DNS Policy Notes for Sept. 5, 2014

Collected news and opinion about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the domain name business, Internet governance, and miscellaneous other cyberlaw topics for Sept. 5, 2014.

GNSO Discussions on Future New gTLD Rounds

I mentioned yesterday that the ICANN board of directors will be taking up the topic of future application rounds for new to-level domains at its Sept. 9 meeting.

I should have mentioned that the real policy development work for the next gTLD application rounds will be conducted by ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization. That process has already begun.

The GNSO Council created the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures discussion group earlier this summer. The group has a wiki discussion page, a mailing list, over 50 members, and its next meeting is set for Sept. 8.

Over 100 New Registry Operators So Far

Domain name industry groups have been touting the fact that the number of domain names in the new top-level domains recently crested the 2 million mark. Also noteworthy from a policy standpoint is the fact that, as of today, there are 378 new top-level domains in the root and 122 new top-level domain registries. Some are large portfolio registries, others are entrepreneurs or established corporate brands, while still others are governmental agencies. Most of the news this year has been about the pressure on ICANN from outside forces. However, the existence of so many new registry operators with a stake in the DNS constitutes a considerable inside force that may ultimately exert an equal, if not greater, impact on ICANN policymaking.

IGF 2014: What Just Happened?

The several Internet Governance Forum events that have taken place over the past decade always seemed to me to be like an Indian rain dance: noisy passion on the ground, negligible impact on the weather. And yet highly knowledgeable folks who dedicate their professional lives to Internet governance are engaged and enthusiastic about IGF -- and protective of it. Here are are two takes that I found interesting.

From How to survive the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul and why bother?, Maria Farrell, in the Guardian:

An old friend from the technical community stopped me today and said, a propos of absolutely nothing: "You must remember that we are here for damage control. Nothing more, nothing less." This illustrates two things. One, that the people who built the internet and keep it running grudgingly accept they must keep explaining it to and protecting it from the governments and corporates who want to use it for their own purposes. Two, that many people here are on broadcast-only mode. One way to have a successful IGF is to come with a simple, honed message and tell it to everyone you meet. If you’re good, you’ll soon hear other people adopting your meme as their own. It’s good lobbying tactics but pretty poor for actual conversation.

So does IGF matter? Not a lot. It exposes governments -- often of not especially free or tolerant countries -- to a wider range of views than they are used to. But the effects aren’t always what you might wish. I recently gave a session (not at the IGF) on the problems with electronic surveillance to an authoritarian-lite telecoms regulator. The feedback afterwards was: "That was good. But next time, could you make it more of a 'how-to'?"

From Why Internet governance should be left to the engineers, Larry Downes, in the Washington Post:

The Internet, we hear in every session, is "insecure," open to exploitation by spies, criminals, and self-serving corporations. The engineered openness we celebrate is both the source of its greatest value and its greatest risk.

But given the engineers’ enviable track record, I trust them to maintain that delicate balance far more than I do traditional governments and unelected regulators. For starters, the engineers work in the open, quickly and efficiently, with the best ideas -- rather than the most politically expedient -- rising to the top.

The engineering-driven multistakeholder process is by no means perfect. Still, several days’ worth of sessions focused just on net neutrality highlight the limitations of the alternative — letting governments, activists, and academics lead the conversation.But given the engineers' enviable track record, I trust them to maintain that delicate balance far more than I do traditional governments and unelected regulators. For starters, the engineers work in the open, quickly and efficiently, with the best ideas — rather than t...

IGC Face-to-Face Meeting

The IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) will hold a face-to-face meeting on Sept. 6 in Instanbul, Turkey, following the conclusion of the Internet Governance Forum.

The meeting will be webcast via ICANN's virtual meeting facilities. If you live on the U.S. East Coast, set your alarm for 2 a.m. EST on Sept 6.

The ICG is undertaking the messy but vital mission of fashioning a proposal for transitioning stewardship of basic DNS management functions ("the IANA functions") from the U.S. Department of Commerce to the global Internet community. The job here is to find a trusted entity (at this point, presumably ICANN) to insert and remove names and numbers from the Internet's authoritative root zone file, and to find another globally trusted entity that will ensure the first task is performed responsibly. 

The meeting agenda is available here [pdf]. Additional information regarding the ICG's work progress so far is available at the here.

USG: The Internet Belongs to Everyone

State Department Internet Is For Everyone

The U.S. State Department expressed the U.S. position on Internet governance in a polished and engaging video, released in advance of the IGF meetings.


Thomas O’Toole is managing editor of Bloomberg BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law Report and a contributor to Bloomberg BNA’s Internet Law Resource Center.