The core Internet institutions abandon the U.S. government

Internet Governance Project: In Montevideo, Uruguay this week, the Directors of all the major Internet organizations – ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society, all five of the regional Internet address registries – turned their back on the US government. With striking unanimity, the organizations that actually develop and administer Internet standards and resources initiated a break with 3 decades of U.S. dominance of Internet governance.

A statement released by this group called for “accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.” That part of the statement constituted an explicit rejection of the US Commerce Department’s unilateral oversight of ICANN through the IANA contract. It also indirectly attacks the US unilateral approach to the Affirmation of Commitments, the pact between the US and ICANN which provides for periodic reviews of its activities by the GAC and other members of the ICANN community. (The Affirmation was conceived as an agreement between ICANN and the US exclusively – it would not have been difficult to allow other states to sign on as well.)

Underscoring the global significance and the determination of the group to have a global impact, the Montevideo statement was released in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese. In conversations with some of the participants of the Montevideo meeting, it became clear that they were thinking of new forms of multistakeholder oversight as a substitute for US oversight, although no detailed blueprint exists.

But that was only the beginning. A day after the Montevideo declaration, the President and CEO of ICANN, Fadi Chehadi – the man vetted by the US government to lead its keystone Internet governance institution – met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. And at this meeting, Chehade engaged in some audacious private Internet diplomacy. He asked “the president [of Brazil] to elevate her leadership to a new level, to ensure that we can all get together around a new model of governance in which all are equal.” A press release from the Brazilian government said that President Rousseff wanted the event to be held in April 2014 in Rio de Janeiro. The President of ICANN thus not only allied himself with a political figure who has been intensely critical of the US government and the NSA spying program, he conspired with her to convene a global meeting to begin forging a new system of Internet governance that would move beyond the old world of US hegemony. [Continue reading…]

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  1. delia ruhe says

    That is astonishing!