Internet Governance: ICANN, Security And Nation States28/01/2008 by Monika Ermert for 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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch The future of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will remain an important topic in Internet governance in 2008, the tenth anniversary of the private global coordination body for Internet addresses and domain names.Yet Internet governance experts also expect security in its different facets to be on the rise in Internet governance debates and point to the further growing interest of nation states in exercising their sovereign governance rights in cyberspace. And it is increasingly the case that governance of the Internet can affect access to online content.The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) organised by the United Nations – which in December will hold its third gathering in New Delhi – likely will see more issues related to cybercriminality, anonymity and privacy, said Jeanette Hofmann, researcher at the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics, and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, and member of the IGF Advisory Group.New ICANN Board Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush announced a “busy year” and a “birthday party” to take place at the annual meeting of ICANN, which will be held not in the United States but in Africa in November 2008. The location for the birthday party may be seen as a small symbol for ICANN’s emphasis on its declared internationality. It has been the United States’ privileged position in ICANN and root server oversight that gave the primary original impulse for the Internet governance debate that has evolved so much over the past few years.Weakening US Influence over Internet?More and more governments have called for change in the oversight structure for this tiny yet core part of the Internet and will call for that again in the newly launched consultation of the US Commerce Department National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on “The Continued Transition of the Technical Coordination and Management of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System.”The consultation (deadline for statements 15 February) is part of the midterm review of the “Joint Project Agreement (JPA)” – the current agreement that binds ICANN to US government oversight – and may allow the full privatisation of domain name system (DNS) coordination after 2009.ICANN posted its comment to the NTIA in January, declaring: “The JPA is not longer necessary. Concluding it is the next step in transition of the coordination of the domain name system to the private sector.”ICANN’s Board wrote to NTIA official Suzanne Sene and said the JPA had been a necessary instrument in ICANN’s formative years. “But now,” the board said, “the JPA contributes to a misperception that the DNS is managed and overseen on a daily basis by the US government. Ending the JPA will provide long-term stability and security for a model that works.” The Board underlined that the JPA would not affect the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract that allows the US administration to check on changes in the root zone, the heart of the DNS.The incoming US administration could withdraw from ICANN oversight, yet control over changes in the root zone, where vital information on the Internet address system is kept, might be too sensitive for any US administration. In fact, the US keeps arguing that it has to ensure the stability and security of the system that underlies a billion-dollar economy and has long become a key critical infrastructure.“The whole issue of security is drawing more and more attention, not only from nation states, but also from civil society,” said Hofmann. The relationship between surveillance and privacy, data protection and transparency remains to be clearly worked out, she added. Identity management and authentication mechanisms rose much higher on the Internet governance agenda last year, and are expected to continue to do so, Hofmann said.Fight for IP RightsIntellectual property issues are in some aspects also intermingled with security. Whether the registries for country-code domains (such as .uk for the United Kingdom) should be granted special rights over new country-code-oriented top-level domain address zones, and be able to ask to be allocated the right to manage these zones via a fast track procedure, is one of ICANN’s questions in this regard. Observers warn against possible domain islands under strict state control.At least some observers have followed anxiously developments in Russia where some in the administration have been reported to have shown interest in walling off the “Russian Internet.” ICANN has accepted that there is a strong demand for ccTLDs in native scripts from a number of countries like China and several Arabic states and a special working group has started talks about the possible fast track procedure. But ICANN Chair Dengate Thrush spoke of a single procedure for all new top-level domains coming up. The introduction of new TLDs is a major issue for ICANN this year.Meanwhile, the longstanding fight over how personal data of individual domain name holders should be published in the so-called Whois databases of domain name registries and registrars might calm down, Hofmann said. ICANN staff finalised the procedure for dealing with exemptions for registries and registrars from jurisdictions with strong privacy regulation. Even if the United States keeps pushing for open Whois, registries and registrars from other countries can point to the need to adhere to their own national laws.Yet according to a representative for the registrars in ICANN’s Generic Name Supporting Council it is not that easy at all. It was all but clear what registries and registrars had to present to be eligible for the exemptions as the procedure reads that only a lawsuit or administrative procedure against them allowed to apply for exceptional treatment.Also, settlements of disputes over ownership of domain names will continue to be important at ICANN and at the World Intellectual Property Organization.Debate over Governance StructureChanges may also come in 2008 to the institutional structure of Internet governance debates, Hofmann said. While the IGF was established as a focal point for the wider Internet governance debate – and ICANN will be kept under observation – she felt that there was a shift of a lot of discussion to intergovernmental institutions, back from self-governing bodies like the Internet Engineering Task Force (a peer standardisation body for all Internet protocol-related standards) to the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU has, for example, become more involved in security issues, last year announcing a global cybersecurity agenda after years of rivalry with ICANN.More structural manoeuvring on who does what in Internet governance is expected this year, according to Wolfgang Kleinwächter, special advisor to the IGF Chair Nitin Desai. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has invited UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to give a keynote at its June meeting on the “Future of the Internet Economy”, and Kleinwächter said this could be used by Ban for positioning of the UN in Internet governance.Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com.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"Internet Governance: ICANN, Security And Nation States" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.