Bye-bye, “Morality and Public Order”

The new gTLD process seems to have leapt over yet another hurdle. An ICANN working group has released a set of policy recommendations to guide the suppression of the top level domain strings that people find “objectionable.” The Recommendations are, remarkably, pretty good. The report can be downloaded and public comment submitted here. The new report has narrowed and tightened the standards for censoring TLD strings. The first and in some way most central recommendation is to banish the term “morality and public order” (MAPO) as the basis of objections. It will be replaced with something more grounded in international law.

The Great Firewall of…America?

Frustrated with the contradiction between the limits of jurisdictional authority and the Internet’s globalized access to information, more and more governments are instituting measures to block access to web sites which are deemed illegal in their territory but are located outside their jurisdiction. A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Monday would start to put into place an infrastructure for maintaining a black list of censored domain names. The purpose is not political censorship but blocking in the name of copyright and brand protection. The proposed bill is called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). It’s a radical change in internet policy masquerading as a strengthening of copyright enforcement. COICA and similar measures are not designed to identify and catch the perpetrators of crimes or even, primarily, to take down the illegal web site or content. They are designed to prevent ordinary users of the internet from being able to connect to or transact with the infringing sites. In other words, they substitute regulation of the general public’s internet access for prosecution of crimes committed by specific people in specific locations.

State-sponsored freedom? Sami ben Gharbia reinforces our doubts

An important and insightful examination of the relationship between U.S. government-sponsored “Internet freedom” initiatives and the grass-roots Arab-world bloggers and digital activists has been written by Sami ben Gharbia, a Tunisian blogger now based in the Netherlands. I have never heard of ben Gharbia before this, but have always been concerned about the linkage of Internet freedom goals to U.S. foreign policy and Congressional appropriations of millions of dollars.

Decoding the happy talk at an IGF plenary session

The Internet Governance Forum has many valuable and productive workshops going on but it has never figured out what to do with its plenary sessions. You bring 1000+ people from all over the world into a single room – people who are interested and involved in Internet governance. What do you do with them?
This year's main session on “critical internet resources” (i.e., domain names, numbers and routing) provided a numbing reminder of what happens when the people who want the IGF to avoid controversy and substantive policy discussions control the agenda.


The IGF workshop “Routing and Resource Certification,” co-organized by IGP and LACNIC/NRO, was in my humble and slightly biased opinion one of the most successful uses of the IGF's format ever. It brought together diverse stakeholder participants to engage in highly substantive, sometimes intensely contested, but constructive discussion of an issue where there is a real need for knowledge. The sharpness of many of the exchanges only demonstrated the gaps in understanding that existed between various participants in the debate, and the way that an open and unmanipulated dialogue can improve that situation.

“Networks and States” at the Internet Governance Forum

My new book, Networks and States: The global politics of Internet governance, will be released at a special event at the upcoming Internet Governance Forum. The event will be held at 12:15 on Monday, September 13, in Hall (Sale) 5, Room 3 of the LITEXPO outside Vilnius.

The MIT Press is the publisher of Networks and States, as part of its series on “The Information Revolution and Global Politics.” There will be a launch event sponsored by MIT Press, allowing attendees to take a look at it and meet the author. Dr. William Drake, one of the series editors, will comment about the book and the series; you will also be able to examine other titles in the series and meet members of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet).

With its focus on the “global politics of Internet governance” this book takes on a very big theme: the often-conflicting relationship between the global internet and government by territorial nation-states.

New Paper: Building a new governance hierarchy: RPKI and the future of Internet routing and addressing

It's likely the most important governance issue you've never heard of. The resource public key infrastructure (RPKI) and efforts to secure the Internet's routing system could have a profound effect on the future of the internet. A new paper by the IGP attempts to broaden awareness of this issue by...

09.2010 Building a new governance hierarchy: RPKI and the future of Internet routing and addressing

[Abstract] Drafters: Milton Mueller, Brenden KuerbisConcurring: Michel van Eeten This paper attempts to broaden awareness of routing as a site of Internet governance. It sheds light on the historical processes and policy issues raised by the resource public key infrastructure (RPKI). The paper will explain why the RPKI has important...