[discuss] ICANN policy and "Internet Governance" (was: ICANN and IDNs with U-labels at the top leve)

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Fri Jan 3 00:23:55 UTC 2014

On Thu, Jan 02, 2014 at 05:58:57PM -0500, Avri Doria wrote:
> support programs for developig economies.  As Milton says, just
> about everything ICANN does is policy and the subject of wider Ig
> concerns.
> To what extent should the problems you, Andrew and others bring up
> about ICANN and its policies be considered by ICANN in its further
> dealings?

I cannot of course speak for Brian, but I can answer this for myself.

I think that the issues you're talking about should be considered by
ICANN.  I cheerfully grant that these are policy issues, and that some
of these policies are outside the realm of the narrowly technical.  In
some cases, of course, those issues are actually the creation of past
decisions.  But we live in this world shaped by previous decisions,
not some ideal world where we can take any path at all.  Therefore,
there is a legitimate place for government interest, for trademark
interest, for business and commercial interests, and so on within
ICANN.  Futher, ICANN has a responsibility to incorporate the
interests of those who are not participating in ICANN both because of
uninterest and because of resource (including financial) constraints.
ICANN is more or less (sometimes a _lot_ less) successful in these
various dimensions.

What I still do not understand, and where I agree with Brian's paper,
is what it adds to call any of that "Internet Governance".  The entire
set of issues is actually just the governance of one part of ICANN's
overall responsibilities.  It's a debate with important side effects,
of course.  But why call those issues "Internet Governance", and
conflate them with the issues of IP allocation, protocol parameter
allocation, international sales tax settlements, global routing
issues, in-border peering problems, surveillance by various national
governments of traffic transiting domestic or foreign data centres,
international theft, transborder identity fraud, and so on?  Lumping
these different things all together simply makes a muddle.  (Some of
them aren't even particularly Internet-related, though of course there
may be technolgical angles that the Internet enables.)

Moreover, unless one thinks the answer is, "ICANN is hopelessly
broken; let's replace it," why do we need any new -- multilateral or
multistakeholder, bottom-up or top-down, national or international --
forum for the discussion about ICANN issues?  Why isn't this just an
ICANN reform problem?  Why conflate the NSA and the *NSOs?

I can fully understand and discuss the concrete claim, "There are
issues with ICANN both in application and in principle."  I know
roughly what the truth conditions for that proposition are (or at
least, I have an idea what kinds of things they'd be).  I can't say
the same for having an "open, global online discussion about Internet

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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