Internet Governance Forum To Return To Critical Internet Resources Issue 30/10/2007 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch The upcoming second Internet Governance Forum in Rio de Janeiro will have a very broad agenda with over thirty workshops, 22 best practice forums and 10 meetings of dynamic coalitions specialising in key issues such as access, diversity, openness and security. One outstanding issue at the 12-15 November forum is the renewed debate about critical Internet resources like IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, domain names and the overall functioning of the domain name system. After nearly causing a failure of the predecessor UN-led World Summit on the Information Society, it was kept off the agenda of the first meeting of the IGF in Athens last year. Now it is back and might overshadow the forum once more. “Critical Internet resources will be the single most contentious issue at the IGF,” said Robin Gross, executive director of IP Justice, which is involved in several dynamic coalitions. “There is a lot of unhappiness about the level of US government influence on ICANN,” she said. Governments are very interested in exercising control over their own infrastructure, she said. Efforts to maintain the special relationship between the US government and the private administrator of core resources of the Internet, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), have led to some frustration. Placing the issue atop the IGF agenda was the result of significant work by other governments, especially the host, Brazil. But the US government appeared to have prepared for the debate by extending an invitation for public comments on ICANN’s performance, which could allay some concerns about unilateral government control. Speaking at this week’s ICANN meeting in Los Angeles, the head of the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, John Kneuer, said he “cannot emphasise enough the importance the department attaches to hearing directly from all interested parties involved in the ICANN community.” Kneuer said there is an overlap between ICANN and IGF, yet the consultation would be along the same lines as the consultation held in 2006 before Commerce renewed its contract with ICANN. While so far most governments have kept a low profile on what they intend to put forward with regard to critical Internet resources, civil society organisations and researchers of the host country have published a clear-cut statement on what they think necessary. “We defend,” they wrote in a joint statement to the second IGF, “the internationalisation of ICANN in order to ensure that the entity be free from the possibility of being captured by commercial interests, free from national legislations and free from the demands resulting from the MoU [memorandum of understanding] with the US Department of Commerce.” The controversy therefore could be expected to continue, said Gross. As an organiser of several workshops and dynamic coalitions, Gross is not concerned that the resource topic will marginalise other issues. “Contrary to the WSIS, intellectual property issues now are on the agenda for IGF,” she said. There are special workshops on digital education and information policy that looks into the need for IP rights exemptions and open standards that will, according to the organisers’ description, look into “the inherent tensions between public interest and intellectual property rights holders in ICT standards.” Open standards also were an area not given much attention at the WSIS. Other issues that will receive quite a lot of attention through several workshops are privacy, child protection online and freedom of expression. The reason for the opening up to these issues according to Gross lies in the fact that the IGF would not make governments focussing on negotiating binding texts. With regard to IP issues developing countries had become much more aware of the problems they were facing through rigid IP systems. The IGF’s nature as a non-policymaking body is not enough for some observers. Civil society groups have proposed to allow the IGF to make non-binding recommendations or simply send “messages” to the world as a result just to give the body some more weight. Forum-shopping was an aspect IP activists had to deal with anyway, said Gross. But for the second IGF, perhaps it is still a little to early to see who will come to shop for what. Monika Ermert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 "Internet Governance Forum To Return To Critical Internet Resources Issue" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.