[discuss] Will there be life on 1net after IANA is globalized? (:-)

George Sadowsky george.sadowsky at gmail.com
Fri Mar 7 18:36:44 UTC 2014


Purpose: What topics in Internet governance should 1net focus upon?

Discussion on this list has focused heavily on the future of IANA, as well as on human rights issues.  Those are certainly appropriate topics for the Brazil meeting, but if 1net is to have a longer life, then there may well be other topics included in Internet governance that do merit attention.


I’d like to talk about this more after introducing a couple of diagrams and some text from a publication forthcoming in I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society   (www.is-journal.org)  It is titled “Internet governance is out Shared Responsibility,” by Vint Cerf, {Patrick Ryan, and Max Senges.  I take the following from a draft version of the paper, subject to final edits.  In my view, it’s an excellent paper and should be read by anyone involved in Internet governance discussions.

Among other things, the authors propose a layering of issues in Internet governance according to their relative position between strictly technical and strictly social.  A number of such models have been proposed.  One proposed earlier on this list by Brian Carpenter, and augmented by a set of his slides, was an extremely good and thorough exposition of this concept.  ISOC has published something similar, using a different approach to displaying the results.  

The paper proposes adding a social layer to the normal stack of issues, as in the chart below.  I believe that the specific issues listed are meant to be examples, because they are certainly not exhaustive of the issues at any of the four layers.  Of course, many problems in this space do not live exclusively in just one layer, but ‘bleed’ somewhat into adjacent layers.


	Illustration 1 - Social Layer Added to the Established Layered Model
				 of Internet Governance

The authors state:

"We provide this conceptualization in order to trigger discussion about which institutions and stakeholder groups should legitimately be involved in which Internet policy issues. Put differently, we believe that it will be
beneficial to the operation of the whole online ecosystem if the mandates of institutions are mapped and clarified with regard to their relevance in steering Internet governance practices and policymaking." 

"Hence, Illustration 2 shows a schematic example of mapping of institutions with relevant mandates overlaid on the layers of Internet governance.  Here we show the IGF is positioned in the center as it has no decision-making mandate itself but is instead, it is positioned to facilitate and moderate said decision making to take place elsewhere. In Clark’s terminology, at the IGF, we’re separating the “tussles” in a forum where they can be analyzed in workshops and discussion sessions and then brought back to the various other forums for decisions."

This approach to defining shared responsibility for Internet governance is not new.  ICANN has published its view of this, and a extraordinarily good and thorough presentation of analysis of this type has been made by David Souter and is well worth reading.  In the above display, national governments and their various agencies are totally missing, and that seems to be to be a fundamental flaw, but one that can be easily corrected.  

The space of Internet governance issues

The 1net discussions until now have focused primarily upon Internet naming and numbering (the logical layer) on the one hand, and human rights issues with respect to the Internet (the social layer).  This perhaps appropriate given the announced focus of the Brazil meeting. However, the Brazil meeting is just one in a number of meetings, and the purple of 1net goes well beyond that meeting.

However, Internet governance is much more than names and addresses.  And in fact, in terms of stability of operations, the current use of names and addresses by Internet users to actually do things using the Internet is working remarkably well.  On the other had, most of the other examples in the first chart above, where the Internet is colliding with existing activities and changing the nature of processes, is not working nearly as well as we would like.  To be sure, the problems are more difficult, and require a different set of actors to solve, but that is no reason for not discussing them.  In fact, there is every reason to address this set of issues in order to start to solve them.

Consider just the content layer for the moment.

Many of the issues in this layer depend locally upon adequate legislation and regulation that depends on a balance between freedom for and restrictions on behavior and actions, both sides of the balance being supported by social goals.  At the international level, cooperation requires a minimum of agreement regarding that balance so that international cooperation among nation governments can take place.  What initiatives might make it possible to achieve both appropriate structures at the national level and coordinated structures at the international level to make this happen.  Do we need an UNCITRAL-type movement to work toward these goals?  Among the issues affected are:

	- Addressing cybercrime activities effectively
	- Understanding and ameliorating the spam situation
	- ISP liability issues for content stored and/or transmitted
 	- Consumer protection
 	- Electronic document status (contracts, etc.)
 	- Regulatory and legislative environment -- effects on Internet access and pricing
 	- Competition policy within country and internationally
 	- Policy/support for community services
 	- Culture with respect to private data of individuals (tracking, advertising, etc.) 
	- Intellectual property rights

I suspect that most everyone on this list can expand it with their own issue of importance. 

These are areas where intensive national government involvement is absolutely essential.  Where are these issues being discussed in a way that has the possibility of dramatically improving these situations?  Does the 1net list have any claim to, or responsibility for, addressing this area?  It certainly is a part of Internet governance? 

Bertrand de la Chapelle has been discussing the international dimension of these issues in his cross-boundary jurisdiction project, and he is raising really important issues and providing insights into the nature of this problem.  However, as much if not more attention needs to be paid to these issues at the national level.  Where are national governments being faced with these issues as a part of their responsibilities.  How can other sectors assist in making this happen?  Which other actors play a part in improving things, and is this happening.  How can 1net comment meaningfully on these issues?

Concluding …

Using the working definition of Internet governance adopted by the WGIG in 2005:

	Internet governance is the development and application
	by Governments, the private sector and civil society, 
	in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, 
	rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes 
	that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.

How might the discussions on 1net be enlarged in a productive manner to address some of the issue areas included in the above definition, other than the ones that have received extensive discussion to date?  Define this as problem no. 2, if you like, but its really a meta-problem.   The real problems are the ones listed above.


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