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SSIG - History and policy of Internet governance

I'm in Sao Paulo now, with a fellowship for the South School on Internet Governance 2010. Below are some notes I took.

The first presentation is from Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, University of Aarhus.


Currently there are many debates, including China and Google, the protection of intellectual property and it is an important thing to understand the history of the Internet governance to better deal with the future.

We may say there are 4 waves of Internet Governance (IG): the first one was a military from 1957-1970s with Darpa-Net. A second wave can be said to be academic, from the 70s to 90s with TCP/IP, followed by a third wave which was the commercial www from 90s to 2005. The 4th wave is the one of mass media, after 2005 when we have reached the mark of 2 billion users in 2010.

Wave 1
The beginning of the Internet had no central point, which was very different from all other communication architectures that existed till this moment. Thus, the destruction of a central point would be impossible. And this is important to take into consideration when looking at IG

Wave 2
On the second wave, individual people naturally came with innovations, as there was no master/central plan.

1960 - RFC - Steve Crocker
1971 - @ - Roy Tomlinson
1974 - TCP/IP - Vint Cerf & Bob Kahn
1975 - IAB - Dave Clark & Barry Leiner
1982 - SMTP - Jon Postel
1985 - DNS - Paul Mockapetris & Postel
1986 - IETF - Mike Corrigan
1991 - HTML - Tim Berners-Lee
1992 - ISOC - Cerf, Kahn & Chapin

The DNS deserves a few extra comments when we examine the second wave. From IPv4 to IPv6 we will achieve a great expansion to nearly endless numbers. These numbers are translated into names.

The gTLDs for the US were .mil, .gov and .edu, and .com, .org and .net were available to the entire world in the first model created by Jon Postel. When they wanted to go for domain names representing countries, it was noticed that this could become controversial, as many countries were not part of the United Nations - Switzerland, for example, only joined in the 1990s. The solution found was the use the ISO 3166 list.

There were discussions on how to manage all these resources related to the naming, and in the beginning this was done by Jon Postel himself as a one-man operation.

For this, the word chose was "governance" of the Internet, which differs from government. There were no ministers or administration bodies. Rather, a new type of decision making and policy development could be better represented by the idea of governance.

Wave 3
It is important to undertand the mindset of people who defined much of the Internet at this time. Here are some excerpts:

1991: WWW by Tim Berners Lee
"There is the idea that society can run without a hierarchical bureaucratic government being involved in every step, if only we can hit on the right set of rules for peer-peer interaction.Our design of the Internet and the Web is a search for a set of rules which will allow computers to work together in harmony. And our spiritual and social quest is for a set of rules which allow people to work together in harmony"

1996: JP Barlow and the Declaration of Independence:
"Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather."

1998: Lawrence Lessig and Code is Law
"In cyberspace we must understand how code regulates. We can build, or achitect and code cyberspace to protect values that we believe are fundamental or we can allow those values to disappear. There is no middle ground. Code is never found, it is only ever made and only ever made by us" - for us, studying IG, we have to understand that we have to work together with the technical community, and a new level of collaboration is required.

Vint Cerf:
"The question was would it be something that could be rolled out to the rest of the world? We did not know for sure but when we worked on it we decided not to patent, not to copyright not to contol but to share everything we knew about the internet design to the general public all around the world. What is amazing is that it was a US Department of Defense project and we were in the middle of the Cold War. In spite of all that we made all this completely available to everybody and the only reason it was possible is nobody paid any attention to us" (Computerworld Feb 2010)

This illustrates the point of innovation without permission. Can you imagine Google appearing if they had to ask permission to create a search engine?

Today, the Internet is on the spotlight and innovations are more complicated as many stakeholders want to assure their interests in freedom of expression, intellectual property, privacy and so on building up lot of disputes, also justifying the need for governance.

DNS Governance
1989: IANA - Jon Postel and Contract with the Department of Commerce
1994: ISOC - 150 new gTLDs (failed)
1997: IAHC - MoU with ITU, WIPO, INTA, IAB, IANA and ISOC (failed)
1998: ICANN - private corporation under Californian Law linked via a MoU to the US DoC

The domain name market is today a multibillion dollar business. At the time, 35 dollars were paid for one domain. In 1998 the domain names made of dictionary words were already depleted. If too many domain names were made available, there would be a surplus that could hurt the financial interests of some parties.

The mandate of ICANN is root server, domain names and ip addresses.

The most important body for decisions is the board od directors, representing different constituencies of the Internet world. These are the GNSO, CNSO, ASO, and advisory committees such as GAC, ALAC, RSSAC, SSAC, TLG.

ICANN principles: security and stability, bottom up policy development process, competition, multistakeholder.

Wave 4: WSIS Geneva
The controversy was the clash on the oversight over Internet resources. China did not like the private sector leadership of the Internet proposed by the US. The role of governemnts for an Internet with more than one billion users was discussed.

ITU v. ICANN - what would be the implications? Would we still have policy development process in a bottom up way?
Narrow definition v. Broad definition

The compromise was not private sector leadership nor government leadership, but rather a multistakeholder approach with collaboration.

The broad definition was that Internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision making procedures and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet.

PrepCom III - the US published 4 basic principles, where security and stability has first priority, ICANN being the appropriate institution for technical coordination, sovereignty over national DNS (some people called this the Digital Yalta) and more discussion needed. They did not want ICANN to be placed under an intergovernmental system or organization.

In Tunis 2005, general principles were proposed such as multirstakeholderism, ccTLD sovereignty, governmental role in ublic policy issues, equeal role of all governments in guaranteeing the stability and security of the internet. The Internet governance forum was crated with multistakehdoler discussion platform and no decision making capacity. The process of enhanced cooperation did not have consensus about its interpretation, but only the better coordination and collaboration among the involved institutions and organizations.

Since Tunis what we have seen is that in the ICANN world the joint project agreement came and was substituted by the Affirmation of Commitments. The new US amdinistration (Cyber Czar in the White House). There is still the IANA contract, to expire next year, raising new issues. But overall the situation is more relaxed on what concerns the role of the US government in the Internet.

IGF: 5 IGFs in Athens, Rio, Hyderabad, Sharm and Vilnius. This is a platform where all stakeholders can talk about anything.

ITU: from resolution 102 (Antalya/nov 2006) to the ITU plenipotentiaty conference (Guadalajara nov/2010). These are held every 4 years and as the ITU wants a role in IP addresses, handling IP addresses to governments, there are some battles expected. Wolfgang does not expect big changes as the outcome of this process.

OECD/EU/COE: ministerial conference on internet economy in jul 2008, EC: Redings G12 / EP: ICANN 3.0. COE: legal instrument? The CoE has pushed for a regional IGF in Europe.

Enhanced cooperation: report to and by the UN SG.

ICANN's agenda is also growing. The security of the Internet has extentions to DNSSec and eCrime. New gTLDs, and GEO-TLDs. iDNs for ccTLDs and gTLDs. IPv4 transition to IPv6. Whois Database, access to and use of individual data of registrants. And the At Large Summit are some of the issues, including voting rights in the board, consumer user protection and protection of domain names (Register Fly) and the Internet Bill of Rights.

In 2010 we can say that the political environment has changed and even though private sector leadership is a good principle, governments have a very important role to play. In 2015 we will probably have 4 billion users, a multiligual internet, all types of converged services, multistakeholder governance, multilayer multiplayer mechanisms, communication, coordination and cooperation, internet of things, beyond dns

Network: unification v. fragmentation. PDP: top-down v. bottom-up. Management: multistakeholder self-organziation v. governmental & commercial control.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure: internet governance will remain the subject of hight level political controversy and will be linked to power and money.
Creative Commons License
Blog posts written by Seiiti Arata on #SSIG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Brazil License.

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Comment by Seiiti on March 22, 2010 at 2:18pm
Thanks, Cynthia! I'm still editing the rest :)
Comment by Cynthia Solis on March 22, 2010 at 2:16pm
Great report Seiiti, congrats!

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