The GovLab SCAN – Issue 57

Samantha Grassle and Shruti Sannon also contributed to this post.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 57th 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:

  • With regards to the IANA functions stewardship transition, the IANA Coordination Group (ICG) requires that a final proposal be received by mid-January. Commentators are increasingly of the opinion that this leaves too little time to complete a September 2015 transition, especially because progress on the ICANN accountability process (on whose outputs the IANA transition depends) is expected to take longer.


Corwin, Philip S. Haste Makes Waste: Comments on ICANN CWG IANA Transition Proposal Indicate Serious Process Problems. CircleID. January 5, 2014.

  • Corwin discusses the IANA functions stewardship transition as well as the related ICANN accountability process, arguing that “getting this transition done right is far more important than getting it done fast and wrong.” Corwin observes that “there is deep dissatisfaction with the deadlines being imposed on [the IANA transition] process, the lack of time for adequate community review and input, and its failure to be meaningfully coordinated with the interrelated Accountability work stream.” Corwin gives an overview of the public reactions to the current draft transition proposal of the Cross Community Working Group (CWG) on Naming Related Functions, and argues that “the goal of a September 2015 IANA transition seems increasingly unrealistic when confronted with the complexity of the issues involved and the time required for responsibly addressing them in a coherent and coordinated fashion. The best way to assure an IANA transition at the earliest feasible date consistent with the security and stability of the DNS and greater organizational accountability for ICANN is to lift the unrealistic deadlines imposed on the CWG by the ICG [IANA Coordination Group], and allow the Accountability work stream to catch up with and proceed in tandem with this Transition component.”

Gross, Robin. Civil Society Cautions Against ICANN Giving Governments Veto Over Geographic Domain Names. CircleID. January 6, 2014.

  • A group of civil society organizations and individuals have submitted a joint statement cautioning “against the adoption of the GAC [Governmental Advisory Committee] proposal that would give governments veto power on domains that use ‘geographic names’.” The GAC specifically “proposes that ‘geographic names should not be allowed to be registered as gTLDs, unless requested by the relevant communities where they belong or after a specific authorization given by the government or community to the applicant’.” According to the civil society statement, “the proposal sets a dangerous precedent for building government censorship into the DNS.”

IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group Issues Proposal Assembly and Finalization Process and Updated Transition Process Timeline. January 7, 2014.

  • The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) has “announced its transition proposal Assembly and Finalization Process.” This document “explains the process that the ICG will follow for assembly and finalization of the IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal. It includes information about the ICANN Board’s role in conveying the final transition proposal to NTIA.” The ICG “has also issued an update to its previously published process timeline.”

Wright, Joseph. IANA Transition, Accountability Highlight Top 15 Policy Points to Watch at ICANN in 2015. Bloomberg BNA. January 8, 2014.

  • According to Wright, “The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers had a big year in 2014, as the announcement of a potential Internet Assigned Numbers Authority transfer of oversight from the U.S. to the global multistakeholder community dominated headlines at the same time the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program passed from the application and evaluation phases to the final contention resolution stage.” Wright discusses “the top 15 policy development areas to watch at ICANN in 2015”, including: the IANA transition, ICANN accountability, ICANN’s internal relations, WHOIS, proxy service accreditation, category 1 safeguards for gTLDs (generic top-level domains), outsanding TLD controversies, United States jurisdiction, IGO/INGO (international governmental organizations/international non-governmental organizations) curative rights, geographic names protection in the gTLD program, ICANN meeting structure changes, ICANN’s underserved regions, the wind-down of the first round of new gTLDs, contractual compliance, and new gTLD auction proceeds.

Internet Governance

Bamford, James, and De Chant, Tim. Exclusive: Edward Snowden on Cyber Warfare. PBS NOVAnext. January 8, 2014.

  • “Last June, journalist James Bamford, who is working with NOVA on a new film about cyber warfare that will air in 2015, sat down with Snowden in a Moscow hotel room for a lengthy interview.” In this unedited transcript of their interview, “Snowden sheds light on the surprising frequency with which cyber attacks occur, their potential for destruction, and what, exactly, he believes is at stake as governments and rogue elements rush to exploit weaknesses found on the internet, one of the most complex systems ever built by humans.”

Blue, Violet. India lifts block on Vimeo; Pastebin, Internet Archive, others still banned. ZDNet. January 2, 2015.

  • Earlier this year, the Indian government placed a widespread ban on 32 Internet sites alleged to host terrorist content, affecting nearly 300 million citizens. The block has been lifted from 4 websites, including Vimeo, but continues to apply for the remaining sites including Pastelbin, Weebly, and Internet Archive. Citizens have taken to Twitter and Reddit to express outrage over the blocks and to discuss how to get around them, and Anonymous OpIndia has threatened to take action against the Indian government if the blocks are not lifted.

Brodkin, Jon. Only 25Mbps and up will qualify as broadband under new FCC definition. Arstechnica. January 7, 2015.

  • Tom Wheeler, the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), has proposed to change the definition of broadband in terms of download and upload speeds, a definition that was last changed in 2010. The proposed definitions change download speeds from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and upstream from 1Mbps to 3Mbps. This proposal follows the FCC’s latest report, which has found that “broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, especially in rural areas, on Tribal lands, and in US Territories.” While Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not required to provide speeds according the FCC’s definition, any change to definition will affect how the FCC reports on whether Americans are being adequately served by ISPs.

Crawford, Susan. Zero for Conduct. Medium. January 7, 2015.

  • In this article, Crawford discusses the practice of “zero rating”, where mobile carriers provide free access to certain popular services. Thus, these services can be accessed by users as exempt from mobile data caps, and in some cases users may not require a mobile data plan at all. Crawford argues that this practice is “anti-competitive, patronizing, and counter-productive.” By making some kinds of traffic exempt from data caps and allowing others, zero-rating is “discrimination on the basis of the nature of the traffic itself, being carried out by the service provider — not by the user.” Moreover, the practice is anti-competitive; services that require users to pay data charges will face unfair challenges in countries with zero rating. Finally, Crawford states that zero rating is a human rights issue, as “saying walled gardens are ‘good enough’ for poorer people is clearly destructive” and the digital divide must be addressed by providing everyone with access to the full Internet.

Edgar, Timothy H. Offshoring Data Won’t Protect It From The NSA. TechCrunch. January 2, 2015.

  • Edgar discusses why shifting user data outside the United States in order to combat surveillance is a poor strategy. The National Security Association’s collection of data overseas is governed by an executive order rather than a law, with “no court oversight and far less intensive review.” Even if the NSA is unable to attain this data, it may enlist the help of agencies in other countries where it has a historical relationship, including United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Data stored overseas is remains vulnerable to other surveillance agencies from countries such as China or Russia. Edgar argues that “Far more important than where data is held is how it is secured” and outlines some of the ways technology companies are offering strong encryption methods to ensure the security of data.

Grigsby, Alex. The Top Five Cyber Policy Developments of 2014: The IANA Transition. Council on Foreign Relations. January 6, 2014.

  • Grigsby discusses the IANA functions stewardship transition as “one of the biggest cyber policy developments of the year.” However, Grigsby notes that “it doesn’t look like there will be a transition proposal submitted to the U.S. government’s consideration in time to meet a September 2015 deadline” and that “at the deadline, the contract with ICANN expires and it is possible that the United States will extend for a short time to allow the community to fully develop its proposal.” “Complicating things further”, Grigsby points out that “Congress has entered the fray,” and that “Congressional involvement in the process could slow the transition and irritate those which were hoping the transfer would happen sooner rather than later.”

Kleinwächter, Wolfgang. Internet Governance Outlook 2015: Two Processes, Many Venues, Four Baskets. CircleID. January 3, 2014.

  • According to Kleinwächter, “whether we see the next stumbling step forward on the long march through the Internet Governance Ecosystem depends to a high degree on the outcomes of two different, but interrelated processes which will overshadow Internet discussion in 2015”: “how the so-called IANA functions are transferred to an accountable multistakeholder mechanism without compromising the security and stability of the Internet”, and “how the multistakeholder governance approach is further enhanced to find practical solutions for the growing number of political, economic, social, cultural and legal Internet problems, inter alia, renewing the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).” Kleinwächter outlines the “numerous venues where Internet Governance issues will be discussed”, and then proposes “an Internet Governance Agenda 2025” with “four baskets” ( they are: cybersecurity, cybereconomy, human rights, and technology). Kleinwächter concludes by observing that the NETmundial Initiative could represent a “unique chance to stabilize the still fragile multistakeholder Internet Governance processes by demonstrating that a collaborative approach on an equal footing would enable the various Internet constituencies to bring solutions to problems via concrete projects on a case by case basis.”

Meyer, David. Charlie Hebdo murders are no excuse for killing online freedom. GigaOm. January 8, 2015.

  • Meyer outlines two types of responses to the terror attack at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France: those who have stood by the importance of freedom of expression, and those who have stated that certain civil liberties must be forsaken for security. Meyer argues that freedom of expression is enshrined as an essential civil liberty in much of the democratic world, as well as the right to privacy. Moreover, he argues, mass surveillance is “a tool for chilling free speech, of dissuading people from speaking their minds,” and has not been shown to work.

Morozov, Evgeny. Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom – China, Russia, or the US? The Guardian. January 3, 2014.

  • Morozov observes that “one’s man internet freedom is another man’s internet imperialism” and that although “Russia and China are not known for their commitment to freedoms of expression and assembly” and “it is tempting to view their quest for information sovereignty as yet another stab at censorship and control,” “Russia, China and Brazil are simply responding to the extremely aggressive tactics adopted by none other than the US”, and that efforts to move away from a “neutral, cosmopolitan internet” are do not represent efforts at “Balkanisation at all, merely de-Americanisation.” Morozov discusses examples of U.S. policies of information sovereignty and concludes that “whatever motivates the desire of Russia and China to exert more control over their digital properties – and only the naive would believe that they are not motivated by concerns over domestic unrest – their actions are proportional to the aggressive efforts of Washington to exploit the fact that so much of the world’s communications infrastructure is run by Silicon Valley.”

Paul, Kari. What Australia’s ‘Melting Internet’ Tells Us About the Future of Data Centers. Vice. January 7, 2015.

  • iiNet, Australia’s second-largest Internet service provider, was forced to shut down some of its servers this week due to heatwave of temperatures up to 111 degrees Fahrenheit in which the air-conditioning systems at their Perth data centre failed. The Internet’s infrastructural level is vulnerable to a range of environmental issues, and will have to evolve to withstand these issues. Organizations are making physical and operational changes in response to environmental stresses, such as the relocation of servers following the flooding of Hurricane Sandy. Data centers are being designed to function in temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as increasingly reliant on cloud exchange as a way of bolstering against natural disasters.

Pohle, Julia. Multistakeholderism unmasked: How the NetMundial Initiative shifts battlegrounds in internet governance. Global Policy Journal. January 5, 2014.

  • Pohle observers that the NETmundial Initiative “has stirred an intense debate among civil society groups about the limits of multistakeholder governance – a debate which could actually help to overcome the gridlocked controversy between multistakeholder and intergovernmental governance models for the internet.” Pohle goes on to discuss the main concerns of civil society and the technical community with regards to the Initiative (they are: the process of the Initiative’s creation; the objectives of the Initiative; and the interests behind the Initiative). Pohle concludes by discussing the long-held dichotomy between intergovernmental and multistakeholder approaches to Internet governance, pointing out that the NETmundial Initiative reveals “the inherent contradictions of stakeholders usually united by their opposition to an intergovernmental approach to internet governance” and “fosters a new but much needed discussion on power mechanisms and could eventually shed light on the real interests of those proponents of the multistakeholder approach who seem eager to maintain the unbalanced representation of voices and concerns in internet governance.”

Schmidt, Michael S., Nicole Perlroth, and Matthew Goldstein. F.B.I. Says Little Doubt North Korea Hit Sony. The New York Times. January 7, 2014.

  • “The F.B.I.’s director, James B. Comey, said on Wednesday that the United States had concluded that North Korea was behind the destructive attacks on Sony Pictures partly because the hackers failed to mask their location when they broke into the company’s servers.” According to the authors, “the Sony breach has become a focal point for the F.B.I. and other officials because it was one of the rare attacks on a big corporation that the United States has attributed to a foreign government.” The article concludes by noting that there remains skepticism within the cybersecurity community regarding whether North Korea was behind the attacks, and that this is largely because the U.S. government did not provide evidence in the investigation to the public from the beginning, as well as because of “government mistrust by the cybersecurity community, particularly after the revelations by Mr. Snowden.”

Shears, Matthew. Protect the Internet: Support the IANA Transition. Center for Democracy and Technology. January 7, 2014.

  • Shears observes that “the IANA transition is a key element in the evolution of the global Internet and the current multistakeholder approach to Internet governance” and notes that “there are two major tasks at hand: developing a suitable replacement for the US government’s oversight of the IANA functions, and strengthening the overall accountability of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit organization that has been the institutional home of the IANA functions to date.” Shears argues that “getting the details right is essential to a successful transition, and accomplishing this through a bottom-up, participatory process will reinforce the message articulated by governments, business, and civil society that Internet governance should be led by the global multistakeholder community, and not vulnerable to manipulation by governments or other stakeholders.”

Papers and Reports

Interconnection and Traffic Exchange on the Internet. Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group. November, 2014.

  • This report “provides a reference on the subject of Internet interconnection, and presents a detailed review on how networks connect, the development and changes in connection models, motivations for connection, how networks manage traffic between each other and some of the challenges that arise as networks evolve.”

Verhulst, Stefaan. Beth S. Novek, Jillian Raines, and Anthony Declercq. Innovations in Global Governance: Toward a Distributed Internet Governance EcosystemGlobal Commission on Internet Governance. December 2014.


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