[discuss] What about sovereignty?: Re: Problem definition 1, version 5

Klaus Stoll kdrstoll at gmail.com
Wed Jan 22 17:09:41 UTC 2014

Fellow Travelers

Even if I seem to repeat myself again and again, but the issue of 
sovereignty also seems to pop up in one form or another again and again, 
and maybe, just maybe, it helps to untie this knot by looking at a new 
definition of it:

The Internet Ecosystem, by its very nature, does not care too much about 
physical boundaries. This is the fundamental reason why countries, whose 
authority is based on territory and the concept of sovereignty, struggle 
to find their place in a digital world. The uncontrolled free flow of 
data, together with the ongoing speed of innovation, seems to be 
irreconcilable with the concepts of national territory and sovereign 

      Similar to nation states, many of those organizations and
      individuals involved in the Internet Ecosystem and its governance,
      commonly known as the stakeholders, claim "sole-sovereignty" or
      self-proclaimed sovereignty over specific issues, roles and
      functions. The stability and security of the DNS,
      telecommunication standards, security and human rights, to name
      just some, are well defined "subject-territories" in the Internet

Cyberspace today requires a new understanding of sovereignty. 
Sovereignty in the context of Internet Governance is fundamentally 
different from the traditional understanding of sovereignty as it is not 
based on geographical territories and treaties but on the ability of a 
stakeholder or a group of stakeholders in Cyberspace to have specific 
expertise and/or infrastructure that is relevant to the Internet 
Ecosystem and to have the capacity to manage the decision-making and 
implementation processes in a timely and effective way.



On 1/22/2014 5:52 PM, John Curran wrote:
> On Jan 22, 2014, at 6:32 AM, Milton L Mueller <mueller at syr.edu> wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Brenden Kuerbis [mailto:bnkuerbi at syr.edu]
>>> To that point, in option (3) do you mean delegation in the sense of rescindable
>>> granting of authority to an agent to act on a principal's behalf? And if so,
>>> what principal(s)? Rescindable under what conditions?
>> Good questions. Answers would represent the various "flavors" of a denationalized approach.
>> Such a delegation could be permanent and not rescindable, in which case the USG, which currently controls IANA, would be the principal.
> Milton, Brenden -
> Two points:
>   1) The language "granting of authority" is overly vague in this context;
>      yes, it is true that the IANA is granted authority to act, but it is
>      the ability to act in a _administrative_ manner (the NTIA IANA Function
>      contract, for example, does not convey authority to set policy, only to
>      implement policy set by other parties.)
>   2) The USG is not the only party involved in granting such authority; the
>      IAB/IETF also grants the IANA its authority to administer the various
>      Internet registries (name, number, and protocol) via its MOU [RFC 2860]
> FYI,
> /John
> Disclaimer: My views alone.
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