The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 24

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on Internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue 24, May 2, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • Following the NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance held in São Paulo, Brazil last week, a range of participants and Internet stakeholders have published their opinions regarding the outcomes of the meeting. There is a wide agreement that the meeting was significant simply for having taken place at all, for using innovative processes to collect comments and enable participation, and for creating a setting in which stakeholders were all on an even footing when speaking –especially governments. However, there is also a wide disappointment that the meeting did not produce more concrete outcomes and that several issues such as intellectual property, surveillance, and net neutrality are not given emphasis in the meeting’s outcome document.
  • There is a great deal of public backlash against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Open Internet proposal (following a strike-down of its previous Open Internet proposal by a federal appeals court in January). The FCC is now calling for public input on its new proposal to determine the “commercial reasonableness” of a pay-for-priority system between Internet content and service providers.
  • ICANN has launched an “accountability update” process as a parallel and interdependent process to the process of creating the IANA transition proposal. The accountability update will likely update ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) and address issues of oversight for ICANN in a new arrangement in which the performance of the IANA functions is not overseen exclusively by the U.S. government.


DelBianco, Steve. Parallel Processes: ICANN Accountability and the IANA Transition. CircleID. April 28, 2014.

  • DelBianco describes ICANN’s announcement during the NETmundial meeting that it would launch a “community-driven process to strengthen its accountability” and that this process would be “’interdependent’ with the transition of IANA functions away from U.S. Government oversight”. DelBianco argues that “an ICANN accountability update will be critical in determining how ICANN maintains and expands its global legitimacy in a post-transition world” and observes that the accountability update process is an opportunity to think about accountability and what it means in the context of multistakeholderism.

Webinar: Briefing About the Upcoming Review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) April 23, 2014.

  • On May 7th from 13:00 to 14:00 UTC, ICANN will hold a webinar briefing “regarding the upcoming Review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization”. The objective of the Review is to “examine organizational effectiveness of the GNSO, including its structure components (GNSO Council, GNSO Working Groups, GNSO Stakeholder Groups and Constituencies)”. ICANN is also seeking a provider to conduct an independent review of the GNSO –the announcement is here.

Internet Governance

Brown, Kathy. NETmundial: Variations on a Theme – Multistakeholder Consensus Building in Action. Internet Society. April 28, 2014.

  • Brown, President and CEO of the Internet Society, describes NETmundial as a novel process and event, especially because the NETmundial model “was created by the organizers in a way that reflected their own sensibilities around a central commitment to inclusion AND a strong intention to produce a tangible outcome” and combined many elements (in a sense, “best practices”) of other Internet governance meetings –e.g. of the IETF, or of UN meetings—to create a novel meeting format and structure. Brown argues that the NETmundial outcome document “was carefully created through a homegrown process and reflects, perhaps imperfectly, but nevertheless powerfully, the concerns and aspirations of the participants”.

Chao, Loretta. Brazil Internet Conference Ends Divided on Key Issues. The Wall Street Journal. April 25, 2014.

  • The outcome document produced by the NETmundial meeting this week has been described as “watered down” and “not sufficiently [moving] us beyond the status quo in terms of protection of fundamental rights and the balancing of power and the influence of different stakeholder groups”. The non legally-binding outcome document does not take a strong stance on issues such as surveillance and network neutrality, which are included in the document as items for further discussion in other Internet governance fora. Nevertheless the NETmundial meeting is widely considered a success because it brought many different stakeholders together and generated a “momentum” to discuss these issues further.

Daniel, Michael, Strickling,  Lawrence E., Sepulveda, Daniel, Painter, Christopher and Busby, Scott. A Major Win for the Open Internet. The White House Blog. April 30, 2014.

  • The Authors highlight NETMundial’s success, noting they “applauded to affirm the Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo, the ideas it presents, the ideals it embraces, and the multistakeholder process that made it possible.” Using the NETmundial statement as a “solid starting point,” the authors suggest that those interested in Internet governance will look next to the “Freedom Online Coalition meeting … in Estonia, the ICANN High Level event in London, and the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul.”

Gross, Robin. A Civil Society Perspective on NETmundial Final Outcome: A Remarkable Achievement Despite Losses. CircleID. April 27, 2014.

  • Writing from the perspective of civil society, Gross argues that the NETmundial outcome document represents “a positive advancement in the evolution of Internet governance, social justice, and Internet freedom”. Gross argues that, even while the document’s specific wording may not be strongly specific to the particular goals and objectives of civil society stakeholders, it nevertheless contains most of the issues civil society fought to bring into the NETmundial discussions –an achievement for civil society, as the document will inform further Internet governance discussions.

Hersh, Emma, Quentin. Celebrating Girls and ICT: The Great Equalizer in Global Development. Vital Voices Global Partnerships Blog. April 24, 2014.

  • In recognition of Girls In ICT Day, Vital Voices’ Emma Hersh outlines the potential of ICTs to lead to better development outcomes for women and girls. One such project is the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) funded VVLead Fellowship Program, which partners with women ICT leaders to help development-themed ICT projects reach women across several countries in African to create a new generation of women who use ICT for advocacy and global development.

Huston, Geoff. RIP Network Neutrality. CircleID. April 26, 2014.

  • Huston dives in on network neutrality, discussing the “ongoing tensions between Internet carriage and content service providers” in the US. He discusses a number of topics, including: (a) the Verizon vs. the FCC case; (b) some less-likely FCC options to ensure net neutrality moving forward, e.g., to appeal the Verizon case (which the Commission is not doing), or to reclassify service providers as common carriers (an idea many ISPs and cable providers do not support); (c) where content providers like Netflix and Apple have landed in these debates; (d) a similar dispute between Samsung and Korea Telecom from 2012; (e) Internet access business models; (f) who’s to blame – the consumer, content provider, access carriage provider, or all?; and (g) what regulators should do given this context?

Kampmark, Binoy. Liberalising Internet Governance: ICANN and the Role of Governments. Index on Censorship. May 1, 2014.

  • Kampmark remarks that with regards to Internet governance, “visions of governance tend to vary”. In particular, there are many differing opinions as to the role of the state and of governments in Internet governance. The benefits of governmental involvement in Internet governance are not always obvious; for example, the U.S. government’s relinquishing of oversight over ICANN is counter-intuitively meant to be a way for the U.S. to strengthen its ability to use the Internet to advance it’s foreign policy agenda. Ultimately, Kampmark observes that “no one seems to be clear what exactly these [governance reforms] will do to the way the internet is used”.

Keating, Joshua. Vladimir Putin Wants His Own Internet. Slate. April 25, 2014.

  • This week at a media forum in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the Internet a “CIA project” and said it “is still developing as such.” His comments came days after CEO of one of Russia’s largest social media sites “fled the country saying he had been forced to resign … after he refused to share users’ personal data with the authorities.”  This week also marked passage of legislation in the Russian parliament that may require data localization as well as a new rule requiring popular bloggers to register with the government.

J.P. An Online Risorgimento. The Economist. April 26, 2014.

  • This article argues that in the midst of large global debates regarding the restructuring of Internet governance, it is unclear what “new beginning” the Internet can expect –considering, for example, that the NETmundial outcome document in some ways “was a tacit acknowledgement that the web works rather well as things stand”. The article warns that in addressing issues such as intellectual property, security, and human rights online, decision-makers should not subvert “the properties which have made the web so successful”.

Johnson, David. The Unanswered Questions of NetMundial. Internet Governance Project. April 30, 2014.

  • Johnson commends the NetMundial meeting and the “sense of commitment to a free and open internet” that emerged. He stresses, however, the hard questions that need to be answered moving forward, including: “1. Whether and how the multi-stakeholder process can be used to make binding decisions in a way that respects the human rights values so strongly voiced at the conference; 2. Whether and to what degree Internet governance mechanisms developed or strengthened as a result of the meeting will be used to govern online behavior as well as the technical operation of the net.”

Mueller, Milton. NETmundial Moves Net Governance Beyond WSIS. Internet Governance Project. April 27, 2014.

  • Mueller argues that the most significant outcome and success of the NETmundial meeting was not about specific policy issues, but about “the overall approach to global Internet governance, the nature of the ‘ecosystem’ itself”. Mueller observes that the NETmundial outcome document repudiated the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Tunis Agenda, particularly because the document “explicitly endorses a form of multistakeholder governance in which non state actors have rough parity with state actors”. Mueller also argues that NETmundial is also significant for proving that “a relatively open process could produce an agreed outcome document” that “commands international legitimacy” and that other Internet governance discussions should learn from the NETmundial model.

Myers, Sarah. NETmundial Closes With Thorny Issues Left Unaddressed. Global Voices Advocacy. April 25, 2014.

  • Discussing the outcomes of the NETmundial meeting, Myers points out that many stakeholders are disappointed that some issues were not fully addressed –e.g. that the NETmundial outcome document does not address net neutrality, or that it provides no timeline for concrete action following NETmundial. However, all stakeholders agree that “the meeting’s greatest achievement is that it happened at all” and that NETmundial built momentum for further broadly representative discussions.

Powles, Julia. Big Business Was the Winner at NETmundial. Wired. April 28, 2014.

  • Powles remarks that NETmundial and its outcomes show that the “multistakeholder” model can be captured by the interests and power of stakeholders other than governments –and suggests that “in multistakeholder discourse, corporate giants are welcomed with open arms and given a massive stake”. In particular, Powles points to the lack of strong or concrete wording regarding mass surveillance, intellectual property, and other Internet issues –including, for example, net neutrality and intermediary liability—in the NETmundial outcome document.

Who are the World’s Most Internet-Connected Countries?Computer Business Review. April 24, 2014.

  • Business school INSEAD has released its Global Information Technology Report 2014, which covers over 148 countries based on “their degree of Internet connectivity among businesses, governments and individuals, and other factors.” Finland sits atop the list. The United Kingdom has dropped from 7th to 9th place, and the data indicates “the growing disparity of ‘digital divide’ between developed and emerging economies.” The report argues that countries should “look beyond ICT infrastructure development to increase their competitiveness and incorporate an integrated strategy to create the right environment for skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Wyatt, Edward. Stern Talk From Chief of F.C.C. on Open Net. The New York Times. April 30, 2014.

  • Federal Communications Commission chairman, Tom Wheeler, addressed cable and broadband execs this week about a lack of competition in the industry. The address came two weeks before the first draft of new “open Internet rules” will be released by the FCC for public comment. Wheeler stressed that these new rules are intended to prevent “big broadband and cable companies from blocking access to innovative new technologies and start-ups that might emerge as competitors.” However, some remain skeptical. For instance, Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge has expressed doubt regarding how the proposed rules can “allow avenues for paid prioritization and yet still serve as a pillar for net neutrality.”

Yu, Eileen. US Arrogance Puts Further Doubt on Cloud Data Sovereignty. ZDNet. April 28, 2014.

  • A case in which U.S. prosecutors issued a search warrant to Microsoft to obtain a customer’s email data stored in Ireland raises issues of cloud data sovereignty that Yu argues puts doubt on U.S. companies that claim their customers’ cloud data is secure. Microsoft has filed a motion to overturn the request for overseas data; Yu suggests that if Microsoft’s motion fails, it sets a precedent for governments to be able to access cloud data stored outside their borders.

Papers & Reports

Rosenzweig, Paul. Governing a Distributed Network: Common Goods and Emergence. Draft Working Paper for The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Conference on the Future of Cyber Governance, Forthcoming. April 27, 2014.

  • This paper argues that cyberspace has a “fundamentally internationalized and decentralized nature” and that the governance of cyberspace and the Internet should, in turn, follow this decentralized structure through a “governance architecture that is adapted to the distributed and dynamic nature of the network that we seek to govern”. This paper concludes with concrete recommendations for improving Internet governance, with the hypothesis that “these recommendations will focus on enhancing non-regulatory frameworks, mostly outside the existing structures of sovereign state control”.

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