New Internet Governance Proposal Would Trim US Role, Boost Private Sector31/10/2006 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.By William New ATHENS – As hundreds of Internet practitioners and visionaries gathered here for a forum on governance of the Internet, two long-time stakeholders have issued an updated proposal aimed at defusing the biggest policy tensions by moving governance to the private sector and increasing international involvement.The proposal comes from Becky Burr, a former US government official who in the 1990s helped construct the current Internet governance structure, and Marilyn Cade, a former AT&T executive who also was involved in the activities that led to the 1998 creation of the Internet technical oversight body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).The proposal calls on the US government to initiate several steps to respond to international concern about its unique authority over the authoritative root. The steps include clarifying that the appropriate role of government is limited to serving as the “backstop” for threats to the stability and security of the Internet, identification of changes to the underlying Internet structure that do not threaten the Internet’s security or stability, development of a new intergovernmental working group with regional representation to review changes to the Internet structure that create serious stability concerns, and calling upon ICANN to become more transparent and accountable.Proposal available hereBurr and Cade developed the “practical, doable” proposal out of “concern that a significant amount of international unhappiness is about the symbolism of the United States retaining authority over the authoritative root,” Burr said in an interview.First, the US government should state more clearly that retained governmental authority is very limited and that it will not intervene in ICANN’s coordination of the underlying structure of the Internet domain name system except to protect the technical security and stability of the Internet. This refers to the authoritative root server of the Internet, the “A” root, which is administered by a California technology and cybersecurity company, VeriSign, under contract with the US Department of Commerce.The paper does not call for drastic change to the functioning of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which some see as a key to Internet power since it is the body that decides which changes are made to the underlying root server.But the paper does remove a step involving US government review of decisions made by IANA. Instead it would direct Verisign to implement most IANA changes without review, but permit an intergovernmental working group to review any unusual decisions that raise technical stability and security concerns, such as a plan to add a large number of new top-level domains (like .com or .org) at the same time.Take ICANN Out of Sovereignty, Governance Debate?During the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process begun in 2003, debate turned increasingly to concerns that the Internet is too US-centric. A number of governments have sought not only to expand the Internet beyond western language characters but also to open up control and the decision-making process to non-US actors. But they have met with, among other things, reservations from the US government, industry, and Internet users over the potential negative impact of politicising Internet governance.It continues to rankle some governments that ICANN, and to an extent, the US government, have say over who manages their own country domains (such as .fr for France). The authors said they believe these country-cold top-level domain (ccTLD) issues should be left to ICANN and the relevant community, including the relevant government.In their proposal, Burr and Cade hearken back to the late 1990s “White Paper” from the Clinton administration that paved the way for a transition of the management of the Internet domain name system to the private sector. ICANN, a California-based non-profit corporation, was created shortly after the paper as the private sector body to take over management.ICANN has had plenty of bumps in its early years, and plenty of critics too (including some of the ICANN concept’s strongest supporters), but has significantly expanded its budget, staff and efforts to address global concerns about its functioning and ties to the US government. Still, questions about governance of the now fully global Internet remain, and ICANN’s role is part of the debate. The authors say they are trying to address the underlying causes of the debate in order to help ICANN realise its potential and envisioned purpose.The paper states that its approach “promotes private sector leadership, but it does not undermine the ability of governments to be informed about and to act to prevent serious threats to the stability or security of the Internet.” It also would require no act of the US Congress or presidential directive.“We believe that ICANN can become the nimble and broadly representative body contemplated in the White Paper but, like many ICANN supporters, are keenly aware that the clock is ticking on this experiment,” the proposal states.William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"New Internet Governance Proposal Would Trim US Role, Boost Private Sector" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.