[discuss] ICANN policy and "Internet Governance"

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Fri Jan 3 22:32:18 UTC 2014

-----Original Message-----
>The part of Brian's paper that I strongly agreed with is that the term for many 
>appears to be a catch-all for "anything related to the Internet about which I 
>feel strongly Something Should Be Done".  I understood him to be arguing that 
>it's not an actionable category, and I agree with him.  

It's true that "Internet governance" becomes indistinguishable from "Internet policy" for many people, if one is not careful and allows it to happen. For those of us more familiar with policy debates, however, 'public policy' typically means _national_ policy. We also tend to qualify the term "Internet governance" with the modifier "global Internet governance" although admittedly often that is implicit.  

You said:

>Neither of these two, of course, need any new "governance" forum at all.  We have at least one, and >frequently more than one.
>For peering issues are by definition voluntary and physically located, so I don't get why we 
>need any decision-making body for that.  Why isn't that an issue of the relevant parties 
>working together on their own?
>Apart from a discussion forum to inform national lawmaking, what is needed here?  
>If nothing, again, why isn't the IGF adequate?
>what problem is some new body supposed to be solving that isn't already covered?

>From these comments it is clear that you confuse or equate all discussions of global Internet governance with proposals for a new governance institution. This indicates to me that you may be unfamiliar with the ongoing IG debate, most of which is not about forming a new body but rather is about:

	a) the role of national govts and existing intergovernmental bodies relative to existing private sector-based MS institutions (e.g., ITU vs. ICANN) 
	b) proposals for reforming or changing existing private sector-based MS institutions (e.g, 'globalizing' the IANA function; making ICANN more accountable, abolishing or strengthening GAC) 
	c) the substantive policies that are adopted or applied by various institutions (e.g., whether ICANN's TLD approvals should involve censorship of 'sensitive' strings, or whether international interconnection should involve a sender-pays method.)  

>I have been having a hard time understanding not just what we are 
>talking about, but to what end.  

I hope the statements above help orient you. 

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