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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Group asks U.S. to hands off Internet Governance

Group of academicians under the aegis of the Internet Governance Project (IGP) group has demanded an end to the United States’ Department of Commerce (DoC) deal with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), otherwise known as the Joint Project Agreement (JPA).

The group in its comments to the so-called Joint Project Agreement with ICANN recently called on US to take a decisive step in bringing that agreement to a close for the sake of the future of the Internet and ICANN, which presently coordinates its activities globally.

They also called for the engagement of other governments to create stronger and more internationalized legal arrangements that will keep the organization accountable to Internet users.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait on the ‘transition’ of the Internet’s naming and addressing system,” said Dr. Milton Mueller, professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and chair of IGP’s Scientific Committee.

According to him, after 11 years, either ICANN is ready to be independent or it is not.

“If it still has problems, and it does, let’s take decisive action to fix them,” he declared.

While noting ICANN’s shortcomings, the IGP comment focused its criticism on the Department of Commerce’s Joint Project Agreement with ICANN.

The JPA is a temporary form of supervision that allows the Commerce Department to negotiate goals and priorities for ICANN on a short time frame.

As said by him, the “JPA process is inherently broken,” hence contributing to ICANN’s failings….

“It does nothing but invite the stakeholders in one privileged country to complain to their own government about policy outcomes they don’t like,” IGP said.

Instead of continuing an endless series of renewals and revisions of the JPA, the group argued that the “U.S. government needs to let the JPA expire and immediately initiate an international agreement that completes the transition of ICANN to a stable, accountable form of global governance.”

The group further outlined what the latest agreement should look like to include, the affirmation and formalize the nongovernmental status of ICANN; formally recognize the sovereignty of other national governments over their top level domains; prohibit ICANN from interfering with freedom of expression; ensure the consistency of ICANN’s regulations with antitrust law and nondiscriminatory trade principles; select an appropriate body of national corporate law under which ICANN should operate and dissolve ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

“The United States can gain buy-in from other governments for its own model of Internet governance and ensure that the transition does not harm any of its own legitimate interests. But to succeed in completing the transition and to avoid fragmenting the Internet, the U.S. will have to win the acceptance of a critical mass of other countries and peoples,” the group canvassed.

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