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 47, October 17, 2014 can be found here.
This week’s highlights:
- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker made opening remarks at the Opening Ceremony of ICANN’s 51st meeting in Los Angeles this week, highlighting the importance of current Internet governance discussions to the U.S. government.
- The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is holding its Plenipotentiary Meeting in Busan, South Korea, next week. The meeting will discuss issues that may significantly impact the Internet, as well as the way organizations coordinate the governance of the Internet.
Lenard, Thomas M. A better way to govern the Internet. The Hill. October 13, 2014.
- In this article, Thomas Lenard states that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s plan to relinquish its key oversight role of the non-profit organization will provide an opportunity to rethink ICANN’s governance structure. To that end, he discusses the accountability problem faced by ICANN, and proposes “a workable private-sector accountability solution that would ensure that the Internet continues to be a catalyst of innovation and freedom throughout the world.” To that end, he states that representatives from registry companies, registrars, and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) should make up ICANN’s board of directors, since these groups “have a strong incentive and the ability to focus ICANN on the technical tasks of keeping the Internet running smoothly and apolitically and of addressing potential problems that affect the DNS, such as trademark issues. Their interests are also aligned with the business and individual users of the DNS.”
Abrougui, Afef. Will the right to be Forgotten Inspire Repressive Regimes to Expand Internet Censorship?Global Voices. October 13, 2014.
- Although the implementation of the “right to be forgotten ruling” is currently limited to Europe, many fear that this policy could inspire repressive regimes in other areas of the world to expand Internet filtering practices. For example, some worry that this model could take hold in Arab governments where there are already strict libel laws and broad privacy regulations with no oversight or appeal mechanisms. In the Arab region, there is a tendency to restrict content about the misconduct of politicians and public officials. The fact that former EU politicians are entitled to exercise their “right to be forgotten” could be used to justify more censorship in oppressive regimes.
Arthur, Charles. Tech firms resist EU pressure over terrorist activity online. The Guardian. October 9, 2014.
- European governments are pushing for greater control in preventing the spread of terror propaganda online, a move that is being resisted by US-owned technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. These companies take issue with the call to “proactively prevent content being added to their systems, either by checking content before it becomes publicly visible or banning certain groups ahead of any complaints.” In terms of controlling the spread of IS murder videos uploaded to YouTube, according to Google, checking content beforehand would be an impossible task due to the volume of content. Google currently relies on users flagging unsuitable content to remove videos from YouTube. Twitter has shut down accounts suspected of supporting terrorist activity, as well as removed links to videos and pictures of terror propaganda. Senior executives from these companies met with EU officials and have agreed to “organise joint training and awareness raising workshops of the law enforcement authorities, internet industry and civil society.”
Bowcott, Owen and Spencer Ackerman. Mass internet surveillance threatens international law, UN report claims. The Guardian. October 14, 2014.
- The UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, released a study about the extent of surveillance carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States and the GCHQ in the UK. Emmerson’s report challenges government claims that violating the privacy of “literally every Internet user” are proportionate to terrorist threat. The report differentiates between targeted surveillance ad bulk surveillance which “indiscriminately swallows up digital or telephonic communications data.” The report also supports the ability of Internet users to mount legal challenges to this practice.
Brookman, Justin. Seven Key Issues for EU Justice Ministers on the Right To Be Forgotten. Center for Democracy and Technology. October 9, 2014
- Brookman discusses how European Union member states will decide on fundamental issues and questions related to the “Right to be Forgotten”, including: “how the right should be balanced with freedom of expression, what the proper scope of the right is, on what grounds it can be exercised, and what obligations and responsibilities should be placed on data controllers”. In this post, Brookman offers the CDT’s views on these issues, including that: “removal or deletion requests should be made to publishers rather than intermediaries”; “[there should be] far more clarity and guidance as to when such requests should be honoured”; “publishers should be transparent about when and why information is suppressed or deleted, and that they should not be responsible for ensuring that third parties also comply”; “freedom of expression and the right to privacy are equal rights and must enjoy equal protection”.
Brodkin, Jon. Obama: I want the FCC to ban paid Internet fast lanes. ArsTechnica. October 10, 2014.
- Last week, President Obama stated that he is still “unequivocally committed to net neutrality” and that while the Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency, he wants the FCC to issue rules to prevent paid prioritization. In January, Obama had also noted that his own presidential campaign may not have been successful “if there were a lot of commercial barriers and roadblocks.”
Brown, Ian. Designing Internet technologies for the public good. Oxford Internet Institute. October 8, 2014.
- In this article, Professor Ian Brown discusses “how ‘privacy by design’ techniques such as data minimisation can provide a template for societies that wish to ensure the continued protection of core social values in an increasingly technology-mediated world.” He references EU’s Data Protection Directive that “has provisions that encourage organisations to use technical measures to protect personal data” as an example of attempts to shape technology development to reflect constitutional values such as privacy.
Dias, Kevin. Global Commission on Internet Governance issues a statement of support in advance of ITU meeting. Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). October 15, 2014.
- The Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG) this week held a meeting in Seoul, South Korea. In advance of the upcoming International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Meeting, GCIG Chair Carl Bildt made the following remarks: “Effective Internet governance lies in inclusive models in which the ITU has an important input to make to the multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet”, and the GCIG “strongly supports the ITU’s unique role in promoting and improving access to telecommunication technologies and services across the globe, as well as performing critical technical functions such as standards setting and spectrum management”.
Internet censorship hits Facebook, Google Services. Business Times. October 11,2014.
- The European privacy ruling commonly known as the “right to be forgotten” has forced major websites to remove thousands of links to online material. Since May, more than 3,300 links to material on Facebook have been removed, and Google has removed 169,500 links to websites in its search results. The EU ruling remains a contentious topic, pitting free speech advocates against consumer advocates.
Kim, Eugene. Hillary Clinton Calls Internet Freedom ‘An Ongoing Struggle’. Business Insider. October 14, 2014.
- During her speech at Dreamforce 2014 (Salesforce’s annual conference), Clinton “reiterated her strong support for internet freedom”. Clinton pointed to the “struggle with more oppressive regimes around the world who want more control over the internet, who want to be able to shut it down at will, want to be able to interfere with people’s freedoms” and to issues such as “the level of access, affordability, and the ‘digital gap’ between women and men”, arguing that “the key to solving these issues is to keep the internet open”.
Komaitis, Konstantinos. Understanding the IANA Functions. Internet Society. October 10, 2014.
- Komaitis explains the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, including: “the coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters performed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)”, “the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management, “the allocation of Internet numbering resources to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs)”, and “”other services related to the management of the .ARPA and .INT top-level domains”. Komaitis points out that the IANA functions stewardship transition is important because “it concerns both the technical stability of the Internet and the accountability to the public for these functions”.
Mueller, Milton. The Cauldron Begins to Bubble: Update on the IANA Transition. Internet Governance Project. October 12, 2014.
- In this post, Mueller provides an update on progress “the three communities have made [with regards to the IANA stewardship transition] and shows why a combined IANA is beginning to look more and more problematic from the standpoint of improved accountability for ICANN”. The three communities in question are “1) those directly affected by the management of the domain name system’s root zone file (mainly top level domain registries); 2) those who rely on the IANA for global coordination of IP address number allocations (primarily but not exclusively the five regional internet registries); and 3) those concerned with the registry for protocol parameters in IETF standards (developers, the IETF, ISOC and the IAB).”
Razumovskaya, Olga. Russian Ombudsman Says New Internet Law Can’t Be Implemented Jan. 1. The Wall Street Journal. October 15, 2014.
- A Russian law introduced this year requiring Internet companies “to store within the country personal information of Russian Internet users” is to go into effect January 1, 2015. However, Internet companies will not be able to comply with the law in time. The new Russian “Internet ombudsman” Dmitry Marinichev has stated that the deadline should be pushed back so as to “allow Internet companies to adjust to the new law by potentially renting out space in Russian data centers”.
Steadman, Ian. Betrayed by your smartphone: Cory Doctorow on the future of internet censorship. New Statesman. October 9, 2014.
- In his recent book Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, sci-fi novelist and activist Corey Doctorow argues that the Internet’s strict copyright regulatory system also applies to censorship. His book discusses how artists are penalized under the current system, citing digital rights management (DRM) technology that allows companies to limit the platforms that digital files can play on. Doctorow goes on to explore how these kinds of systems can also be used in cases of censorship, citing the example of police use of “fake” mobile-phone towers to extract data from protesters.
Tews, Shane. Commerce Secretary Pritzker reaffirms US commitment to the multi-stakeholder process at ICANN. TechPolicyDaily. October 15, 2014.
- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of ICANN 51 in Los Angeles this week. Tews points out that “Pritzker is the first Commerce Secretary to ever attend an ICANN conference, and her attendance speaks volumes of the level of attention Internet governance has come to receive in Washington.” In her speech, Pritzker emphasized the U.S. position in support of the multistakeholder model of Internet governance. Repeating claims made by other US officials, Pritzker firmly stated that the US will not allow any single nation, or league of nations, have the ability to control the Internet.
Papers and Reports
Bennett, Richard. Who’s making money on the Internet? Comparing ROIC across Internet sectors. Tech Policy Daily. October 08, 2014.
- To understand who is contributing value and extracting profits when discussing issues of Internet policy, Bennett argues for using Return on invested capital (ROIC). He states that ROIC is useful “to evaluate competition, profitability, and leverage in capital-intensive industries” since market efficiency is distorted by several factors, including government policy and market power. He examines three sectors: content creators such as Disney and Viacom, who create the movies and TV shows that we stream into our homes; network services firms such as Comcast and AT&T, who provide us with broadband networks; and Internet “edge services” such as Netflix and Google, who connect network users with content and services. According to Morningstar’s criterion of ROIC, his analysis shows that Internet edge providers are protected from competition and have produced 63 percent greater return on invested capital than content creators and 178 percent greater return than network service providers.
Key Resolutions and Issues To Watch at the 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Internet Society. October 9, 2014.
- This chart “represents a preliminary effort at identifying issues, areas of concern, organizations impacted, etc., on a best-efforts basis”. The chart analyzes proposed revisions to the ITU Plenipotentiary conference with the aim of “of helping ISOC Members identify those proposals that may impact the future development of the Internet, including the Internet model and the organizations that have co-operated to create what we know today as the Internet”. Key issues include: “Internet related public policy issues”, “confidence and security in the use of ICTs”, “Child Online Protection and access to illegal information on the Internet”, “the ITU Strategic Plan”, “ITU Transparency and public access to the ITU documents”, “WSIS and review processes including WSIS+10”, and the “role of Standardization and the ITU”.
Kurbalija, Jovan. There is a practical solution for global inviolability of the Internet root zone. DiploFoundation. October, 2014.
- This report argues for the following policy positions regarding policy-making for and control of the Internet’s root zone: “The Internet root zone should be inviolable at any time, wherever it may be located”; “No state should have the jurisdiction to prescribe, adjudicate, or enforce policy over the Internet root zone.”; “The Internet root zone may only be modified through existing procedures or new ones that might be introduced in September 2015.” and “The inviolability of the Internet root zone should be based on customary law that recognises the consistent practice of no unilateral interference by the US authorities in the content of the Internet root zone.” The report goes on to discuss how to achieve root zone inviolability.
(The below includes both past and upcoming events. See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)
- This event will “provide an overview of what is the evidence-based approach to Internet governance and highlight lessons from the fields of cybersecurity, e-commerce, and development.” Some focus questions include: “What is the contribution of the Internet to development and poverty reduction?”, “What was the financial cost of the largest cybersecurity incident in a company (or in a country)?” and “What are the most common causes of cybersecurity incidents (expressed as a % of all causes)?” The event takes place on 28th October, at 13:00 CET (12:00 GMT). Registration for the webinar is available here.
Going Dark: Are Technology, Privacy, and Public Safety on a Collision Course? Brookings Institute. October 16, 2014.
- This event saw FBI Director James Comey discuss “the impact of technology on the work of law enforcement”. Recent increased emphasis on privacy rights and encryption “may leave law enforcement in the dark”, and Comey discusses “the need for better cooperation between the private sector and law enforcement agencies”, as well as “potential solutions to the challenge of “going dark,” as well as the FBI’s dedication to protecting public safety while safeguarding privacy and promoting network security and innovation”.