[AfrICANN-discuss] Some inspirational reading on IG issues

McTim dogwallah at gmail.com
Tue Aug 27 14:04:40 SAST 2013

Hi Pierre,

This article contains much hyperbole and some factual inaccuracies.
There are more than 2 root server operators outside the US, and many
more rootservers (some in Africa) that sit in dozens of other
countries.  the root-server system is NOT the "backbone of the
Internet", etc

I think it is inspirational only to the ITU folks who want a larger role in IG!

The globaljournal is a Geneva based pro-ITU propagandist.  I've
written about their hypocrisy before at:



"A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A
route indicates how we get there."  Jon Postel

On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 6:07 AM, Dandjinou Pierre <pdandjinou at gmail.com> wrote:
> Just sharing this one..And probably some questions on where Africa does
> stand on IG issues?
> Pierre
> http://theglobaljournal.net/group/digital-news/article/1121/
> And Now The Second Battle Of The Internet
> by Jean-Christophe Nothias - Editor June 13, 2013
> The Verizon or PRISM or Snowden affair, revealed by The Guardian, marks a
> turning point in the history – a very young history – of the Internet and
> its governance within the international landscape. With the facts as
> overwhelming as they are frightening, they show above all the mighty power
> of the United States (US) over the Internet and its users. This issue not
> only concerns the information of American citizens, but also all
> ‘foreigners’ who have a Google account and other Internet industry
> heavyweights. We are talking about the very core of Internet governance
> currently under American domination.
> The rules in question, such as respect of personal information, net
> neutrality or digital public policies whether national, regional or
> international, are at the heart of an ongoing 15-year battle. During the
> last two years, this fight has taken a more aggressive turn, with the US
> government, American companies and their close allies pitted against those
> who demand more international and multilateral governance. The US government
> is clinging to its power via a so-called “multi-stakeholder” model, lumped
> together with the believers in an autonomously-ruled Internet, the so-called
> digital freedom fighters who reject all governmental regulation, the masked
> anonymous vigilantes who act as law enforcement, the kings of spam or porn,
> the Internet money makers, the rebel hackers or former hackers, now
> intelligence officers.
> Not a week goes by without an enlightened mind cursing governments or
> recounting the story of the Internet as a pure product of 1960s
> counterculture, born from LSD or the desire to live in a commune. According
> to such individuals, the founding fathers of the Internet offered the world
> this new space beyond the control of national powers. The reality of the
> Internet is actually more pragmatic, industrial and economic. And to be
> honest, the Internet has now become a very political field of battle.
> As opposed to a phenomenon linked to a form of counterculture, the Verizon
> affair has shed new light on the reality of Internet control. Worldwide,
> every state plays, whether chosen or not, a role within its own borders,
> fortified by traditions, law and industrial heavyweights. One country in
> particular has the power to not only impose its Internet laws on its
> citizens, but also on ‘foreign citizens’ – that is, the US. This is exactly
> what the Verizon affair has demonstrated. Indeed, it is further evidence
> there is a need to redevelop and rebalance Internet governance. And this is
> the very thing US officials and large US digital corporations have refused
> to discuss in Dubai, Geneva or elsewhere.
> The computer scientist inventors of interconnected networks belonged to an
> academic elite from MIT, Berkeley, Stanford and USC. As early as the 1960s,
> they enjoyed a significant amount of financing provided by the Pentagon,
> NASA and other governmental agencies. These pioneers not only drove
> scientific and technological development but also Internet ‘policies’ – at
> least until 1998. Until this time, the roots of the Internet were in the
> hands of academic pioneers. They had a humanist, pragmatic, neutral and open
> vision.
> One such founding father was Dr Jonathan Postel, himself a computer
> scientist and editor of the famous Request For Comments (RFCs) that served
> as a model for open discussion and improvement of Internet rules and
> processes. With John Lennon glasses and long hair, Postel was nevertheless
> celebrated as “Colonel Postel” upon his arrival at the Pentagon – quite
> impressive since this free man was considered by pioneers as responsible for
> Internet rules being defined outside the governmental sphere. Somewhat more
> worrying for Postel himself was the Clinton administration’s desire, led by
> Al Gore and his emissary Ira Magaziner, to take control of the Internet.
> Postel understood this from very early on, back in 1997. Of the 13 servers
> that today still constitute the backbone of the Internet, Postel attempted
> to unlink the 8 “civilian” ones from the reach of the government. The
> mathematician pointed them toward a 14th server, a new master he set for the
> purpose, in January 1998. A vigorous phone call from the White House put
> this digital insurgency to an end.
> By the end of January 1998, the Internet and its governance fell completely
> into the hands of the US government and those who accepted this forced move.
> In a thwarted attempt, Postel sought without success to entrust Internet
> governance to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Not to panic
> Internet stakeholders, the US government decided to delegate the authority
> given to universities to an association incorporated in California three
> weeks after the death of Postel on an operation table in Los Angeles in
> October 1998. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
> (ICANN) was inaugurated at his grave, with future board members reuniting
> for the first time at the cemetery in memory of the scientist who fiercely
> protected the development of the Internet.
> Since its creation, ICANN has been a controversial organization
> characterized by abuse, non-transparency, lack of representation and
> conflicting interests. The greatest concern remains its guardianship – ICANN
> is under contract with the Department of Commerce and a change in 2009 meant
> a renewable three-year agreement became indefinite. This is contrary to a
> guarantee of independence. Like other organizations instrumental to Internet
> governance, ICANN cannot be considered a neutral international body. Its new
> president Fahi Chehadé aims to improve this perception – a delicate task
> even for this specialist in multi-stakeholder governance recalling that the
> Department of Commerce recently contradicted a decision by ICANN. Who has
> total authority over the management of the Internet backbone? The
> Californian association or its guardianship authority?
> From the very beginning, the famous 13 servers forming the Internet’s
> backbone (the DNS Root Servers) have been in American hands, or in the hands
> of close allies. The two not located in American territory are in London
> (LINX/RIPE) and Stockholm (NORDU). That is, the two capitals most vocal
> alongside Washington in favor of the status quo. The strongly anti-United
> Nations campaign that followed the Dubai conference in December 2012 worried
> many who saw there a resurgence of the Cold War. Not quite so, I would say.
> The PRISM affair demonstrates the problem was not so much the danger
> represented by China or Russia in regards to our exchanges, accounts and
> personal information, but the fact of having a state and some of its digital
> juggernauts enjoying control of the Internet.
> Yes, the economic issues are major, especially in terms of high-speed
> broadband, critical to accelerating the economic development of entire
> countries. Who should pay for this significant investment? Each single user
> whatever means they have? Public or private national operators? The Internet
> Service Provider that benefits from the connection of these networks? The
> Internet robber barons such as Google and others? What are the two thirds of
> the world population to do who have no access to the Internet? For two
> years, Americans have pushed to defend the status quo, even inventing
> ‘digital’ human rights.
> A more pragmatic and responsible approach can be seen right by the southern
> border of the US. Mexican President Peña Nieto is among those advocating for
> greater equality, working to enshrine a right to broadband access in his
> country’s constitution. He turned this into reality on 10 June, when he
> signed the Constitutional Reform Regarding Telecommunications and Economic
> Competition.  In the same breath, his initiative will break the monopolies
> that controlled Mexico for years. The fortune of the current owner of the
> New York Times, Carlos Slim, comes from this previous state of things. So it
> goes in the US with ATT, Verizon and Comcast, which shared the market under
> unconcerned eyes – indeed, an approving government. Some voices are speaking
> out, such as former White House official Susan Crawford, who advocates for
> more competition and more public policy, not just regulation obscured by a
> market. Interviewed last April, Alec Ross, the former Special Digital
> Advisor for the State Department declared to me: “digital human rights do
> not exist in legal terms, but it is a unifying theme that pleases users.”
> Months before the WCIT was held in December in Dubai, American lobbying
> groups attacked the ITU and its proposals for internationalized Internet
> governance incessantly, with unconditional support from Google. What plot
> were they denouncing? What crime was the ITU guilty of? Simply, asking for
> an international treaty update that all signatories would be bound to
> endorse and respect. One of the driving forces behind the hysteria was the
> idea that diplomatic negotiations occurred behind closed doors, away from
> civil society and industrial stakeholders. Critics invoked the specter of a
> takeover hatched by Russia and China and, in a general manner, by
> governments.
> Yet the so-called ‘closed’ Dubai doors were largely wide open. Each ITU
> member state was free to establish its delegation without limits to numbers
> or quality, and especially to inform whomever they wished without restraint,
> before, during or after the conference. The American delegation alone
> included almost 120 delegates selected from the elite of the US Internet
> industry, civil society and government. Two watchwords were given to this
> multitude: “the word Internet shall not be included in the new treaty” and
> “do not talk to journalists without authorization.” All this in the name of
> web freedom.
> More surprising was the European position in Dubai. No mandate was given for
> the delegation to vote or engage the signature of the European Union (EU).
> Cyprus, occupying the rotating presidency of the EU, monopolized the
> microphone, with other member states far less vocal, including France and
> Germany. In contrast, the Swedish and British representatives were working
> in full swing. Were the compromises negotiated following WCIT so dangerous
> for Europe? No. Tellingly, the absence of conditions preventing EU agreement
> was confirmed in a confidential internal memo (DS 1335/13) from the EU
> Council on 24 February. “At this stage, there is or remains no obvious
> reason justifying a conflict between the new Treaty (proposed in Dubai) and
> the benefits.” It was already known as such before Dubai.
> The argument put forward by the EU to not support the Dubai update of the
> International Telecommunications Regulations was linked to the proposal to
> use in the new treaty the expression “all operators” rather than “recognized
> operating agencies.” The reason for this – non-authorized extension of the
> treaty. Seeking to maintain good diplomatic relations, it was possible to
> sign the treaty while imposing a “reservation” on the point of disagreement.
> Its radical strategy led the American delegation to totally reject this
> proposal, while signing instead some of the treaty proposals that its own
> delegation approved during the session.
> This May in Geneva, hostilities continued. In more limited terms but still
> very clearly, the US opposed any involvement by the ITU and its committee of
> member states in the system of Internet governance. Such a perspective would
> allow for the definition of universal principles akin to those already in
> operation for telephony and satellites. Accepting this logic would shift
> some of the Internet power away from Washington’s authority. With any such
> international law ratified by the US, the request from the CIA to transfer
> all user information from private operators like Verizon, Google and others
> to intelligence services would be made more difficult. However, the US has
> never embraced multilateralism and remains amongst those counties ranked
> lowest globally in regards to the number of treaties or conventions
> ratified.
> A few days ago, during a WTPF session – an intergovernmental forum under the
> aegis of the ITU – Brazil submitted an opinion for endorsement, which was
> met with consensus. “Governments worldwide should discuss Internet
> governance in the framework of the ITU, as a crucial element in the
> multi-stakeholder system.” The American response, supported by Sweden, the
> United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany was, in essence, “come see us in
> Washington, we will see what we can do for you.” The committee remained
> calmed, but was clearly outraged by this arrogance. What place do
> governments have in connection to the Internet under international law? The
> US and its digital industry dominate in every respect. The Verizon affair
> becomes ever more important because it is this same US administration
> opposed to a dialogue between states to settle universal rules and
> principles.
> The worldwide digital space is in danger. We, the citizens of the world, are
> equally in danger. We need a better and truly democratic multi-stakeholder
> model and governments to be bound by robust international law when most
> needed – to start with, the US government and its industrial champions.
> --
> Pierre Dandjinou
> Cotonou - 229 90 087784 / 66566610
> Dakar 221 77 639 30 41
> www.scg.bj
> skype : sagbo1953
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