My Comments on Green Paper


Izumi Aizu

Principal, Asia Network Research Sdn. Bhd.

As a founder of a private, independent research institute dedicated to the growth of Internet and its use in Asia, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and an individual member of APNG (Asia Pacific Networking Group) and APIA (Asia Pacific Internet Association), Senior Research Fellow at GLOCOM (Center for Global Communication, International University of Japan), and Research Manager at Institute for HyperNetwork Society, Oita, Japan, I would like to submit the following personal comments to the Green Paper on Internet Governance issue.

First, I would like to appreciate and support the overall efforts and framework proposed by the Green Paper. I view that there is a good recognition for the conventional approach and wisdom that Internet community exercised over the years, that of open, bottom-up, self-governing approaches. While it is not stated explicitly for various reasons, I think the Green Paper team did incorporate as much as possible of the substance from the Internet Community, such as ISOC, IAB, IETF and IAHC/POC works so far done.

I think and hope it will enhance the IAHC/POC gTLD structure, and it will NOT contradict to it, but generate wider responsible participation in the governance process than the original gTLD proposal which is an improvement.

I also appreciate the very open attitude that US government undertook after publishing this draft including the open meetings with Mr. Magaziner's recent visit to APRICOT meeting in Manila as well as his visits to Tokyo to listen and accommodate as much as possible from wide-ranging voices of the Internet community, especially from Asia Pacific. I strongly urge that the US administration keep this attitude more and listen to more voices from the region before making the final decision.

I also appreciate the inclusion of user group participation to the new governing body which has not been that explicitly expressed in the gTLD MoU.
My overall position is to support the general direction this Green Paper proposes.

Remaining concerns and issues
Now I would like to point out some of the remaining concerns and issues, especially seen from Asia-Pacific region's perspective to be further incorporated for future improvement.

Ensure true 'global' participation One of the primary objectives of the Green Paper, as I understand, is to gain true global participation for the governance of Internet. There seems to be some rooms to be improved for that to happen, however.

Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions from outside US may be: "Why is the New International Organization proposed to be under US jurisdiction?"

If US Government believes, as Mr. Magaziner explained to us, that US non-profit law actually offers better support for international non-profit activities required for the new organization than the laws of most other countries, then the supporting evidences should be presented. It would be more convincing to carry out an objective survey that compares different locale and jurisdictions before making the conclusion to bring it to US. That will gain more global support and participation.

At least, since IAHC gTLD decided to form CoRE under Switzerland law, a comparative study between the two jurisdiction system should be presented for better judgment.

I assume that another factor affecting this decision of making it an US entity is the political pressure from the US Congress. While significant amount of US taxpayer's money was spent for the development and maintenance of the Internet's technical protocols and its operation, we must not forget that other resources from other parts of the world have also been contributed to the same cause. Let me illustrate only two examples:

APNIC was created by the collective efforts of Asia-Pacific Internet community, a private membership funded organization, delegated to manage Internet resources for the region from IANA. After DoD has officially decided not to continue the funding support for IANA, significant amount of money was actually transferred from APNIC and RIPE-NCC, the European counterpart to IANA to sustain its activities.

One of the most significant contributing factors of gaining the global popularity of Internet, including that of business interests, was the invention and propagation of WWW protocol which was originally conceived by a British physics researcher, Tim-Berners Lee, while he was working for a European research institute, CERN.

Therefore, it is too early to conclude that global Internet is solely or mostly developed and managed by US taxpayers money. In this sense, Internet grew not because US government single-handedly provided the financial resources and supporting frameworks, it is these global collaborative works including that of US government support that nurtured the explosive growth of Internet.

Having said that, while I do not deny the critical roles that US governmentand its financial support played, US government and congress should try to find mutual solution to further promote the healthy and collaborative growth of Internet rather than claiming its solo role as if it is the only decisive factor.
Then I think the Green Paper will be able to achieve the original goal, to gain true global participation more easily.

Balance governmental, commercial and non-profit societal forces Creation of new international non-profit organization seems to be a good start. However, how to make it a truly global body remains to be seen again. US government can 'exit' from operational areas of Internet governance, but broader areas of social concerns may still require the proper participation of governmental activities globally. These are, promotion of Internet, building infrastructure, especially for the developing countries, fostering good information policies, protection of privacy, children and other human rights, ensuring the security.

In this regard, a need for broader Internet governance, consist of governmental, commercial and non-profit civic sectors including NPOs and NGOs should be addressed.

Need more balanced geographic participation
While making the DNS registration process into a more competitive, market oriented process, evident in both Green Paper and gTLD MoU, have certain advantages, one should not forget its possible drawbacks. That market forces tend to provide uneven distribution of services and opportunities to commercial entities thus potentially leaving out the entities in the weaker side of the economy such as those in the developing countries.
Green Paper does not address these issues explicitly. Nor the gTLD MoU either. For example, the vast majority of registrars applied and selected under gTLD MoU so far are mostly located in developed part of the world. Out of 87 registrars, only less than 10 are from developing countries such as China (2), South Africa (1), Mauritius (1), Singapore (1). Or of the 11 members of the POC executive commitee under gTLD MoU, 5 are from Europe, and 4 are from USA, and remaining 2 were nominated by international organizations but are from either US or Europe. No one is representing Asia Pacific or any other developing countries/economies such as Latin and South America, Middle East, Central Asia or Africa.

I admit that the majority of the users of Internet today exist in the developed part of the world, but in order to further promote the wider distribution and participation of the global Internet, some compensating approach is more desirable for both developed and developing countries. We need true global representation from all corners of the world.

Need for a long-term global legal framework
What is absent in the Green Paper is the recognition of the need for long-term task to establish new global legal framework that properly addresses the new world reality made possible by the Internet and related technologies. It cannot be simply achieved by US government, or any other government alone, but we all know that the fundamental problem is that the pace of changes driven by technologies is much greater than that of social/legal systems thus a concerted effort is inevitable.

As an ad hoc solution, the general direction of Green Paper is acceptable. Otherwise, US congress will not allow the 'hand-over' of Internet governance smoothly. Yet the many details of new governance structure including number of registries, dispute resolution mechanisms should be left open as much as possible to the new governing body.

I strongly ask for further consideration to the developing countries and economies globally. More specific representation from outside US and Europe should be incorporated to the new governance mechanism. I also hope that the Green Paper framework be merged with the gTLD MoU effort and the people who support it to achieve a good mutual consensus.