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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    WSIS WGIG shows a little leg at ICANN
    posted by Mueller on Wednesday July 13 2005, @12:30AM

    Eight ICANN-affiliated members of the Working Group on Internet Governance, along with Chair Nitin Desai and Executive Coordinator Markus Kummer, discussed the pending WGIG Report at the ICANN meeting.

    Discussion was oddly constrained by the fact that the report had not been publicly released yet, although the report itself is not what one could call a well-kept secret. Kummer stated that the report would be posted to the WGIG website tomorrow (July 14), and allowed himself to broadly discuss the main conclusions of the report and such things as its definition of Internet Governance.

    Kummer's presentation stated that the Report recognizes that IG goes beyond names and addresses; i.e., ITU lost its attempt to focuse the group exclusively on ICANN. (The report does, however, contain a gratuitous plug for ITU's Next Generation Network [NGN] standards-setting process.)

    The definition of governance involves more than names and addresses, including such things as free expression, intellectual property, interconnection charges and arrangements, and more. It is also defined in a way that recognized "multistakeholderism;" governance is conducted not just by governments but also involves business, civil society, the technical commnunity and academics. But each stakeholder is supposed to be confined to "their respective roles," leaving undefined the issue of how large or small those roles are in any given area.

    The committee could not agree on specific arrangements for governmental/inter-governmental involvement in this broader arena. Four different models concerning "oversight arrangements" were proposed. The group did, however, agree to create a new "multistakeholder forum" where Internet Governance issues and proposals could be raised and discussed. This forum would not have any negotiating power or binding authority, but would allow the gaps and overlaps among current regimes to be addressed.

    A number of good questions were asked about the proposal to create a new, open "multistakeholder forum." An ICANN participant associated with the Intellectual Property constituency wanted to know how its activities and decisions would be related to other (read: WIPO) institutions. Others asked tough questions about whether such a forum would attract participation given its lack of power. Was it a cynical way to provide a forum for people to "let off steam" to no effect? The ubiquitous Marilyn Cade, however, asked whether such a forum might draw people's energy and time away from existing forums such as ICANN. Overall, one sensed no enthusiastic support in the crowd for the concept, but also no strong opposition, either.

    Regarding the more difficult problem of governments' role, only one of the four models in the report had an advocate on the panel. WGIG member Avri Doria, a technical consultant with some involvement in IETF, expressed her strong preference for a model that involves removing US Government oversight of ICANN, leaving it independent of all other governments, and perhaps strengthening GAC within it. This arrangement would of course be supplemented by the new multistakeholder forum.

    The most intense discussions concerned the role of intergovernmental treaties in Internet Governance and the role of the US Government in oversight of ICANN. Several WGIG members, most notably Wolfgang Kleinwachter, viewed the strong NTIA statement as a negotiating tactic. But Kleinwachter welcomed the statement, saying that it represented a missing voice in the WGIG. The USG was not represented on WGIG. With that on the table, Kleinwachter said, we can find a way to move forward.

    There was also a lot of discussion of development and developing countries. Developing country governments have been leading critics of the ICANN regime and the WGIG report itself, according to Kummer, accorded "central importance" to development objectives and to improving participation of developing countries people in international policy making. In a side conversation with the reporter, ICANN Board member Veni Markovsy observed that ICANN, ISOC and related organizations have a lot of activities going in developing countries, but it is the developing country governments, not the citizens, who are really the dissatisfied parties. Others, including George Sadowsky of ISOC, viewed ICT development as more of a national policy issue thana global governance issue. Association for Progressive Communications' Karen Banks, a WGIG member, said nevertheless that the new proposed multistakeholder forum would enhance the voice of developing country participants The toughest and least answerable questions concerned funding: would the new MSF have the resources to fly people to meetings, or would new forms of interaction using the Internet be developed?

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      Related Links  
    · ITU
    · IETF
    · US Nat'l Telecom & Info Admin.
    · Government Advisory Committee
    · ICANN
    · Next Generation Network [NGN]
    · strong NTIA statement
    · the pending WGIG Report
    · More WSIS stories
    · Also by Mueller
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    WGIG shows a little leg at ICANN | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 2 comments | Search Discussion
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    theregister.co.uk coverage
    by fnord ({groy2k} {at} {yahoo.com}) on Wednesday July 13 2005, @09:25AM (#15718)
    User #2810 Info
    Kieren McCarthy's take [theregister.co.uk] on it. -g
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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