The GovLab SCAN – Issue 49

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 49th 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 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Meeting is ongoing in Busan, South Korea. Countries are now negotiating specific resolutions, for example around cybersecurity, the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, and the institutional mandate of the ITU.
  • The Hungarian government recently proposed the taxation of Internet access, drawing tens of thousands of protestors in Hungary.


Hickson, Nigel, and Wentworth, Sally Shipman. Making Progress on Internationalized Domain Names. ICANN Blog. October 30, 2014.

  • Hickson and Wentworth discuss progress made in the area of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNS) – names that can use non-Latin characters – as the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference visited this topic this week in Busan (through ITU Resolution 133). According to ICANN, 43 IDN country-codes and 35 IDN generic top-level domains (TLDs) are listed in the root, and IDNs make up about 2% of all domain names. A challenge in the adoption of IDNs is that technologies must be designed around the use of IDNs, and so “ICANN has launched an initiative for universal acceptance of IDNs, which works to bring stakeholders together to promote technologies that support IDNs, including internationalized email addresses”.

Silverman, Ed. Icann or I Can’t? Internet Agency Clashes with FDA Over Online Sites. The Wall Street Journal. October 28, 2014.

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with Interpol have asked ICANN to investigate illegal behavior of websites suspected of selling drugs without prescriptions. However, the majority of the websites listed for take-down still exist, even though ICANN closed these complaints. Silverman points out that “such episodes are prompting growing criticism that Icann fails to use its watchdog powers aggressively enough”. Silverman also points out that these situations call for “a debate about the extent to which regulators and law enforcement may be overzealous in policing online pharmacy websites”.

Internet Governance

Brotman, Stuart N. American Net Leadership Is a Timely Foreign Policy Challenge. Brookings. October 30, 2014.

  • According to Brotman, “one of the key policy questions that could be decided in Busan is whether the ITU will expand its legal authority to include Internet policy issues”. Brotman points out that “if heavy-handed regulatory tools typically used to regulate telephone networks are enshrined by the ITU as applying to the Internet, governments will likely develop ways to apply them inappropriately across a range of areas that comprise the complex Internet ecosystem—networks, applications/content and devices”, and that “such new restrictions, in turn, may create a domino effect, so that each nation only focuses on its own self-interest rather than on the larger global good at stake”.

Chiusi, Fabio. Italy Pioneers an Internet Bill of Rights. TechPresident. October 27, 2014.

  • Italy has opened an “Internet Bill of Rights” for consultation online through the Civici platform. A draft Declaration of Internet Rights can be found here. The draft points out that “the many questions related to access and use of the Internet go well beyond national borders because of the very nature of the net and therefore, call for a coordinated effort at the international level”, and is thus written in multiple languages. Chiusi collects opinions in support and critical of such a proposed Bill and discusses how other similar projects have developed, for example Brazil’s Marco Civil and a crowdsourced Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom.

Gummer, Chase, and Robinson, Frances. New EU Digital Chief Floats Tough Anti-Google Regulations. The Wall Street Journal. October 30, 2014.

  • Günther Oettinger – the European Commission’s incoming Commissioner for the Digital economy – has proposed new measures that are specifically targeted at Google’s “power on the continent”. For example, Oettinger has suggested a “reform to existing copyright laws specifically targeting the tech company, in what amounts to an EU-wide ‘Google tax’”, as well as proposed “establishing a data protection agency for the EU”.

Losey, James. Institutional Advocacy and Internet Policy. CGCS Media Wire, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. October 23, 2014.

  • Losey discusses the interaction of Internet advocacy and Internet policy, for example looking at different forms of advocacy (advocacy that is directly involved in the policy-making process, as compared to advocacy that is confrontational towards the policy-making process). Losey points out that “institutional advocacy is an essential part of information policy interventions” and that “understanding the role of institutional advocacy is important not only for understanding how a combination of tactics influences changes to internet policy, but also for recognizing how a variety of actors engage in a debate.”

Lyman, Rick. Proposed Internet Tax Draws Hungarians to Street in Protest. The New York Times. October 29, 2014.

  • Tens of thousands of people are protesting Hungary’s plan to tax Internet use, arguing that the tax “limits free access to the Internet and information”, while the Hungarian government “denies the tax was devised to inhibit access to information, saying it is an extension of an existing tax on telephones that is being put in effect because a growing share of communication has moved online.” Along with “tax increases in banking, energy and other economic sectors, data traffic would be taxed at the rate of 150 Hungarian forint, or about 62 cents, per gigabyte”. While the tax is intended to be levied against Internet Service Providers, critics point out that end-users will likely be impacted by the tax.

McCarthy, Kieren. Has the United Nations taken over the Internet yet? The Register. October 30, 2014.

  • McCarthy discusses the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentary Meeting happening now in Busan, South Korea, and highlights “what is going on and what threads of conversation are worth following”, pointing out first that “a relatively small set of issues creates an extraordinary amount of discussion and documents”. See this image capturing the discussions and working groups involved in the ITU Plenipoteniary. McCarthy goes on to discuss the most significant issues being debated, including Internet Protocol-based networks, the ITU’s role, Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, and cybersecurity.

Puddephat, Andrew. Is there any Internet Governance out there? Media Policy Project Blog, The London School of Economics and Political Science. October 29, 2014.

  • Puddephat discusses upcoming challenges in Internet governance, including how to develop legitimacy in public policy decisions created by non-state actors; coordinating decision-making in the absence of any “over-arching ‘meta-structure’ for the Internet”; and needing to find “a way of ensuring the informed engagement of civil society and of democratic governments around a shared agenda dedicated to building and sustaining an internet that supports democracy and human rights”.

Segal, Adam. Can China’s New Internet Conference Compete with the West in Defining Norms of Cyberspace? Forbes. October 22, 2014.

  • China will host the World Internet Conference from November 19 to 21. The mission of the conference is to promote the “development of [the] Internet to be the global shared resources for human solidarity and economic progress.” Segal notes that while the conference likely will not produce any outcomes, “for China, just having the conference is probably enough, signaling that it intends to take more of a role in shaping the rules of the road for cyberspace.”

Wentworth, Sally Shipman. Plenipot Update: 28 October 2014 – The Real Work Begins. Internet Society. October 28, 2014.

  • According to Wentworth, in the 3rd week of the ITU Plenipotentiary Meeting, “countries are still introducing their ideas and staking out their ground on various topics”, and “the long, hard and sometimes tedious work of negotiating the text” is underway. Some important updates include that “countries are looking to update the 2010 Resolution [Internationalized Domain Names (Res 133)]”, there are “numerous proposals to update the existing Resolution [on IP networks (Res 101)], including adding economic language on international interconnection costs, security, and ‘unlawful international surveillance’”, and countries will also look at “the issue of illicit use of ICTs (Res 174)”.

Papers and Reports

GV Essay Competition: How Do Internet Policies Affect Your Community? Global Voices Online. October 22, 2014.

  • This essay competition by Global Voices asks for “essays that explain — in plain language — the real-world effects of an Internet-related policy on citizens in a specific country or region”. Essays should address the question, “how do corporate and government policy decisions affect Internet users?”. According to Global Voices, “the policy could come from a government, an international regulatory body or a technology company. Explain how the policy affects citizens (activists, bloggers, journalists or others) using the Internet to increase public access to information, ensure government accountability, or promote human rights.” The deadline for submissions is December 7, 2014.


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

Doctorow, Cory. LISTEN: The post-American Internet, with Schneier, ICANN boss, global academics. BoingBoing. October 28, 2014.

  • This panel discussion on “post-USA/NSA controlled Internet possibilities” included individuals from the Internet governance technical, academic, and government. The discussion centered on the topic of  the IANA stewardship transition and the question of “who should take over, and who will?”

IETF 91. Internet Engineering Task Force. November 9 – 14, 2014.

  • The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will hold its 91st meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. Registration is available here. Topics covered will include Internet networking, security, routing, and transportation. The agenda is here.

OII Awards: Recognizing Internet Excellence. Oxford Internet Institute. November 7, 2014.

  • The Oxford Internet Institute Awards “provide an opportunity to recognise some of the individuals and organisations who have played a pivotal role in shaping the extraordinary ecosystem that is today’s Internet”. This year’s recipients include Lifetime Achievement Award winners Tim Berners-Lee, Stephanie Shirley and Barry Wellman; and Internet and Society Award winners Martha Lane Fox, Laura Bates, and Beth Noveck, Director of the GovLab.

Privacy, Surveillance, and Rebuilding Trust in Tech. Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University. November 4, 2014.

  • This event “will explore the role of law in protecting our rights in the physical world online, the complementary roles of law and technology in achieving this protection, and the need for governments to come together so that companies (and customers) don’t face conflicting legal obligations”. Speakers are Brad Smith (Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs) and Jonathan Zittrain (co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society). The event will be livecast through this page on the date.

[Webinar] Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance. Geneva Internet Platform. November 4, 2014.

  • “The Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance takes place on the first Tuesday of every month. If you would like to get a regular ‘zoomed-out’ update of the major global IG and digital policies developments, join us online for the webinar briefing from Geneva within the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) project on Tuesday, 4 November 2014, at 13.00 CET. If you are in Geneva, join us in situ, if you are somewhere else, join us online.”

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