Posts Tagged ‘ITU’

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.

ICANN may not be perfect, but it is working

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

by Adrian Kinderis

Though I have been critical of some of ICANN’s shortcomings, I remain a strong supporter of ICANN’s role as a private sector-led, multi-stakeholder global regulator for the Internet’s core addressing systems.

My recent blog post about my concerns with the communications processes relating to the addition of the first Arabic script IDN ccTLDs has been quoted in an ITU Staff Paper prepared for the ITU Council Working Group on the World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Geneva tomorrow.

This document seems to suggest that my criticism was based on the fact that the delegation of Russia’s .рф IDN ccTLD did not occur at the same time as the three Arabic script IDN ccTLDs.

That was not my point at all.

The delegation of .рф involved co-ordination between IANA and Russian stakeholders to ensure that it occurred during the Russian Internet Governance Forum, held in Moscow from 12th-14th May.  My criticism of IANA was based on the fact that there was no such co-ordination displayed in relation to the delegation of the three Arabic script IDN ccTLDs, which occurred on 5th May.

I have received some strong feedback in relation to my comments, but I stand behind the substance of my complaint, which is that ICANN, and in particular, the IANA function, needs to improve its communications processes as the number of new TLDs being added to the Root will increase over the months ahead.

It would be a mistake however to interpret this criticism as in any way suggesting that I do not support ICANN as the appropriate regulatory body for the Domain Name System.

On the contrary, the idea that the International Telecommunications Union, a 145 year-old global intergovernmental bureaucracy, would take over ICANN’s role in managing the global Domain Name System, is something that fills me with dread.

I can only imagine, for example, how slowly the new gTLD program would be advancing, were it occurring within an ITU-led governance regime.  In reality, I am almost certain that it would not be advancing at all.

As I said at the start of this piece, ICANN may not be perfect, but it is working.

The IDN ccTLD Fast Track is an example of how ICANN can function well.  As Chris Disspain, Chairman of the ccNSO, said at the Russian IGF meeting last month, “the IDN Fast Track initiative is a stunning example of enhanced co-operation at work within the ICANN framework and displays just how much can be achieved – and how quickly – when governments embrace the spirit of WSIS and meaningfully engage and cooperate with the private sector in the development of internet policies and processes.”

The ITU currently has 191 member states.  According to this ITU Staff Paper, the highest percentage of member states that have attended a meeting of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is 31.4%, at last October’s meeting in Seoul.

I would therefore encourage the ITU to devote its energies to ensuring greater participation from a higher proportion of its member states in the GAC, rather than continuing to focus on efforts to undermine ICANN and to usurp its role in the management of the global Domain Name System.