[discuss] NTIA statement

parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Sat Mar 15 11:12:30 UTC 2014


The statement from US gov is welcome, and is a step in the right 
direction. One looks forward to hear more details.

It was always evident that when Fadi went to Brasilia to meet President 
Rousseff, he was carrying a message with some substance, if not fully 
specified. That alone would have deterred the President from her path to 
seek strong specific global response to the NSA outrage, which path 
seemed to go towards the UN. And deter it did. Meanwhile, as a quid pro 
quo, US had to made good its promise, and we see it unfolding now.

There always was this big gift wrapped box on the table -- the US/ICANN 
offer regarding oversight liberalization. It has however been unclear 
what is inside the box -- how big and substantial is the 'gift'. In the 
last few weeks, with US and ICANN both talking about lowering 
expectations from the NetMundial, one had begun to despair that it may 
not be worth peeping into the box at all, but this declaration raises 
some hopes again.

There are two important caveats though.

One, we know that the global outrage following Snowden's revelation, 
which has consolidated into a new level of awareness about global IG 
issues, and need for democratizing global IG, has had little to do with 
ICANN oversight. And it had all to do with other issues of control of 
the global Internet -- which I listed in an earlier email, like the 
monopolistic or oligopolistic US based Internet companies, application 
of US law globally, and so on.

As Post-Snowdon damage control, US has chosen just the right time and 
person to present the oversight liberalization gift to -- Rousseff's 
presidency. Brazil is one of the most important geo-political players on 
the IG stage, and Rousseff would love to have such a big gift related to 
the oversight of the most fascinating phenomenon of current times, the 
Internet, from the most powerful government of the world. It looks so 
good to get it, especially just a few months before the elections, where 
it can be put to some use. The problem however is, the gift may not be 
so alluring for Brazilian Presidency to forget the original issue which 
raised Brazil's heckles, and made the global community pose trust in it 
to lead the post-Snowden clean-up. US will be betting that this is what 
would happen. And I hope and trust the very well-respected and wise 
Brazilian establishment to not fall into the trap for a short term gain, 
which would undermine its long term global leadership in this area.

In any case, civil society groups that we work with will do their best 
that such over-shadowing of key global Internet governance issues, that 
the Brazil meeting promised to the global community, does not happen. It 
plans to write to the Brazilian government in this regard, and also 
raise the issue among Brazilian NGOs and the local as well as 
international media.NEtMundial must address non ICANN global IG issues 
at least on par with ICANN issues, if not more centrally.

Secondly, with regard to ICANN itself, the fact that ICANN is subject to 
US law is even more significant that NTIA's role in signing the root 
file of the Internet. The problem with NTIAs role was not whether it 
would routinely interfere with ICANN decisions, which it was careful 
enough to almost never do. It was the fact that the root of the Internet 
was under the control of US government, a control that could be misused 
at relatively extra-ordinary times, like a war, or other less dramatic 
foreign policy 'situations'. Nothing has changed in that regard. ICANN 
as a US non profit still remains fully subject to US laws, including 
such that are used in service of foreign policy imperatives.

One such law is theForeign Assets Control regulations, whereby any 
foreign asset in the US can be seized at any time, given the Executive's 
satisfaction of certain conditions. US corporations, and that includes 
ICANN can be barred from having any relationship with any entity in the 
country that this law may pick on for a larger number of possible 
reasons. There are also many other legal routes whereby ICANN can be 
legally instructed to disable entries on the root file, for instance, by 
a US court with regard to the top level domain of a generic drugs 
company which is found to be in repeated violation of US intellectual 
property laws.

In the circumstances, NTIA ceding its formal role of signing any root 
changes while having a significant symbolic significance, may not mean 
so much in real terms as it may appear at the first blush. Ceding the 
root signing authority must be accompanied with incorporation of ICANN 
as an international entity, under international law, with all its 
operations having complete immunity from US laws. This is the important 
part, and there seems to be no willingness at present to do so.


On Saturday 15 March 2014 03:36 PM, John Curran wrote:
> On Mar 15, 2014, at 5:30 AM, Nigel Hickson <nigel.hickson at icann.org> wrote:
>> ...
>> I hope and trust that the US announcement on IANA and the High Level
>> Meeting in Brazil will not signal the end of the dialogue. I, although
>> with some background on Internet Governance, have found the dialogue, and
>> the contribution of some of our leading thinkers on IG matters, to be of
>> real utility. I even feel confident of explaining IANA down the pub!
> If I am not mistaken, the USG announcement regarding IANA means that not only
> will the dialogue continue, but in addition, it now has a higher potential for
> outcomes that become reality.
> As Ali noted in an earlier post - "Be careful what you wish for"...
> :-)
> /John
> Disclaimer:  My views alone.
> _______________________________________________
> discuss mailing list
> discuss at 1net.org
> http://1net-mail.1net.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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