Agenda-setting Report for WGIG Released
Date: Tuesday September 14 2004, @05:12AM
Topic: WSIS

The Internet Governance Project (IGP) issued a set of reports analyzing the current “state of play” in Internet governance. The reports were commissioned by the United Nations’ Information and Communication Technology Task Force as an input into the deliberations of the UN Secretary-General’s Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG).

The report attempts to identify all the international organizations and agreements affecting the Internet, and points out where there are conflicts and gaps. It also takes on the thorny task of defining what exactly is the "Internet" and what falls within the scope of "Internet governance" for the purposes of the WGIG deliberations.

The report and tables have been submitted to Markus Kummer, the Secretariat of the WGIG. On September 20, the report will be presented by one of its authors, Professor Milton Mueller, in Geneva, Switzerland at a consultation organized by the Secretariat of the Working Group. The members of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance are expected to be chosen by Secretary-General Kofi Annan a week or two after the consultation.

The idea of preparing a "matrix" clarifying which international organizations are involved in which issue-areas emerged from the ITU Geneva meeting in February 2004 and the UN ICT Task Force's Global Forum in New York City a month later. At those meetings, it became clear that there were already many forms of "Internet governance" going on, from ICANN to the existing and pending WIPO treaties dealing with copyright and Internet broadcasting. Objections raised by ISOC and the International Chamber of Commerce that "governance" was threatening and unnecessary thus dissipated, and the argument shifted to the assertion that existing regimes and international organizations were doing fine and should be left to tend to their knitting.

The IGP report also stakes out new ground on the difficult issue of defining "Internet" and "Internet governance." Until now, concepts of internet governance tended to move to one of two extremes: those who wanted to define it extremely narrowly, as basically what ICANN does, and those who equated Internet governance with a mandate to investigate virtually any and every international issue related to information and communication technologies (ICTs). The IGP report takes a carefully considered middle ground, defining "Internet" in terms of the specific protocols used. It notes that physical layer and layer 2 issues are out of scope as TCP/IP pertain only to layer 3 and above. However, a broad number of international issues that go well beyond ICANN's scope must also be categorized as "Internet governance." This includes such things as IPR protection in digitized information that use the Internet for dissemination and exchange, surveillance and privacy issues as they pertain to ISPs and Internet users, several trade and ecommerce issues that involve Internet use, attempts to impose content regulation on the Internet, and the economic accounting and charging arrangements affecting internet interconnection - including, of course, the things ICANN is involved in.

The report asks global and national authorities to come to terms with what it calls two basic facts about the Internet: its nonterritorial nature and the end to end principle. It also calls upon the state-driven international system to "find a foundation of legitimacy and accountability" for non-state actors such as IETF and ICANN.

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ICANN Ignores Critics, Competitors At Its Peril
by sarahbrooks on Thursday September 16 2004, @05:03AM (#14151)
User #4022 Info
While it is natural for organizations to resist criticism, there’s a serious problem with ICANN refusing to take legitimate criticism seriously. If ICANN doesn’t address its serious critics, and mature as an organization quickly, the Internet community may well coalesce behind an international governing body such as the ITU, and leave ICANN behind in a dust cloud of irrelevance.

While ICANN openly bristles at it’s critics calls that it become more open, inclusive, and transparent, it should remember that it is far more dangerous a game to ignore its potential competitors. Listen to how the ITU is selling its Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG):
"As outlined at the PrepCom in Hammamet, one of our priorities is to make sure that the process ahead of us is as open, inclusive and transparent as possible. To this end, the Secretariat is organizing consultations open to all Governments and stakeholders on the establishment of the WGIG, its structure and working methods as well as the scope of its work.
  Is ICANN paying attention? Those of us in the competitive marketplace know when we are being challenged. Does ICANN?

ICANN, NTIA, and yes, even us critics should be careful to remember that the whole framework under which ICANN is “governing” the Internet is a very new, very fragile construct that is subject to review and replacement. We all might be shocked by how quickly the Internet community leaves the ICANN regulatory regime and elects an ITU regulatory regime in its place.

I for one do not fear a competition between ITU and ICANN, since it is likely to pressure both bodies to offer not just the best collective “deal,” but the best “process” for Internet producers, users, and brokers.

But ICANN should not kid itself that its current de facto monopoly status will last indefinitely. It will not. Potential competitors are out there, they are paying attention to the dissatisfaction with ICANN, and they are seeking entry into ICANN’s “market.” ICANN may chose to dismiss its critics, but it dismisses its competitors at its peril.
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Re:Go Milton - Our WMD
by Mueller ({mueller} {at} {syr.edu}) on Tuesday September 14 2004, @01:45PM (#14148)
User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/
Hi, Fleming! You sure spend a lot of time here! We appreciate your patronage!

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  • This article comes from ICANNWatch
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