The GovLab SCAN – Issue 62

Samantha Grassle also contributed to this post.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 62nd 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 52nd Public Meeting took place this week in Singapore; you can read more details on the sessions and archival recordings here
  • Several companies including Symantec, Intel Security and Fortinet as well as Sony and Microsoft’s video game divisions have agreed to share customer data with the US Government for purposes of national security
  • A recent report on Internet freedom in Russia found that “the number of cases where citizens’ Internet freedom was limited in the country increased 1.5-fold in 2014.” Russia’s lower house of Parliament has also proposed further restrictions; according to Russian MP Leonid Levin,“access to anonymization and circumvention tools such as TOR, VPNs and even web proxies, needs to be restricted.”


Corwin, Philip S. U.S. Senate Declares “Internet Governance Awareness Week” Coinciding with ICANN 52 Singapore. CircleID. February 8, 2015.

  • On February 5th, the U.S. Senate passed a non-binding bipartisan resolution that declared February 8th-February 14th, “Internet Governance Awareness Week.” The resolution coincided with the ICANN 52 meeting in Singapore. The resolution text expresses support for a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, but notably ends with the following provision: “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as congressional approval of any proposal by ICANN to transition the stewardship of the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to the global multistakeholder community.” The author argues that this language indicates that the Senate is in no way committed to following any “transition and accountability package that the ICANN community produces” and “reserves its rights as a co-equal branch of government to review and evaluate the plan designed by the ICANN community.”

Ermert, Monica. Political Windows Open And Close, Says ICANN President; Seeks End of Prep For IANA Transition. Intellectual Property Watch. February 2, 2015.

  • In this article, Ermert covers the opening day if ICANN 52 in Singapore and focuses on Ira Magaziner’s comments during the welcoming ceremony. Magaziner gave four recommendations for how the community can help the IANA transition and the future of ICANN. These included focusing on narrow, technical tasks, improving participation of developing countries, staying true to true bottom up governing principles, and avoiding building a stockpile of money which would make the organization a target.

Internet Governance

Bennett, Richard. American broadband is better than the FCC says. February 12, 2015.

  • In this article, Bennett questions the accuracy of the FCC’s Broadband Progress Report. The author cites two conflicting broadband rankings, one that the FCC uses that puts the US in 25th place, and another ranking called Akamai that puts the US at 12th place. Bennett suggests that these reports “ put the FCC in a conflict of interest” because “an agency which finds that the US is not doing well in the policy area it governs can implement enforcement actions that impact the agency’s power and budget.”

Geuss, Megan. England and Wales make posting “revenge porn” illegal. Arstechnica. February 12, 2015.

  • This week, a bill banning “revenge porn” was passed in England and Wales and will come into effect later this year. In the bill, revenge porn “is defined as photos or films of people who have not consented to the distribution of the image or film and who are ‘engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public.’” Japan and the US state of California currently ban revenge porn, and Scotland and Northern Ireland are considering similar laws. Opponents of such laws argue that “creating a criminal distinction for alleged revenge porn posters limits free speech unnecessarily.”

Kleinwächter, Wolfgang. NETmundial Initiative Taking Positive Steps Forward. CircleID.  February 10, 2015.

  • According to Kleinwächter, the NETmundial Initiative (NMI)  is a productive next step towards the goal of “sharing policy development and decisionmaking” in Internet governance. Kleinwächter, who was recently appointed as Special Ambassador of the NETmundial Initiative, warns that in order to be successful it is critical that NMI stays true to the elements of the Sao Paulo conference, and continue to maintain an open, transparent, inclusive and bottom-up process that includes a diverse set of stakeholders. To this end, the author encourages readers to fill out the questionnaire that was recently published on the NETmundial website, which is an “open invitation to join the discussion of how the NMI could and should work to enrich the global Internet Governance world.”

Koebler, Jason. Sony, Microsoft and Others Agree to Share Customer Data with US Government. Vice. February 13, 2015.

  • The Obama administration is taking steps to ensure that companies share information with the federal government. This week, President Obama “issued a cybersecurity executive order that creates a new framework for ‘expanded information sharing designed to help companies work together, and work with the federal government, to quickly identify and protect against cyber threats.’” Some companies have already agreed to full information sharing, including Symantec, Intel Security and Fortinet, and the Entertainment Software Association, which represents Sony and Microsoft’s video game divisions. Other companies such as Apple, Intel, and Bank of America have “signed up to use a new cybersecurity framework that could facilitate future information sharing.” An important distinction between this executive order and the CISPA cybersecurity bill is that this order requires information to be shared with the Department of Homeland Security, a civilian organization, rather than the National Security Agency, a military organization.

Kravets, David. Proposed bill limits reach of US search warrants on overseas servers. Arstechnica. February 12, 2015.

  • According to the Obama administration, companies operating in the United States must comply with US search warrants for data that is stored on overseas servers. The new bill, Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad, “would require companies based in the US to turn over data stored on its overseas servers only if the warrant targets a “US person.” The legislation does not alter the law requiring US industry—when presented with a warrant—to hand over data stored on US servers no matter the target’s nationality.” The bill comes in response to the federal court ruling in July that Microsoft hand over emails stored on servers in Ireland to the Department of Justice to aid an investigation.

Lokot, Tetyana. In Putin’s Russia, a Retweet Can Lead to a Jail Term. Global Voices. February 12, 2015.

  • Lokot highlights the increasing restrictions to citizens’ Internet freedom in Russia. According to a report from the Association of Internet users, over the past year ”punishment for extremism-related crimes has become more severe” and Russian authorities’ increased restrictions and punishments for certain kinds of online expression by 1.5 fold. The article concludes with an overview “of the more resonant cases of Russian Internet users detained, investigated, and prosecuted for republishing content online.”

Maxwell, Andy. VPN and Tor Ban Looming On The Horizon For Russia. Torrent Freak. February 12, 2015.

  • The author highlights recent proposals from the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, to further limit access to “banned” content. The Russian MP Leonid Levin, deputy head of the Duma Committee on information politics, argued that “access to anonymization and circumvention tools such as TOR, VPNs and even web proxies, needs to be restricted.”  To support this, Levin said that a regulatory framework was needed to “restrict citizens’ access to blocked content, stop people transferring content anonymously, and also help to reduce the commercial distribution of malware.” Recent figures indicate that approximately 150,000 Russian citizens use the TOR network and up to 25% use some kind of VPN.

Mirani, Leo. Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet. Quartz. February 9, 2015.

  • Mirani starts this article with the surprising fact that recent surveys indicate a significant percentage of individuals in some African and Asian countries believe that they actively use Facebook but not the Internet. To explore this further, Quartz commissioned a survey in Indonesia and Nigeria from Geopoll, and found evidence to support that 11% of Indonesian Facebook users and 9% of Nigerian Facebook users also believed that they do not use the Internet. This is in large part due to zero rating practices, where access to Facebook is given at little to no cost on certain service plans, while traditional data plans are more expensive. As a result we are starting to see services “move away from the open web and to Facebook.” The author suggests that this has serious implications and begs the question, “what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?”

Olukotun, Deji. The World Is Watching: 31 Rights Groups from 21 Countries Urge the FCC to Protect Net Neutrality. Access. February 10, 2015.

  • Acknowledging that U.S policies on the Internet have global implications, 31 digital rights groups from 21 countries urged the Federal Communications Commission to “pass strong Net Neutrality rules that would reclassify broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act.” The letter was sent out on February 10, 2014.

Sanger, David E. Obama Administration Plans to Open Center to Fight Cyberattacks. The New York Times. February 11, 2015.

  • This week, President Obama’s homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco, announced the administration’s plans to open “a new center that would quickly assess and deter cyberattacks on the United States.” The development of the center was prompted by a significant increase in politically motivated attacks like the recent Sony hack, which according to officials came from North Korea. The new center would “essentially put greater control of assessments into the hands of the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr.”

Sterling, Toby and Thomas Escritt. Dutch government website outage caused by cyber attack. Reuters. February 11, 2015.

  • On Tuesday, cyber attackers shut down the Dutch government’s main websites for more than seven hours. While phones and emergency communication channels remained online,  the sites that “provide information to the public and the media” were affected by the outage. Officials are still investigating the root of the attack with help from the National Centre for Cyber Security.

Papers and Reports

Faris, Rob, Roberts, Hal, Etling, Bruce, Othman, Dalia, and Benkler, Yochai. Score Another One for the Internet? The Role of the Networked Public Sphere in the U.S. Net Neutrality Policy Debate. The Berkman Center for Internet and Society. February 10, 2015.

  • In this study, researchers examined the public debate on net neutrality in the United States by compiling, mapping, and analyzing “over 16,000 stories published on net neutrality, augmented by data from Twitter,, and Google Trends.” They concluded “that a diverse set of actors working in conjunction through the networked public sphere played a central, arguably decisive, role in turning around the Federal Communications Commission policy on net neutrality.”

Wallsten, Scott. Administrative Procedures, Bureaucracy, and Transparency: Why Does the FCC Vote on Secret Texts? Tech Policy Institute. February 2015.

  • In this report, Wallsten examines the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “unique custom of voting on orders not yet released to the public, and granting ‘editorial privileges’ after approval,” a method that he argues “raises obvious transparency concerns.” Through an empirical analysis of FCC voting and publication delays, Wallsten’s findings include that “delays in publication increased radically in the 1970s, when previously the mean delay between vote and publication was about one day and the median delay was zero days. While it has fallen since then, delays still remain the norm, especially for major orders” and “Commissioners are most likely to vote yes on orders covering public safety than any other topic, while orders that cover spectrum have significantly longer publication delays.”

The Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten Final Report. Google Advisory Council. February 06, 2015.

  • This final report by the Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten law in the European Union summarizes the Council’s advice to Google “on performing the balancing act between an individual’s right to privacy and the public’s interest in access to information.” The report includes an overview of the ruling, the nature of the rights at issue, criteria for assessing delisting requests, and procedural elements.


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

[Webinar] IANA Stewardship Transition Process Update. Internet Society. February 25, 2015.

  • In this webinar, “key participants in the process to develop a proposal for transitioning to the global multistakeholder community stewardship of the IANA functions for Internet domain names, numbers, and protocol parameters will provide an update on the process and progress so far during a webinar open to everyone.”

[Online Event] White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection. White House. February 13, 2015.

  • At the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University, President Obama will deliver remarks to “help shape public and private sector efforts to protect American consumers and companies from growing threats to consumers and commercial networks. The Summit brings together major stakeholders on consumer financial protection issues to discuss how all members of our financial system can work together to further protect American consumers and their financial data, now and in the future.”


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