Syracuse University Professor Milton Mueller was awarded $304,000 by the U.S. NSF for his research on “Deep Packet Inspection and the Governance of the Internet.” The research grant was made by the Science, Technology and Society program of the Social, Economic and Behavioral Science Directorate of NSF. The research will take place over two academic years, 2010-11 and 2011-2012.
Deep packet inspection (DPI) is a new network surveillance and traffic analysis capability that enables network operators to scan the payload of TCP/IP packets in real time and make automated decisions about whether to intercept, block, slow down, speed up or otherwise manipulate traffic streams based on that information. Mueller’s research will investigate whether the use of DPI by Internet service providers is producing major changes in the way users and suppliers of Internet services are governed.
One of the looming milestones in Internet governance is the impending renewal of ICANN's contract for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions. The IANA contract is the mechanism through which the US government delegates control of the name and numbers space to ICANN. As such, it is the source of all of ICANN's real authority over domain name industry and IP address policy; take away that contract and ICANN is a shell. In her opening speech at the ICANN meeting in Brussels, European Commission Vice President Nellie Kroes, with some encouragement from various sources (wink), pointedly said, “I am hopeful that the expiry of the IANA contract next year will be turned into an opportunity for more international cooperation serving the global public interest.”
Kroes is not the only one eagerly anticipating the rebid. Late last month the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) announced a program related to “IANA evolution.” The memo was released July 28.
A new book by Dr. Konstantinos Komaitis (Lecturer in Law at the University of Strathclyde) provides a passionate yet legalistic and well-researched overview of the legal, institutional and ethical problems caused by the clash between domain names and trademarks. This is really the first decent book-length treatment of what is now a decade and a half of legal and political conflict between domain name registrants and trademark holders. But this is more than a static compilation and description of the subject: Komaitis has an original and fundamentally important argument to make.
The US General Accounting Office has released a new report which provides an overview of US government involvement and the challenges it faces in global Internet security and policy. Cataloging the breadth and scope of departmental and agency efforts to engage in multiple issues and institutions, it paints a picture of a government struggling to identify a cohesive strategic approach to Internet governance.
The Chair of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee has issued a statement on the censorship of top level domain names. We are sad to report that the alleged GAC position is deeply flawed and outrageously wrong-headed. It is a recipe for global censorship, and although at this point it only applies to the DNS it can lead to the erosion of all internet freedom of expression unless it is stoutly resisted.