The GovLab SCAN – Issue 6

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our sixth edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at icannmsipanel@thegovlab.org. And don’t forget – you can join the Panel’s online discussion on evolving ICANN’s multistakeholder model by submitting ideas here.

This edition of the SCAN includes highlights from the past two weeks due to the Thanksgiving holiday:

  • ICANN held its ICANN48 meeting in Buenos Aires last week. The meeting focused largely on the following themes:
    • ICANN’s role in the swelling international Internet governance debate.
    • Implementing the new gTLD program.
    • How ICANN can best to take advantage of several initiatives, such as the upcoming Brazil Meeting and the 1Net initiative.
  • Government and organizations worldwide are discussing how to take advantage of upcoming multi-stakeholder and multilateral meetings; how to align domestic and internal policies with international ones; and what needs to be resolved before structural change in the Internet governance ecosystem can take place.
  • November 2013 marked the Domain Name System’s 30th birthday and Internet engineers across the globe are pointing to government surveillance and spying through encryption-breaking and arguing that strong, secure, and reliable Internet standards are the product of open-source collaboration between decentralized technologists, and that security is necessarily compromised when one actor alone (such as government) develops security standards.

ICANN

Chehadé, Fadi and Crocker, Steve. “ICANN48 Closing Interview with ICANN President and Board Chair, with Brad White.” ICANNnews Youtube Channel. November 22, 2013.

  • In a closing interview at ICANN48, ICANN President Fadi Chehadé and Board Chair Steve Crocker discuss the upcoming 2014 Brazil Meeting in Sao Paulo, the 1Net initiative, and the new gTLD program. They make the point that dialogue around new gTLDs has shifted from discussing the application process to talking about the uses, innovations and effects of new gTLDs on consumers and on markets.

Conflict in ICANN Dot-Radio Selection Process.” Radio World. November 26, 2013.

  • As ICANN draws closer to the conclusion of its top-level domain selection process, one applicant for the .radio TLD is concerned about ICANN’s policies on domain name use restrictions. For example, the .radio TLD could be designated as a “community” TLD or as an “industry” TLD, which would significantly impact how .radio could or could not be used.

Corwin, Philip. “ICANN Internet Governance Initiatives Sanctioned by Secret September Board Resolution.” Domain News.

  • The ICANN community is concerned by actions taken by the ICANN Board and President Fadi Chehadé in relation to the upcoming Brazil Meeting and 1Net initiative, which the community feels it has “neither requested nor been consulted about.” Some specific concerns include whether Brazil understands the multistakeholder model in the same way as ICANN participants and whether this meeting would distract ICANN from its role in the new gTLD program.

Harris, Frederick. “Rewiring Internet Governance: Step One is About ICANN (Part 1).” CircleID. November 26, 2013.

  • Harris argues that ICANN is an anomaly in the field of governance. This is because ICANN does not draw its authority from traditional sources like government, and, while it sets and administers Internet standards across the globe, governments only have an advisory role in ICANN, and cannot make binding decisions. Furthermore, Harris argues ICANN is not accountable to anyone because it is not overseen by anyone; he gives the example of no institutional mechanism for judicial review existing in ICANN. He proposes an “empirical and verifiable test” to compare ICANN’s present governance model with a doable real-world alternative.

Pierce, Martha. “With So Many Top Level Domains Launching, What Should Your Strategy Be?The Next Web (TNW). December 3, 2013.

  • Pierce discusses the impact of ICANN’s new gTLD program on business strategy, and suggests that organizations should register for new gTLDs as a way to do branding and for optimizing search results. She concludes that the calculus for whether or not to register a domain name has everything to do with whether it will make finding the content under that domain easier.

Internet Governance

Arora, Kim. “India for UN body to resolve internet governance issues.” The Times of India. December 5, 2013.

  • In Geneva last month at the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation (WGEC) meeting, India proposed formation of a “multi-lateral UN body to co-ordinate on internet governance issues” – a position many activists reject out of concern that an “advisory” rather than “decision-making” role may mean business and civil society input gets undervalued or ignored. Others, such as Sunil Abraham, Executive Director of the Center for Internet and Society, warns against any one single model of Internet governance whether multilateral or multistakeholder, and hopes that the Brazil Meeting next year will “take the issue of democratised internet governance forward.”

Ashton-Hart, Nick. “Learning to Love the WTO: How Trade Policy Can Save the Open Internet – and Bridge the Digital Divide.” CircleID. December 2, 2013.

  • Ashton-Hart argues that world trade policy is “the best opportunity we have to protect the fundamentally open, permissionless nature of innovation at the heart of the Internet.” This, he suggests, is because trade policy begins from the premise that regulations and impediments create unwanted friction in the trading process. Since the Internet is a trade platform relied on by the entire economy of the modern world, he argues that we should collectively agree to support its health and development.

Budde, Paul. “The Rapidly Changing Governance Environment of International Telecoms.” CircleID. November 28, 2013.

  • Budde argues that the reason the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai failed to reach a compromise is because the various technical, political and regulatory issues in international telecoms do not lend themselves to traditional problem-solving approaches. He argues that once we have unraveled key problem areas, we can begin to think about structural reforms in the telecommunications industry.

Curran, John. “A Framework for Recent Internet Governance Discussions – From Montevideo Statement to 1net.” CircleID. December 3, 2013.

  • Curran, in discussing 1net’s evolution from the Montevideo Statement, supports the idea of a neutral forum for engaging people outside of the “Internet technical community,” particularly if it increases government collaboration and disincentivizes unilateral Internet governance decision making. He goes on to predict that 1net will both aid in the promotion existing technical solutions and identify new avenues for collaboration among Internet organizations. That being said, Curran makes clear that 1net should act as a means for “connecting problems and solutions” and an “incremental step in the evolution of the existing global multistakeholder Internet cooperation,” not as a justification for major mission changes for participating organizations.

French Senate Forms Committee on Internet Governance.” Telecompaper. November 25, 2013.

  • The French Senate has named the thirty-tree members of a new cross-party committee to address the question, “What are the new roles and strategies of the European Union in the global governance of the Internet?”

Governments must demonstrate commitment to good governance, open politics, says Najib.The Malay Mail Online. December 2, 2013.

  • Speaking at the Umno International Forum, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak argued that effective governance involves the ability to respond to technological, demographic and developmental change. To that end, he suggests the Internet should be preserved as a space for free discussion; decisions should be made for the long term and foresee demographic change; and solutions must be inclusive, and not divisive. He argues that governments must be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Gross, David A., Frank, Carl R. and Lucarelli, Ethan. “2014 – A Turning Point for Governance of Internet?Who’s Who Legal. November 2013.

  • The authors argue that a slew of upcoming high-level meetings and conferences around Internet governance in the next year will have significant impact on the direction of Internet governance in the future. While balkanization of the Internet is an unlikely outcome of these meetings, the authors urge the stakeholders of the Internet to take advantage of these opportunities for collaboration.

Internet Society Board Takes Steps to Strengthen Existing Internet Governance Institutions.” Broadway World. November 25, 2013.

  • In efforts to “strengthen the multistakeholder institutions that have been key to sustaining the open and global Internet,” the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society (ISOC) have agreed to increase support for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and to support the establishment of legal structures that would facilitate financial support from other organizations.

Kennedy, John. “Irish Government Forms New Internet Safety Group to Protect Children.” Silicon Republic. November 29, 2013.

  • The Irish Communications Minister has established an Internet Content Governance Advisory Group to produce recommendations for regulatory and legislative frameworks that guide relationships between Internet Service Providers, Internet users, and the State, so that young people are protected from certain online content while retaining their rights online.

Pilkington, Ed. “Tim Berners-Lee: Spies’ cracking of encryption undermines the web.” The Guardian. December 1, 2013.

  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, warns that increased government-on-government surveillance and censorship is eroding trust on the Internet and poses a threat to online freedom. Furthermore, he argues that everyone has a responsibility to participate in Internet governance, so that organizations like the NSA exist within an environment where people are engaged and informed. To that end, he suggests the drafting of a “charter of rights for the Internet.”

The United States and Estonia: Partners in Cyber Security and Internet Freedom.” U.S. Department of State. December 3, 2013.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet have signed a U.S-Estonia Cyber Partnership Statement. The Statement affirms the U.S. and Estonia’s commitment to an “open, interoperable, secure, and reliable information and communications infrastructure” and will focus on engagement in the areas of cyber security, e-governance, and Internet freedom and governance.

Wilson, Paul. “What is ‘1net’ to Me.” CircleID. November 29, 2013.

  • Wilson lays out a chronology of recent initiatives in Internet governance, and explains how the Montevideo Statement, the upcoming Brazil Meeting, the IGF 2013 in Bali, the recent ICANN48 meeting, and the “1Net” initiative are related to each other. He suggests these initiatives could lead to convergence on a number of important topics in ways that are consistent with global multistakeholder Internet cooperation.

Internet Evolution

Castellanos, Melissa. “Google’s Project Loon Aims to Bring Internet to Remote Places like Brazil’s Amazonia.” Latin Post. December 3, 2013.

  • Brazil’s National Space Institute is looking at the feasibility of using Google’s “Project Loon” – a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space broadcasting Internet signals – to extend Internet access into remote and isolated regions in Brazil, such as Amazonia.

Dewey, Caitin. “How the Internet is Killing the World’s Languages.” The Washington Post. December 4, 2013.

  • A study by linguist András Kornai found that less than five percent of current world languages are in use online. He argues that a language that does not migrate online is very likely to become (further) endangered offline, especially as Internet use becomes increasingly ubiquitous. He suggests the Internet may directly impact the use of less-widespread languages. For example, a wiki exists in Cherokee, but you cannot use Cherokee to share the wiki on Facebook or Twitter.

Jeffers, Dave. “Encryption and Security Booming in Post-Snowden Internet, But Will it Help or Hinder?” PCWorld. December 2, 2013.

  • Since revelations of NSA’s global surveillance activities came to light, many new digital security offerings have emerged. Furthermore, many companies and organizations have made efforts to move their data and computing operations outside of the US. The author suggests, however, that an open-source approach to computer security actually results in more reliable and secure programs than any proprietary approach.

Robachevsky, Andrei. “Happy 30th Birthday, DNS!” Internet Society Blog. November 26, 2013.

  • The Domain Name System (DNS) was defined in November 1983 in two RFCs (RFC 882 and RFC 883) authored by Paul Mockapetris. In thirty years, the DNS has become globally ubiquitous and is a system upon which many application protocols rely.

Talbot, David. “Group Thinks Anonymity Should Be Baked Into the Internet Itself.” MIT Technology Review. November 26, 2013.

  • Internet engineers have asked the architects of Tor – a networking software designed for private Web browsing – to turn the Tor technology into an Internet standard. This would put the technology in a wide range of consumer devices and protect more Internet users from online surveillance.

Reports & Stats

Patry, Melody. India: Digital Freedom Under Threat? Index on Censorship. November 21, 2013.

  • This paper looks at the challenges of “digital freedom” in India. The author argues that there is a balance to be made between freedom of expression and security and privacy online. The author also argues that while India should be an active supporter of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, it is first necessary for India’s government to enact laws that protect freedom of expression domestically.

Report on ICANN48, Buenos Aires, November 14 to 18, 2013. CENTR. November 22, 2013.

  • The Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries (CENTR) has released a summary report of the ICANN48 Meeting in Buenos Aires. It identifies the main meeting topic as being Internet governance. The Report points out that many meeting sessions sought answers to the question, “what is ICANN’s role in the future of Internet governance?” – the answer to which was, “ICANN’s role is limited to kick-starting the debate.”

 

 

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