Three statements jumped out at me on the Opening Day plenary.
Jolting Statement #1:
So we believe that restrictions on the Internet content have to be done transparently, have to be done as a result of rule of law, which is -- has great care, including the enactment in the rule of law.
US Ambassador David Gross: about a third of the way through http://www.intgovforum.org/IGF-Panel1-301006.txt.
Comment: Initially, I could not believe that an official from the US Government would actually endorse content regulation albeit with terms and conditions. There had been reports that the CIA was working on anti-censorship software to be used to circumvent China’s censorship firewall—a bad idea because it could easily boomerang on the US. Such an acceptance of content regulation must be the result of the War On Terror. Someone I spoke to said that perhaps the US Government is priming the internet community for content regulation based on the WOT.
Jolting Statement #2:
So I would like to come back to that because to the extent we talk about multistakeholder models and we talk about three-party participation, I think that's actually embedding today's political models and trying to put it on top of a development that just doesn't naturally fit. So to come back to the question that was just asked, I think it's actually about dialogue, and I don't think the Internet Governance Forum is a place for decisions or for recommendations. I don't think the process is nearly inclusive enough. I don't think it's got the right level of participation. I don't think people can come together for four days and have a discussion and believe we have addressed the technological, political, social, cultural ramifications of something that’s so vast. So I go back to I think it needs to go back to national level, local level, participation in the forms that are available to you, that are important to you as an individual. We are not all interested in everything. We are not all experts in everything. You can’t all be everywhere for every one of these discussions. So make it local, bring it back to the forums where you are interested in, where you specifically have something to contribute.
Lynn St Amour President, ISOC (Internet Society) http://www.intgovforum.org/IGF-Panel1-301006.txt about 52% through
Comment: The debate over Internet Governance and the purpose for which WGIG was formed is that there was (and still is) not enough expertise in the world for the issues to be discussed adequately. Even in the IGF itself, my conversations with some of those who I thought knew the basic issue suggested that even some of the more vocal well-intentioned souls working on internet matters are not adequately informed. So a Forum that brings together the Who’s Who on internet governance seems to me an eminently sensible idea.
Yes, the process can be more inclusive, and it is being attempted with webcasting and full transcription of the event. Taking away the Forum and moving such meetings to the national and local levels would only reduce the quality of the discussion when was is needed is higher, not lower quality.
Jolting Statement #3:
I think that if you are going to try to introduce some kind of competition, you had better do it in a way that does not create ambiguity. So let’s say if we can figure out how to do that. Today, you go to ICANN in order to register top-level domains. And we authorize those. Similarly, you go to the -- the RIRs go to ICANN to get chunks of Internet address space. And those are then allocated to parties who need to have a guaranty that no one else has been given that same I.P. address. Otherwise, again, you get ambiguity. I suppose you could imagine having -- taking the -- the domain name space and saying, “Well, here's a new organization, we'll call it FU, and this organization, FU, is going to be allowed to create some more top-level domains.” Now, we have to make sure that FU and ICANN don't simultaneously create the same new top-level domains. Well, how do we do that? Well, I guess we better create another organization that makes sure that ICANN and FU don't both pick the same top-level domains. So you just recreated a hierarchy which has authority somewhere to make sure ambiguity is avoided and uniqueness is preserved. So I think that in the course of doing what you’re suggesting, you recreate where we are today. Well, to the time warp.
Vint Cerf http://www.intgovforum.org/IGF-Panel1-301006.txt about 60% through
Comment: Cerf is arguing that there cannot be competition at the root zone, that ICANN is a “natural monopoly” not in the strict economic sense but because of the requirements of the system—there can only be one root.
Cerf, however, misses a major point—in the good old USA as well as significant portions of the civilised world, there is only on way to handle monopolies—regulate them. This is precisely the issue of internet governance. If ICANN is indeed an inevitable monopoly, then it inevitably invites regulation. Anything less would not be transparent or fair.
Ang Peng Hwa