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[I-coordination] A different model

Milton L Mueller mueller at
Wed Dec 11 18:12:33 CET 2013

>founded in US jurisdiction (rather than CH which was my preferred option
>at the time, or NL which others proposed). But all the same, USG influence
>has been more threatened that real.

This is a false claim that people (especially those not that closely involved with ICANN decision making or not policy experts) keep repeating. USG influence over the policy direction of ICANN was massive until 2009, and has been somewhat diminished since. USG has consistently pushed ICANN in various directions, some of which you may like, others you may not like, but anyone familiar with the actual discussions and negotiations between ICANN, Verisign and NTIA, and with the perennial U.S. Congressional hearings that various lobbyists invoke, would never say the US tether to ICANN makes no difference. And as anyone in politics and military strategy knows, threats can be as effective as action if your goal is to preclude certain paths from being taken. 

Of course, calling attention to US influence should _not_ be equated with a belief that adding 192 other governments would make things better. I am a consistent advocate of self-governance by the Internet polity, and thus believe that no national governments should be calling the shots here.

>Try this and see if it makes sense:
>"Atmosphere governance is the development and application by Governments, the
>private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared
>principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that
>shape the evolution and use of the atmosphere."

It does make sense to me, as a social scientist with familiarity with international relations. Just as computer scientists often speak languages that make no sense to the rest of us, it should not surprise you that political scientists use terms and concepts that make no sense to you. The concepts of "shared principles, norms, rules and decision making procedures" are pretty well defined in international relations theory as the building blocks of international institutions or regimes. And there is a huge scientific literature on institutions that you are probably not familiar with. Then there is a huge empirical literature about specific international institutions that applies these theoretical concepts, ranging from (yes) environmental governance to international air travel arrangements to radio spectrum. 

>As George pointed out, there is a great gulf between administration of
>the technical side of the Internet and regulation of the social and economic
>impact of the Internet. Mixing these two up under the G-word has led to
>enormous confusion of thought, not least right here on this list.

The problem is that the ICANN regime mixes them. And in fact governments (at the national level) and international regimes often mix the two. In technology governance, it is common to achieve leverage on social and economic regulation by administering the technical side. Think of radio spectrum. Govts do not merely coordinate technical use of the spectrum, they decide how many broadcasters there will be (economic regulation) and attach numerous rules and regulations to spectrum licenses that regulate conduct.

ICANN's control of DNS root gives it the power to "license" registries (via a Registry Agreement) and registrars (via the RAA). These contracts are then used to impose practices on registries that are designed to control not only their own conduct and certain aspects of industry economics, but the conduct of their users as well. Simple example: ICANN's RAA requires accredited registrars to make Whois data public (any privacy issues here?) and to use the UDRP and numerous other trademark rights protection mechanisms (trademark regulation with implications for freedom of expression). I could go on, endlessly, as someone with 15 years of experience with this regime. But I won't ;-)
>The best thing the IGF (and the Brazil meeting) could do is ban the
>G word and separate the two discussions.

Ain't gonna happen. For better or worse. 

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