China, TLD censorship top topics in 2010

Judging from IGP blog's readership, which grew by about 25% compared to last year, the most interesting and important topics we covered were China's impact on Internet governance and the nexus between internet censorship and new Top-Level Domains. Wikileaks was third, with ICANN accountability rounding out the top of the pack. Individual posts on COICA, the Bredolab botnet prosecution, vertical integration and the move away from multistakeholderism at IGF also found their way into IGP's most popular blog posts (see below for a list of the top 15).

Our 8 December post framing the Wikileaks controversy as an Internet governance issue was the single most-read blog post in 2010 by far. Apparently, our emphasis on the continuing tension between nation-states and networked information via the Internet struck a chord.

But the “cyberwar” over Wikileaks only happened in the last month of the year. China and the Internet, on the other hand, was an unfolding series of events we covered throughout the year, and generated more traffic. Readers flocked to our discussion of China's attempt to implement “real name registration” requirements for online bulletins, especially after Blizzard Entertainment, producer of World of Warcraft, tried to follow their precedent (and backed off). But the Google-China and US-China conflicts also contributed great interest to this topic.

The TLD/censorship story was also an ongoing story only marginally less popular than China. It dealt with the the fate of the .xxx domain – still controversial and still targeted by some governments – as well as the attempt of the GAC to impose more general “morality and public order” restraints on new TLD applicants. We think we've made substantial progress in convincing more people that institutionalizing censorship via ICANN is an important – and potentially dangerous – precedent for global governance of the Internet.

Our blog post on the historic Independent Review Panel decision overturning the ICANN Board's rejection of the .xxx domain was the third most popular blog post. Our more detailed report on ICANN's accountability deficit, “ICANN, Inc.,” though released in October 2009, was the most popular publication download in 2010. Attesting to the staying power of our publication reports, our 2007 paper “Net Neutrality as Global Principle for Internet Governance” not only is still being downloaded — it attracted more downloads in 2010 than it did in 2009.

Interestingly, papers and blog posts on IP addressing and the RIRs, while attracting a strong following, are markedly less popular than the other topics, probably due to their technical nature. Popular or no, IGP will continue to track those issues carefully due to their critical importance to the future of the Internet.

Thanks and a happy new year to all our readers and supporters.

#1. Why Wikileaks polarizes America's Internet politics
Milton Mueller dissects the (over)reaction to Wikileaks by the US foreign policy establishment and argues that it shows that the world's most powerful nation-state is learning that Internet freedom can bite it as well as rival states.

#2. China: Real-name registration required in online bulletins
Sophie Wu explains how China tries to make the Net more managable by linking online posting to state-issued forms of identification.

#3. Accountability wins! Independent Review Panel upholds ICM Registry – .XXX is alive.
A summary of the IRP decision that ICANN's Board broke its own process and made a discriminatory decision when it voted down the .xxx domain in March 2005.

#4. Google's Leaving China-What do Chinese People Think?
Sophie Wu provides a Chinese perspective on the public relations battle in China over Google's threat to leave China.

#5. ICANN and GAC discuss censorship
Writing from the Brussels ICANN meeting, Milton Mueller reported on how the U.S. government led an attempt by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee to revise ICANN's “morality and public order” objections process.

#6. US-China Conflict: The Problem of Inadequate Institutions
Hans Klein argues that the Google/US-China conflict reveals that we have not settled core issues of global Internet governance, which leads to instability.

#7. A new era in domain name economics?
Milton Mueller summarized the positions and support levels of the contentious working group that tried to revised policy on vertical integration between domain name registries and registrars.

#8. Kleinwachter: Don't move backwards on Internet governance
A re-posting of Wolfgang Kleinwachter's warning that the internal wranglings within the UN over how to manage the IGF represent an attempt to move away from multi-stakeholderism.

#9. COICA amended, still threatens Internet security
Brenden Kuerbis tracks the US attempt to block domain names in the name of copyright protection.

#10. US and Canadian Governments support Chinese-style censorship of DNS in ICANN
A blog prompted by the Canadian GAC Chair's August letter warning ICANN's Board that it should create procedures to censor any “controversial top level domains”.

#11. There’s more to the Google-Italy case than meets the eye
Part of the broader debate about intermediary responsibility, this post tried to fathom what was going on behind the scenes in Italy's conviction of a Google executive.

#12. Dutch Police Inflates Bredolab Botnet Success by Factor of Ten, and Then Some
Michel van Eeten dissects the relationship between national law enforcement and botnets, noting that while one botnet manager was successfully prosecuted, the botnetting continues.

#13. ICANN does the right thing on .xxx – but will the GAC?
Covers the Board resolution accepting the findings of the Independent Review Panel but noting that it leaves the ball on GAC's court.

#14. .EU registry asks: Who owns the Internet?
A link to a .EU registry-produced video made at the Brussels ICANN meeting. Popularity must be explained by the star quality of MM head shots.

#15. Could Google-China smackdown lead to WTO complaint?
Brenden Kuerbis on how the WTO may become one of the arenas where Internet governance concerns over access to information are played out.

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