The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 27

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  27, May 23, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the USA Freedom Act, intended to reform government surveillance practices –especially the practice of bulk collection of phone records. However, technology companies and advocacy groups originally in support of the bill have retracted their support because of changes to the bill’s language that could maintain bulk data collection practices.
  • The Global Panel on Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms has published its final report, titled “Towards a Collaborative, Decentralized Internet Governance Ecosystem”. The report is presented “to the global community in order to inform it of their actions and the evolution of a collaborative, decentralized Internet governance system that has at its core a unified Internet that is unfragmented, interconnected, interoperable, secure, stable, resilient, sustainable, and trust building”.
  • The Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG) has released its first paper authored by Joseph S. Nye titled “The Regime Complex for Managing Global Cyber Activities”. The GCIG commences its work this month and over two years “will conduct and support independent research on Internet-related dimensions of global public policy, culminating in an official commission report”.

ICANN

Chehadé, Fadi. Transition from U.S. Government has Four Work Tracks. ICANN Blog. May 20, 2014.

  • Discussing the transition of IANA functions stewardship from the U.S. government to the global community, Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, argues that there are “four concurrent tracks” of work to “map a route to a successful transition”. They are: 1) transition of U.S. government stewardship of IANA functions at ICANN, 2) strengthening ICANN’s accountability, 3) maintaining security and stability of implementation of root zone updates –including a recommendation to “have Verisign continue its role as the maintainer” of the root zone, and 4) strengthening bilateral relationships with policy bodies (including the IETF, ASO, GNSO, and ccNSO).

Griswold, Alison. Amazon Loses Bid for “.Amazon” Domain Name. Slate. May 21, 2014.

  • Following Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice and at the direction of the New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC), ICANN has officially rejected Amazon’s application for the .Amazon top-level domain, which had drawn objections from the governments of Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay.

WHOIS Online Accuracy Reporting System: Request for Proposal. ICANN.org. May 19, 2014.

  • ICANN is seeking “one or more providers to assist ICANN in the development, operation, and maintenance of the WHOIS Online Accuracy Reporting System”. The WHOIS Online Accuracy Reporting System will identify inaccurate WHOIS contact data for investigation and follow-up, to the end of providing transparency into the accuracy of generic domain name WHOIS records and to inform WHOIS policy and the impact of WHOIS policy changes.

Internet Governance

Corwin, Philip S. House Committees Taking Aim at IANA Transition Proposal. CircleID. May 15, 2014.

  • Corwin points to domestic U.S. political contexts as possibly having significant impact on the IANA functions stewardship transition process. On top of the DOTCOM Act passed by the House Commerce Committee and the slashing of the NTIA’s budget by the House Appropriations Committee, this week the House Armed Services Committee released the Defense Authorization Bill which questions how the IANA functions stewardship transition will affect the U.S. Department of Defense’s administration of the .Mil top-level domain. Corwin also points out that “the [transition] situation could change dramatically if Republicans succeed in gaining control of the Senate in the November 2014 elections”.

Doria, Avri. #NETmundial Was An Act of Enhanced Cooperation, #CSTD Was Not. Avri.Doria.org. May 16, 2014.

  • Doria –a member of ICANN’s GNSO—argues that while the NETmundial meeting “contributed toward the progressive view that the enhanced cooperation of all Stakeholders is necessary” for Internet public policy development, the UN CSTD (Commission on Science and Technology for Develpoment) contributed toward the regressive view that the States should be in control” of Internet public policy. Doria argues in particular that the members of the CSTD try to put forth a governance model for the Internet “that rejects the principles of participatory democracy” by giving an exclusive role to States, and that this is inappropriate given the successes of the NETmundial meeting in giving all stakeholders the equal opportunity to participate.

Foster, Christopher. Why Efforts to Spread Novel ICTs Often Fail. SciDev.Net. May 21, 2014.

  • Foster points out that “attempts to scale up information and communications technologies (ICTs) in developing countries are often unsuccessful”. ICT development projects may fail to grow or fail to deliver significant impacts. Foster argues that ICT development projects need to be able to change their original goals and need to be open to reinvention –and that such reinvention will usually be spurred by local innovation by local partners in local contexts—in order to be successful.

Fung, Brian. FCC chair: An Internet fast lane would be ‘commercially unreasonable’. The Washington Post. May 22, 2014.

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said this week that the “agency recognizes that Internet providers would be disrupting a ‘virtuous cycle’ between the demand for free-flowing information on one hand and new investment in network upgrades on the other if they started charging companies like Google for better access to consumers.” Wheeler also “cited network equipment manufacturers who’ve argued that you can’t create a fast lane without worsening service for some Internet users,” noting doing so would be “commercially unreasonable under [the FCC’s] proposal.”

Kravets, David. NSA reform falters as House passes gutted USA Freedom Act. ArsTechnica. May 22, 2014.

  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act this week, which many privacy advocates feel would “deliberately water[] down” the ban on bulk collection of telephone metadata, though the White House has stated it believes the bill strikes an appropriate balance between national security and individual privacy. The bill does not permit the NSA to collect and house telephone metadata, rather data will remain housed with the telecoms. Further, the bill “demands the NSA get approval for a search from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before demanding that the telecoms hand over metadata.” However, bill bill requires “no ‘probable-cause’ Fourth Amendment standard … to access the database.”

Pritz, Kurt. DNA Auction Plan to Reinvest Money Into Industry. CircleID. May 15, 2014.

  • The Domain Name Association (DNA) will launch a private auction service for the resolution of top-level domain contention sets (where multiple applicants exist for the same domain through ICANN’s New Generic Top-Level Domain Program. Rather than giving money to the losing parties or to ICANN (under the ICANN “auctions of last resort”), the DNA proposes that the funds from these private auctions “be reinvested into the wider domain name industry to be used exclusively for the promotion of domains and fund efforts to support their uptake and use”.

Rodriguez, Javier. The Rotten Roots – Summary of Issues and Sources on Net Neutrality. CircleID. May 19, 2014.

  • Rodriguez provides a comprehensive guide to understanding “net neutrality,” taking readers through the history of the issue up until recent developments at the FCC and stakeholder responses; who’s who in the debate; how the FCC’s process will progress; and some emerging technical problems to be addressed.

Russell, Andrew L. The Internet’s History Isn’t As “Open” As You Think. Slate. May 22, 2014.

  • In light of recent FCC news and debates around the preservation of an “open Internet,” Russell explains the origins of the use of the phrase by policymakers and technologists, much of which he notes is also included in his book, Open Standards and the Digital Age. He notes that  “core Internet standards did not emerge from any principled commitment to openness” and that “Internet engineers did not use the term open Internet until March 1992.” He also highlights that policymakers adopted the term in the late 1990s, upon realization that “the rhetoric of openness could help deflect competing demands from powerful interest groups.”

Sugarman, Eli. How Brazil and the EU Are Breaking the Internet. Forbes. May 19, 2014.

  • Pointing to the EU’s new data privacy law (regarding the obligation of Internet search engines to censor certain results) and Brazil’s new data privacy laws passed last month (through the Marco Civil da Internet), Sugarman argues that the “ever-growing thicket of Internet regulations threatens the free and open Internet”. In particular, Sugarman argues that such laws can be conflicting across different national and local contexts, and that such legal conflicts can undermine the growth of the Internet.

Spagnola, Ryan. Walking the Tightrope: Multinational Technology Corporations and Global Internet Governance in the Age of Government Surveillance. CGCS Media Wire. May 15, 2014.

  • Spagnola argues that as the Internet has grown and globalized, “multinational technology companies who provide internet services have had to weigh the benefits, costs, and risks involved in entering the industry”. Spagnola identifies three overarching themes in global Internet governance that largely produce these benefits, costs, and risks: multistakeholder governance (and how multinational technology companies participate in, produce, and are impacted by this governance); differing conceptions of the “Internet Society” in different countries and regions; and an emerging theme of “democratizing international control over the Internet”.

Van Gelder, Stéphane. Universal Acceptance of All TLDs Now! CircleID. May 19, 2014.

  • Van Gelder points out that, until recently, the .com top-level domain (TLD) was essentially the universal default that all computers were configured to be able to resolve and use. Now, with over 250 new TLDs delegated by ICANN, as well as with ICANN’s non-Latin script “Internationalized Domain Name” (IDN) TLDs, there is a concern about ensuring that new web addresses can be used everywhere, by everyone –as per the design of the Internet—which means configuring browsers, email clients, and operating systems to accept these new names. Van Gelder argues that the “major stumbling block for universal acceptance today is probably coordination” requiring “across-the-board efforts targeting all aspects of this one problem”.

Papers and Reports

Nye, Joseph S. The Regime Complex for Managing Global Cyber Activities. Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series No. 1. May 20, 2014.

  • In this paper, Nye first introduces “cyber governance” and its various aspects –for example, technical and non-technical, and points at which these converge—before looking at the various “regimes” that exist in managing global cyber activities, including international legal conventions, intellectual property, trade, telecoms, law enforcement, human rights, and international finance regimes. Nye then provides a breakdown of “norms and cyber sub-issues” that these various regimes produce and are affected by. The paper then explores “the future dynamics of the cyber regime complex” and how cyber norms may evolve. Nye concludes, “it is unlikely that there will be a single overarching regime for cyberspace any time soon”.

Ralston, Robert. Cyberspace and Surveillance: Challenges to State Identity and Ontological Security in the Digital Age. CGCS Media Wire. May 20, 2014.

  • Ralston presents “a case for the study of ontological security in international relations as a way to explain, in part, U.S. practices of surveillance following the leaks by former National Security Administration (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden”. In particular, Ralston argues that ontological security “is about constructing and maintaining the stability of a state’s self-image” and that such a vision of security may sometimes be contradictory to –over even override—physical security concerns. He explores this in-depth in the U.S. context as it relates to how the U.S. has justified state surveillance practices.

Towards a Collaborative, Decentralized Internet Governance Ecosystem. Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms. May 20, 2014.

  • The Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms has released its final report, titled “Towards a Collaborative, Decentralized Internet Governance Ecosystem”. The report outlines the key components of such a governance ecosystem, including: distributed governance groups; a governance process with issue identification, solution mapping, solution formulation, and solution implementation as its elements; and enablers including forums and dialogues, expert communities, and toolkits that facilitate the first two components. The report lays out foundational principles for a collaborative, decentralized Internet governance ecosystem, and provides recommended next steps.

Events

(See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)

[Upcoming Webinar] Geneva Briefing on Internet Governance. Geneva Internet Platform. June 3, 2014.

  • The Geneva Internet Platform –“an observatory, a capacity building centre (online and in situ), and a centre for discussion” for Internet governance—will host its monthly webinar on June 3rd. The webinar will be “a round-up of the main IG-related events and developments”. Registration is available here.

[Video Recording] INET Istanbul 2014 Recordings. Internet Society. May 21, 2014.

  • This page contains the video recordings of the conference, INET Istanbul. The theme of the conference was “Internet: Privacy and Digital Content in a Global Context”. Sessions focused on “managing privacy and data protection in the face of massive Government surveillance programs” and the “complex inter-play of intellectual property rights and innovation”.
    What do you think?

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