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[d@DCC] Fwd: ITU-T Dubai Meeting

From: Russell McOrmond <russell _-at-_ flora.org>
To: "General Copyright Discussions, (questions, organizing, etc)" <discuss (at) list.digital-copyright.ca>
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2012 08:41:48 -0400
References: <mailman.299.1343938901.1311.ottawa-gosling@list.goslingcommunity.org> <5027AB5F.50906@flora.org>

The following is something I wrote in the GOSLING list, but thought it
might be interesting to post to a more public forum.

-----

I find the article interesting, and very US-citizen-blinders-on.

I am just as worried about western censorship as I am eastern censorship.
 This article highlights discussion by China and Russia for government
regulation of the net, and that list should include India. We should all
know through things like SOPA/PIPA, ACTA and TPP that the west (primarily
the USA) has been pushing the identical thing to what China and Russia
want.   The difference between eastern and western control over the
Internet is not technological differences, but the specifics of what
policies they are abusing to justify their surveillance and control.

  I have more respect for China, Russia and India on this file than I do
USA, Canada, or most European countries.   In each case they want
surveillance/control for some type of communication which they claim is
harmful.  China, Russia and India are more honest about the types of
communications they want to control, and the alleged harm to their
governance and society that comes from this "harmful" speech.  Copyright
infringement is a joke in comparison, assuming we can even all agree that
much of this infringement is even harmful to the copyright holder leave
alone society as a whole or any government.

  The USA will likely eventually claim they are "caving" to the calls to
allow the UN to manage DNS and IP registration -- under the condition that
major policy is set through WIPO, an existing UN organisation that remains
largely under the policy capture of US-centered ideology.  Then as the net
becomes universally monitored/filtered they will have some magical "other"
to blame when it was actually the policy they have been fighting for all
along.

Subject: ITU-T Dubai Meeting
From: Phillip Hallam-Baker
Date: 12-08-02 02:16 PM
To: IETF Discussion Mailing List

Those of us who went through the crypto-wars will see a lot of
similarities between the situation we faced then and now. The main
difference being that in the mid 1990s very few people understood what
the net was really capable of, it was seen as merely a way to make
money. Those who were paying attention knew that it was rather more
important.

The 1979 revolution in Iran spread through the then new medium of the
compact cassette. The 1989 collapse of communism in Eastern Europe was
in large measure driven by Western television signals leaking over the
border. Long before that, the development of the printing press led to
the Reformation, nor is it coincidental that Benjamin Franklin and
many other revolutionaries were in the business of print.

The Web is not the first media technology to give the masses
unrestricted access to information. The unprecedented feature of the
Web is that it gave everyone a voice.

Many if not most of the people involved in the development of the
Internet and the Web have understood this from the start. And the
potential political consequences of the Web have been rather better
understood in government circles than many imagine. What has changed
in the years since the last ITU rechartering event is not the
understanding of the potential consequences of the net but the fact
that the Iranian election protests of 2009 and the Arab Spring have
made them imposible to ignore.

Russia and China have been pushing for government regulation of the
net for years. They even agreed a treaty under the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO) which commits the parties to work
together to stop such things as 'Information terrorism' which is their
term for freedom of speech. There is nothing new in their ambitions.
Russia has made plain that it will make no effort to control Internet
crime originating in Russia unless the US and European powers agree to
censor publications critical of Putin.

But there is also another side to the complaints made by Russia, China
and others, a complaint that US dominated organizations like ICANN and
the IETF do not allow sufficient credit for in my view. The current
governance structure of the Internet does more than merely prevent
other governments from gaining control of the Internet, it grants the
US an extraordinary degree of control. Or at least they give the
appearance of doing so on paper if the checks and balances on that
control are not sufficiently understood.

As with the crypto-wars there is a very real risk of the governments
getting together to make a 'grand bargain' and as with the crypto-wars
the grand bargain will almost certainly mean absolutely nothing.

Legislation through treaty making has in recent years become a major
threat to the concept of democracy. Rather than present a
controversial proposal to their legislature, various governments will
propose it in closed session of an international treaty making process
which the legislature 'must' then ratify as a fait accompli.

Unlike in the crypto-wars, there is no risk that the US government
delegation will engage in this type of back-stab operation. But there
is a very real risk that other governments will. There are many
governments would prefer a police-friendly state to an open Internet
and there is a very real risk that they will accept treaty clauses
that 'require' them to bring the net under direct government control.

It may be that these governments will succeed in such a move, but it
is also possible if not rather likely that the attempt would provoke
the civil unrest that they are attempting to suppress. Mubarak's
government hoped that shutting down the Internet would shut down the
protests. Instead it had the opposite effect as the keyboard warriors
were forced to leave their homes and go into the streets to find out
what was happening.

Contrary to the view expressed to me by one IESG member, there is no
outcome here that is 'unthinkable'. Diplomats will almost invariably
tell you that their has no choice but to sign whatever treaty they are
working on. Looking at recent treaty actions in the US Senate it seems
highly unlikely that any treaty agreed in Dubai will make it out of
committee, let alone receive the super-majority required for
ratification regardless of what the treaty actually states. Moreover,
the diplomats are not the policy makers. If the WCIT process results
in an over-reach, governments can and will leave the ITU.

If people believe such outcomes are unthinkable, they have not been
paying attention. What should be unthinkable is the idea of sending
planes over a country to drop bombs on cities. Such actions are rather
commonplace in our world. The reason that institutions such as the ITU
persist is not that it is unthinkable that any government would leave
but that the people who lead such organizations dare not commit to any
act that might provoke such an action.

The most likely outcome from Dubai therefore is an ambiguous document
that the reader can interpret as maintaining or overturning the status
quo as they choose. The only real area of concern being the extent to
which that document gives a pretext for government network takeovers.
My personal view is that it does not make a difference whether the
document does or not since the governments who are attempting to
control the net in their country will do so irregardless of what the
treaty says, nor is the text going to dissuade anyone from protesting.

Rather than being overly concerned about the diplomatic situation, we
should instead focus on the ways that the technical architecture of
the Internet creates control points that are vulnerable to capture and
consider ways in which those control points can be made capture-proof.

The Internet has three separate potential control points: The IP
Address registry, the DNS name registry and the various registries for
protocol features. All three are an example of a Tinkerbell ontology:
They exist for no other reason than that people believe in their
existence. ICANN DNS names have relevance because there is a consensus
that they are so, new.net DNS names are irrelevant because there is
consensus that they are so.

Rather than attempting to maintain the status quo, we should instead
identify what are the necessary concerns. We need to protect the
openness of the Internet. We do not need to perpetuate the existence
of ICANN, IANA or the RIRs as institutions. Maintaining the
institutions may be a means of protecting the open internet but we
should be prepared to walk away from them if necessary and in
particular we should not defend their monopoly status at all costs.

Consider for example the maintenance of IPv6 address space. Why does
this have to be an IANA monopoly? The only necessary requirements for
IPv6 address space is that the same space is not assigned to two
different parties and we do not run out. If the ITU-T wants to also be
in the business of handing out IPv6 address names then give then a /21
or a /16 and tell them to go party. No really, choose your battles.
Having a duopoly in address assignment is better than a monopoly. If
Russia, China et. al. decide that they want to do that and tell IANA
what prefix they are going to be using, they can make it a fait
accompli in any case.

The DNS is a rather more complex consideration. In that case I see a
fracture as all but inevitable. But that should not be a cause for
panic. The fracture that I anticipate is at the root rather than the
leaves. There will be only one example.com but people who live in
different countries will arrive at it in rather different ways.
New.net was a quixotic proposition when advanced by a private
corporation, when advanced by a large nation state it is not. Rather
than try to defend ICANN at all possible costs, I will be investing my
energies in working out ways to mitigate the effects of the split.

In conclusion, there is an issue here but not a cause for the panic
that many seem to suggest. The situation is certainly complex, but not
one that is too complex for mortal understanding. What I am certain of
is that we do not need to rely on the counsels of those who tell us
that the situation is so complex that we need not worry our little
heads about it. In fact I believe the exact opposite: The openness of
the net will only be secured through frank and open discussion of all
the issues.

[1]
http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/one_item_and_teasers/trty_act.htm
-- Website: http://hallambaker.com/
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