[discuss] Igov2 project contribution to NETmundial

Francis Augusto Medeiros francis at francisaugusto.com
Tue Mar 25 09:21:49 UTC 2014

Dear all,

Please find below the contribution sent by the Igov2 project - a research team hosted at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law - to the NETmundial meeting.

All the best,

Francis Augusto Medeiros

I. Introduction

This submission is made by members of the Igov2 project at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law (NRCCL).[1] Its intention is to contribute to the NETmundial meeting in São Paulo, Brazil. The thrust of the submission is to support the IGP proposal.[2] In addition, it highlights the following discussion points:

·      Jurisdictional issues

·      Maturity and credibility of the DNSA

·      Remit of the DNSA

·      Control by governmental or intergovernmental organizations

II. Jurisdictional issues

The IGP proposal does not address or suggest a potential location for the legal entity (“DNSA”) that will, under the proposal, assume responsibility for the technical administration of the root and other IANA functions. The Igov2 project believes that the DNSA initiative by the IGP presents a good opportunity to complete the globalization of the governance of Internet identifiers by establishing the DNSA in a location outside of the U.S. However, by choosing a jurisdiction outside of the U.S., the DNSA will inevitably face compliance challenges arising from that jurisdiction. Some of these challenges may differ from those that would pertain in the U.S.

There are clear advantages in transferring the IANA functions to an organization located in a country such as Switzerland, which has laws that offer many benefits for international organizations, including certain levels of institutional immunity.  Choosing Switzerland, located in Europe but not a member of the EU, may also be more satisfactory to the U.S. government. The same would pertain to Norway as a potential DNSA location. Locating the DNSA in such a country would also represent an important milestone in addressing the unrest surrounding the U.S.-centric administration of the DNS.

III. Maturity and Credibility of the DNSA

One reason for the U.S. government’s intention to relinquish oversight of IANA is that “ICANN as an organization has matured and taken steps in recent years to improve its accountability and transparency and its technical competence” (NTIA, 2014). Although the idea of separating the technical function from the policy decisions in the IGP proposal is commendable, establishing a new and independent organization, which is untested, and entrusting it with an important function potentially contradicts one of NTIA’s primary reasons for transferring the function. Work must go into establishing an appropriate mechanism so that the DNSA can borrow from ICANN’s experience in running IANA. The mechanism may well be contractual.


IV. Remit of the DNSA

It must be clear in which circumstances the DNSA would have discretion in performing the IANA functions and where the division between technical and policy functions precisely lies. Certain technical decisions may also have results that affect policy, or are political by their nature. It is important to note that while IGP’s proposal offers some forms of accountability or redress (primarily, the use of competition law to prevent certain market abuses), there could be other issues that might not necessarily consist of anti-competitive behavior, but nevertheless would affect other values that are the core of what is desired in Internet governance, such as respect for human rights. Although the model suggested by IGP in which the DNSA consists of TLD registries is a good starting point, consideration ought to be given to including other actors. We are seeing a dramatic increase of new registries as a result of the gTLD expansion. This might lead to an overrepresentation of “Western” actors in the DNSA.

V. Control by governmental or intergovernmental organizations

The NTIA statement unequivocally rejects the replacement of the NTIA role by government-led or inter-governmental organization (NTIA, 2014). The DNSA consortium as proposed by the IGP includes ccTLD operators. At present, the root zone database shows that more than 25% of the ccTLDs are operated by governments or by private entities with the appropriate national government’s acquiescence. This at least implies that the DNSA proposal would bring some government element into the governance of the domain name system, which may be at odds with the thrust of the NTIA’s statement. The Igov2 project maintains that there should be some external participation in the DNSA as well. This would come not just from government agencies, but also from technical bodies and civil society generally.

VI. Conclusion

The Igov2 project welcomes further discussions with the goal of establishing an organization outside of the U.S. to manage the IANA function. There is now a unique opportunity to advance a transfer that is in the global interest.


[1] Full title: “Governance of the Domain Name System and the Future Internet (Igov2)”. See further http://www.jus.uio.no/ifp/english/research/projects/nrccl/internet-governance/index.html. This submission reflects the views of the core Igov2 project team at the NRCCL. The submission does not necessarily reflect the views of the organisations funding Igov2, nor the views of other collaborators on the project.

[2] Internet Governance Project (IGP), ‘A roadmap for globalizing IANA,’ available at http://www.internetgovernance.org/2014/03/03/a-roadmap-for-globalizing-iana/. 

Francis Augusto Medeiros
Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law
Mobile: +47 45 17 14 91
Work: +47 22 85 00 88 
Oslo, Norway

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