Working Group on Internet Governance Releases Report

The Working Group of Internet Governance has released its final report. As I wrote this week in my Law Bytes column, the report comes on the heels of the U.S. statement that it has no intention of surrendering control of root zone file.  

The WGIG report developed a working definition of Internet governance that states:

"Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet."

The report identifies four options for the thorny Internet governance issue:

Option #1 , ICANN stays but the governmental role changes through the creation of a Governmental Internet Council.  The GIC replaces the GAC and assumes the role currently held by the U.S. Department of Commerce in ICANN oversight.  There are advisory roles envisioned for the private sector and civil society.

Option #2 ,No need for oversight organization.  Stronger GAC and creation of international forum for discussion of Internet issues.

Option #3 ,Creation of International Internet Council that would assume responsibility for the Internet governance issues that arise on the national level.  ICANN’s mandate would need to be altered based on the development of the IIC.

Option #4 , Start from scratch by creating a World Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as well as a Global Internet Policy Council.

Where does all this leave the Internet governance issue?  If countries are looking to deal, it seems to me that Option #3 provides the best prospect for the basis for negotiation.  The U.S. has made it clear that it would not agree to Option #1 (international oversight) or Option #4 (no ICANN).  I suspect few other countries would agree to Option #2 with no ICANN oversight.

By default, that leaves Option #3.  It focuses on ICANN’s softest spot , Internet governance at the national level.  This addresses a major concern for many countries and opens the dialogue in the one area where the U.S. may be comfortable with some change.  If both ccTLDs and the IANA function are built into national competencies, there may be an opportunity to strike a compromise.  


  1. There is another option
    Option #5 — Leave things as they are because it works fine this way. Let the Internet continue to shape itself the way it has been for decades. In other words, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

  2. I agree.
    It’s with utter incredulity that I come to the realization that the US has done a damn good job of keeping their hands off Internet control. I’m shocked, but I can’t deny it.

    I agree – leave it as is.

  3. Amigo de Bastiat says:

    Digital Property Rights
    One important note: Evolution is born of interactions free from an overseeing intelligence. The term “shaped evolution” begs the question: “Who exactly will shape the evolution of the internet? What limited person or small group of people will play God?”

    Let whatever governance board that is created limit itself to helping to define and secure internet property rights.

    The combined intelegence of millions of people working freely with one another via the internet places the responsibility of who will improve and protect the internet on the shoulders of millions of individuals –it does not limit it (conceptually or creatively) to a mere few.

    As with biological evolution, whatever ideas are weak or destructive will become extinct. Those that are strong and productive will survive.

  4. The Public and ICANN
    Michael Geist recently wrote concerning “the general lack of attention accorded to ICANN and Internet governance” (July 11, 2005), and how a big battle for who controls the domain name system may be coming internationally. In conclusion, he argues:

    With so much at stake, it’s time the public starts paying attention.

    From this perspective, I’m wondering what people would recommend are the best ways that “the public” could influence their governments on these issues?

    There seems to be two main problems in getting people active in moving towards consensus or dissent on ICT issues:

    1) Not all of the public has equal access to technology in the first place.

    2) Many people do not think they can influence international issues (let alone national ones); thereby people generally choose instead to act locally, whether they think they’re acting in the international/national interest or not.

    Any help brainstorming avenues that the locally active, socially-minded individual (or even slightly interested undergraduate students for that matter) could pursue with a mind to such goals would be fantastic!!

    (does any one have suggestions??)