kravets, David. US says it can hack into foreign-based servers without warrants. Arstechnica. October 7, 2014.

  • The U.S. Justice Department has stated that the US government may hack into servers outside its borders without a warrant. The US government has recently found that the servers of illicit drug website Silk Road are in Iceland, and authorities are disputing the assertion that “they found the servers through illegal wiretapping.” Assistant US Attorney stated that “because the [Silk Road] Server was located outside the United States, the Fourth Amendment would not have required a warrant to search the server, whether for its IP address or otherwise.”

Nakashima, Ellen. Twitter sues U.S. government over limits on ability to disclose surveillance orders. The Washington Post. October 07, 2014.

  • On Tuesday, Twitter sued the U.S. government, stating that the Justice Department’s restrictions on what the firm can publish in its transparency reports violates the firm’s First Amendment rights. The company is “pressing for the ability to be more candid in its twice-a-year transparency reports than the government has been willing to permit.” Technology companies currently report the number of requests in terms of broad categories such as 0-999, and Twitter is pushing for the ability to report exact numbers.

Oremus, Will. Why Is This Obscure New York Times Story Banned From Google Results in Europe? Slate. October 06, 2014.

  • Google has received thousands of requests under the “right to be forgotten” law. Last week, the New York Times reported that links to five of its stories had been removed by Google. The removals constitute “a seemingly arbitrary selection of stories”: two wedding announcements, one death notice, a news story and a feature story about an off-Broadway theater production. Google does not disclose the names of those who request to be forgotten, and thus, in terms of the off-broadway production, it is hard to discern the reason behind the takedown request. Oremus points out that the problem with the right to be forgotten law is that “the harm to people mentioned in newspaper stories that are searchable online is relatively easily demonstrated. In contrast, the harm inflicted to the public at large by removing those stories via an opaque and seemingly arbitrary process is impossible to gauge.”

Rosenbush, Steven and Clint Boulton. Data Encryption Will Strengthen Privacy Over Long Run, Former CIA Official Says.  The Wall Street Journal. October 1, 2014.

  • At a recent security symposium, Gus Hunt –former chief technology officer at the Central Intelligence Agency– predicted that cyber threats will lead to a “return to privacy by default.” Hunt argued that companies will be forced to strengthen their systems by making data “polymorphic” and more difficult for hackers to identify. Hunt also suggested that this shift could threaten the growth of data-driven businesses such as online advertising.

Scola, Nancy. ICANN chief: “The whole world is watching” the U.S.’s net neutrality debate. The Washington Post. October 7, 2014.

  • In this interview on the state of Internet governance today, Fadi Chehadé –President and CEO of ICANN–  emphasizes the distributed nature of contemporary Internet governance and particularly the lack of coordination amongst organizations in addressing specific issues such as spam or privacy (which are, as a result, inadequately addressed, or addressed in a piecemeal, fragmented way). Chehadé talks about ways forward in this distributed governance environment, pointing to the NETmundial Principles and the report by the President Ilves Panel as a basis and a framework, and the NETmundial Initiative as an action-oriented effort.

Scott, Mark. Europe Digital Nominee Demands Stronger U.S. Data Rules. The New York Times. October 6, 2014.

  • Andrus Ansip -the nominee to lead Europe’s digital agenda- has emphasized that “the protection of people’s online data was his most important goal” as lead European digital lawmaker, and points to the data-sharing agreements the U.S. have with Europe as problematic, arguing that if American policy makers do not improve how Europeans’ online information is protected”, data-sharing agreements between the EU and the U.S. may be suspended.

Timberg, Craig. Holder urges tech companies to leave device backdoors open for police. The Washington Post. September 30, 2014.

  • Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has criticized the new encryption methods being developed by technology companies that make it harder for law enforcement officials to collect potential evidence even when they have a warrant to do so. He stated that “it is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy” at the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online event held in Washington. He urged companies “to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators.”

Whom do I contact if I want to raise my IG concern? Diplo. October 7, 2014.

  • This article discusses the concept and possibility of a one-stop-shop for Internet governance that would perform the following functions: “information gathering, verification, and sharing of resources”; “monitoring and analysis of trends, akin to the role of an observatory”; “guidance, networking, and support, with a link to capacity development opportunities”. This concept has also been described as a “clearinghouse function” and analogized to an Internet governance “restaurant” that would “need to cater for the needs and requirements of each stakeholder”. Diplo has started a discussion forum on the idea here.

Wyatt, Edward. In Net Neutrality Discussion, Lawsuit Looms Large. The New York Times Blog. October 7, 2014.

  • In a series of panels held at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), experts continued to debate the best legal framework to preserve an Open Internet. However, experts universally agreed that regardless of which rule the FCC chooses to adopt, the high-profile Net Neutrality decision will be taken to court. Mark Cooper, director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America stated, “nobody should make a decision on whether or not there will be litigation. Because there will be litigation.”

Papers and Reports

IGF 2014: Chair’s Summary – Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance. Internet Governance Forum. October, 2014.

  • This summary report by the Chair of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) discusses key themes and outcomes of this year’s IGF held in September in Istanbul, Turkey. Themes include net neutrality, human rights, national and regional IGFs, enhancing digital trust, youth and ICTs, and the IANA stewardship transition. The summary also provides statistics on participation, main/focus sessions, and announcements, launches, and other highlights from IGF 2014.

Toward Collaborative Internet Development: The Internet Society’s Views on the 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Internet Society. September, 2014.

  • This paper is developed by the Internet Society (ISOC) as a Sector Member of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in order to “share [ISOC’s] perspectives and to contribute to a positive outcome at the [upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary] conference in Busan”. According to ISOC, “based on its current remit, the ITU has an important role in the Internet ecosystem; promoting core infrastructure development and cross-border connectivity, allocating spectrum to enable the deployment of new technologies and services, and providing technical assistance and capacity building in developing countries”. ISOC believes that “the current ITU mandate is sufficient to carry out the critical tasks outlined above both today and into the future”.


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

CYFY 2014: The India Conference on Cyber Security and Cyber Governance. October 15 – 17, 2014.

  • The India Conference on Cyber Security and Cyber Governance is a “dynamic platform to engage and discuss cyber issues with the world” that will bring “notable experts on cyber issues []  from many around the world, including, India, USA, Australia, Japan, China, UK, the Netherlands, Israel, Egypt; and representing organizations as diverse as ICANN, UN-CTED, Interpol, NATO, Symantec, Microsoft, World Economic Forum”. Themes include cyberlaw and jurisdictional issues, counter-terrorism in cyber space, and emerging powers in Internet governance.

ICANN 51. October 12 – 16, 2014.

  • ICANN will hold its 51st community meeting in Los Angeles, California, this upcoming week. Topics of particular interest include the IANA stewardship transition and the ICANN “accountability enhancement”. Various stakeholder groups will hold public meetings on both topics – see the full event schedule here, and see the list of meetings to be held by the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) here. Other topics to be discussed include new gTLDs, the WHOIS database, and ICANN regional engagement strategies.

The Role for Governments in Internet Governance. Center for Strategic & International Studies. October 15, 2014.

  • In this event, Daniel Sepulveda (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State) will discuss the role of governments in Internet governance, look at “contributions to the governance process from civil society, private sector, governments and others”, and looking at the roles governments have “in helping facilitate access to the Internet for their people”.



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