[CWG-Stewardship] Fwd: [CCWG-Accountability] Washington Post -- Protect the Internet: Keep the contract with ICANN

Greg Shatan gregshatanipc at gmail.com
Tue Jan 6 12:39:04 UTC 2015

This may be of interest to the group.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Phil Corwin <psc at vlaw-dc.com>
Date: Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 8:24 PM
Subject: [CCWG-Accountability] Washington Post -- Protect the Internet:
Keep the contract with ICANN
To: Accountability Cross Community <accountability-cross-community at icann.org

 FYI--This is the lead editorial in the January 5, 2014 issue of the
Washington Post…


Post's View
Protect the Internet: Keep the contract with ICANN

By Editorial Board January 4 at 7:12 PM
LAST MONTH, China hosted the first World Internet Conference and gave
everyone reason to worry. At the last minute, Chinese officials tried to
ram through a declaration calling for governments to exert greater control
over the fastest and freest communications tool the world has ever seen,
using the chilling
concept of “Internet sovereignty” to justify it.  Russia, meanwhile, has
crushed its most prominent Internet entrepreneur — Pavel Durov , the
founder of a major Facebook-like application — after he refused to
cooperate with the Kremlin.
It’s bad enough that these authoritarian governments repress online
expression within their borders. They should
not be let anywhere near the governance of the Internet’s global
infrastructure. Yet the Commerce Department is proceeding with a plan to
relinquish supervision of one crucial element of world Internet governance
to an international body, which may not be
sufficiently resistant to influence from the world’s many would-be censors.
If the situation doesn’t improve, Commerce should halt the march toward a
formal turnover.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is
responsible for a lot of everyday maintenance
— essentially acting as the Internet’s phone book. Until recently, its
major policy dilemmas have revolved around whether to create new top-level
domain names such as .tv or .xxx. But now it is at the center of a
potentially perilous transition. It continues
to operate under the  Commerce Department’s benign oversight , but
Commerce’s contract with ICANN is up next year . Relying on a global
community of Internet engineers, businesses and other nongovernmental
entities, ICANN wants to end one of the last vestiges of formal U.S.
control over the global
Internet, completing the transfer of responsibility for maintaining basic
Internet functionality to a multi-stakeholder organization that operates by
consensus and independently of any government.
The problem is that no one yet has a convincing explanation for how the
multi-stakeholder model will be immune to
pernicious influences from governments. Independent voices from global
nongovernmental interests are supposed to suffuse the ICANN system and
provide a self-correcting ethos. But civil society in many countries is
deeply connected to the state, and those states
will try to manipulate or control as much as they can. Details of the
technical transition are being hammered out, but the accountability
measures and controls that will be vital to establishing and preserving a
legitimate global Internet governance are taking
Commerce still holds a trump card: It can renew its contract with ICANN.
The Obama administration has said it will
insist on adequate protections for freedom of speech before it lets go, and
it must stick to that commitment. That could be hard: The Snowden
revelations have put pressure on the Obama administration. Yet the free and
open Internet has thrived under existing
arrangements. The United States should not allow other governments to use
the leaks as a pretext to gain control of Internet governance.

*Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal*

*Virtualaw LLC*

*1155 F Street, NW*

*Suite 1050*

*Washington, DC 20004*

*202-559-8597 <202-559-8597>/Direct*

*202-559-8750 <202-559-8750>/Fax*

*202-255-6172 <202-255-6172>/cell*

*Twitter: @VlawDC*

*"Luck is the residue of design" -- Branch Rickey*

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