Policy & Regulation

Policy & Regulation / Most Commented

Flushing the 'Net Down the Tubes

Doc Searls has written a brilliant piece framing the battle for the 'Net at Linux Journal. The piece is long, but if you take the time to read just one essay on the 'Net and the politics surround it this year, read this one. If you're involved in public policy, it's especially important that you take the time to understand what's at stake here. One of Doc's main points: we haven't framed the conversation correctly and our poor choice of words makes the argument seem overly technical and arcane when it's really about freedom, markets, and innovation. more

Public Policy Questions for Internet

There is little doubt that the Internet has formed part of the impetus for a revolutionary change in the nature of the global communications industry. "Revolutionary" in the sense that the past decade has seen fundamental and highly disruptive changes in the nature of the underlying technologies used by the industry, changes in the composition, ownership and role of industry players, changes in the nature of services offered to the end consumer, changes in the associated financial models used by the industry, and changes in the regulatory environments in which this industry operates. Considering that this industry was, in the latter half of the twentieth century, one of the largest and most influential industry sectors on a global basis, these revolutionary changes will doubtless have consequences that will echo onward for some time yet. more

IGP Asks You to Weigh in on the USG's .xxx Intervention

Responding to the .xxx intervention by the US Commerce Department, the Internet Governance Project has produced a "STATEMENT OPPOSING POLITICAL INTERVENTION IN THE INTERNET'S CORE TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS." You can view the statement here and add your name as a signatory at the bottom. Over 60 people have endorsed it. The Statement claims that "The NTIA's recent intervention in the .xxx proceeding undermines assurances" that the U.S. government's special unilateral authority over ICANN "would never be used to shape policy but was only a means of protecting the stability of the organization and its processes." The NTIA's open acknowledgment of the influence of religious groups made the intervention particularly dangerous. more

Creating a National Cybersecurity Framework: Need For New Regulation?

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently released a major new study examining cybersecurity. The report, "Creating a National Framework for Cybersecurity: An Analysis of Issues and Options" discusses a variety of significant public and private cybersecurity concerns. The CRS analysis lists several broad options for addressing cybersecurity weaknesses ranging from adopting standards and certification to promulgating best practices and guidelines and use of audits among other measures. more

As WGIG forms, Ideas about Defining its Scope Circulate

The Internet Governance Project (IGP) issued a set of reports analyzing the current "state of play" in Internet governance. The reports were commissioned by the United Nations ICT Task Force as an input into the deliberations of the UN Secretary-General's Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG). The report identifies the international organizations and agreements affecting the Internet, and points out where there are conflicts and gaps. more

Open Ends: Civil Society and Internet Governance - Part III

This is the final part of a three-part series interview by Geert Lovink with Jeanette Hofmann, policy expert from Germany, where she talks about her experiences as a member of the ICANN's Nominating Committee and her current involvement as a civil society member of the German delegation for the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). "You have been visiting WSIS as a member of the German delegation. Could you share some of your personal impressions with us? Did you primarily look at WSIS as an ICT circus for governmental officials and development experts or was there something, no matter how futile, at stake there?..." more

A Closer Look at the Katie.com Domain Name Controversy

Every time an individual logs on to the Internet a pornographer is able to copy the stream of digital bits created by the computer user's Internet connection. The data bits are used to compile a database of information about Internet user buying habits and sexual tastes. These pornographers use the information secretly collected from logged in computers to alter the category or type of pornographic images uploaded onto various websites. Pornographers, for example, know that as a result the pornography in Cyberspace is of an extremely disturbing sort when compared to porn found in "real-space." Internet users are primarily known fans of sexual images of incest, bestiality, and torture. Cyber porn -- as it is often called -- is bigger, badder, and more extreme.  more

Averting the Internet Meltdown

A call to action went out: a small, California-based organization called People for Internet Responsibility (PFIR) posted an announcement for an urgent conference - "Preventing the Internet Meltdown." The meltdown that PFIR envisioned was not an impending technical malfunction or enemy attack. Instead, conference organizers foresaw "risks of imminent disruption" to the Internet that would come from an unlikely sector: government officials and bureaucrats working on the unglamorous-sounding problems of Internet Governance. more

Interview with United Nations Head Secretariat of WGIG

Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator, Secretariat of the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance, is a career diplomat, who has served as eEnvoy of the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern since April 2002. His main tasks include foreign policy coordination in the area of information and communication technologies, in general, and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), in particular. He chaired the negotiating group that developed an agreed text on Internet governance for the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action in December 2003... Mr Kummer says: "The time-frame is very short indeed. And the task ahead of us is daunting." more

Why Does A Technical Manager Function As A Regulator?

Unlike ICANN, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) responded graciously, promptly and substantively to inquiries from the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) regarding governance of the internet. CRE sent a letter to NTIA in mid-March asking about public access to documents prepared by ICANN under Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NTIA. NTIA provided a quick and clear response to CRE's questions. NTIA also reiterated its commitment to achieving transparency and accountability in ICANN's processes. NTIA's response to CRE, although clear and comprehensive, raised a number of important questions about ICANN and their governance of the internet. more

Survey of Global Internet Jurisdiction

The American Bar Association/International Chamber of Commerce (ABA/ICC) recently released a survey on global Internet jurisdiction. The survey, co-chaired by Professor Michael Geist, involved nearly 300 companies in 45 different countries. It found that U.S. companies were far more concerned and pessimistic about Internet jurisdiction risk than European and Asian companies. The study has also found that an "Internet jurisdiction risk toolkit" is emerging where companies target low risk jurisdictions and take steps to avoid doing business in perceived high risk jurisdictions. more

Verisign vs. ICANN: More at Stake than Sitefinder

It's easy to dismiss Verisign's antitrust suit as a ploy to push through Sitefinder. But whether one loves Sitefinder or hates Sitefinder, the complaint raises a much more significant issue that won't go away even if ICANN lets Verisign roll out Sitefinder. At the heart of Verisign's complaint is the lack of any definable process for decisionmaking, and its a complaint shared by others. A settlement between Verisign and ICANN that does not create a clear process for decisionmaking at ICANN that includes trustworthy independent review will merely delay the inevitable. Eventually, some other party will become just as frustrated and again challenge ICANN -- either in U.S. court or by enlisting the help of the U.S. Commerce Department, non-U.S. governements, or multinational treaty organizations. ICANN must recognize that the days of ad hoc decision making based on realpolitick must end and give way to stable processes that ICANN staff cannot control. more

Report on Reaction to FOISA

On February 4, 2004, United States Congress held a hearing on a new proposed bill called the Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act (FOISA). This bill will increase prison sentences by up to seven years in criminal cases if a domain owner provides "material and misleading false contact information to a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority." What follows is a collection of commentaries made in response to this proposed bill. more

ALAC on WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Actions

The At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) has released this statement about the results of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). It is circulated for public comment, in view of subsequent statements to be released in the next months. At the World Summit on the Information Society held on December 10 to 12 in Geneva, the member states of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action that include specific language on the issue of "Internet Governance". ICANN's At Large Advisory Committee welcomes the fact that these statements clearly recognize the role of civil society as a full participant in the international management of the Internet, and bring attention to the need for a deep involvement of individual users into its governance. more

Security and Fort N.O.C.'s

In an article by MSNBC called "Fort N.O.C.'s" [Network Operating Center] Brock N. Meeks reports: "The unassuming building that houses the "A" root sits in a cluster of three others; the architecture looks as if it were lifted directly from a free clip art library. No signs or markers give a hint that the Internet's most precious computer is inside humming happily away in a hermetically sealed room. This building complex could be any of a 100,000 mini office parks littering middle class America." ...It is hardly the "most precious computer"!!!  more