Vint Cerf explains NTIA oversight transition

Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) manages Internet Number resources. The NTIA of the United States has maintained a role of oversight over the coordination of the IANA functions, but has recently announced its intention to transition the oversight function to the multi-stakeholder community.

Vint Cerf is a father of the Internet—and he made this video to clear up some confusion about who manages the Internet’s address book in the video below.

( http://www.google.com/takeaction/vint/video.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=google&utm_content=4+-+httpstakeactionwithgooglecomusvintvideo&utm_campaign=20140723VintColbert1-US-actives2&source=20140723VintColbert1-US-actives2 )

Letter to the Government of India on India’s position on IANA Transition and Multi-Stakeholder model of Internet Governance

Recently the National Telecommunications and Information Association of United States announced its intention to step down from this role of oversight by asking the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS).

In this background, Government of India has made an initial Statement on the transition of oversight of IANA functions from NTIA to multi-stakeholder oversight. Extracts from the letter from the Government of India as initial statement on transition copied below, with our concerns expressed seeking to improve the position of the Government in a manner that it would be more fair and more benevolent:

Download the PDF file On the Government of Indias initial statement on the IANA transition process-letter from the Internet Society India Chennai.

Report by the Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms

The Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms released its final report on how to evolve the Internet governance ecosystem. The report also presents a roadmap and timeline for the future management of the Internet.

Download the PDF file ICANN Panel on Internet Governance.

Join us on a letter to the Government of India to keep the Internet Free and Open

Recently the National Telecommunications and Information Association of United States announced its intention to step down from this role of oversight by asking the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS).

The Government of India provided the following input, signed by Shri J Satyanarayana, Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, whom I have an occasion to meet at the Internet Governance Forum at Baku, Azerbaizan two years ago.  The Comments at the end of this post on the Government’s input are presented here respectfully.

Download the PDF file Government of India inputs on IANA transition.

The PDF file above documents the Government’s views. What follows below is a write up on relevant history and the key issues, followed by quotes of the Governments inputs with my comments.

Internet was invented and architectured by the work of the Technical Community; The Internet has emerged as a Global medium connecting users from around the world, without any inherent discrimination on economic or social status or geographic origin. Internet Governance is taking shape as a Global process on the Multi-Stakeholder model. In Internet and Internet Governance, the stakeholders are Government, Civil Society (representing the average Internet User), Business, the Academic Community, the Technical Community and International Organizations. Multi-stakeholder process is a process wherein all these Stakeholders are seated equally around the table to formulate policy on Internet Governance.

The Internet Names (Domain names such as .com, .net etc.) and the Critical functions related to the Stability and Security of the Domain Names System are coordinated by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as a Global Organization with participation of Stakeholders from around the world. The Internet Numbers (the IP addresses assigned to every Internet Connection) and the Root Servers (Computers that store the ‘addresses’ of networks and domain names, with hundreds of identical ‘mirror’ computers around the world) have been managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The functions of IANA have been technically coordinated by ICANN, but these IANA functions have so far been subjected to overall U.S. oversight.

ICANN came into existence in 1998 and it functions as a Global Multi-Stakeholder Organization. Over 100 Nation States are part of the Governmental Advisory Committee and meet three times a year at ICANN; Over 150 User Organizations are part of ICANN At-Large and participate in ICANN policy through the At-Large Advisory Committee as also through the Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group; Business participants, including Internet Service Providers and Domain Name Companies and other Businesses are broadly grouped under the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO); Country Code Domain Names such as .IN (for India), .DE (for Germany), and .cn (for China) participate under the Country Code Supporting Organization (ccNSO); ICANN now has Hub Offices in Los Angeles, Singapore and Turkey and Engagement Offices at China, Belgium, Switzerland, Uruguay and South Korea;  Other offices are being planned, possibly including one in India; ICANN  has a multi-cultural, Gloabl staff, has a Global Multi-Stakeholder Board.

ICANN has taken shape so well, exceedingly well, in its infancy of its first 15 years of Operations. Further Internationalization and further evolution of its Mutli-Stakeholder model and its Accountability and Transparency mechanisms happen continuously, to address areas of concern in its Governance processes.

ICANN process are Open, Participative, Transparent and in Global Public Interest. Stakeholders from around the world participate with no restrictions on participation. (If you are interested in ICANN issues, irrespective of your Nationality or Stakeholder affiliation, you can walk into one of the three ICANN meetings every year, you will be seated equally, you could join a policy discussion on Day 1, offer your views, your views will be recorded, transcribed and circulated for all of ICANN to listen, and include as inputs and perhaps decide on the basis of what you have said. Alternately you could subscribe to the email lists and join the Global participants to discuss policy and programs). This is the way ICANN has been governed and it is the way ICANN continues to operate.

Internet has evolved and it connects users globally WITHOUT any form of centralized control, but some functions of Internet Governance have been coordinated by  ICANN  (Names and Numbers), Internet Society (ISOC) ( Evolution, Policy),  Internet Engineering Task Force – IETF (Internet Technical Standards by Open, Participatory Global processes) and the Worldwide Web Consortitum –  W3C (World Wide Web Standards).

The International Telecommunication Union which controls all forms of Communication except the Internet has been vocal about its intent to take over Internet Governance, and a few Nation States directly or indirectly express views that are aligned to that of the ITU. Some of the proposals from Russia, China and other countries favor a model of Internet Governance controlled by the Governments, and these proposals include creation of Governance mechanisms in the U.N. environment which implies a greater role for the ITU, or even directly further ITU’s aspirations for a controlling role of the Internet.

Unlike the ICANN processes, the ITU processes are procedurally complex, modeled on Inter-Governmental procedure bound-processes that are closed.  A greater role for ITU would imply an Internet controlled by Governments enhanced for Telecom revenues. The Internet offers a level playing field for all users across the world, does not discriminate between a Big Business or a small user, there are no fast lanes for Internet traffic that would, for example, send an email from a Big Business CEO faster than an email from an average user in India. Any one from any part of the world, or any Business, big or small, can establish any application (for example, a search engine, a shopping portal, or a Social Network or any Innovative Application, without the need for permission from anyone. This is the eco-system of Permissionless Innovation. This eco-system offers the greatest hope for Developing countries like India for progress and prosperity. This environment could change if the Internet Governance moves anywhere closer to the ITU environment.

In this background, Government of India has provided Inputs on IANA transition from U.S. Government oversight to ICANN, as in the PDF above, copied below, with some of my comments as an individual:

All comments as an individual who believes that other Stakeholder groups in India might have a position different from that expressed in this document by the Government of India. What I see as problem areas are shown in text colored orange, based on my own perception of the sensitivity of the wording. The differences with the positions of the Government are freely and openly expressed here with the belief that our Government would tolerate this freedom of expression from someone who believes in the multi-stakeholder process of Internet Governance 🙂

[1] Government of India notes the announcement by the US NTIA of its intent to transition its role on coordination of Internet DNS as a first step in the right direction aimed at attempting to reform one of the aspects of Internet Governance.

“evolve” would have been a milder choice. Why does the Government of India use the word “reform” here?

2. In continuation of India’s commitment to maintain an open, safe and secure Internet,and as a key stakeholder in the global internet space, India will engage constructively and actively with other important stakeholders to develop a transition proposal that is representative, democratic and transparent.

The reference to “India’s commitment to maintain an open, safe and secure Internet” is very positive. Interesting to see how the word “stakeholder” is used here. Does India imply that India as a country is a Stakeholder, thereby hinting at an inclination to classify Stakeholders as Nation States (represented by Governments only?) It looks like the Government of India is talking about multilateralism (Internet Governance only by Governments) here using the very word “stakeholder”.

3. The announcement is a recognition of the Widety held View that this aspect of internet Governance, as also others, needs to be made representative, democratic and that inclusive and the institutions responsible for managing and regulating the internet need to be Internationalised.

The choice of words “representative” and “democratic” are words apparently positive, especially for anyone who does not understand the diplomatic significance of these words in the context of the history of Internet and internet Governance. These words are used to emphasize multilateral governance in place of multi-stakeholder governance. Internet Governance needs to be a multi-stakeholder process, whereby Civil Society, Business and Technical Community would be stakeholders together with Governments in Internet Governance.

4. lndia believes that the transitional proposal should have a proper international legislative authority for it to have legitimacy, credibility and acceptability by the international community.

Very uncomfortable with what is implied by a “proper international legislative authority”. Perhaps the Government of India adores the ITU?

5. Efforts to frame a transition proposal are an initial move towards addressing only one aspect of Internet Governance. While India would actively participate in this process, We do not see it subsuming discussions and considerations that are taking place elsewhere in multilateral fora and international mechanism on the management of the Core Internet Resources and on the entire of range of International Public Policies in the Cyber Space.

What Multilateral fora is referred to here that the Government of India does not “see it subsuming” ?

6. As We, along with other stakeholders Work to develop a transition plan,ICANN shouid ensure that the process is representative anc! democratic. There should be full participation of all the stakeholders in accordance with Tunis agenda.

Does the Government of India here implies Other Governments? This reference to Stakeholders, read together with the way the word “stakeholder” is used to denote a whole country in point [1] could mean that India implies “other Governments” here.

Sivasubramanian M

Signing this post to indicate that all views in this post are views as an individual. Posted here to invite quick comments from Chapter Members, by email to isocindiachennai@gmail.com.  You could send a mail simply to say You agree, Or, write your views, it would be valuable.  Or, if you have different views you might say so. I intend to write to our Government on this, after a rough consensus on this based on your response.

Over 80 Internet Inventors and Engineers Send Open Letter to US Congress

A group of 83 Internet inventors and prominent engineers sent an open letter today to the members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills that are under consideration in the House and Senate respectively.

We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We’re just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

Last year, many of us wrote to you and your colleagues to warn about the proposed “COICA” copyright and censorship legislation. Today, we are writing again to reiterate our concerns about the SOPA and PIPA derivatives of last year’s bill, that are under consideration in the House and Senate. In many respects, these proposals are worse than the one we were alarmed to read last year.

Internet Censorship
Internet Censorship around the world

If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but these bills are particularly egregious in that regard because they cause entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under these proposals. In fact, it seems that this has already begun to happen under the nascent DHS/ICE seizures program.

Censorship of Internet infrastructure will inevitably cause network errors and security problems. This is true in China, Iran and other countries that censor the network today; it will be just as true of American censorship. It is also true regardless of whether censorship is implemented via the DNS, proxies, firewalls, or any other method. Types of network errors and insecurity that we wrestle with today will become more widespread, and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.

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