[discuss] [ianatransition] Fwd: [IP] WSJ: The Internet Power Vacuum Worsens

Seth Johnson seth.p.johnson at gmail.com
Mon Sep 8 22:09:14 UTC 2014

On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 11:42 AM, Nigel Roberts <nigel at roberts.co.uk> wrote:

>  Patricio is, as I would expect, absolutely correct.
> And it's very important to note the distinction between policy that is
> either binding, or is taken to be so by the actors involved, and a "news
> memo" which Jon dashed off when he was getting awkward letters from a
> number of governments asking him why he "gave away the countries TLDs" to
> private individuals and companies.

(or, more generally, much of the output produced by the type of consensus
standards-making which characterizes the type of stewardship context we've
worked within for so long)


> On 09/08/2014 05:53 PM, Patricio Poblete wrote:
> Mike,
>  You are probably thinking of the sentence "The IANA takes the desires of
> the government of the country very seriously". That is not in RFC1591. It
> appeared later in ccTLD News Memo #1.
>  Patricio
> On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 12:56 PM, Mike Roberts <mmr at darwin.ptvy.ca.us>
> wrote:
>>  Did anyone think that right wing America Firsters wouldn’t use as much
>> FUD as they could muster to try to derail the NTIA initiative?  Check some
>> of the Congressional grand stand statements.
>>  This mess of mistatement and innuendo is SOP.
>>  A “majority” of governments are authoritarian?  That’s a pretty big
>> paintbrush.
>>  As Jon Postel said way back in 1591, governments do matter.
>>  Multistakeholderism without a role for governments isn’t going to work.
>>  ICANN is actually trying to smoke out behind the scenes gorilla behavior
>> in the GAC by requiring recorded votes with a majority needed for “advice.”
>>  Raising the Board threshold for rejecting the advice is a nominal quid pro
>> quo with little effect.
>>  - Mike
>>  On Sep 8, 2014, at 6:49 AM, Miles Fidelman <mfidelman at meetinghouse.net>
>> wrote:
>>  Well, isn't this a nice kettle of fish.
>> -------- Forwarded Message --------
>>  The Internet Power Vacuum Worsens The U.S. hasn't even abandoned its
>> Web protection yet, and authoritarians are making their move.
>>  By
>>       Sept. 7, 2014 5:11 p.m. ET
>> The Obama administration plan to give up U.S. protection of the open
>> Internet won't take effect for a year, but authoritarian governments are
>> already moving to grab control. President Obama is learning it's as
>> dangerous for America to create a vacuum of power in the digital world as
>> in the real one.
>> In March the administration asked Icann, the Internet Corporation for
>> Assigned Names and Numbers, to suggest a plan for overseeing the Internet
>> after September 2015, when U.S. governance is scheduled to end. The U.S.
>> charged this group, which maintains the root-zone file of domain names and
>> addresses, with somehow finding mechanisms to prevent other governments
>> from undermining the permissionless, free-speech Internet built under U.S.
>> oversight.
>> Instead, Icann set up a process to hand control over to governments.
>> Under the current "multistakeholder" system, an advisory group of
>> governments has only as much power as other stakeholders, such as Web
>> registries, website owners, free-speech groups and other nonprofits. But in
>> August, Icann quietly proposed changing its bylaws to rubber-stamp
>> government decisions unless two-thirds of the Icann board objects. In turn,
>> Iran has proposed that the government group move to majority voting from
>> the current consensus approach. That would enable the world's majority of
>> authoritarian governments to rewire the Internet more to their liking.
>>    Enlarge Image
>>  Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
>> What will this mean? Authoritarian governments could for the first time
>> censor the Web globally, not just in their own countries. Russia could get
>> Icann to withdraw Ukrainian sites. China could engineer the world-wide
>> removal of sites supporting freedom for Hong Kong or Tibet. Iran could
>> censor its critics in the U.S. Website operators could also expect new
>> global fees and regulations.
>> Such a change "would fundamentally transform Icann away from being a
>> 'bottom-up' and 'private sector-led' organization and into a governmental
>> regulatory agency," wrote Robin Gross, a former chairman of the Icann group
>> representing nonprofits, on the CircleID blog. "Why Icann would voluntarily
>> choose to empower non-democratic governments with an even greater say over
>> global Internet policies as this bylaw change would do is anyone's guess."
>> The Internet Commerce Association, which represents Web businesses, warns
>> that the proposal "would transform Icann into a government-led
>> organization," which is "completely counter" to the U.S. requirement that
>> the Internet remain free of government control.
>> In a speech in July, a U.S. Commerce Departmentofficial played down the
>> danger. "The idea that governments could enhance their influence within
>> Icann by changing its rules to allow for a majority vote on policy issues
>> reflects a misunderstanding of the policymaking process at Icann," said
>> Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling. Wrong. Mr. Strickling and his
>> administration colleagues have misunderstood how serious other governments
>> are about filling the vacuum of power with repression.
>> Icann also upset all its major stakeholder groups by ignoring their
>> demand to make it more accountable absent U.S. oversight. Stakeholders had
>> instructed Icann to create an "independent accountability mechanism that
>> provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by Icann
>> action or inaction in contravention of an agreed-upon compact with the
>> community." Instead, Icann announced that it would oversee itself.
>> A dozen stakeholder groups quickly sent Icann chief Fadi Chehade a letter
>> objecting. "How does Icann intend to handle the inherent conflict of
>> interest with developing its own accountability plan?" they asked. "Why
>> didn't Icann invite proposals from the community and why wasn't the
>> community involved in the drafting of the staff plan?"
>> An objection sent jointly by business and nonprofit stakeholder groups to
>> the Icann board said: "This plan, imposed on the community without
>> transparency and without the opportunity for public comment, creates
>> inconsistency, disregards proper Icann procedure, injects unfairness into
>> the process and defeats the purpose of the entire accountability
>> examination."
>> Philip Corwin, a lawyer specializing in Icann issues, calls pushback
>> against the organization "unprecedented." Last week, Icann agreed to put
>> off the new rules, but only for a brief comment period.
>> Much of the blame for the splintering of the multistakeholder system lies
>> with Mr. Obama's naïveté in putting Internet governance up for grabs. He
>> underestimated the importance of Washington's control in maintaining an
>> open Internet—and the desire among other governments to close the Internet.
>> And there still is no plan to keep Icann free from control by governments.
>> Administration officials pledged to Congress that the U.S. would keep
>> control over the Internet if the alternative was to empower other
>> governments or if there isn't full accountability for Icann. Both red lines
>> have been crossed.
>> If Mr. Obama persists, Congress should block his plan with a simple
>> message: The open Internet is too valuable to surrender.
>>    1.
>>    <http://online.wsj.com/articles/l-gordon-crovitz-the-internet-power-vacuum-worsens-1410124265#>
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