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Working Group on Internet Governance Releases Report

Michael Geist

The Working Group of Internet Governance has released its final report [PDF]. As I wrote this week in my Law Bytes column, the report comes on the heels of the U.S. statement that it has no intention of surrendering control of root zone file. 

The WGIG report developed a working definition of Internet governance that states:

"Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet."

The report identifies four options for the thorny Internet governance issue:

Option #1: ICANN stays but the governmental role changes through the creation of a Governmental Internet Council.  The GIC replaces the GAC and assumes the role currently held by the U.S. Department of Commerce in ICANN oversight.  There are advisory roles envisioned for the private sector and civil society.

Option #2: No need for oversight organization.  Stronger GAC and creation of international forum for discussion of Internet issues.

Option #3: Creation of International Internet Council that would assume responsibility for the Internet governance issues that arise on the national level.  ICANN's mandate would need to be altered based on the development of the IIC.

Option #4: Start from scratch by creating a World Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as well as a Global Internet Policy Council.

Where does all this leave the Internet governance issue?  If countries are looking to deal, it seems to me that Option #3 provides the best prospect for the basis for negotiation.  The U.S. has made it clear that it would not agree to Option #1 (international oversight) or Option #4 (no ICANN).  I suspect few other countries would agree to Option #2 with no ICANN oversight.

By default, that leaves Option #3.  It focuses on ICANN's softest spot Internet governance at the national level.  This addresses a major concern for many countries and opens the dialogue in the one area where the U.S. may be comfortable with some change.  If both ccTLDs and the IANA function are built into national competencies, there may be an opportunity to strike a compromise. 

By Michael Geist, Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law
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Re: Working Group on Internet Governance Releases Report Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jul 15, 2005 8:28 AM PST

I envision something that falls between #2 and #3

I have no hope of a GIC succeeding where the GAC doesnt.  Option #4 is a nightmare that I'm not prepared to consider feasible.

A stronger, tighter organized GAC as well as an international internet council that is formed with a role that's more than discussion [and how quickly discussions tend to bog down!] would be useful. 

Not a 100% oversight as such but I suspect that governance responsiblities would be taken care of if it were not perceived to be just the DoC in overall control. 

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