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[I-coordination] ICANN's role via-à-vis the Internet ecosystem and Internet goverance

George Sadowsky george.sadowsky at
Tue Dec 10 18:56:58 CET 2013

[I make these remarks in my individual capacity]

Bob Bruen is absolutely correct in that the US is not holding back the rest of the world in becoming involved in ICANN.  ICANN values inputs from all over the world.  The US government, while having some power with respect to delegations and redelegations of top level domains, has never interfered with any recommendations made by ICANN, and it would be political suicide for them to do so.

ICANN has the responsibility for administration a small but crucial element of the global Internet ecosystem, viz. the administration of the domain name andIP address space.  These elements are central to navigating the Internet, and are highly visible.  

The question of what is Internet governance received one answer from the Working Group on Internet Governance in 2004:‎

although there was some dissent and an alternative definition was proposed by some.,  

Much of what is called Internet governance should be called Internet administration.  A larger definition of Internet governance often includes functions that already exist in the non-Internet world, such as consumer protection, privacy and security of information, licensing of ISPs, acceptable use policies and laws for use of resources, trade agreements, intellectual property protection, etc.  Those issues are mostly at the national level, with some needing to be addressed internationally.  On the ISO/OSI stack they are mostly well above layer 7, and none of them are remotely within ICANN's remit.

ICANN is seeking a role in the improvement of Internet governance issues for mostly the same reason that we all are: to make the Internet a more efficient, effective, safer place for all of us to occupy and exploit.  The US connection has very little if anything to do with this.

The decentralized multi-stakeholder model that characterized the growth of the INternet ecosystem has provided all of us with an enormously powerful tool that has reshaped our lives.  If there is any connection between results and legitimacy, then the current model can claim as much legitimacy as anything else in the world.  There is surely room for improvement, but critics of the current system have an obligation to show conclusively that other options are at least as sound as what exists today.

George Sadowsky 


> Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2013 11:14:48 -0500 (EST)
> From: Bob Bruen <korg at>
> Subject: Re: [I-coordination] A different model
> To: Phillip Hallam-Baker <hallam at>
> Hi Phillip,
> Your thoughtful email desverves more than I am about to give, but I want
> to make two points in response, because they relate to many other posts.
> 1) The US does have a privileged position with ICANN. This is the result
> of history. The US invented the Internet and has driven much of its
> development. The US has not really done very much to influence ICANN's
> work, when it could have done more.
> I understand the rest of the world wants more of a say in what ICANN does,
> but they are not being held back by the US. The ICANN meetings are filled
> with people from all over the world expressing their opinions. Many of he
> top positions in ICANN (eg CEO, COO, Compliance) are help by non-Americans
> Believe it or not, many Americans like the world wide input.
> Attacking the US position is more of a attempt to take perceived power
> away from the US than anything else. Moreover, if ICANN were suddenly
> totally free or under the influence of some other government or group of
> governments, there is no evidence that things would be better. In fact,
> things could get much worse. For example, think about the UN Security
> Council's inability to do things, because one or two members veto a
> proposal.
> 2) My second point is about the definition of Internet Governance, where
> you say the Internet is ungovernable and previously pointed out the
> difference between the technical view and the political view. I agree with
> you.
> I am still looking for a definition of IG, not the policy choices, such
> "keep it free" and "stop spying," but what can be governed (like your
> control points) and how. I worked on a governance  committee at a college
> once. It was about sharing of power between the faculty and the president
> over runnning the college. It was clear what was being governed, the only
> issue was how.
> Looking at the Internet, there seems to me that there is nothing to
> govern. Governments can try to control things like access and content, but
> only within their borders.  The rest of world is not subject to what a
> particular government chooses.
> If you or anyone else can provide a base definition of IG, I would
> appreciate it. What does governing the Internet mean?
>            --bob
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