Governmental and social pressure have led YouTube to come up with algorithms to push down videos that YouTube suspects to be “fake news” or “conspiracy theories.” An article in the Guardian blaming YouTube for “promoting” a video claiming that the Las Vegas shooting was a hoax shows the kind of pressure they are under. But this video by alternative journalist Tim Pool looks critically at some of the potential long-term consequences of the growing attempt to exploit the major social media platforms’ status as gatekeepers. What will be the effects on freedom of speech and independent journalism?
At 17:47:05 UTC yesterday (6 November 2017), Level 3 (AS3356) began globally announcing thousands of BGP routes that had been learned from customers and peers and that were intended to stay internal to Level 3. By doing so, internet traffic to large eyeball networks like Comcast and Bell Canada, as well as major content providers like Netflix, was mistakenly sent through Level 3’s misconfigured routers.
In networking lingo, a “route leak” had occurred, and a substantial one at that. Specifically, the Internet was the victim of a Type 6 route leak, where:
An offending AS simply leaks its internal prefixes to one or more of its transit-provider ASes and/or ISP peers. The leaked internal prefixes are often more-specific prefixes subsumed by an already announced, less-specific prefix. The more-specific prefixes were not intended to be routed in External BGP (eBGP). Further, the AS receiving those leaks fails to filter them. Typically, these leaked announcements are due to some transient failures within the AS; they are short-lived and typically withdrawn quickly following the announcements. However, these more-specific prefixes may momentarily cause the routes to be preferred over other aggregate (i.e., less specific) route announcements, thus redirecting traffic from its normal best path.
In this case, the painful result was significant Internet congestion for millions of users in different parts of the world for about 90 minutes.
How far can ICANN go to escape the nation-state? ICANN 60 (held in Abu Dhabi October 28 – Nov 3rd) made important progress on what has become known as “the jurisdiction issue.” ICANN is taking steps to reduce or eliminate the effect that U.S. sanctions against foreign governments would have on ordinary Internet users and businesses in sanctioned countries. It will also introduce choice of law provisions in their registry and registrar contracts, and open up continuing discussions of whether additional immunities are needed.
What is “the jurisdiction issue”?
The IANA transition and reforms brought an end to the U.S. government’s special status as the supervisor of ICANN and approver of all changes to the DNS root. This was a major step toward ‘de-nationalizing’ governance of Internet identifiers. Some members of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), mostly BRIC country governments who take a sovereigntist approach to Internet governance, have contended that that was not enough. ICANN was still incorporated under California state law, they said, and the U.S. federal government still could legislate or regulate ICANN activities in ways that gave it more power over ICANN than other governments. Motivated by a belief in traditional notions of sovereign equality, they sought additional reforms that would somehow mitigate any effects that ICANN’s incorporation in the U.S. might have.
Should domain name registrars have the right to cancel a domain because they don’t like the content of the website it supports? How many registrars’ terms of service contracts give them this right and how many don’t? Should ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreement ensure registrar neutrality, or is competition sufficient to protect users’ rights?
These questions are explored in a new IGP research paper, “In Search of Amoral Registrars: Content Regulation and Domain Name Policy“, to be released next week at ICANN 60 in Abu Dhabi. The paper makes an empirical and conceptual contribution to the debate over domain name policy and Internet content regulation. We examine the Terms of Service from 74 ICANN contracted parties who operate more than 2,300 domain name registrars to find out how many have “morality” clauses of the sort that knocked the Daily Stormer off the Internet. We find that registrars with morality clauses in their ToS, or an operational equivalent, comprise around 59% of registrars and account for approximately 62% of the domain name market. We go on to analyze and discuss the role of private actors in governing Internet content, seeking to define a clear and principled position regarding content regulation by private actors in the DNS and the role of ICANN.
Please direct any inquires to the authors, Brenden Kuerbis, Ishan Mehta and Milton Mueller.