[AfrICANN-discuss] Internet regulation at national level?

Nii Narku Quaynor quaynor at ghana.com
Wed Oct 31 02:29:06 SAST 2012

Some have asked for regulation at national level but have failed to name what to regulate and how to regulate it.

Perhaps as was pointed out by one member de-regulation may be more beneficial to Internet countries and we should take that seriously

I also heard that we should regulate IP numbers and domain names at national level. Well and good but how could this be done when IPs are administered globally(iana/nro) and regionally through afrinic? 

Similarly gTLD administration is not within the purview of nation states as its administered globally at ICANN. Also best practices suggest ccTLDs are better managed in a multi-stakeholder model giving participation to registrants, ISPs, operators, civil society, technical community, government and others. Thus ccTLDs are not directly under government regulation and at best fall in a self regulatory regime

Whois accuracy was mentioned but I did not hear what the government will do beyond education. Also making laws on Whois beyond ccTLD is questionable. Dispute resolution was additionally noted as potential area of regulation but this is a legal practice and perhaps better to reinforce existing local legal institutions with new Internet capacity than for government regulation 

The Internet is different for two reasons from the compared transportation examples. First the Internet is already regulated because it uses transmission media that is already very well regulated. Thus an Internet user has paid the tariffs by the access and need no further fees

Secondly, it defies geography by its organization in that an operator in one country may operate a network that spams beyond its region. Thus networks are not exactly national and national regulation would only interfere in their expansion 

Content regulation was mentioned and all have pointed to it as difficult. All ways known disrupt the network structure and do not achieve the intended objective as one can always work around. It also begin to create authoritarian society by determining what adults read or access. It breaks the openness which has allowed the developing countries including Africa to catch in capacity

Competition has been suggested as another reason we need regulation at national level. One very smart input pointed out that most of the concerns are governance issues and not regulation yet non of the advocates gave it the infamous ++++++++1?

Issues of policy environments that support development of national industries, technical capacity, infrastructure of cables and exchange points, business environment, local content, etc are governance issues which all nations are exploring ways to gain competitive advantage in. That is not achieved by closing our borders and regulating to hell. Africa will fall behind if we go that route

As standards are global it should be clear our nations role is to prepare its citizens to participate in international organizations such as IETF, ISOC, W3C, ICANN, the I*s and in Africa the Af*s. 

So assuming there is a role for regulating the Internet nationally the next the question of why do it if it's being done elsewhere remained unanswered. In fact if we are to be sincere Africa has some way to go to develop what it takes to participate in existing global organizations and very unclear the ability to do

The strength of nation states is in developing enabling environment for investments, capacity, security, openness, competition, IPv6 migration, etc which are governance issues in a de-regulated Internet environment 

So, can someone make the case for national regulation of the Internet again clearly? 

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