The GovLab SCAN – Issue 50

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 50th 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:

  • ICANN, the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br), and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have launched the NETmundial Initiative, whose purpose is to “provide an open, generative, and collaborative space, inviting permission-less innovation to build and deliver distributed Internet governance enablers and solutions”.

ICANN

ICANN 52 Meeting to Relocate to Singapore | Marrakech, Morocco Meeting to Take Place in Early 2016. ICANN Announcements. November 3, 2014.

  • According to ICANN, “given the ongoing discussions around the IANA Stewardship Transition and ICANN Accountability” and given “concerns that would prevent maximum participation at its next global meeting” (originally scheduled to take place in Marrakech), ICANN will relocate its 52nd meeting to Singapore. The meeting will take place February 8 – 12, 2015.

Internet Governance

Auchard, Eric. Governance advocates see crowd-sourcing as way to fix Internet ills. Reuters. November 6, 2014.

  • Auchard discusses the NETmundial Initiative, launched on November 6th. The Initiative will be a “platform for participation, rather than a formal organization” that will “find solutions to Internet governance issues, instead of waiting for governments to agree” and will “map out best practices for resolving complex problems, ranging from online privacy to Internet taxation, security and child protection” by employing “the Internet’s own models of crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding that power web institutions such as Wikipedia to turn decade-old debates among top international technical organizations into action plans”. The NETmundial Initiative “aims to share ideas with organizations around the world, especially in developing nations, where Internet expertise remains scarce”.

Cao, Yin. Consensus Sought with US on Governance of the Internet. China Daily USA. October 31, 2014.

  • According to the author, the upcoming World Internet Conference (to be held in Wuzen, China, from November 19 – 21, 2014) will see Beijing seeking consensus with Washington with regards to how the Internet should be governed. This is the first high-level conference on the Internet held by China, and issues to be discussed include “mobile networks, cross border e-commerce, cybersecurity and online antiterrorism measures”. Lu Wei – director of the Cyberspace Administration of China – has “highlighted the importance of laws and legal thinking in Internet governance and development” and has argued that Chinese laws must apply in Chinese cyberspace.

Hannigan, Robert. The web is a terrorist’s command-and-control network of choice. Financial Times. November 3, 2014.

  • Hannigan discusses how terrorist groups use the Internet and social media to reach global audiences and challenge governments, and argues that the only way to solve these challenges is through “greater co-operation from technology companies”. According to Hannigan, “today mobile technology and smartphones have increased the options available [for terrorists to communicate] exponentially, and “techniques for encrypting messages or making them anonymous which were once the preserve of the most sophisticated criminals or nation states now come as standard”. Hannigan therefore emphasizes that we must come up with “better arrangements for facilitating lawful investigation by security and law enforcement agencies than we have now”, and that “intelligence agencies such as GCHQ need to enter the public debate about privacy”. Hannigan concludes by pointing out that “privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions”.

Kleinwächter, Wolfgang. Enhanced Confusion: The European Council and the Governance of the Internet. CircleID. October 31, 2014.

  • Kleinwächter discusses the role of the new European Commission (that started its work on November 1) in Internet governance going forward. According to Kleinwächter, the digital agenda is “one of the priorities of its new [EC] president, Jean Claude Juncker”. Kleinwächter points to the October 17 European Council resolution on Internet governance as a basis for ongoing work in Europe regarding Internet governance, and discusses the positive and negative points contained in this resolution as well as the possible implications for how the new European Commission will address Internet governance.

Koebler, Jason. Gigabit Internet Connections Make Property Values Rise. Vice. November 4, 2014.

  • The first large-scale study in the United States on whether fiber availability is driving real estate prices upwards was conducted at the University of Colorado last year. The researcher concluded that “early results are strong enough to justify further research.” Access to Internet gigabit service may drive up real estate prices, but another variable may also be at play, and “good quality broadband infrastructure is also expected to be rolled out first in high-income areas with high-valued real estate.” Google has been asked by over 1,100 cities to build fiber in their municipalities, and these cities are also looking for alternatives such as to build the connectivity themselves or through other partnerships.

Malaja, Polina. Hungary’s Internet Tax Postponed But Not Yet Abolished. European Digital Rights (EDRi). November 5, 2014.

  • Last week “about 100,000 Hungarians gathered to protest a planned introduction of a tax on Internet data transfers”. According to EDRi, the tax “would have directly affected Internet users, making Hungary the only country in the world where the fundamental freedoms facilitated by the Internet would become ‘pay as you go’.”  Although the proposed tax has been withdrawn, Hungarian officials argue that “the huge profits generated online need to be monitored along with the possibility of keeping some of this profit in Hungary and channeling it into the [Hungarian] budget”. Malaja provides a list of the main articles concerning this issue in the last two weeks.

McCarthy, Kieren. ICANN creates ‘UN Security Council for the internet’, installs itself as a permanent member. The Register. November 7, 2014.

  • The NETmundial Initiative, announced on November 6 by representatives of ICANN, CGI.br, and the World Economic Forum, will be an “open source platform” and a “shared public resource” that will enable “calls for assistance on non-technical issues”. The NETmundial Initiative will have a “Coordination Council” with 5 permanent members and 20 members from different sectors and geographies. McCarthy is critical of the Initiative, pointing out that the Initiative’s origins are not from a bottom-up process; that 5 permanent seats on the Coordination Council does not seem “bottom-up”; that funding sources and amounts for the Initiative have not been made transparent; and that “there has been no mention of actual topics to be discussed beyond references to existing public documents”.

McCarthy, Kieren. UN takeover of internet postponed indefinitely. The Register. November 5, 2014.

  • The United Nations’ ITU Plenipotentiary meeting has been taking place in Busan, South Korea, where after two weeks of debate, revisions to four key Internet resolutions are now past the working group stage and will be formally approved by the meeting’s plenary. In these revisions, proposed changes that would give the ITU greater authority on the Internet have been removed. The changes are in a revised version of Resolution 102, titled “ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses.” Moreover, the CWG-Internet, (the ITU group that works on Internet issues) will also be more open with online consultation, physical open consultation meetings with remote participation, and the fact that “relevant inputs received from stakeholders will be submitted to the CWG-Internet for consideration on the issues chosen for its next meeting.”

Mueller, Milton. What do the Wall Street Journal and the ITU have in common? Internet Governance Project. November 1, 2014

  • In this article, Milton Mueller argues that both the Wall Street Journal and the International Telecommunications Union “seem bent on asserting traditional forms of state authority over [the Internet].” Recently, the government of India a submitted a resolution to “develop an IP address plan from which IP addresses of different countries are easily discernable…” and to ensure that IP traffic that originates and ends in the country remains within the country. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal continues to argue that ICANN should not be set free of U.S. government control. Mueller observes that the WSJ position supports establishing a global regulator of the Internet that will open the possibility of “abuses of due process and the collateral damage and chilling effects that can occur when intermediaries performing technical and coordination functions affecting billions of people are used to enforce policies against a few wrongdoers.”

Norton-Taylor, Richard. GCHQ Comes Out Fighting – It Must Now Play By New Rules. The Guardian. November 4, 2014.

  • According to Norton-Taylor, “the battles of the future will take place through the internet and in cyberspace.” In this context Norton-Taylor discusses the relationship between government intelligence and information-gathering agencies (such as the U.S. National Security Agency and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)) and Internet companies that provide these agencies with the information they need to do their jobs. Norton-Taylor points out that while revelations of the surveillance of civilians has caused some Internet companies to become less cooperative with government agencies, cooperation is necessary in order to tackle challenges posed, for example, by terrorist groups that use Internet companies’ services to operate.

Richmond, Ben. The Dutch Are Extraditing a Russian Hacker to the US After Two Years of Debate. Vice. November 4, 2014.

  • The Netherlands will extradite a Russian to the United States due to his alleged role in a cyber heist organization, a Dutch justice minister has said. Vladimir Drinkman has been accused of perpetrating “the largest hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.” Russia also requested that Drinkman be extradited to Russia, but this request came 14 months after the US requested extradition. In 2012, the Netherlands extradited Dmitriy Smilianet, who was “charged with running a cyber heist ring that dated back to 2005 that hacked 17 companies including Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., Dow Jones, and 7-Eleven Inc.” to the US, where he pled not guilty in New Jersey in 2013. According to the article, the case also “reinforces the notion that America owns the internet and will surveil it and prosecute as the government sees fit.”

Rutkowski, Anthony. The ITU Plenipotentiary: Member States Decrease Financial Contributions. CircleID. November 3, 2014.

  • Over the past two decades, member states have continued to decrease financial contributions to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). At the current ITU Plenipotentiary Meeting in Busan, South Korea, nations decreased their contributions by about $3.4 million. Canada had the biggest reduction in contributions with a 27% decrease, followed by France which decreased its contribution by 16%. Several countries modestly increased their contributions, including China, Mexico, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and Guinea.

Scola, Nancy. Brazil Begins Laying Its Own Internet Cables to Avoid U.S. Surveillance. The Washington Post. November 3, 2014.

  • Brazil plans to build a $185 million undersea fiber-optic cable between Brazil and Portugal, to be completed in 2016. What is unique about the project is that the cable will be built without the help or involvement of U.S. companies. According to Scola, “once you write foreign policy into fiber-optic cables, it stays that way for a long, long time” and “that’s not great news for the U.S. on the global technology stage.”

Wentworth, Sally Shipman. Plenipot Update: A Good Direction! Internet Society. November 3, 2014.

  • Wentworth – VP of Global Policy Development at the Internet Society – discusses progress of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)’s Plenipotentiary Meeting and states that “[the Internet Society is] cautiously optimistic that the Conference will not adopt new Internet Resolutions and that changes to the existing Resolutions are largely in line with the ITU’s core mandate”. The ITU will not take on roles regarding privacy, surveillance, or data protection, and will also not become an Internet registry (an option that was suggested at the meeting). The remaining days of the meeting will “address the important issue of the definition of ICT (a key issue for the scope of ITU work) and as well as a few important lingering economic issues”, following which “all the work will go back into Plenary for final approval”.

Papers and Reports

Hariharan, Geetha. Good Intentions, Recalcitrant Text – I: Why India’s Proposal at the ITU is Troubling for Internet Freedoms & Good Intentions, Recalcitrant Text – II: What India’s ITU Proposal May Mean for Internet Governance. The Centre for Internet and Society. October 28, 2014.

  • India introduced a new draft resolution on ITU’s Role in Realising Secure Information Society at this year’s Plenipotentiary Conference in South Korea. The draft resolution aims “to equip the ITU with the mandate to prepare and recommend a “roadmap for the systematization” of allocation of naming, numbering and addressing resources, and for local routing of domestic traffic and address resolution.” However, Hariharan argues that the draft resolution also has serious human rights implications. In this article, she discusses the unanticipated and unintended impacts of the draft resolution on 1) privacy and freedom of expression, 2) multi-stakeholder approaches to Internet governance, and 3) network architecture and principles of a free and open Internet. In the follow-up article (Text II), Hariharan “explore[s] the implications of the Draft Resolution for Internet governance and multi-stakeholder approaches” due the problematic nature of the text. First, Hariharan argues that it “frames issues primarily from the perspective security.” Second, it “emphasizes the sovereign right of states to regulate and control telecom/ICT.” Finally, it also calls for “oversight over implementation and the necessity of inter-governmental involvement in planning and monitoring” which may not be consistent with multistakeholderism. Hariharan states that the resolution should be altered in order to address these human rights concerns.

Muti, Alberto, Katherine Tajer, and Larry Macfaul. Cyberspace: An Assessment of Current Threats, Real Consequences and Potential Solutions. The Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), and the Remote Control Project. October, 2014.

  • This report “seeks to examine the role of cyber attacks in remote control warfare, and considers the potential impact of cyber attacks on civilian populations and on future international stability.” The report finds that while “cyber security is becoming increasingly important to states’ national security strategies”, “the hyperbolic language used to describe the potential consequences of cyber attacks, compounded by a lack of reliable, concrete information on the real risks posed by cyber threats, has contributed to the securitisation of the debate around cyber security issues leading to possible dangers being overestimated.” The report also “highlights that state reactions to these perceived risks may have negative implications, including increased surveillance on citizens and the emergence of a ‘cyber arms race’.” Finally, the report also “observes that a number of state related cyber attacks pose serious accountability concerns due to the technical complexities of cyber attack attribution, as well as the ambiguous relationship between state and non-state actors. The lack of clearly defined legal standards and international legal cooperation also means that often attackers will not face consequences.” See the full report here.

New Report: The Cost of Connectivity 2014. Open Technology Institute, New America. October 30, 2014.

  • This report “examines broadband prices and speeds in 24 cities in the U.S. and abroad” and finds that “Americans in major cities pay higher than average prices for 25 Mbps and get slower than average speeds for $50 when compared to their global peers”. Connectivity in terms of cost compared to speed is best in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul. See the press release here, and see the data set used by the report here.

Events

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


Public Platforms and Anonymity: Real Name Policies and Freedom of Speech. Internet Policy Observatory. November 19, 2014.

  • This seminar will explore the relationship between identity, identifiability, and democratic participation as well as accountability to the law. According to the Internet Policy Observatory, “the goal of this work is to understand the connection between anonymity and political participation, the growing dependence on social networks for political speech, and the balance between a sites terms of use and promoting democratic participation.”

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