Archive for the ‘Internet Governance’ Category

Who are the true multi-stakeholders in ICANN?

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Donna Austin

Adrian Kinderis

During ICANN Durban, I attended the ccNSO 10 year anniversary celebrations.

ICANN Chairman, Dr Steve Crocker, was on hand to congratulate the ccNSO on their 10 years and revered them as the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.

Post Durban, I was reviewing notes and I came across a similar statement made during a ccNSO session that ccTLDs “represent the best functioning multi-stakeholder model” in the ICANN ecosystem.

Is this entirely accurate? Is the ccNSO really the golden child of ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model?

While there is no doubt that the ccNSO has been instrumental in influencing policy development and championing change for their cause, are they really ICANN’s “true multi-stakeholders”?

Let’s recap

When I first started attending ICANN meetings back in 2001 representing the Australian Government as the coordinator of the GAC, ccTLDs were pretty much sitting outside the tent. There was considerable distrust between the ccTLD community and ICANN at the time and regular meetings between the ccTLD operators and the GAC could be rather frosty events.

In 2005, when I joined ICANN staff as policy support for the ccNSO, relationships were slowly mending and both the ccTLDs and ICANN were recognising the mutual benefits of having ccTLD operators inside the ICANN tent.

So against this background, it is a tremendous achievement that the ccNSO is now well-established and an important contributor in the ICANN community.

However, the ccNSO has a stronger focus on collaboration, information sharing and best practice adoption, rather than a true aspiration for the Policy Development Process (PDP) that underpins a multi-stakeholder model. This is in large part because the participation of a ccTLD registry operator in the ccNSO and ICANN – and adoption of any policies that might be developed – is on a ‘voluntary’ basis.

ccTLDs are not bound by ICANN consensus policies and operate largely unfettered without interference from ICANN.

I don’t deny that within their respective countries or territories ccTLDs engage in multi-stakeholder style consultations and policy undertakings, but I do not agree that they are the ‘true multi-stakeholders in ICANN’.

While the ccNSO thoroughly deserves plaudits on a highly successful 10 years, I question whether they are the preeminent representation of the multi-stakeholder model.

The GNSO

Instead of the ccNSO, I would argue that the GNSO is the prime example of the multi-stakeholder model operating at its full capacity. It might at times look like a dog fight, but that’s the beauty of the model.

The GNSO has a long history of undertaking policy development processes and perhaps the most contentious and the one that still lingers is the PDP that recommended the introduction of new gTLDs.

I used to think it was inappropriate for those that stood to benefit from the new gTLD process to be involved in the policy development process that recommended the introduction of new gTLDs. But what I’ve come to appreciate and understand is that the only way for the ICANN experiment to succeed – at least in the short term – was to ensure that those who had a dog in the fight were involved in the process.

The development of the new gTLD program has been the process – while often times messy – that has led in large part to the maturation of ICANN and the expansion of the GNSO into a more diverse and dynamic set of interest groups. The process has also brought considerably more interplay across ICANN’s structure of supporting organisations, advisory committees, the ICANN Board and staff.

As ICANN contracted parties, there is also much more at stake for the gTLD registries in these PDPs as the outcomes will have some impact on their business. All gTLD registry operators sign contracts with ICANN acknowledging that they will be bound not only by consensus policies that exist at the time of signing the agreement, but any consensus policies approved at a later date.

So it’s understandable that some of the policy debates that take place within the GNSO are very robust, hard fought and lengthy. Finding consensus in such an environment should be applauded and exalted by ICANN and time should be taken by those new to ICANN to understand and appreciate the machinations of the process.

The GNSO should be ICANN’s flagship. It is the central policy organ that is so important to the bottom-up, consensus driven, multi-stakeholder model that is ICANN.

As Jonathan Robinson, Chair of the GNSO Council, noted prior to Durban:

“… ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model is complex, dynamic and necessarily evolving.”

Those of us that have been engaged in this community for a long time will understand the multi-facets of the SOs and ACs that collectively are the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.

After 12 years of following this circus, I am finally starting to get it.

By Donna Austin
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer
ARI Registry Services

Navigating online in Arabic key to greater regional Internet participation

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

By Adrian Kinderis

Adrian KinderisIn a special opinion editorial first published by ITP Magazine, Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, explains why nurturing an end-to-end Arabic online experience will be important to address the needs of the next 90 million Arabic Internet users.

By Adrian Kinderis
Dubai, UAE – Monday 4 March 2013

The next time you’re driving down the D89 Airport Road to Dubai International Airport, take a moment to look at the advertising billboards. In particular, look at the domain names used in the call to action.

You will notice a number of Arabic advertisements aimed entirely at an Arabic audience that strangely feature domain names written in English.

How can we expect the Arabic community to navigate to online content using domain names written in a foreign language? Furthermore, how many real world and e-commerce transactions are missed because an Arabic speaker was unable to navigate online?

The problem is that while there have been advancements in Arabic content and applications, the very infrastructure used to navigate online has not kept pace – namely the regional domain name market.

We know the next billion Internet users won’t come from English speaking countries. The same can be said for the Arab region; the next 90 million Arabic Internet users will expect to navigate the Internet in their native language.

The writing is on the wall – and it is in Arabic script. Arabic is the fastest growing language online with growth of more than 2500 percent between 2000 and 2011. Arabic is also the fastest-growing language on Twitter.

These roadside billboards offer an insight into the challenges faced by Arabic speakers online and highlights the limitations of the regional domain name market and the options available to businesses wanting to register domain names. It shows there is a disconnect between an increasingly online-orientated society and the accessibility of participation.

Is it no wonder that many local Internet users rely on Google to navigate the Internet? Why should they have to rely on a third party to seek out the content they are looking for?

What we need is an end-to-end Arabic online experience for the Arabic speaking community. This means an Arabic keyboard to type in an Arabic domain name to visit Arabic content.

The solution is Arabic Internationalised Domain Names which eliminate the reliance on traditional Latin scripts and instead allow Arabic speakers to navigate in their own language. Non-Latin Arabic script domains will be a significant factor in helping the next wave of Arab Internet users navigate to online Arabic content.

There are a number of countries already hosting Arabic script domains, including the United Arab Emirates (امارات.), Oman (عمان.) and Qatar (قطر.). These national digital assets are of enormous value to their respective countries and the citizens who access the Internet through them. However, they are being underutilised and are limited to the boundaries of the individual countries – stifling region-wide participation.

However, later this year, a new Arabic script domain name is set to revolutionise the Internet in the Arab region.  شبكة. (.shabaka – translates to .web in Arabic) will establish an entire corner of the Internet completely dedicated to the Arabic language, culture and society.

Unlike the national Arabic scripts currently available, شبكة. will be the first cross-border Arabic Top-Level Domain extension open to all Arabic speakers across the region. It will provide an emotive connection between Arabic culture and the community while opening an online channel to intuitively connect Arabic speakers to online Arabic content.

Initiatives such as  شبكة. will help bridge the gap between Arabic content and Arabic speaking Internet users. It will help provide the platform needed to fuel greater Arabic orientated online entrepreneurism and innovation.

Furthermore, there are commercial incentives for Arab-based organisations to help break down the accessibility barriers. To put a price on this, the Gulf Cooperation Council predicts B2C e-commerce sales in the region will reach around $15 billion by 2015. Savvy business leaders would be wise to recognise this commercial potential.

The big question is, who is responsible for facilitating this end-to-end Arabic online experience? The beauty of the Internet means it will be a collaborative approach from the business sector generating the Arabic content, to policy makers raising greater awareness and the industry providing the technology and platform.

I strongly believe that this will go a long way to removing the barriers to greater Internet participation in the Arab region.

It is my prediction that in the near future we will see a greater number of Arabic advertising billboards targeting Arabic speakers with Arabic script domain names such as شبكة. directing viewers to engaging online Arabic content.

The dawn of the end-to-end Arabic online experience is upon us.

By Adrian Kinderis
Adrian is CEO of ARI Registry Services, a global domain name technology company. Adrian discussed the topic of developing a robust Internet in the Arab region during his keynote address at the ‘Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance in the Arab world’ forum on Monday 4 March 2013 at the Radisson Royal Dubai.

Groundswell must continue to oppose greater internet control

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In a special opinion piece article first published in the Sydney Morning Herald (23 Oct 2012), Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, provides his thoughts on Internet governance, ICANN and the ITU.

Earlier this month I joined federal senators, industry leaders, government advisors, stakeholder groups and concerned citizens in Canberra for Australia’s inaugural Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) to help shape the future of the internet in Australia.

On the agenda were a number of important panel discussions from cyber security to privacy and digital inclusion.

However, there was one topic above all others that captured my attention: the discussion about the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) move to seek greater controls over the internet.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, will hear proposals to overhaul the regulations governing the internet at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) being held in Dubai in December.

The 11-day conference will host the rewriting of the international telecommunication regulations that govern the world’s telecommunications traffic. On the agenda is reworking the system of internet controls.

Countries such as Russia have called for restrictions over the internet where it is used to interfere in the internal affairs of a state. Opponents have claimed this represents a dramatic threat to the openness of the internet, where countries could regulate content not just within their own borders but globally.

Supporters are calling for a change from the current multi-stakeholder governance model, under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to a government-control model.

The ITU’s internet power grab

Although a number of governments and industry groups have voiced strong opposition to any move to give the ITU more authority over the internet, this is not guaranteed. Efforts must continue to protect the digital economy and our current internet freedoms.

In her opening address  to the auIGF, the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, spoke about the Australian government’s strong support of the ICANN model.

“The ITU does not need to take on the role of governing the internet. It has its own contribution to make, one which is valuable and which should not be changed,” Senator Lundy said. “We need the work that both ICANN and the ITU do. Each of these bodies should play to their own strengths and not seek to encroach on the responsibilities of others.”

Australia is not alone in taking this stance. In August, the US State Department submitted its initial proposals for the WCIT calling for a continuation of the current ICANN framework.

In May, a US bipartisan House committee resolution – H. Con. Res. 127  – argued the internet should be free of international regulation.

“Given the importance of the internet to the global economy, it is essential that the internet remain stable, secure and free from government control … The structure of internet governance has profound implications for competition and trade, democratisation, free expression and access to information … Countries have obligations to protect human rights, which are advanced by online activity as well as offline,” the House resolution said.

There’s been no shortage of people lining up to criticise the ITU over its proposals. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Software and Information Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, among others, have all expressed concern over the ITU’s moves.

Who can govern the Internet? ICANN

The US-based non-profit group ICANN manages the internet’s addressing system through a transparent, multi-stakeholder model.

The beauty of the current model is it promotes participation and input from end users all the way through to governments. This open, inclusive model has made the internet a successful driver of social and economic growth.
Research published by McKinsey last year on the economies of the G-8 nations found the internet contributes 3.4 per cent to GDP. It recommended public-sector leaders ought to promote broad access to the internet since usage, quality of infrastructure and online expenditure are correlated with higher growth in per capita GDP.

The lessons learnt from the McKinsey research suggest governments should support policies which encourage greater use of the internet to boost economic development – a move that is in contrast to proposals already put forth for the ITU’s December conference.

There is a threat that the ITU will bring a “closed approach” to internet governance which would exclude participation from the private sector and end users. Given its importance to the global economy, it is essential the internet remains stable, secure and free from overzealous government control.

I’m confident the groundswell of opposition will be effective in defeating the ITU’s proposals. I have faith that common sense will prevail.

Forums such as ICANN and the auIGF are crucial in advancing and promoting the transparent, bottom-up, consensus-driven internet we have today.

Let’s continue to innovate and drive progress, rather than restrict and undo all this good work.

Adrian Kinderis is CEO of ARI Registry Services, an international domain name technology infrastructure company. He joined industry experts from Google, auDA, APNIC and Internet NZ on a special panel at the auIGF to examine internet governance.

This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday 23 October 2012.