The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 25

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on Internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue 25, May 9, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • ICANN has launched two interrelated processes which are significant not only for ICANN but for the entire Internet governance ecosystem and the development of the Internet –one which will examine ICANN’s accountability structures, and the other which is to develop a proposal for transitioning stewardship of the IANA functions to the “global multistakeholder community”. These processes are both open for input from the public and are expected to be very important with regards to ICANN’s globalization as well as to the globalization of Internet governance structures and processes more broadly.
  • The White House last week published two reports concerning big data. Both are significant for raising privacy protections concerns around how data is collected, stored, and used, and for adding further momentum to larger discussions of online freedom in the U.S. and elsewhere.
  • Following the outcome document –the Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo—of the NETmundial meeting, many Internet governance actors are in the process of developing more concrete plans for action, especially with regards to a “roadmap for the future of Internet governance”. A significant project is one which seeks to provide more secure and lasting funding for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

ICANN

Crocker, Steve. ICANN’s Accountability in the Wake of the IANA Functions Stewardship Transition. ICANN Blog. May 6, 2014.

  • ICANN has launched a “process on ICANN’s overall accountability” which is to look at “whether and how ICANN’s broader accountability mechanisms should be strengthened to address the absence of its historical contractual relationship to the U.S. Government”. According to Dr. Crocker, Chairman of the Board of ICANN, ICANN “must be accountable to the global community beyond [its] role as the administrator of the IANA functions,” and, “enhancing ICANN’s accountability is key to the success of the IANA functions stewardship transition process”. The public comment period is open until May 27th here.

Naimark, Mark. In the Fight over .gay and .lgbt, the Cyberpowers That Be Are Redefining Our Community.Slate. May 7, 2014.

  • Naimark describes the various and sometimes competing processes behind the delegation of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs) in ICANN’s new TLD program. There are four applicants for .gay, of which one is applying as a “community” applicant (as opposed to a commercial applicant) –meaning that it must successfully show that a “gay community” exists and that it can represent that community’s interests. If it can, it automatically becomes the owner of .gay; if it fails, the owner of .gay will be determined through auction. Only one application exists for .lgbt, filed commercially by Afilias, a large registry operator and domain name services provider.

Van Gelder, Stéphane. IANA Transition Set to Disrupt ICANN Operations. CircleID. April 28, 2014.

  • Van Gelder observes that ICANN’s two “transition tracks” –the IANA functions stewardship transition and the ICANN accountability transition—can be worrying if they mean that ICANN is taking “its eye off its primary work streams of managing the Internet’s domain name and IP address systems, including the all-important new gTLD program currently being rolled out”. He points, for example, to a delay in the publication of ICANN’s FY15 Operating Plan and Budget, attributed to the impact of the IANA transition on the ICANN budget process.

Internet Governance

Abramovay, Pedro. Brazil’s Statute of Virtual Liberty. Policy Innovations. May 6, 2014.

  • Ambramovay argues that while the world’s faith in online freedom has been severely tested in the last year –with revelations about government surveillance and discoveries of security flaws such as the “Heartbleed” bug—there are many important efforts underway seeking to protect Internet freedom. In particular, he points to Brazil’s Marco Civil da Internet, a bill that “seeks to safeguard online freedom of expression and limit government collection and usage of Internet users’ metadata” and “ensures ‘net neutrality’”. Most significantly, the bill was developed in a way that was open to the public, which Abramovay argues is “a pioneering example of ‘wiki-democracy’”.

Chehadé, Fadi. Turning Talk Into Action After NETmundial. ICANN Blog. May 1, 2014.

  • Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, asks how the outcomes of the NETmundial meeting –the Internet governance principles and roadmap published in the outcome document, the “Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo”—can be turned into action. Chehadé argues that the focus of this action should be on “the mechanisms and processes we need to strengthen or create to manage this valuable resource for the greater good, and on how we can be even more inclusive”.In particular, Chehadé points to the need to “enable innovative and practical mechanisms to map Internet Governance issues to existing solutions”, “support the establishment of national Internet governance structures”, and empowering participants to actively engage the Internet governance ecosystem by creating “effective training, tools, and ready access to expertise”.

Corwin, Philip S. NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement Concludes Act One of 2014 Internet Governance Trifecta. CircleID. May 3, 2014.

  • Corwin points to the significance of NETmundial as a step in the historical development of Internet governance, though at several points he fears that the step may be in a worrisome direction. In particular, Corwin argues that, “it is quite likely that NETmundial has set the stage for greater governmental involvement in [Internet governance] issues”. Corwin also argues that ICANN should “slow down and step back” in debates and processes regarding the future of Internet governance, and suggests ICANN should give the “broader stakeholder community” the time to deliberate issues in depth. Two other major events that will impact the future course of Internet governance this year are the Internet Governance Forum meeting in Istanbul, Turkey in September and the International Telecommunications meeting in Busan, Korea in October.

Gustin, Sam. Net Neutrality: FCC Boss Smacked by Tech Giants, Internal Dissent. Time.com. May 7, 2014.

  • More than 100 Internet companies sent FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler a letter this week in protest of the FCC’s proposed new net neutrality rules. Additionally, in anticipation of next week’s FCC vote to approve the notice of proposed rulemaking (which would release the proposed rules to the public for comment), some FCC commissioners have also expressed opposition for the Chairman’s new rules, which would allow for service providers to strike “paid prioritization” deals with content providers so long as they are commercially reasonable.

Holland, Byron. NETmundial and the IGF: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. CircleID. May 6, 2014.

  • Holland argues that “the Internet governance ecosystem has moved from discussions of ‘how it works’ to ‘how it’s used’” and that actors such as ICANN in the Internet governance ecosystem do not have the capacity or the mandate to deal with such issues. According to Holland, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is much more able than ICANN to provide a “venue to discuss issues of how the Internet is used — public policy issues — in an open, multi-stakeholder and inviting forum”. Thus Holland urges organizations supporting IGF to help provide “multi-year financial support for this important entity”.

Logan, Sarah. Bringing the State Back In, Kind Of: National and Not-so National Search Engines. CGCS Media Wire. April 30, 2014.

  • Logan notes that there are complex relationships between states and Internet companies which are sometimes difficult to describe and looks at search engines in different countries for examples of these relationships. Logan points to Russia’s Yandex search engine, which Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested failed because it did not “act in the interests of the Russian state”. Similarly, China and other states including Turkey, Iran, and Kazakhstan have either raised the possibility or are actively developing national search engines. Logan argues that these strategies are examples of “national information shaping technologies”, a policy area in which there is little clarity, yet significantly influences how citizens –and companies—consume and produce information.

Lohr, Steve. White House Tech Advisers: Online Privacy Is a ‘Market Failure’. The New York Times Bits Blog. May 5, 2014.

  • The White House’s release of two reports last week on big data and privacy have some privacy groups concerned over the fact the latter report recommends privacy policy should focus on “the use of data” rather than “the collection of data,” and because they feel allowing companies to collect all sorts of data on consumers “opens the door to abuses like discriminating against the poor, older people or minorities, or deploying marketing tactics that exploit them.” Lohr, however, commends the privacy report, particularly the recommendations to shift the burden of responsibility of privacy from the consumer to the commercial entity given that the existing framework of “[n]otice and consent creates a nonlevel playing field in the implicit privacy negotiation between provider and user.” The privacy report also notes that technology, though likely helpful in attempts to change the market, cannot be the sole answer without supporting rules and regulations.

Moy, Laura. White House Highlights Need to Update Privacy Protections in Modern Communications Environment. Public Knowledge. May 2, 2014.

  • This week the White House released a report on big data and its use by the U.S. government titled “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values”. The report points out the promise of big data for policymakers to solve problems, but also highlights privacy concerns raised by big data, and argues that there are insufficient privacy protections around the use of big data. Moy argues that the report is significant as a “step toward bringing outdated privacy protections up to date with rapidly changing technology”.

Riley, Chris. Protecting Net Neutrality and the Open Internet. Mozilla Blog. May 6, 2014.

  • In response to concerns regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed plans to allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge content providers for prioritized Internet access, Mozilla has created a petition that “would give the FCC ample ability to adopt and enforce meaningful net neutrality”. The petition asks that the FCC recognize two Internet access services: local delivery connecting end-users to content providers, and remote delivery connecting content providers to each end-user. The Mozilla petition then asks “the FCC to designate remote delivery services as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act”. Mozilla’s wiki on the issue is here.

Sasso, Brendan. Obama Administration Opposes Bill to Delay Transfer of Internet Powers. National Journal. May 6, 2014.

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce sent the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce a letter this week describing the U.S. Administration’s opposition to the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act, which is intended to delay the transition of NTIA oversight over the IANA functions performed by ICANN. In particular the Administration points out that “the bill interferes with NTIA’s 16-year policy to privatize the Domain Name System”; “the bill incorrectly suggests that NTIA has a ‘responsibility’ to manage the DNS; and “the bill is at odds with the multistakeholder model”.

Solomonoff, David. Net Governance Is A Game – Play It To Win. Davrola Report. May 1, 2014,

  • Solomonoff, President of the New York Chapter of the Internet Society, describes the need for and development of an online game to promote social activism, specifically with regards to issues involving Internet governance and Internet freedom. A big obstacle to participatory Internet governance is that very few Internet users know that the Internet is “governed or managed at all” –hence Solomonoff intends to mofidy reACTor to facilitate “news engagement, online activism and mobile gaming” for Internet activism.

Papers and Reports

Call for Proposals. Internet Policy Observatory. May, 2014.

  • The Internet Policy Observatory (IPO) has posted a call for research proposals “by individuals and institutions particularly interested in internet policy issues”. The IPO will pay particular attention to “proposals that look beyond the policies and narratives of European and North American actors to examine how ‘emerging’ actors and countries are influencing the debate”. Proposals may focus on several themes, including the conditions that influence the development of the Internet; how the Internet is used to reach certain policy objectives; the export of “normative frameworks” about the Internet from country to country, and user perceptions of key aspects of Internet policy. The deadline for submitting proposals is May 30, 2014.

ITU releases 2014 ICT figures. International Telecommunications Union. May 5, 2014.

  • The ITU released a new report this week -“The World In 2014: ICT Facts and Figures”— highlighting “the latest global ICT facts and trends and includes figures on mobile-cellular subscriptions, Internet use, trends of fixed and mobile broadband services, home ICT access, and more”. The report indicates that, “by end 2014, there will be almost 3 billion Internet users, two-thirds of them coming from the developing world, and that the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally”.

Lim, Hae-in et al. Netizen Report: China Slaps Tech Giant Over Porn (and Politics). Global Voices Advocacy. May 7, 2014.

  • This Netizen Report (published weekly) by Global Voices Advocacy provides “an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.” In this week’s highlights: in China, the government has leveraged punishments against Sina Weibo, China’s largest microblogging platform, accusing Sina of distributing pornographic content; the Malaysian government is preventing some news websites from printing newspapers because “too many newspapers could confuse people”; digital activists of the grassroots movement “More and Better Internet for Bolivia” demonstrated on the streets dressed as snails to represent slow Internet speeds.

Maurer, Tim, and Morgus, Robert. Tipping the Scale: An Analysis of Global Swing States in the Internet Governance Debate. Center for International Governance Innovation. May 5, 2014.

  • This study by the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) focuses on the role of “swing states” in global Internet governance debates. It identifies a “core group” of 30 countries “based on their voting behaviour at the WCIT, their various memberships and a range of relevant indicators”. According to this study, a swing state is “a state whose mixed political orientation gives it a greater impact than its population or economic output might warrant and that has the resources that enable it to decisively influence the trajectory of an international process”.

Events

May 25 – June 6, 2014: Africa Internet Summit 2014, Djibouti.

  • The second annual Africa Internet Summit will take place in Djibouti from May 25 to June 6, 2014. The Summit aims to bring the AFrian ICT industry operators and technical community together to discuss key Internet-related development issues in Africa. This year the Summit’s theme is “Beyond connection: Internetworking for African Development”.

September 8 – 10, 2014: Geneva Internet Conference – Internet Governance at a Crossroads. Geneva Internet Platform.

  • The Geneva Internet Conference “will address critical issues, gaps, and future developments in Internet governance (IG) and digital politics”. The conference has as objectives to: “provide concrete outputs on post-NETmundial perspectives and future of IG”; “promote evidence-based approach in the global policy making with a directed agenda”; “articulate the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders”; and “discover how the existing models support various functions in the IG process”.

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