Saturday, May 18th 2013
William J. Drake [moderator]
Senior Associate, Centre for International Governance, Graduate Institute of International and, Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
Research Student in Interdisciplinary Information Studies, the University of Tokyo; Tunisia
Professor, Syracuse University, USA
Convenor, East African IGF and Kenya ICT Action Network,
Communications Commission, Government of Kenya
General Manager: Regulatory, Neotel; Management Committee member, South African Internet Service Providers' Association; South Africa
Member of the Board of Directors, ICANN; France
Professor of Law and Director of Institute for the Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal University, China
A development agenda can be defined as a holistic program of analysis and action intended to mainstream development considerations into the procedures and policy outputs of global governance mechanisms. While there have been concerted efforts to pursue such agendas in the multilateral institutions dealing with issues like international trade and intellectual property, there has been no corresponding initiative with respect to global Internet governance. Hence, a series of interrelated workshops was organized at the Rio, Hyderabad and Sharm el Sheikh IGF meetings to help foster dialogue on the possible establishment of such an initiative. Over the course of these events, participants considered the potential value-added of a development agenda; fleshed out its broad institutional and substantive contours; identified some particularly important linkages between internet governance and development that merit further consideration; and in light of the WSIS principles, agreed that the IGF is the most appropriate venue in which to devise an approach to mainstreaming development within Internet governance institutions, as applicable. Building on these foundations, the next step in the process was to test the general model in a specific issue-area and institutional context in order to identify possible refinements.
Accordingly, the Vilnius workshop applied the development agenda approach to the field of Internet names and numbers, with particular attention being devoted to the ICANN nexus. In addition to advancing IG4D efforts within the IGF, the workshop provided food for thought to interested participants in ICANN on how to better address development concerns. The three main elements of a development agenda considered ...
The actors involved in Internet names and numbers are well known and need not be listed here. The actors involved in this workshop as co-sponsors include:
Centre for International Governance, Graduate Institute for International Studies [academic]
Association for Progressive Communications [civil society]
Government of Argentina (TBC) [government]
Institute for Internet Policy & Law, Beijing Normal University [academic]
Council of Europe [international organization]
Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Buenos Aires [academic]
Federal Office of Communication, Government of Switzerland [government]
To set the stage, the moderator led off the session by reviewing the highlights of the three previous development agenda workshops and their possible relevance to Internet names and numbers. In particular, he drew attention to some procedural/institutional aspects of ICANN---organizational culture, meeting agendas, information architecture and the like---that could unintentionally pose barriers to effective participation by some developing country stakeholders, but which could be overcome with a little effort. He then suggested a brief menu of substantive issues that could merit further consideration from a development-oriented standpoint, e.g. registry/registrar industry market structure and competitive entry; the New gTLD Program’s approaches to issues like pricing and applicant support, and the choice between “morality and public order” and international law-based objections to strings; internationalized domain names (IDNs) and the fast track mechanism; ccTLD (re)delegation and management; vulnerabilities to security & stability threats; citizen/consumer protection issues like WHOIS and registrant rights; IPv4 exhaustion and the IPv6 transition; and so on.
In their presentations, the panelists elaborated on some of these items and added others to the menu. The first speaker focused on the high cost of applying to run a new gTLD and maintained that this is an impediment to developing country participation in the global domain name space. He then outlined some of the approaches to ameliorating this problem that have been under consideration in a working group that is preparing a report to the ICANN Board of Directors. The second speaker noted that while many of the institutions and processes native to the Internet environment are formally open to all, their work programs and operating styles are rather technical in nature. This can be an informal barrier to the engagement of many stakeholders from developing countries, so enhanced capacity building efforts and greater awareness of the problem among all parties will be necessary going forward.
The third speaker focused on the development implications of the looming exhaustion of IPv4, and (controversially) suggested that it will take many years to achieve widespread adoption of IPv6, if we get there at all. Accordingly, it will be necessary to introduce competition into the Regional Internet Registries’ management of names in order to promote a more efficient and equitable allocation of available IPv4 resources. Broadening the focus, the fourth speaker considered the development nexus as a whole from an African regional perspective. He emphasized that while institutional improvements are always desirable, developing countries should not be looking for “hand outs,” and shou...
The subsequent discussion with the multistakeholder audience of over fifty attendees raised a number of additional points. Among these were suggestions to: use parliaments as an avenue to draw African citizens into Internet governance discussions; apply lessons from the development agenda workshops within the Generic Names Supporting Organization’s (GNSO) improvements process with an eye to promoting greater developing country engagement in ICANN policymaking; give priority to expanding the participation of developing country government representatives in ICANN; establish locally-aware business models and funding strategies to help expand the use of available tools and diversify participation in the global domain name industry; focus on moving to IPv6 rather than creating markets for IPv4; establish new gTLDs in order to expand choice in the developing world; and link ICANN and UN bodies in development agenda discussions.
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