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Those Who Don't Remember 2014 Are Doomed to Repeat It

Christian Dawson

J. Gordon Crovitz is making his case against the IANA transition again today, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. I think it's useful to once again go on record opposing his flawed logic against the transition.

i2Coalition was among those that publicly praised the IANA transition report when it arrived this week. When the Washington Post covered our announcement, I was frustrated by a commenter who has a different take on the transition than I. He stated that the administration has seen the transition as a quick way to regain credibility in a post-Snowden world. I don't see it that simply, and believe the comment minimizes the genuine threats that are out there to multi-stakeholderism.

We forget our recent history too quickly; we need to remember what the environment was like in 2014, when the transition was announced. We had recently finished fighting back the ITU in the WCIT, for control over very important parts of the Internet. The WSIS +10 review was beginning. The NETmundial Global Multi-stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance came out of nowhere, and no one knew what importance it would ultimately have. Major efforts were underway to increase the scope of what ICANN controls.

In each of those forums, there emerged governments flexing their muscles and making pushes for more multi-lateral power in Internet governance. Those efforts were mostly rebuffed, and walked back to more or less the status quo.

There's this idea that the Snowden revelations, the WCIT, and the WSIS +10 negotiations were one-time crises. This is the new normal; the IANA transition prepares us for that. The announcement did more than appeased those who were upset about the Snowden leaks. They gave us the tools to win some very important battles. We showed that we were maturing as a community, asked for patience from our critics as we worked on building a better ICANN, and received it.

My question to those who oppose the IANA transition is: What patience do you expect next time? If we are forced to push off a stronger, more accountable ICANN, it is only going to embolden those who want multi-lateral Internet control, the organizations who were coming for our Internet just two years ago. The IANA transition is the best opportunity we have to ensure that the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance is preserved. The status quo will not accomplish that.

By Christian Dawson, Executive Director, i2Coalition
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Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance
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