[discuss] ICANN policy and "Internet Governance"

Shatan, Gregory S. GShatan at ReedSmith.com
Sat Jan 4 05:43:52 UTC 2014

I thought it would be helpful to the discussion for all to see the quote from the New York Times when not read in isolation – the meaning changes quite a bit when reading it in context:

With the Snowden affair starkly highlighting the issues, the new year is likely to see renewed calls to change the way the Internet is governed. In particular, governments that do not favor the free flow of information, especially if it’s through a system designed by Americans, would like to see the Internet regulated in a way that would “Balkanize” it by preventing access to certain websites.

The debate right now involves two international organizations, usually known by their acronyms, with different views: Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and the I.T.U., or International Telecommunication Union.

Icann, a nonprofit that oversees the Internet’s basic functions, like the assignment of names to websites, was established in 1998 by the United States government to create an international forum for “governing” the Internet. The United States continues to favor this group.

The I.T.U., created in 1865 as the International Telegraph Convention, is the United Nations telecommunications regulatory agency. Nations like Brazil, China and Russia have been pressing the United States to switch governance of the Internet to this organization.

The whole article may be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/science/viewing-where-the-internet-goes.html?ref=science

The NYT article may be highly simplistic, but it does not stand for the proposition that ICANN is in bed with the US government.  If it stands for anything, it stands for the choice between oppressive, “balkanized” government control via the ITU and a more open form of internet governance via ICANN.

Greg Shatan

From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf Of Phillip Hallam-Baker
Sent: Saturday, January 04, 2014 12:20 AM
To: Brian E Carpenter
Cc: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] ICANN policy and "Internet Governance"

On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 11:30 PM, Brian E Carpenter
Hardly. I mean, there may be people who seriously believe the
NYT type of nonsense, but the people actually involved in making
the Internet work, including making IANA work and making the DNS
work, surely haven't believed this since about 1995.

Certainly, things would be clearer if ICANN simply discontinued
its relationship with the USG.

They can't

ICANN's objective is to be free of all accountability. There is no government party that prefers that outcome to the current one where ICANN is at least accountable to the US.

Since there is no form of accountability that ICANN prefers to its current situation, the situation is not going to change.

There are two sets of concerns a non US government might have re ICANN control, the first is that the US would abuse its influence to the detriment of a that government, the second is that ICANN itself would threaten their national interests and there was no check on their decision.

The first one would be self defeating on the part of the US unless the deployment of DNSSEC or BGPSEC were to change the switching costs so that transfer of ICANN functions to another body was no longer feasible.

The second would actually worry me rather more. Governments are very familiar with dealing with other governments. They have limited experience dealing with a group of unaccountable techies who are essentially self-appointing.

Website: http://hallambaker.com/

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