NPR misses the point on the politics of global Internet governance

NPR concluded yesterday a series on “the newest arena of international conflict – cyberspace.” To be honest, it was very gratifying to hear major media bringing the vitally important topic of global Internet governance to a wider audience. By and large it was good reporting, highlighting the increasing contention as national governments world-wide struggle with the ramifications of a global communications network.

One point they missed though was that “global Internet governance stands…neutral, apolitical, and largely hands off [from government interference today].” This is simply incorrect. Not to belabor a point, but it is exactly the unilateral control exercised by a single government (the United States) which resulted in not only the Chinese (which, of course, was cast in the segment as the dark side), but other powerful governments (including Russia, Brazil, India and others), to demand closer examination of the management of critical Internet resources several years ago. And as readers of IGP Blog know, this political debate has been ongoing in the UN's Internet Governance Forum and elsewhere for some time, it's just that some interests would (naturally) prefer the existing governing institutions to remain unexamined critically.

In an example of the continuing politics, a Brazilian delegate stated last fall, that despite remarkable progress in discussions at the IGF and the oversight of ICANN by the USG, it “did not change the unilateral and exclusive nature of controls over the root directory of the domain name system [DNS]” and that, “issues of voice and participation of Governments and multilateral organizations matters relating to the Internet governance regime remain unresolved.”

4 comments

  1. Anonymous

    As an Academic you should see (or some day may see) that The Big Lie Society derives much of its
    foundation from the American .EDU “Culture”.
    It is a culture of Systemic Cronyism (PhDs) and
    rules made up as people went along. Since many
    academic institutions date back to when time
    began, it is almost impossible to show the start
    to finish corruption, the double standards, the
    professor politics, publish or perish. Funding,
    funding, funding. Travel & good times.
    The Big Lie Society (ISOC IETF ICANN etc.) have
    DNA directly from academia. Postel, Cerf & Crocker
    provided much of the that.
    When you hear countries talk about “Western
    Culture” that is what they are pointing at.
    Their culture may be more or less corrupt but
    it is different.
    For America to claim System Cronyism has not
    been the foundation of the Internet would be
    difficult. It is now being re-packaged as
    THE ECO SYSTEM. People think it is wonderful.
    China of course would not be impressed. They
    have their own Eco-System dating back thousands
    of years. ISOC started 1992.

  2. Anonymous

    The big picture is that Governments have TOO MUCH involvement in IG issues, not that “issues of voice and participation of Governments and multilateral organizations matters relating to the Internet governance regime remain unresolved.”
    Governments license providers, ban content and apps, snoop on our traffic, redirect DNS, tax our connections, etc, etc.
    The rootzone issue is a sideshow, blown completely out of proportion to the rest of IG.

  3. Anonymous

    HUGE News MERIT (Michigan) Dumps NANOG (ICANN Thugs) to avoid growing liability

  4. Anonymous

    MERIT (Michigan) Dumps NANOG (ICANN Thugs) to avoid growing liability
    http://mailman.nanog.org/pipermail/nanog/2010-April/021188.html
    Dear members of the NANOG community,
    Since its inception in 1994, the North American Network Operators
    Group (NANOG) has had its meetings and activities organized under the
    auspices of Merit, providing an incredible service to the North
    American region, and in fact, to the global Internet engineering
    community. The value of this work can not be easily overstated – it
    is likely that, absent Merit’s involvement, the pace of global
    Internet development would have significantly slowed and that the high
    levels of Internet performance that we all enjoy today would not have
    come to pass.
    Several periods of evolution have marked the Merit/NANOG
    relationship. The most significant inflections have been the sharp
    growth in NANOG attendance in the late 1990s, the increasing
    importance of the NANOG mailing list as a method of inter-carrier
    communication, the utilization of NANOG meetings as a conduit of
    communications between major government entities and the
    Internetworking community, and the 2004-2005 Charter Process where
    NANOG took a significant step towards self-governance while remaining
    a Merit activity.
    Through the successive evolutions, Merit has stayed loyal to the
    ideals of NANOG, providing staff to administer conferences; administer
    servers to host presentations, mailing lists, and archives from the
    early days of the Internet; funds to pay for all of NANOG’s
    activities; and, equally as important, entering into contract
    obligations on NANOG’s behalf for meeting venue hotels, at times
    taking on significant contract liability. Since the beginning of this
    relationship, one constant has been the gratitude of NANOG’s
    membership and governance communities towards Merit for their
    dedication, hard work and financial commitment.
    Starting from the ratification of the 2005 NANOG Charter, the
    membership of NANOG has worked hard to establish self-governance
    institutions including our Steering Committee, Program Committee,
    Communications Committee, and Marketing Working Group. These
    institutions have acquired experience and resilience over the past
    five years and matured to the point of self-governance.
    The Steering Committee believes the time has come for NANOG to
    continue its natural evolution toward an independent organization. We
    are therefore beginning the process of creating a non-profit, tax-
    exempt entity that will produce NANOG conferences, administer the
    NANOG mailing list, and expand our educational mission. A re-
    structuring of the NANOG/Merit
    relationship allows each organization to focus on the direct needs of
    its respective constituency.
    This effort is still in the preliminary stages. Our intention is to
    work jointly with Merit to devise a transition plan and a transition
    timeline before NANOG 49 in June of this year. This transition will
    be gradual and designed to ensure a seamless handover of
    responsibility to the new entity, minimizing changes seen by the
    community as a whole. The governance and committee structure will be
    left largely intact, with our current charter converted into a set of
    governing bylaws. We expect to hold a community vote to ratify the
    new bylaws and structure during the annual October election.
    We expect there will be many questions and concerns raised regarding
    this process, and suggest that the nanog-futures mailing list is the
    appropriate venue for discussion. (See https://mailman.nanog.org/mailman/listinfo/nanog-futures
    for subscription information.) We also encourage you to share
    reactions directly with the Steering Committee. In the next few days,
    the Communications Committee will create and post a Frequently Asked
    Questions page. We will also hold an extended community meeting
    during NANOG 49 to review progress and discuss the transition.
    One thing that won’t change throughout the course of this next
    evolution is the gratitude of the NANOG membership for the hard work
    and support that the Merit board, staff, and member institutions have
    provided to us over the course of the last 16 years.
    For the NANOG leadership,
    Steve Feldman (Steering Committee chair)
    Patrick W. Gilmore (SC member)
    Sylvie LaPerrière (SC member)
    Joe Provo (SC member)
    Robert Seastrom (SC member)
    Duane Wessels (SC member)
    David Meyer (Program Committee chair)
    Tom Daly (PC vice chair)