Internet Governance

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Comments on ICANN's Studies on New Proposed TLDs

I outline some general critical comments on the recent commissioned reports for ICANN's proposed introduction of new top-level domain names (TLDs)... The reports cite seminal papers in economics, but the papers' applicability here is dubious. For example, for economists a "good" is a product intended for consumption, which is a different sort of animal than a financial investment. more

ICANN’s Economic Reports: Finding the Missing Pieces to the Puzzle

The ICANN community has been especially concerned about the economic reports used by ICANN to justify its decisions as to whether, and how, to implement applications for new gTLDs. Among the greatest sources of concern has been the failure of ICANN staff to issue a complete public response to the ICANN Board's October 2006 demand that ICANN Staff commission economic studies about gTLDs... more

U.S. Cyber Security: Blurred Vision

It has been beaten, butted, and batted around quite a bit in the past few weeks -- let's look at a rough timeline of political issues which bring me to this point. Let's look at the power struggle (I prefer to call it confusion) in the U.S. Government with regards to "Cyber Security" -- in a nutshell. In the latter part of 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee determined that DHS was not capable of providing proper critical infrastructure protection (and other Cyber protection capabilities) due to a number of issues. This may well be a political maneuver, or it may well actually have merit. more

The Disadvantages of Digital Inclusion and the Perils of Non-Universal Access

Many of us are familiar with network effects within telecommunications. Fundamentally, the notion is that as the number of participants in a network increases, the value of that network increases superlinearly. Though many different theories exist about how best to value these networks, the general idea is that the more people on a network, the more benefits accrue to everyone on the network... more

The Third Wave of Internet Exceptionalism

From the beginning, the Internet has been viewed as something special and "unique." For example, in 1996, a judge called the Internet "a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication." The Internet's perceived novelty has prompted regulators to engage in "Internet exceptionalism," crafting Internet-specific laws that diverge from regulatory precedents in other media. Internet exceptionalism has come in three distinct waves... more

Deeply, Deeply Flawed Economic Report and Analysis of New gTLDs Posted by ICANN

The reports and analysis by Dr. Dennis Carlton are deeply, deeply flawed. I will prepare a long rebuttal to it in the coming weeks, but wanted to go on the record early as to its weaknesses. The analysis appears to be based on a very limited review of the market for domain names, and utilizes little actual data. It fails to even consider how nuanced the market for domain names has become, and how registry operators can exploit those nuances, including tiered-pricing... more

ITU Information and Communication Technologies Index Compares 154 Countries, Northern Europe Highest

According to latest report released today by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the most advanced countries in information and communication technologies (ICT) are from Northern Europe. The exception is the Republic of Korea. Sweden tops the new ITU ICT Development Index, followed by the Republic of Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland and Norway. They are followed by other, mainly high-income countries from Europe, Asia and North America. Western and Northern Europe and North America are the regions with the highest IDI scores, and most countries from these regions are among the top twenty ICT economies. Poor countries, in particular the least developed countries, remain at the lower end of the index with limited access to ICT infrastructure, including fixed and mobile telephony, Internet and broadband. more

Australia's Censorship Plan Reaching Dead End

Australian government's plan to introduce mandatory internet censorship has effectively been scuttled, following an independent senator's decision to join the Greens and Opposition (also see post on backlash) in blocking any legislation required to get the scheme started. The Opposition's communications spokesman Nick Minchin has this week obtained independent legal advice saying that if the Government is to pursue a mandatory filtering regime "legislation of some sort will almost certainly be required". more

Internet Control Without "Firewalls"

Open Society Fellow Evgeny Morozov and I have written an Op-Ed for Project Syndicate about how the future of Internet control is not "firewall" censorship but more subtle forms of manipulation and pressure. Recognizing that censorship is too heavy handed and imperfect to be successful on its own, the Chinese government's Internet strategy is placing increasing emphasis on corporate self-censorship... more

ICANN Responds to Public Comments on Controversial New gTLD Plan

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has delayed its plans to sell new generic top-level domains in an effort to respond to public comments about the controversial proposal. ICANN on Wednesday released a 154-page document detailing and analyzing the hundreds of comments it has received about its generic top-level domain (gTLD) plan. more

What Would You Like to Ask at the ICANN Public Fora in Mexico City?

ICANN has its 34th international public meeting in Mexico City on 1-6 March i.e. in just over a fortnight. One of the consistent concerns I hear in my role as general manager of public participation for the organization is that there is not a way for people to ask questions to the staff and the Board. I don't think that's really true but I do accept that the formats used are not liked by a large number of people... more

A Storm in a Teacup or a Perfect Storm?

We've had snow storms recently in the UK, so there is much talk about storms. It strikes me that some might view the current issues at Nominet as a storm in a teacup – a small event that has been exaggerated out of all proportion. Not unsurprisingly, I don't agree. I think that the storm has already had a significant effect on Nominet... more

Britain's Plans to Combat Internet Pirates Stalled

British Internet service providers will not be forced to cut off users who repeatedly break the law by illegally sharing music and video files, according the The Times. See last year's report, "Thousands of File Sharers Facing Lawsuits in UK". Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, said last year that the Government had “serious legislative intent” to compel internet companies to cut off customers who ignore warnings not to pirate material. However, in an interview with The Times, David Lammy, the Intellectual Property Minister, said that the Government had ruled out legislating to force ISPs to disconnect such users. more

ICM Registry Publicly Posts Filings for Independent Review Panel Against ICANN on .XXX Domain

ICM Registry (proponents of the .xxx initiative) and Stuart Lawley, Chairman and President of the organization, have filed a 522-page brief in the ongoing Independent Review Process that began last June. "In what may prove to be the biggest sleeper Internet governance issue of the year, ICM Registry has publicly posted its filings for the Independent Review Panel that will decide whether ICANN acted improperly in rejecting its application for a .xxx domain," writes Brenden Kuerbis in a post on the IGP blog.  more

US Supreme Court Rejects Online Child Protection Law

The U.S. Supreme Court today again refused to resurrect a federal law that required Web sites containing "material harmful to minors" to implement age-based access restrictions, presumably ending a 10-year fight over whether the law violated free-speech rights on the Internet. The court declined to hear an appeal that was filed by former President George W. Bush's administration, asking the justices to overturn a lower court's ruling against enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act of 1998. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down COPA for the third time, saying that the law was a vague and overly broad attack on free speech. more