H.R. 4061, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2009, passed the House of Representatives February 4, 2010. The bill requires the Director of NIST “to ensure coordination of United States Government representation in the international development of technical standards related to cybersecurity.” NIST and DoD have long been active, directly or indirectly, in development of Internet standards. If this advances, it will be interesting to see if/how it impacts the IETF process.
Intermediary liability has become one of the critical flashpoints of Internet governance. A few weeks ago, we celebrated an Australian court decision that denied a bid by copyright holders to make ISPs liable for copyright infringement by people who happened to be using their networks. Yesterday, we learned of an Italian court decision that seems to have pointed in the opposite direction. Google executives were convicted of a privacy violation because of a video that one of their millions of users posted. The decision raises major concerns as it seems to require Internet intermediaries to monitor user generated content, which would be a disaster for the freedom and openness of the Internet.
But there is more to this case than meets the eye. US news coverage, which concentrates solely on Google’s outraged claims, fails to take into account three broader issues: 1) the fact that Google itself has undercut its exemption from liability by implementing monitoring of copyright; 2) the weakness, vagueness and obsolescence of the EU E-Commerce Directive’s liability protection provisions; 3) the politics in Europe and the way privacy law can be used – for both legitimate and illegitimate reasons – to attack this large global corporation that threatens the business models of entrenched interests.
In a historic decision, ICANN's Independent Review Process has dealt ICANN's past leadership a severe rebuke. The three judge panel upheld ICM Registry's claim that ICANN treated its application for a .xxx top level domain in an unfair and discriminatory manner. The panelists ruled that the ICANN Board had decided on June 1, 2005 that the .XXX sTLD application met the required sponsorship criteria, and that its “reconsideration of that finding was not consistent with the application of neutral, objective and fair documented policy.” If one understands what was at stake in this case, one realizes that this “defeat” for ICANN's past President and Board Chair (and the Bush Administration) is actually a great victory for ICANN as an institution.
On March 15 and 16 the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) holds a meeting in Geneva focused on internet protocol version 6 addressing policy. One of the focal points of this meeting will be a paper I wrote for the ITU exploring the economics of IPv6 addressing, “Economic Factors in the Allocation of IPv6 Addresses.” The paper put forward the idea of a Transferable Address Block Lease (TABL). This would be a set of address blocks, ranging from /48s to /32s in size, that would be allocated on a provider-independent basis to anyone willing to pay a recurring annual fee based on the size of the block. There would be no “needs assessment,” just a fee.
IGP note: This is a comment Professor Wolfgang Kleinwachter made regarding the future of the Internet Governance Forum. At the recent Geneva consultations, there was a disagreement over whether the UN Secretary-General's recommendations on the continuation of the IGF should be delivered through the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) or the Committee for Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) prior to the UN General Assembly receiving it to make a final decision. This seemingly obscure bureaucratic disagreement reflects a larger debate over how open and “multistakeholder” the IGF should be.
“My observation is that this is part of a bigger story to move backwards, to cancel openess, transparency and bottom up policy development and to withdraw from the principle of “multi-stakeholderism”. It is aimed to get the Internet policy processes back under control of an intergovernmental regime and to silence non-governmental stakeholders, at least if it comes to public policy issues and decision making….”
An Australian judge has given the world's supporters of Internet freedom reason to heave a big sigh of relief. Judge J. Cowdroy of Sydney yesterday rejected an attempt by 34 film studios to make iiNet, Australia's third largest Internet Service provider, responsible for the copyright violations of a few of their users. The critical issue was whether iiNet was responsible for infringement because it failed to take any steps to stop infringing conduct. The judge said it wasn't.