Cyberlaw Review 2014: Internet Governance

Bloomberg BNA asked leading attorneys, government officials, and online experts for their views on the most important legal developments in online law during 2013 and on what policy areas they believed would be the most important to their practices in 2014. We asked that the responses be short and to the point, similar to a “tweet” or status update. The result is the collection of brief insights published below, many of which have been lightly edited and categorized by subject matter.

The comments below--each attributed to the author, the author's law firm or organization, website, Twitter username and blog--are published for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

Internet Governance

2014 will be a pivotal year for the future of the Internet. The open question is whether there will be an international consensus on the multistakeholder Internet governance model or a shift towards a more intergovernmental model. Markus Kummer, Vice President, Public Policy, Internet Society, Geneva.

2014 will play host to yet another crossroads for Internet freedom. A fall treaty negotiation in Korea will determine the global Net's fate. Lots of struggling until then Robert M. McDowell, Former FCC Commissioner, Visiting Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.

After the world spent 2013 recovering from WCIT, 2014 will be the year of major events and potential decisions at the UN, the ITU, and elsewhere (Brazil, London, etc.). Those meetings may determine the future course of Internet governance -- hopefully reflecting an inclusive, positive vision that will continue to encourage new and innovative technologies and services that can serve the world. David A. Gross, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP, Washington, D.C.

Brazil took very relevant steps in 2013 aiming at enacting the legal framework for the Internet, expected for 2014. Recently, the President has requested the Bill of Law to be expedited and voted by the National Congress on an urgent basis. There are major expectations in the country as regards the enactment of said Bill due to its unique character and the fact that it touches upon several conflicting issues, such as net neutrality, log retention, third party generated content and data protection. Fabio Pereira, Partner, and Ieda Dutra, Associate, Veirano Advogados, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Every CEO should ask “Will we be better off if a foreign power has the ability to control not only who gets a domain name but even who gets or keeps IP addresses that make all our computers and mobile devices work?” If not, that company should be watching ICANN like a hawk. Paul D. McGrady, Partner, Winston & Strawn, Chicago.

Governments are looking for greater authority over the domain name system and 2014 will be a year of intensive discussion about governments' roles. We will need to think very carefully on this subject. Paul Stahura (@stahura), CEO, Donuts Inc., Bellevue, Wash.

In 2014 the global Internet community will proactively redouble its efforts to ensure that the Internet's multistakeholder governance system become more inclusive of the developing world's views and its representatives from civil society, industry, government, and academia. And we will all be better off for it Daniel Sepulveda (@DSepDC), Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department (International Communications & Information Policy), Washington, D.C.

In 2014, a new international consensus will emerge on the future of Internet governance. We'll see a greater focus on the role of Internet public policy and stronger leadership from emerging economies such as Brazil and India. Sally Wentworth, Senior Director of Strategic Public Policy, Internet Society, Reston, Va.

In light of recent revelations regarding pervasive unilateral government surveillance, there can be little doubt that changes are needed in Internet governance, in particular to protect human rights which include the right to privacy. Contrary to what has been commonly stated, WCIT was not about controlling the Internet, it was about creating a level playing field, see my forthcoming book The New International Telecommunication Regulations: A Commentary and Legislative History (Schulthess/Springer). An agreed international framework is needed, but of course it will take time, and more discussions, to come to global agreement. WCIT was a first step, albeit one that did not fully succeed. More steps will surely be taken in 2014. Richard Hill, Principal, Hill & Associates, Geneva, Switzerland.

Perhaps the perfect storm of Snowden revelations, pressure from world governments, and the desire for greater globalization led to the Montevideo Statement where ICANN along with the other technical Internet organizations identified the need for an ongoing effort to address Internet Governance challenges. Regardless of how of how it happened, here we are with the newly formed 1Net initiative which many believe was designed to be mechanism for ICANN to participate in Internet Governance. How things play out over the next year is anyone's guess. Elisa Cooper, Director of Product Marketing, MarkMonitor, Boise, Idaho. Blogs at The MarkMonitor Blog.

Predict major issue for 2014: ICANN's role in Internet governance. The seductive combination of huge sums of money and potential increased governmental power, as well as ICANN's own challenges, poses a serious threat to the “multi-stakeholder bottom-up” model - and will require proactive vigilance to protect. Ellen Shankman, Principal, Advocate, Notary, Ellen B. Shankman & Associates, Rehovot, Israel.

The big question in 2014 - whither IANA? The big red herring in 2014 - Snowden's revelations as an issue in Internet Governance. David Maher, Senior Vice President - Law & Policy, Public Interest Registry, Reston, Va.

The internet has transformed the manner in which information is exchanged and business is conducted, arguably more than any other communications medium; its economic and social value will continue to extend to the developed and developing world in 2014, along with the recognition that its growth is attributable to a multi-stakeholder model of governance that ensures it remains uncontrolled by any one government or organization. Terry D. Kramer (@terrykramer), former Ambassador, head of U.S. WCIT delegation.

The Internet is our first global utility; we all have a responsibility to ensure that it continues to spur innovation and economic prosperity while being managed in a way that respects the rule of law and human rights. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union, Geneva.

The trending topic of the coming year: Internet governance. We stand on the brink of a major shift in Internet power. The US has more or less held the reigns up to now. Events in 2014 could lead that to change. Everyone needs to keep a close eye on this, lest the Internet become less about empowering users, and more about regulating uses. Stephane Van Gelder (@stephvg), Chairman and Managing Director, Stephane Van Gelder Consulting Ltd., United Kingdom/France. Blogs at Stephane Van Gelder Consulting Ltd..

New Top-Level Domains Webinar

On March 5, Bloomberg BNA is putting on a free webinar, The Latest on ICANN's gTLD Program: Today’s Business Opportunities and Legal Risks. Additional information about the webinar is available at the link.

We're fortunate to have as faculty top experts from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Domain Name Association, Deloitte, and the National Arbitration Forum. The last half-hour of the webinar will provide an opportunity for listeners to ask questions of these experts on any topic: ICANN processes, operating and profting from the new level-domains, and developing sound strategies against cybersquatting in the new domain spaces.  

This webinar promises to be well worth the time of anyone with a business or law practice interest in ICANN's new top-level domains program.

Other Posts in This Series

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Snowden Leaks, New Domains, Global Jockeying For Internet Governance Role Still Dominate Cyberlaw Hot Topics in 2014

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Cloud Computing, Computer Crime, Consumer Protection, Data Breaches

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Digital Copyright, Digital Divide, Domain Name Disputes, Trademarks, Entrepreneurship, Intermediary Liability, Internet Freedom

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Internet Governance

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Internet of Things, Online Contracts

Cyberlaw Review 2014: ICANN's New Top-Level Domains

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Privacy Regulation

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Social Media, Software Patents, Telecom Regulation

Cyberlaw Review 2014: Electronic Surveillance, Emerging Payment Technologies