Vint Cerf at ICANN by Veni (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/3KWko9
The Trouble with the TPP series explores Internet-related issues this week, starting with the surprising inclusion of Internet governance in a trade deal. The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the ITU (a UN body), which in turn is characterized as a choice between a private-sector led, bottoms-up, consensus model (ICANN) or a governmental-controlled approach. Canada (along with countries like the U.S. and Australia) have consistently sided with the ICANN-model, arguing for a multi-stakeholder approach with limited government intervention. In fact, at the 2014 NetMundial conference, the Canadian government stated:
The multistakeholder model of Internet governance has been a key driver in the success of the Internet to date. Canada firmly supports this model and believes it must continue to be the foundation for all discussions in order to preserve the Internet’s open architecture. Canada firmly supports strengthening this model. Government centric approaches would stifle the innovation and dynamism associated with the Internet.
The Trouble with the TPP is that it contradicts Canada’s longstanding policy on Internet governance. While Canada, the U.S. and other TPP countries urge the governments of the world to take a hands-off approach to the Internet, the TPP opens the door to country-code domain intervention (note that I am on the board of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, which manages the dot-ca domain).
Last week, I had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at a Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) panel on the TPP. My talk, which begins at 4:25 and runs until 41:00, focused on the digital policies within the massive agreement, including intellectual property, privacy, and Internet governance. After the talk, there was a panel discussion featuring Myra Tawfik, Warren Clarke, Barry Sookman, and David Lametti. The full event can be found here and is embedded below.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the organization that manages the dot-ca domain, launched its annual board of director election earlier today. The week-long vote is open to all registered members (anyone with a dot-ca domain registration can become a registered member for free, but must have become a member before the start of the election in order to vote). I was voted onto the board in 2012 and have been nominated to serve as another term by the nominating committee. I need your support as I find myself on the ballot alongside some excellent candidates this year, including former CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein, former Industry Canada executive Helen McDonald, community organizer Marita Moll, and current board members such as CNOC’s Bill Sandiford and Bill Gibson.
I hope that all dot-ca members will take the time to vote since the CIRA board plays an important role on a wide range of digital policy issues, including Internet governance. When I ran for the CIRA board in 2012, I made my primary goal very clear: CIRA generates considerable revenues, has a public interest mandate, and should actively engage the Canadian public in fulfillment of that mandate.
As new top-level domains continue to enter the marketplace, one of the most controversial has been dot-sucks. The new top-level domain has generated criticism for its business model as much as for the websites that are likely to use it, with the intellectual property community describing the model behind dot-sucks as “illicit” and “predatory, exploitive, and coercive”. That recently led to a complaint to ICANN, which took the unusual step of writing to the U.S. and Canadian governments to determine whether the company behind dot-sucks was violating any national laws, claiming it “was very concerned about any possible illegality.”
The decision to include the Canadian government in the letter stems from the fact that dot-sucks is owned by a subsidiary of Momentous Corp., an Ottawa-based company. This week, the Canadian government responded to the ICANN letter, making it clear that it has absolutely no intention of intervening in the case. The key paragraph in the letter signed by Industry Canada Deputy Minister John Knobley:
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority has launched another round of its Community Investment Program (I am on the CIRA board and chair the committee that reviews funding applications). Last year, the CIP allocated over $1 million in funding toward 29 different proposals that included support for infrastructure, new online services, research initiatives, and digital literacy programs. Those projects are still ongoing but that has not stopped CIRA from opening the door to a new round of funding. The application system is now open with applications accepted until March 6, 2015. Apply today!