The GovLab SCAN – Issue 7

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our seventh edition of The GovLab SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at [email protected]And don’t forget – until December 31, you can share any ideas you have for modernizing how ICANN engages and operates across borders with the Panel via its online discussion here. 

This week’s highlights:
  • Global trust in the Internet and in privacy/neutrality continues to erode, raising suspicion that many are documenting in the form of new content, e.g., video.
  • Countries are getting serious about greater governmental involvement in Internet governance and conversations around “multilateralism” are emerging from the European Union to India to China.
  • ICANN delegated the first geographic region gTLD and got closer to allowing for “Brand TLDs” as an official category within the new gTLD program.
  • Eight major U.S. tech players teamed up to form the “Global Government Surveillance Reform” group to advocate for more open surveillance practices within the U.S. NSA.
  • A new U.S. Congressional report lays out some key controversies and challenges related to ICANN – from implementing the new gTLD program to addressing cybersecurity and data privacy – in an effort to provide context for continued Congressional assessment of ICANN’s relationship with the United States.
  • Concern has increased regarding the government-only-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership and its potential effects on Internet users’ freedom of speech and privacy.


Guillon, John. “The Grapes of Wrath? An Insight Into .WINE, the Most Hotly Debated TLD in Government Circles.” CircleID. December 5, 2013.

  • The .wine and .vin TLDs have long been a contentious issue in ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, which for three meetings (Beijing, Durban, and Buenos Aires) has not been able to reach consensus on the issue. Guillon suggests that these TLDs are an interesting example of the instability in the rules and requirements of the new gTLD program, and suggests that the three applicants would likely have not spent money to apply had they known about these process changes.

Malancharuvil, Kiran. “ICANN 48 in Buenos Aires: What Happened and What’s Next?CircleID, December 11, 2013.

  • Recapping ICANN48 from a brand-protection perspective, Malancharuvil discusses some of the key themes addressed at the November ICANN meeting – from the release of 34 new gTLDs to privacy and proxy service accreditation to ICANN’s role in the geopolitical Internet governance debate – and what these developments mean for brand clients.

Piscitello, David. “Managing Name Collision Occurrences.” ICANN Blog. December 6, 2013.

  • In tackling name collisions within the public DNS, Piscitello advocates for “tackling the cause not the symptoms.” He proposes that rather than blocking or delaying delegation of new strings, more efforts should be taken within organizations to promote migration “to using FQDNs” to treat the underlying cause – the use of short, unqualified names within private networks.

Van Gelder, Stephane. “Brand TLDs Become Official.” CircleID. December 8, 2013.

  • In a proposed addendum to its registry contracts, ICANN may allow “brand TLDs” to be considered a formal category in the new gTLD program. Brand TLDs would be “identical to registered trademarks” and brand TLD operators would be able to “designate one or more ICANN accredited registrars as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD.”

York, Dan. “First Geographic NewgTLD, .RUHR, Now Delegated.” CircleID, December 12, 2013.

  • This week ICANN delegated the first-ever geographic region TLD as part of the new gTLD program. The domain, .RUHR refers to the Ruhr region in Germany and will make domains available starting in March 2014.

Internet Governance

Barbière, Cécile. “EU challenges US hegemony in global internet governance.” EurActive. December 6, 2013.

  • Responding to concerns over wiretapping and surveillance originainting in the United States, European lawmakers are pushing for greater EU control of Internet governance issues. One issue in particular is the advisory role of governments in ICANN; EU lawmakers believe that governments should have the power to make decisions, and not just give advice.

Beckstrom, Rod. “The Rights of Digital Man.” Project Syndicate, December 12, 2013.

  • Beckstrom claims that today’s online world incorporates a “vastness” exceeding our expectations and raises many management challenges. This environment, he suggests, requires organizations like ICANN to become more global; questions regarding data ownership and trust to be acknowledged and addressed; and possibly the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to be phased out to prevent it from “falling under the control of an inter-governmental body.”  He also stresses that in tackling these issues, we should not forget the human dimension embodied in today’s virtual world.

Clapham, Andrew. “Global Internet in Danger of Fragmenting, Kaspersky Says.” Bloomberg Technology. December 11, 2013.

  • Eugene Kapersky (head of Russia’s largest maker of anti-virus software) argues that global news around cybercrime and online surveillance provides incentive for governments to wall-off Internet systems. Kapersky argues that the breach in trust could lead not only governments, but also businesses and other organizations, to invest less in the Internet, and may even “move critical data back to paper.”

Hammond, Teena. “Roundup: IT Pros Debate Impact of Tech Alliance for NSA Reform.” TechRepublic, December 12, 2013.

  • TechRepublic held a roundtable discussion this week to discuss the newly formed “Global Government Surveillance Reform” group made up of Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and LinkedIn. This group aims to push for changes within the U.S. NSA in light of recent spying revelations. The roundtable of IT experts discussed, in part, how to build back trust after NSA spying has negatively impacted the reputation of tech businesses.

Huang, Ryan. “China Eyes Internet Governance Collaboration with South Korea.” ZDNet. December 10, 2013.

  • China and South Korea are looking for closer collaboration in Internet governance. Lu Wei, minister of China’s State Internet Information Office, outlined four areas of cooperation, including “setting up a multilateral framework for governance and use of the Internet under United Nations scrutiny, clamping down on illegal online behavior for a healthier Internet order, and joint efforts in protecting Internet privacy.”

Joshi, Sandeep. “India to Push for Freeing Internet from U.S. Control.” The Hindu. December 7, 2013.

  • India is considering several strategies to take greater control of Internet governance, such as storing data – and potentially all data associated with domain names registered in India – inside its borders; taking a greater role in managing the Domain Name System root servers located in India; and pushing for a more determinate role of the Governmental Advisory Committee in ICANN. Joshi concludes that India would prefer to see multilateral arrangements in international Internet governance, as opposed to multistakeholder arrangements.

Mueller, Milton. “Europe at a Tipping Point: Leaked EC Document Stirs Internet Governance Controversy.” Internet Governance Project. December 6, 2013.

  • A draft of a policy statement being prepared by the European Commission on the subject of Internet governance has been leaked. Mueller argues that the statement, which addresses “Internet Governance and Policy: Europe’s role in shaping the future of the Internet,” professes rhetorical support for the multistakehodler model while really pushing for more multilateral and government-controlled structures. The document equates “multi-stakeholder” with “international,” he argues, which are at odds because “international” implies a state-based, non-multistakeholder arrangement.

National Constitution Center. “Can Tech Titans Really Tackle the NSA over the Constitution?” Constitution Daily, December 11, 2013.

  • Eight tech giants have petitioned the Obama Administration via an open letter, advocating for independent counsel at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act secret court; to move U.S. surveillance practices from closed to open; and to encourage the United States to take a leading role in the global Internet surveillance discussion to ensure that the rights of individuals do not get trumped by states.

Tan, Brian. “Why the TPP matters to the Internet and IP.” ZDNet. December 11, 2013.

  • People are concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-national trade agreement that is currently being negotiated by twelve countries, will affect intellectual property (IP) rights with negative effects on Internet users’ freedom of speech and right to privacy. Furthermore, there is a feeling that because IP affects all Internet users, the TPP should be an open negotiation, and not a secret one between governments.

Topper, Jenn. “National View: The end of the Internet as we know it looms.” South Coast Today. December 12, 2013.

  • Topper argues that net neutrality is at stake because of “loopholes” left in rules established by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which might allow ISPs to “read” content that users ask for and thereby tailor advertising or set prices for specific kinds of content. Net neutrality specifically means that the network does not know – “is neutral about” – what content is traveling along the network.

Video: Who Controls the Internet? Global Voices Advocacy. December 4, 2013.

  • Colombian NGO Fundación Karisma, with financial support from Mozilla, created a video exploring the meanings of “Internet governance – the development and application of principles, norms, policies, procedures, and programs that have contributed to the evolution of the Internet and how it is used.”

Internet Evolution

Connecting Tonga through Broadband Internet.” The World Bank. December 9, 2013.

  • The World Bank is supporting the development of an underwater fiber optic cable to provide high speed Internet to the islands that comprise Tonga. This will be an economic boon to Tongans and Tongan businesses, as well as a significant means to connect people in Tonga to a large Tongan diaspora that lives outside of the island archipelago.

Reports & Stats

Harris, Mike. “Time to Step up: The EU and Freedom of Expression.” Xindex, December 12, 2013.

  • A recent policy paper, Time to Step Up: The EU and freedom of expression, looks at the state of freedom of expression across the 28 members states within the European Union as well as how these nations defend this freedom across the globe. The paper notes that while this freedom is a core commitment of the Union’s “European Values,” some of the Union’s major states lag behind.

Kruger, Lennard G. Internet Domain Names:  Background and Policy Issues, December 5, 2013.

  •  A new U.S. Congressional report provides context for understanding continued assessment of the “appropriate federal role with respect to ICANN and the DNS,” and for examining “to what extent ICANN is positioned to ensure Internet stability and security, competition, private and bottom-up policymaking and coordination, and fair representation of the global Internet community.” The report scans existing Internet governance discussions and fora as well as existing controversies facing ICANN, e.g., implementing the new gTLD program and tackling privacy in relation to Whois.

Segal, Adam. “Cyberspace Cannot Live Without Sovereignty, Says Lu Wei.” Council on Foreign Relations. December 10, 2013.

  • Last week, a meeting between 15 member nations of the UN Group on Government Experts (GGE) came to a consensus in a report affirming that “international law, and in particular, the United Nations Charter applies to cyberspace and that there was a norm of state responsibility.” This means that states must take responsibility for cybercrimes originating within their borders and think about how territorial sovereignty – as understood in the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Armed Conflict – apply to cyberspace.

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