[discuss] cross-border issues in the Internet identifier registry system

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at cis-india.org
Mon Mar 17 19:08:33 UTC 2014

John Curran <jcurran at istaff.org> [2014-03-17 14:42:39]:
>    I acknowledge your point, but that is not "USG oversight of the IANA function";
>    it is other USG actions (not even Dept of Commerce related from what I can tell)

John, the limited point I was making was:

If a government's Internet censorship record is of importance to 
oversight (as David's mail would suggest), then I would say that the US 
government's Internet censorship record should count against it.

AFAIK, so far no government has used its powers to block an entire TLD, 
whereas, as you very well know, the US government has tried to apply 
non-GAC pressures to keep .xxx out of the root, and US lawmakers have 
tried to get .sucks out of the new gTLD programme.

>    Now the question we have to ask is whether we're trying to address the situation
>    of 'IANA Oversight" in a post-NTIA world, or "entire Internet registry system
>    oversight" (including DNS registries, registrars, IP registries, etc.)  The latter
>    is an issue of much large scope, and while it may certainly is worth discussing,
>    it's hard to tell whether it should take precedence (given its complexity) over
>    developing a transition plan for NTIA's role with respect to the IANA operations.

If we are concerned only about the future IANA-overseer going rogue, 
then having alternative IANA-compatible roots that ISPs and other DNS 
providers can shift to is the best safeguard, imho.  By IANA-compatible, 
I mean one that doesn't conflict with the namespace that the 
IANA-approved root provides.  (This would mean, at a minimum, that if it 
an address is available by using the IANA root, then it should be 
available by using the alternative root as well.)

>    One could argue that it is pointless to address oversight of the IANA operations
>    if the registry system itself is still subject to cross-border enforcement actions,
>    but cross-border enforcement actions against the entire DNS system globally, are
>    related to issues of sovereignty, and may not be something that can realistically
>    addressed in the near future.  Transitioning IANA oversight from NTIA looks to be
>    a task that is achievable in the immediate future; do you recommend we do not work
>    on it because of the cross-border issues that are presently happening throughout
>    the Internet identifier registry system?

I do no such thing.

I am merely suggesting that

  a) the censorship bogey is overplayed;
  b) that oversight of an administrative function is not as important as 
oversight over policy-development, and none of IANA's 4 main roles 
involves policy development —  the greater threat to free speech is in 
the policy development arena, not in the administrative function;
  c) the US government has not been a paragon of domain name free 
speech, even if the NTIA has not had no role to play in those decisions, 
and that the domain name seizures we've seen were possible *because* it 
was not cross-border action.  (It would have been domain name block has 
it been cross-border, not seizures; it would have affected the 
population of that country, but not the whole world.)

Pranesh Prakash
Policy Director, Centre for Internet and Society
T: +91 80 40926283 | W: http://cis-india.org
Access to Knowledge Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
M: +1 520 314 7147 | W: http://yaleisp.org
PGP ID: 0x1D5C5F07 | Twitter: https://twitter.com/pranesh_prakash

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