GovLab Blog

Erik Johnston and Justin Longo Discuss the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance on Arizona Horizon

This week, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance member Erik Johnston and Network Post-Doc Justin Longo, both of Arizona State’s Center for Policy Informatics, appeared on Arizona Horizon, a long-running public affairs program on PBS.
In a segment titled “Modern Governance Research,” Johnston and Longo talked with host Ted Simons about the innovative work the Network is undertaking to improve governance along its three core lines of inquiry: getting expertise in, pushing data out and distributing responsibility.
The conversation covered topics ranging from replicating the type of experimentation flourishing online in the governance context to pushing the best evidence-based ideas past political infighting to facilitating useful online dialogue and collaboration in the age of the polemical comment section.
The Research Network’s collection of interdisciplinary experts has big plans for catalyzing the innovation of governance, but Johnston noted that this work will not be done in a vacuum, nor will it require the reinvention of the wheel. He said, “The key is that a lot of people are doing this on their own right now. One of the big goals that we have is to coordinate the efforts so that we have a systematic way of approaching government, instead of a lot of individuals just kind of poking at it.”
You can view the entire discussion here.

GovLab Blog SCAN

The GovLab SCAN – Issue 20

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.
As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our twentieth edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at
This week’s highlights:

  • The U.S. government announcement regarding transitioning oversight structures for ICANN and for the IANA functions continues to generate a great deal of coverage and discussion around the world. Notably, there is a marked divide in opinion around the transition –for example, leaders of most technical organizations have embraced the announcement, while U.S. republicans are actively seeking ways to prevent the transition from happening too quickly, or from happening at all.
  • ICANN held its 49th meeting this week in Singapore. Important topics included the design of a transition plan for the oversight of ICANN and the IANA functions; the outputs of the ICANN Strategy Panels and how these will inform ICANN’s 5-Year Strategic Plan; and various issues related to ICANN’s new gTLD program.
  • Brazil passed the Marco Civil da Internet, a so-called “Bill of Rights for the Internet”, which includes provisions on the collection of citizen metadata, data-storage practices, and net-neutrality requirements for Internet Service Providers in Brazil.
  • Several articles, reports, and videos highlight a growing theme in discussions around Internet governance: the dual-nature of how Internet technologies can be used both to violate human rights and also to protect them, and also the dual nature of privacy and security measures, which most suggest need to be viewed as mutually constructive, where legitimate policy-making needs to involve the stakeholders who are impacted by decisions.


Gift, Chris. Introducing a New Site. ICANN Blog. March 25, 2014.

  • ICANN is due to migrate to its new website in April. Gift, ICANN’s VP for Online Community Services, describes the new website as an important step for ICANN, whose main point of contact with stakeholders is ultimately the ICANN website. The new website is meant to make it easy for people to understand ICANN and its work, engage newcomers in ICANN’s current and future work, and give users ways to better engage with content and each other. A timeline image for the roll-out can be found here, and a walk-through video for the new website is here.

ICANN, ZACR sign landmark dotAfrica agreement. Biztech Africa. March 26, 2014.

  • ICANN and the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) signed an agreement at ICANN 49, officially announcing that ZACR will launch and administer the .africa top-level domain name, which will be active as early as May of this year.

Murphy, Kevin. Under Global Spotlight, ICANN Forced to Choose Between GAC and the GNSO. Domain Incite. March 27, 2014.

  • One issue of domain-name policy has become particularly contentious at ICANN and, as Murphy suggests, highlights the challenges that ICANN’s multistakeholder model will face and have to consider as ICANN’s oversight transitions away from the U.S. government and towards the global multistakeholder community. The issue has to do with the “protection of the names and acronyms of intergovernmental organizations [IGOs]”. Both the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) have developed positions on this issue –but their recommendations to ICANN’s Board conflict. Faced with a lack of consensus, ICANN’s Board is considering a compromise policy. Murphy observes that “this bind is especially tricky” because it shows when the multistakeholder model comes to potential deadlock, where a top-down Board policy would undermine the effective participation of different stakeholders.

Sessions of Interest, ICANN 49, Singapore. March 23 – 27, 2014.

  • The following sessions from ICANN’s 49th meeting this week in Singapore are of particular interest. Click through to get to the audio stream archive, presentation slides, and full session transcript for each session.
    • ICANN & Global Internet Governance: The Road to São Paulo & Beyond. March 21, 2014.
      • ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) had a special session to discuss the upcoming NETMundial meeting in Brazil in April, with a keynote speech by Lawrence Strickling, Deputy Director of the NTIA.
    • IANA Accountability Transition. March 24, 2014.
      • This is the official launch of ICANN’s convening process for the global multistakeholder dialogue to design a transition proposal for oversight of the IANA functions. In this session, the leaders of various bodies that make policy for and implement policy related to the IANA functions each describe the roles of their respective organizations and their views on the transition.
    • ICANN Strategy Panels & the Planning Process. March 24, 2014.
      • Each of the four Strategy Panel chairs presented their final reports and opened to questions from the ICANN community. Comments include that many of the Strategy Panel recommendations were “tactical rather than strategic”, or that many missed the intricacies of ICANN’s everyday work, and therefore further discussions regarding next steps need to be had.

Internet Governance

Boadle, Anthony. Brazil’s Anti-Spy Internet Bill Clears Lower House Vote. Reuters. March 25, 2014.

  • Brazil’s lower chamber of Congress on Tuesday approved a bill “aimed at guaranteeing equal access to the Internet and protecting the privacy of its users in the wake of U.S. spying revelations”. The bill drops a provision that Internet companies like Google or Facebook would have to store data on Brazilian servers inside Brazil’s borders. Instead it subjects those companies to Brazilian laws when cases arise involving Brazilian nationals. The bill also has a net neutrality provision that bars Internet service providers from charging different prices for different content. The bill has been widely praised around the world as striking a balance between Internet access and privacy. An English translation of the bill can be found here.

DelBianco, Steve. A Programmer’s Perspective on the IANA Transition. CircleID, March 26, 2014.

  • Suggesting that the IANA transition should be designed keeping in mind how a programmer might do it, DelBianco advocates for identifying use cases – i.e. worst-case scenarios ICANN may encounter, so that appropriate and legitimate responses can be planned. A programmer would need more than high-level principles to guide the transition, he notes, laying out a few example use cases to contemplate, from: “What happens if ICANN cancels the Affirmation of Commitments, which it can do with just 120 days notice?” to “What happens if ICANN becomes financially insolvent?”

Gofus, Nancy. 25 Years of Community and Philanthropy on the World Wide Web. Huffington Post. March 25, 2014.

  • Gofus, Chief Operating Officer of Public Interest Registry, discusses the impact of the World Wide Web’s 25 years of history on philanthropy and social activism. In particular, she discusses the open nature of web standards as a basis for the Web’s public interest commitment, and also points to how the Web’s connectivity has given non-profits a dramatic increase in reach and knowledge.

Gurstein, Michael. The Multistakeholder Model, Neo-liberalism, and Global (Internet) Governance. Gurstein’s Community Informatics. March 26, 2014.

  • Gurstein argues that the “multistakeholder model” is an idea that is so unclearly defined that this lack of definition itself comes to define the multistakeholder model. He warns that “multistakeholderism” has become the “mobilizing Internet meme of choice”, replacing “Internet Freedom”, and that people should regard this meme with skepticism because multistakeholderism as it works in practice effectively is a “transformation of the neo-liberal economic model”. Gurstein observes that the discourse around multistakeholderism at present implies that countries and a strong private sector should make decisions in a context in which they are not really accountable to anybody –and that this is especially problematic where definitions are unclear and yet important global discussions are occurring without addressing the lack of clarity.

Johnson, David R. Perspectives: U.S. Plans to Divest Control Over Internet’s ICANN; Dilemma for Some European Registries. The European Institute. (March 2014).

  • Describing the US decision to transition the IANA functions, Johnson draws attention to questions of ICANN accountability and from where it can legitimately be derived. He highlights proposals from others like Milton Mueller at Syracuse University to create a new entity, a Domain Name System Authority (made up of top-level registries) that could bind ICANN through contract from imposing requirements on registries and registrars to police content and online behavior and from operating beyond its technical, narrow remit. In exploring this proposal and others, Johnson notes that, moving forward, a more accountable, independent-from-the-use ICANN would create more pressure on EU ccTLD registries to decide whether to formally sign agreements with ICANN to abide by policies created through its multistakeholder policy-development processes.

Kuerbis, Brendan. Fadi’s Railroad: Are the I* Organizations Getting on Board? Internet Governance Project. March 23, 2014.

  • Kuerbis argues that the current direction of conversations about the transition plan for ICANN and the IANA functions is deeply flawed because it does not structurally separate policy functions from implementation functions, and does not provide adequate or concrete accountability mechanisms for decision-makers. In particular, Kuerbis points to the GNSO, a body that is wholly housed within ICANN, which in a proposed blueprint for the transition would move towards a model where “no external authority or contract” keeps it in check.

Ledgett, Richard. The NSA Responds to Edward Snowden’s TED Talk. TED. March, 2014.

  • The deputy director of the NSA appears at the annual TED conference in response to a talk given by Edward Snowden at TED a few days earlier. Ledgett states that Snowden’s leaks rendered the NSA’s surveillance capabilities less effective and “put people’s lives at risk”. Ledgett also describes the difficulty of balancing citizens’ privacy and national security concerns, and concludes that the most important way to have productive conversations about privacy and security is to “learn the facts” and “look at the data”.

McDowell, Robert M. Opportunities, Threats, Internet Governance and the Future of Freedom. Hudson Institute. March 19, 2014.

  • McDowell describes some of the nuances of the NTIA’s announcement to cede oversight of ICANN and outlines some important characteristics of the Internet’s development that should inform any transition plan for oversight of critical Internet resources. In particular, McDowell argues that the Internet is “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time” and that the U.S. administration must be resolute in its current position to remove government-led oversight, and make sure not to give actors who desire greater governmental oversight of the Internet extra fodder for their arguments.

Mondini, Christopher. Engaging with Global Civil Society and Business at RightsCon Silicon Valley. ICANN Blog. March 26, 2014.

  • RightsCon, a conference convened by Access Now, took place in March and had as its focus a mission “to defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world and to fight for open and secure communications for all”. An important conclusion drawn at the conference is that “Internet governance is complicated, and it is not always easy for the newly informed to get involved”. Mondini points out that the diversity of attendance at RightsCon suggests that it is imperative to make participation easier as many are eager to get involved in Internet governance issues.

Murphy, Kevin. Republicans Introduce Pointless ICANN Bill. Domain Incite. March 28, 2014.

  • Three U.S. Republican Congressmen have introduced a bill –the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act—to “prohibit the National Telecommunications and Information Adminitration [NTIA] from relinquishing responsibility” over ICANN. It would prevent the NTIA from ceding root zone oversight until a report is published describing the “advantages and disadvantages of the transition”.

Price, Monroe. Reflections on Multistakeholderism and Internet Governance. Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) Media Wire. March 26, 2014.

  • CGCS Director Monroe Price comments on a submission to the Internet Policy Observatory, “Mapping Internet Terrain”. The preliminary study looks at “evolving meanings of critical internet governance terminology” such as “multistakeholderism”, “enhanced cooperation”, and “equal participation”. Price observes that as the “definitions and usages of these terms change over time to reflect shifting narratives and agendas” such research is useful for informing policy discourses.

President and House Intelligence Committee Propose End to Bulk Collection: Significant Progress, but Both Flawed. Center for Democracy and Technology. March 25, 2014.

  • This piece discusses two new major US proposals entering the spotlight – Reps. Ruppersberger and and Rogers’ FISA Transparency and Modernization Act of 2014 bill and the Obama Administration’s plan to overhaul NSA bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. The CDT believes both efforts show “near consensus across party lines and in the White House that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records must end.” However, the CDT notes that the Ruppersberger bill would allow collection of certain data types without court order and the Administration’s plan presumably allows bulk collection of other data types to continue.

Public Launch of Secure Domain Foundation: Non-Profit Organization of Internet Infrastructure Operators and Security Experts Join Forces to Identify and Stop Cyber Criminals. PR Newswire. March 23, 2014.

  • Leading Internet and domain name industry companies and organizations have announced the formation of a Secure Domain Foundation (SDF) –a “non-profit, community-driven organization devoted to the identification and prevention of Internet cyber crime”. Formed to help prevent abuse on the Internet through cooperative efforts between organizations (e.g. information sharing), the SDF will “provide no-cost tools, technology, research, and security intelligence to an initial market segment of Internet domain name registrars, registries, ccTLD operators, and gTLD operators”.

Raine, Lee. I am Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, which studies the social impact of digital technology, including communities like reddit. AMA. Reddit. March 27, 2014.

  • Lee Rainie of Pew Research does an “ask me anything” with Reddit, discussing topics from wearable technology to research prioritization to the IANA functions transition to the impact of Reddit and AMAs on society. On the latter, he noted: “I really am drawn to the ideas of my friend, David Weinberger, that the performance of the reddit community is a harbinger of new knowledge structures, new information flows in society, and new ways that engaged community members can interact with experts and the powerful.”

Sepulveda, Daniel and Strickling, Lawrence. Celebrating and Protecting the Global Internet. Bloomberg BNA. March 21, 2014.

  • Responding to claims that the IANA transition announcement “opens the door for certain authoritarian states to somehow seize control of the Internet, blocking free speech and inhibiting a multitude of legitimate activity” – Sepulveda and Strickling note that the transition is actually about “taking stewardship by any government or group of governments off the table” and that the “fiercely devoted Internet community will serve as appropriate stewards of these functions, and we and like-minded governments will defend their right and ability to do so.”

Snowden, Edward. Here’s How We Take Back the Internet. TED. March, 2014.

  • Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance practice leaks, speaks with TED curator Chris Anderson about his views on the NSA, privacy, security, various NSA programs, and what he thinks can be done to protect Internet users. Snowden argues that Internet companies should “represent the interests of the user”, as well as enable security encryption on the Web by default. Snowden suggests that when people do not pay attention to surveillance practices, they make their privacy rights difficult to reclaim, and concludes that coordination between governments, citizens, and businesses is needed if we want “both open government and private lives”.

Touray, Katim. S. NTIA & You: NTIA’s Intention to Transfer IANA Functions to the Global Community Is Welcome, But…. Circle ID. March 24, 2014.

  • Although Touray welcomes the US government’s IANA transition announcement, he presses on the fact that it presents a “tall order” that will not be easy to implement. He highlights a few particular challenges to designing the transition proposal, for example: getting “non-Americans involvement”; expanding consultation “beyond ICANN’s usual platforms”; addressing the fact that the US government relationship with Verisign for root zone management isn’t set to expire until 2018; and getting involvement from developing countries.

TWO-FOUR-SIX-EIGHT – Who Do We Appreciate? IANA! The Internet Society. March 21, 2014.

  • Addressing responses to the NTIA’s IANA announcement, ISOC details the history and progression of the DNS and DNS management and notes that the decision of the US government is not about “a government letting go of the Internet, as headlines would have you believe – rather, it’s about removing the footnote on the second page of the “Shared Internet Resources” diagram that explains that some IANA functions are carried out under contract assigned by the US Government.” The piece goes on to note that moving forward, what’s important is ensuring that “whatever replaces that footnote is consistent with the principles that have allowed the Internet to flourish to date, and continues to provide the secure and stable functioning we enjoy today.”

Weinstein, Mark.Yes, ICANN. Huffington Post. March 26, 2014.

  • Calling freedom of the Internet a “fundamental principle of a cooperative world,” Weinstein explores the US government’s motivation for its recent IANA transition announcement. He suggests that the NSA scandal has likely made “ICANN guilty by association,” but the task at hand is creating a new governance model for ICANN that offers “a viable new oversight solution.” He proposes that ICANN needs “a charter of protection similar to our [US] Constitution in that it protects the rights of freedom and accessibility for all and enables change only with clear due process and support.”

Zittrain, Jonathan. No, Barack Obama Isn’t Handing Control of the Internet Over to China / The misguided freakout over ICANN. New Republic. March 24, 2014.

  • Zittrain addresses numerous responses to the NTIA’s recent announcement that suggest the US is giving up control over the Internet. Describing the historical creation of the IANA functions and of ICANN, Zittrain aims to explain that the announcement is one that will have little practical effect on how ICANN operates and leaves no possibility for a government takeover of the IANA functions.

Zuck, Jonathan. In Defense of Process: Identifying the Problem Before Seeking Solutions. CircleID. March 26, 2014.

  • Discussing NTIA’s announced transition away from oversight of the IANA functions, Zuck argues that the global community has to first ask the right questions before it can start offering solutions –it has to “come to some sort of consensus about the problem we’re trying to solve”. It’s clear there is no agreement on what exactly is being transitioned.  Zuck argues therefore that, “we need to define the scope of the challenge that the [transition] process will be required to meet”.

Papers & Reports

Lim, Hae-in et al. Netizen Report: Egyptian Activists To Be Tried Under Anti-Protest Law. Global Voices Advocacy. March 26, 2014.

  • This Netizen Report (published weekly) by Global Voices Advocacy provides “an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.” This week’s highlights include: Brazil’s approval of the Marco Civil da Internet bill; a 48 hour Internet blackout in Gambia; Turkey blocking Twitter access first through DNS and then through its ISPs; new censorship in Jordan and in Mongolia; and the beginning of a formal investigation into the German government’s involvement with U.S. NSA data collection via the German federal prosecutor.

Maurer, Tim et al. Uncontrolled Global Surveillance: Updating Export Controls to the Digital AgeNew America Foundation. March 24, 2014.

  • This paper “focuses on export controls as one policy option” to address the problems that arise from the dual nature of surveillance technologies as having legitimate uses and also being used in the “violations of fundmanental human rights”. Focusing on Germany, the UK, and the U.S., this paper finds that “existing export control regulations have become out-dated and have not kept up with new technology”.

St. Amour, Lynn, and Tapscott, Don. The Remarkable Internet Governance Network, Part I and Part II. Global Solution Networks. March 21, 2014.

  • This report investigates “multi-stakeholder approaches to global problem solving, co-operation and governance”, including an overview and explanation of the global multistakeholder Internet governance ecosystem, the key players in the governance network, as well as a “perspective on what the Internet governance network needs to do in order to move into a new era of complete independence and of tackling the broader policy issues of effective governance of the Net”.

 “They Know Everything We Do: Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia”. Human Rights Watch. March 25, 2014.

  • “The 137 page report details the technologies the Ethiopian government has acquired from several countries and uses to facilitate surveillance of perceived political opponents inside the country and among the diaspora. The government’s surveillance practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, association, and access to information. The government’s monopoly over all mobile and Internet services through its sole, state-owned telecom operator, Ethio Telecom, facilitates abuse of surveillance powers.”


Sifry, Micah L. PDF14 Theme: Save the Internet | The Internet Saves. TechPresident. March 25, 2014.

  • Personal Democracy Forum takes place June 5th and 6th, 2014. Sifry, co-founder and executive director of Personal Democracy Forum, writes that although in previous years themes have been rather aspirational, this year’s many discussions around cybersecurity, privacy, surveillance, and the less-positive sides of the Internet have given this year’s PDF a “double-edged” theme: “Save the Internet | The Internet Saves”. PDF 14 will focus on “ubiquitous data collection… and how we can best defend the values of a free digital society in the face of this new reality” as well as “social and civic innovation” and how positive opportunities are created through the Internet.
GovLab Blog Ideas Lunch

Alan Kantrow – Training Game Changers for the 21st Century: Lessons from the Field

ideas-lunch-Alan Kantrow

For most non-elite students, the higher education system in the United States is fundamentally broken. Tuition and enrollment costs continue to soar. Many aren’t learning relevant skills to be successful in the workforce and are struggling to find long-term, full-time employment after graduation. There is an ever-widening socioeconomic gap as upward mobility is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
At the GovLab’s most recent Ideas Lunch, Alan Kantrow, an education and economic consultant and the GovLab’s new Chief Learning and Communications Officer, gave an in-depth presentation on the global implications of these and other shortcomings in the entrenched higher education system, along with an overview of key solutions he and others in the field are taking on domestically and globally. Kantrow’s primary assertion was that – for most student segments in this and other countries – the current model of higher (tertiary) education, which hearkens back to the latter 19th century, is neither relevant nor sustainable.
Alan Kantrow at the Ideas Lunch on March 12th, 2014
Kantrow explained, “The current model is treated as if it came down from Sinai – as if it were eternally set in stone.” Notoriously resistant to change, institutions of higher education are “’saving the appearances’, and acting as if where we used to draw these lines still makes sense when, increasingly, it does not.” To demonstrate this fundamental disconnect, Kantrow cited a recent Gallup poll that found that 96% of U.S. chief academic officers who believe that students are being adequately prepared for real world, but only 14% of the general  population and 11% of CEOs and hiring managers who agree. 
Far from just a domestic problem, Kantrow noted that countries around the world, like Saudi Arabia and Russia, continue to copy our broken model, which is contributing to civil unrest and economic instability in areas where political tensions already run high. Kantrow warned that these and other societies may come under great strain if the disconnect between education and meaningful employment opportunities is not remedied.
Kantrow’s central assertion was that in order to serve the cause of student development and improve the system, four-year colleges, universities and community colleges must re-evaluate how they are preparing most segments of students for success in the modern workforce and change their approach in regard to these key areas of concern:
Cost-Effectiveness  Higher education costs have risen beyond the rate of inflation. Many students are now priced out of these institutions, which are continuously asked to do more with dwindling resources. At the same time, middle-class, white-collar jobs for those with modest tertiary educations are disappearing. Better data should be utilized and findings made more available so that students and parents can assess the true value of investing in different schools and the types of programs that would best suit their individual situations or future plans.
21st Century Skills As it stands, there is  little understanding of how schools and programs are successfully or unsuccessfully preparing students for available job opportunities. To remedy this, we must determine how employers and colleges can better collaborate to ensure that the types of skills necessary to succeed are being adequately taught in the classroom.
Inclusivity – The current education system is structured for the academically elite segment and increasingly under-serves everyone else. Most courses operate under a one-size-fits-all pedagogical model that doesn’t work for all learning styles and does not adequately prepare those who are not pursuing academic careers. Institutions should restructure college education to better accommodate various populations at different skill and interest levels. A curriculum that will serve the “brilliant academic” is not representative of the larger population of students who would be better served by learning the advanced critical thinking and communication skills that are more relevant to modern life and many potential careers.  “[My argument] doesn’t apply to training smart young people to be great astrophysicists and lawyers – we’re doing this well. But we stink at every other level,” said Kantrow.
Remediation and Rigidity – In many cases, institutions are unable to devote sufficient resources to the core curriculum for different programs because a significant amount so money and resources are put toward remediation for students who come to college lacking the requisite freshman-level skills.  Additionally, degree plans are often rigid and redundant. Students often move from a system of remedial learning to an overly constrained course load that offers them little freedom to pursue courses that interest them.
Changing the Current Model
The next step is action: What incremental and major changes must be made to have a lasting impact? Kantrow outlined a few new models that are currently working on a smaller scale, such as community colleges, online learning, and more in-depth on-the-job training. He concluded by charging the group, notably the GovLab and others working in government innovation, with the task of pushing the conversation of education accountability, innovation and reform forward, calling it “an economic and moral imperative for action.”
Alan Kantrow contributes to the Harvard Business Review on this topic. His posts can be found here.

GovLab Blog GovLab Index

The GovLab Index: Privacy and Security

Please find below the latest installment in The GovLab Index series, inspired by the Harper’s Index. “The GovLab Index: Privacy and Security” examines the attitudes and concerns of American citizens regarding online privacy. Previous installments include Designing for Behavior ChangeThe Networked Public, Measuring Impact with Evidence, Open Data, The Data Universe, Participation and Civic Engagement and Trust in Institutions.

  • Percentage of people who feel the Internet is eroding their personal privacy: 56%
  • Internet users who feel comfortable sharing personal data with an app: 37%
  • Number of users who consider it important to know when an app is gathering information about them: 70%
  • How many people in the online world use privacy tools to disguise their identity or location: 28%, or 415 million people
  • Country with the highest penetration of general anonymity tools among Internet users: Indonesia, where 42% of users surveyed use proxy servers
  • Percentage of China’s online population that disguises their online location to bypass governmental filters: 34%

In the United States
Over the Years

  • In 1996, percentage of the American public who were categorized as having “high privacy concerns”: 25%
    • Those with “Medium privacy concerns”: 59%
    • Those who were unconcerned with privacy: 16%
  • In 1998, number of computer users concerned about threats to personal privacy: 87%
  • In 2001, those who reported “medium to high” privacy concerns: 88%
  • Individuals who are unconcerned about privacy: 18% in 1990, down to 10% in 2004
  • How many online American adults are more concerned about their privacy in 2014 than they were a year ago, indicating rising privacy concerns: 64%
  • Number of respondents in 2012 who believe they have control over their personal information: 35%, downward trend for 7 years
  • How many respondents in 2012 continue to perceive privacy and the protection of their personal information as very important or important to the overall trust equation: 78%, upward trend for seven years
  • How many consumers in 2013 trust that their bank is committed to ensuring the privacy of their personal information is protected: 35%, down from 48% in 2004

Privacy Concerns and Beliefs

  • How many Internet users worry about their privacy online: 92%
    • Those who report that their level of concern has increased from 2013 to 2014: 7 in 10
    • How many are at least sometimes worried when shopping online: 93%, up from 89% in 2012
    • Those who have some concerns when banking online: 90%, up from 86% in 2012
  • Number of Internet users who are worried about the amount of personal information about them online: 50%, up from 33% in 2009
    • Those who report that their photograph is available online: 66%
      • Their birthdate: 50%
      • Home address: 30%
      • Cell number: 24%
      • A video: 21%
      • Political affiliation: 20%
  • Consumers who are concerned about companies tracking their activities: 58%
    • Those who are concerned about the government tracking their activities: 38%
  • How many users surveyed felt that the National Security Association (NSA) overstepped its bounds in light of recent NSA revelations: 44%
  • Respondents who are comfortable with advertisers using their web browsing history to tailor advertisements as long as it is not tied to any other personally identifiable information: 36%, up from 29% in 2012
  • Percentage of voters who do not want political campaigns to tailor their advertisements based on their interests: 86%
  • Percentage of respondents who do not want news tailored to their interests: 56%
  • Percentage of users who are worried about their information will be stolen by hackers: 75%
    • Those who are worried about companies tracking their browsing history for targeted advertising: 54%
  • How many consumers say they do not trust businesses with their personal information online: 54%
  • Top 3 most trusted companies for privacy identified by consumers from across 25 different industries in 2012: American Express, Hewlett Packard and Amazon
    • Most trusted industries for privacy: Healthcare, Consumer Products and Banking
    • Least trusted industries for privacy: Internet and Social Media, Non-Profits and Toys
  • Respondents who admit to sharing their personal information with companies they did not trust in 2012 for reasons such as convenience when making a purchase: 63%
  • Percentage of users who say they prefer free online services supported by targeted ads: 61%
    • Those who prefer paid online services without targeted ads: 33%
  • How many Internet users believe that it is not possible to be completely anonymous online: 59%
    • Those who believe complete online anonymity is still possible: 37%
    • Those who say people should have the ability to use the Internet anonymously: 59%
  • Percentage of Internet users who believe that current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy online: 68%
    • Those who believe current laws provide reasonable protection: 24%

Security Related Issues

  • How many have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over without permission: 21%
  • Those who have been stalked or harassed online: 12%
  • Those who think the federal government should do more to act against identity theft: 74%
  • Consumers who agree that they will avoid doing business with companies who they do not believe protect their privacy online: 89%
    • Among 65+ year old consumers: 96%

Privacy-Related Behavior

  • How many mobile phone users have decided not to install an app after discovering the amount of information it collects: 54%
  • Number of Internet users who have taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprint (including clearing cookies, encrypting emails, and using virtual networks to mask their IP addresses): 86%
  • Those who have set their browser to disable cookies: 65%
  • Number of users who have not allowed a service to remember their credit card information: 73%
  • Those who have chosen to block an app from accessing their location information: 53%
  • How many have signed up for a two-step sign-in process: 57%
  • Percentage of Gen-X (33-48 year olds) and Millennials (18-32 year olds) who say they never change their passwords or only change them when forced to: 41%
    • How many report using a unique password for each site and service: 4 in 10
    • Those who use the same password everywhere: 7%


GovLab Blog SCAN

The GovLab SCAN – Issue 19

Supporting the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation.
As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our nineteenth edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at
This week’s highlights:

  • Last week, the United States government, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce, released an official announcement declaring its intention to transition away from being the steward of the Domain Name System through contract with ICANN. The NTIA has called on ICANN to “convene the global multistakeholder community in crafting a transition plan. The GovLab has compiled a special side-issue of the SCAN that deals exclusively with this announcement.
  • ICANN49 in Singapore will begin this Sunday (March 23). The agenda includes general Supporting Organization/Advisory Committee policy-development activities, although there is also a heavy focus on global Internet governance (the crafting of a transition plan), ICANN’s strategic planning process and the Strategy Panels, and also ICANN’s global stakeholder engagement activities.
  • The European Parliament has adopted a new Data Protection Reform Package that specifies rules for how Internet companies collect and use European citizens’ data. Many are praising this as a standard-setting move for digital privacy rights around the globe. However, others recognize that such legislation can produce confusion and contradiction for Internet companies that operate globally in various different legal environments.
  • Privacy, security, and surveillance online continue to be extremely visible topics in global discussions. For example, there have been continued concerns around hacking attacks from Ukraine; Turkey has blocked Twitter; and many around the world are concerned about how Russia is handling the Ukraine/Crimea crisis through digital means.


Audio Files, Transcripts from Community Calls with ICANN Board Chair and CEO. March 19, 2014.

  • On Saturday March 15, ICANN President Fadi Chehadé and Board Chair Steve Crocker held a community call to discuss the US government’s announcement on Friday that it intended to transition from its stewardship role of the DNS and IANA functions. The audio file for that call is here, and the transcript is here.

Namazi, Cyrus. Summary and Analysis of Specification 13 Public Comments. ICANN Blog. March 14, 2014.

  • In December 2013, ICANN posted a draft of a proposed Specification 13 for its Registry Accreditation Agreement (RAA), which is concerned with whether certain top-level domains can be classified as “brand TLDs” and whether the definition of a “brand TLD” is “sufficiently narrow to capture only what is commonly recognized as a corporate brand.” Following public comment, it seems “as many as one-third of all new gTLD applications might qualify as .Brand TLD.”

Sanders, James. ICANN Sends Registrars and Domain Owners Into Panic with 2013 RAA. TechRepublic. March 19, 2014.

  • At the beginning of this year, ICANN’s 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement came into effect. However, this year’s Agreement is particularly controversial, especially its focus on keeping WHOIS records up to date (WHOIS is a database that stores information on the registrants of domain names). Registrars, for example, may have to take extra steps to verify registrant information, and many are concerned that this will be contradictory for registrars in places such as the European Union where information-collecting requirements are different from in the United States.

Internet Governance

Boadle, Anthony. Brazil to Drop Local Data Storage Rule in Internet Bill. Reuters. March 18, 2014.

  • Last year, Brazil proposed new Internet governance legislation following the NSA revelations, which would have “forced global Internet companies to store data on Brazilian users inside the country to shield them from U.S. spying.” Instead, the legislation will now say that Internet companies “are subject to Brazilian laws in cases involving information on Brazilians even if the data is stored abroad.”

Brodkin, Jon. EU Net Neutrality Vote Would Let ISPs Charge for Internet ‘fastLane. Ars Technica. March 18, 2014.

  • The European Parliament’s Industry Committee voted in favor of new “Connected Continent” legislation, which is “intended to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down Web applications, but lets ISPs charge content providers for higher quality of service.” Many fear this will jeopardize net neutrality throughout the EU.

Forrest, Conner. Why an Internet bill of rights will never work, and what’s more important. TechRepublic. March 13, 2014.

  • World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee used the occasion of the Internet’s 25th birthday to rally the global Internet community to adopt an Internet bill of rights. Internet activists have championed this cause for some time now, with Representative Darrell Issa and Senator Ron Wyden’s 2012 “digital bill of rights.” Naysayers believe that this and other Internet bill of rights will not work because they are inherently rooted in the tenets of a democratic society, to which not all governments subscribe. The Internet bill of rights that Berners-Lee outlines would inevitably be one rooted in Western values.

Geiger, Harley. Four Key Reforms for NSA Surveillance. Center for Democracy & Technology. March 14, 2014.

  • Geiger suggests four national security reforms the US government should address: “outlaw bulk collection of Americans’ private records,” “require greater transparency and accountability for surveillance,” “close ‘backdoor search loophole’ to monitor Americans without court approval,” and “limit surveillance to national security and related threats.”

Hardy, Quentin. Privacy in a War Without End. The New York Times. March 17, 2014.

  • This year, the majority of US forces will withdraw from Afghanistan, but the question of the specific data collection methods to be implemented within Afghanistan going forward still looms large. Surveillance after a war ends is nothing new, but the scope of some of the discussed monitoring and surveillance programs in Afghanistan, which were first disclosed by Edward Snowden, has raised eyebrows. Surveillance options range from a so-called ‘Total Information Awareness,” a program that would collect data in bulk to the more targeted methods that would focus efforts on known threats. At the end of 2014, President Obama will formally speak  about long-term surveillance in Afghanistan.

Mueller, Milton. “What Did the WCIT Really Do? A Review.” Internet Governance Project. March 13, 2014.

  • Reviewing Richard Hill’s new book, The New International Telecommunication Regulations and the Internet: A Commentary and Legislative History, Mueller applauds the historical account provided of the before, during and after of the December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). Mueller cautions readers, however, about adopting Hill’s main thesis – that the opposition to the ITU’s new treaty is part of “an orchestrated campaign by a few major internet companies such as Google.” He notes that while Hill aims to highlight both sides, his pro-intergovernmental bias shines through in this book designed to answer the question: “Did the United Nations (UN) attempt to take over the Internet in December 2012 so as to control it and establish censorship?”

Nakashima, Ellen. Official: Court’s sign off for queries on Americans’ data would be impractical. Washington Post. March 19, 2014.

  • In an effort to reign in surveillance of US citizens by the National Security Agency, lawmakers and a White House panel on surveillance suggested that courts must get approval in advance of querying databases that hold Americans’ and foreigners’ data. However, general counsel for the Office of Director of National Intelligence, Robert S. Litt, told the Civil Liberties Oversight Board that getting court approval for individual queries would be “an operational burden” and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “would be extremely unhappy if they were required to approve every such query.”

Ng, Jason Q. How Chinese Internet Censorship Works, Sometimes. ChinaFile. March 13, 2014.

  • China currently has 618 million Internet users and of those, 281 million use popular microblogging sites (like Twitter) known collectively as “weibo.” Ng finds that there is empirical evidence to suggest that, “censorship sometimes not only fails to quash discussion of sensitive topics on Chinese social media sites, but may even encourage it.”

Ruvolo, Julie. Brazil’s ‘Constitution Of The Internet’ Puts Net Neutrality In The Spotlight. TechCrunch. March 19, 2014.

  • Brazil’s first piece of major Internet legislation (the “Constitution of the Internet”) is days away from a vote in Brazil’s Congress. Despite the bill’s three major themes – net neutrality, freedom of expression, and Internet security – the net neutrality provisions have attracted the most attention. This is because a consortium is working to remove the provision from the bill entirely, which could result in giving telecom companies the ability to limit access to Internet content. Another recent amendment to the bill contains “forced localization” provisions, requiring Internet companies like Google to store their data locally in Brazil. Technology companies and users are protesting these proposed changes, and are using Meu Rio, a social mobilization platform to run a “Save the Internet” campaign and to assist Brazilians in sending emails to their congresspeople advocating for adoption of the bill in its original form.

Simone, Patrizia et al. EP Adopts the Data Protection Reform Package. Access Now. March 12, 2014.

  • The European Parliament has adopted the “Data Protection Reform Package,” which “introduces improved protections and controls on data portability, explicit consent, and privacy by design and by default.” Access argues that, “this is an opportunity for standards for data rights to improve around the world.” The European Council will have to adopt a final position later this summer, and this process will involve further coordination between EU member states.

The GovLab SCAN – Special Issue (NTIA/ICANN/IANA Announcement). The Governance Lab. March 21, 2014.

  • This special issue of the SCAN focuses on global reactions to the United States government’s announcement that it plans to cede control of the Internet’s technical resources (through contract with ICANN) and in which it asked ICANN to “convene the global multistakeholder community” to craft a transition plan whereby the global multistakeholder community would become the new signatory to the contract which gives ICANN its authority. Although largely a symbolic change, the announcement is extremely significant for Internet governance and has been called by Steve Crocker (ICANN Board Chair) “the end of the beginning.” In this special issue of the SCAN, the GovLab compiles the most noteworthy and important reactions that have been released around the world in the last week.

Tummarello, Kate. House Panel to Examine Internet Governance. The Hill. March 18, 2014.

  • The US House Commerce Committee will hold a hearing in April to examine the recent NTIA announcement regarding the US government relinquishing oversight of ICANN. According to Tummarello, “some members of the committee have already expressed vocal support and opposition to the Commerce agency’s announcement.”

Internet Technology

Knight News Challenge: How Can We Strenghten the Internet for Free Expression and Innovation? Knight Foundation. March, 2014.

  • The Knight Foundation’s current News Challenge seeks to find answers to the question, “how can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?” Ideas focus on journalism, policy, research, education, and new technologies –“any innovative project that results in a stronger Internet.” The Challenge currently has 664 final entries in the “Feedback Stage.” In June, Knight will award $2.75 million, including $250,000 from the Ford Foundation, to support the most compelling ideas.

Larson, Eric. How Quickly Did Your Country Adopt the Internet? Mashable. March 19, 2014.

  • This interactive map shows the history of Web adoption over the past 25 years around the world. It shows, for example, that between 1993 and 1998, 82 countries gained Internet access, most of which were in South America and Asia. By 2012, 203 countries had access to the Internet.

Q&A With Cybersecurity and Privacy Expert Ian Brown. The Guardian. March 20, 2014.

  • Brown discusses how new technologies can be shaped for the public good. He argues that this requires, first, defining the “public good.” Privacy-protective technologies can be developed for a range of applications, and Brown argues it is not just computer scientists, but also lawyers, economists, sociologists, and citizens who need to participate in shaping the values technologies embed.

Papers & Reports

Emerging and Developing Nations Want Freedom on the Internet. Pew Research. March 19, 2014.

  • A Pew survey found that “majorities in 22 of 24 countries surveyed say it is important that people have access to the internet without government censorship.” Out of 24 countries, only Uganda and Pakistan do not have majorities that see censorship as an important issue. Pew concludes that support for Internet freedom is higher in countries with higher rates of Internet penetration.

Lim, Hae-in, et al. Netizen Report: Russia Slams Indy Media Sites, Workers. Global Voices Advocacy. March 19, 2014.

  • This Netizen Report (published weekly) by Global Voices Advocacy provides “an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.” This week’s highlights include: in Russia, several opposition news portals were blocked; in China, the social media accounts of several prominent writers were deactivated following a session of the National People’s Congress; in the EU, the European Parliament voted in favor of a data protection reform which would suspend the EU-US Safe Harbor Principles; in Ukraine, hackers have claimed responsibility for an attack on NATO websites; the Web last week turned 25; and the US government has announced its intention to give up control of the DNS through ICANN.

York, Jillian C. A Short Guide to the Internet’s Biggest Enemies. PBS. March 19, 2014.

  • York, who is the Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reacts to the Reporters Without Borders’ annual “Enemies of the Internet” index, which tracks countries that repress free speech online. In particular, Tunisia and Myanmar have both stopped censoring the Internet in recent years; meanwhile, “Cuba, North Korea, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Belarus, Bahrain, Turkmenistan, [and] Syria” have all increased online censorship. The US is on the list as an Enemy of the Internet for the first time.


Trinidad to host regional workshop on Internet governance.” Jamaica Observer. March 19, 2014.

  • A 5-day meeting in Trinidad and Tobago next month will feature Caribbean countries working to “consolidate their positions” on Internet governance issues and a training session aimed at preparing those from Latin America and the Caribbean to more actively participate in IG events at regional and international fora. The workshop will be hosted by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).
GovLab Blog SCAN

The GovLab SCAN – Special Issue – Reactions to the NTIA Announcement on Globalizing IANA Functions

On Friday March 14th, the United States government, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce, issued a formal announcement that it intends to transition key Internet domain name functions to the “global multistakeholder community.” The NTIA has historically contracted with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to carry out the “IANA functions” (IANA stands for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). In this role, the NTIA has acted as the “steward of the Domain Name System,” a largely symbolic and non-operational duty. The announcement is significant for how it addresses global tensions around the lack of trust in the US government as the pre-eminent actor that oversees global Internet policy. While ICANN will continue to carry out its functions as it always has, what really changes is the symbolic role that provides ICANN’s accountability and legitimacy. ICANN has been asked to “convene the global multistakeholder community” in crafting a transition plan whereby ICANN’s oversight and accountability would be provided by that “global multistakeholder community.”
There are many nuances to this announcement. For example, while the NTIA contracts with ICANN to perform the IANA functions, the NTIA also has a cooperative agreement with VeriSign to perform root zone management functions. Further, ICANN operates under an “Affirmation of Commitments” (the AoC) between itself and the US Department of Commerce. This AoC will not be terminated as a result of the NTIA announcement.
ICANN will start the process of crafting the transition plan in Singapore where it will hold its 49th meeting next week.

  • See the ICANN press release here.
  • See ICANN’s “Frequently Asked Questions” here.
  • See the NTIA’s “Frequently Asked Questions” here.
  • See ICANN’s proposed Public Consultation Process for convening global stakeholders here.
  • See the reactions of ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé here, and ICANN Board Chair Steve Crocker here.

We have captured and summarized some of the main reactions and points of discussion from around the world below. They are grouped by direct reactions and more descriptive arguments written on the subject.

Direct Reactions

APC welcomes NTIA announcement on transition of key internet domain name functionsAssociation for Progressive Communications. March 15, 2014.

  • The APC welcomes the announcement from the NTIA, noting that “[t]he fact that a single government currently plays this role, even if it has not been a particularly ‘hands-on’ role, has been cause for concern and debate among governments and other stakeholders for more than a decade.” The APC recommends that ICANN, in designing this transition, “look beyond its own internal multi-stakeholder processes in bringing together the larger community for the necessary consultations on how this transition should be undertaken.”

Berkens, Michael. Strickling Refines Last Weeks Announcement On ICANN: No Government-Led Solution Will Be AcceptedThe Domains. March 19, 2014.

  • In an announcement made on Wednesday, NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling clarified the US government’s Friday (March 14) announcement regarding its decision to cede oversight of ICANN. According to Strickling, “this announcement in no way diminishes [the US government’s] commitment to preserving the Internet as an engine for economic growth and innovation” and that the US government is not abandoning the Internet and would continue to play a role post-transition through ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Endorsements of the IANA Globalization Process.” March, 2014.

  • In this document, ICANN has compiled a list of endorsements of the US NTIA announcement. The document will be updated as more endorsements emerge. The document currently contains endorsements from: U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller; U.S. Senator John Thune; U.S. Senator Marco Rubio; U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo; African Union Commission (AUC); International Telecommunications Union (ITU); European Commission; Australian Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull; United Nations (UN); Association for Progressive Communications (APC); Article 19; Brookings Institute; Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT); Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA); Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA); Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org); Afilias; AT&T; .au Domain Administration (auDA); Blacknight; Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA); Cisco; Google; Microsoft; Neustar; and Verizon.

Internet Governance – Joint statement by Laurent Fabius and Fleur PellerinFrance Diplomatie. March 18, 2014.

  • The French government welcomes the US government announcement. It emphasis in its reaction that “other steps must follow, particularly so that the role of nations sharing the same principles and objectives is not limited to consultation within ICANN, making the legal structure of this forum more international and promoting coordination between entities dealing with Internet governance.”
Internet Technical Leaders Welcome IANA Globalization ProgressNumber Resource Organization. March 14, 2014.

  • The leaders of the technical organizations and operators responsible for the coordination of Internet technical infrastructure (the IETF, IAB, RIRs, ccTLD registries, ICANN, ISOC, and W3C) together issued a statement endorsing the “globalization of ICANN.” Notably, these organizations represent communities that have a very clear understanding of what the IANA functions require for effective operation. Also notable – the leaders issuing this statement argue that “the Internet technical community is strong enough to continue its role, while assuming the stewardship function as it transitions from the US Government.”

Kopan, Tal. Sarah Palin pans ICANN planPolitico. March 19, 2014.

  • Sarah Palin is particularly skeptical of the US government’s intention to cede oversight of ICANN. According to Palin, “surrendering [US] control of the Internet is a colossal foreign policy error with long term negative repercussions for freedom.”

Murphy, Kevin. Roundup: Industry Reaction to US Giving up IANA RoleDomainIncite. March 16, 2014.

  • Murphy provides a rundown of initial reactions from the domain name industry and I* communities. All endorse the NTIA’s announcement and demonstrate support for a multistakeholder process and discussion around how to transition the IANA functions.

Statement on NTIA’s Announcement to End Formal Relationship With ICANNThe Internet Association. March 14, 2014.

  • Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of The Internet Association, announced the following in response to the transition announcement: “The Internet’s decentralized model is key to growth, innovation, freedom, and openness. The continued success of the Internet relies on a borderless platform for communication and information exchange.”

Tummarello, Kate. House Republican decries ‘hostile step’ on Internet freedomThe Hill. March 17, 2014.

  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) believes the US government’s announcement is a threat to freedom of speech, stating that “[g]iving up control of ICANN” will give increased power to countries like Russia and China to define how the Internet works. Blackburn equates this move to recent FCC action, noting “This decision represents another hostile step by the administration on the heels of net neutrality and the FCC’s CIN Study that threatens our freedom of speech.”

Public Interest Registry Announces Support for Internet Technical Leaders in Welcoming IANA Globalization ProgressFort Mill Times. March 17, 2014.

  • The .org top-level domain registry, Public Interest Registry (PIR), announced this week that it endorsed both the NTIA announcement as well as the responses put forth by Internet technical organizations such as IETF, IAB, ccTLD ROs, ICANN, ISOC and W3C. PIR also noted that it is “committed to continuing to contribute to the stewardship of the Internet as part of a globally inclusive, open and transparent multi-stakeholder community” and that they look forward to taking part in the transition process.

Verisign Inc. Response to National Telecommunications and Information Administration Further Notice of Inquiry on the Internet Assigned Names and Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions [Docket No. 110207099-1319-0].

  • Verisign responds to the NTIA announcement by noting it “applauds NTIA for its commitment to reviewing and strengthening the IANA functions contract,” and stating that: “the current contractual framework has been remarkably effective in supporting the stable execution of the IANA functions, particularly those involving the DNS and administration of the root zone. While the IANA contract can potentially benefit from modest, evolutionary changes, Verisign does not believe that it needs to be substantially overhauled, or that the current division of labor and responsibilities envisioned in the contract should be significantly changed. Verisign values the measured approach that NTIA has taken in its review of the IANA contract and response to public input.”

Descriptive Arguments

Cleland, Scott. Accelerating the de-Americanization of the InternetInternet Freedom Coalition. March 17, 2014.

  • Cleland argues that the Snowden revelations have led to two decisions that have rather opposing consequences. According to Cleland, by announcing its intention to cede oversight of ICANN to a “global multistakeholder community,” the US “officialize[s] a sovereign-less third global power base separate from national sovereign powers and intergovernmental organizations like the UN.” Meanwhile, the European Parliament voted for stronger data protection laws, whereby “the EU is asserting sovereignty over the European Internet so European data will be subject to EU law and stored in the EU.” Thus Cleland concludes that there is a tension between sovereign and sovereign-less power over the Internet.

Corwin, Philip S. If the Stakeholders Already Control the Internet, Why NETMundial and the IANA Transition? CircleID. March 16, 2014.

  • In the wake of the US government announcement that it will cede control of ICANN and in the context of several initiatives to “globalize ICANN” (including the Montevideo Statement, 1Net forum, and NETMundial Brazil Meeting), Corwin asks whether this “is an inevitable stage of Internet governance evolution or a manufactured crisis designed to enhance autonomy and diminish accountability.” There are many important questions of legitimacy and accountability of Internet governance at stake, including “where the IANA counterparty status and functions should reside upon transition from the NTIA,” how the Brazil meeting will produce “Core Internet governance principles,” and whether ICANN is too dominant in this whole process.

Crovitz, Gordon L. America’s Internet SurrenderThe Wall Street Journal. March 18, 2014.

  • Crovitz worries that other more authoritarian governments will take advantage of the US NTIA announcement to “work[] to redesign the Internet more to their liking.” Speculating about Russia and China as examples, Crovitz states that “domains could be banned and new ones not approved for meddlesome groups such as Ukrainian-independence organizations or Tibetan human-rights activists.” Crovitz concludes that “the Obama administration has now endangered that hallmark of Internet freedom [in the form of ceding US protection].”

Farrell, Maria. Q&A: Internationalising the Internet’s IANA FunctionCrooked Timber. March 17, 2014.

  • Farrell answers some important questions related to the NTIA’s announcement, stressing in her answers that: commercial entities should take an active role in transition discussions; governments should have a seat at the table without completely running the show; ICANN leadership will likely continue to play an important role as “internationalisation of responsibility and accountability have been in ICANN’s DNA from the start”; that “GAC member countries need to put their money where their claims of legitimacy are, by devoting realtime and senior level staff to engage with the policy process as it happens”; and that “[w]e need to cut through the fear-mongering about Russia and China and recognise that the vast majority of ‘middle of the road’ countries – democracies and America’s allies – believe it is time to move on.”

Fattal, Khaled. Is NTIA’s Transition Decision the Right Dose of Chemotherapy to Repair Trust in MultistakeholderismCircleID. March 17, 2014.

  • Fattal argues that the US government’s intent to transfer “key” Internet governance roles is “not only very ambiguous but leads to new questions and concerns that must be answered before anything starts taking place.” In particular, Fattal asks why neither ICANN nor the NTIA mentioned the “global public interest” in their announcements; who the “global multistakeholder community” being referred to actually is, and how to get the buy-in of the world’s Internet community in this transition plan.

Holland, Byron. Thoughts About U.S. Government’s Decision on IANA Transition. CircleID. March 18, 2014.

  • Byron points out that “much of the current discourse on Internet governance focuses on the linkage between ICANN, IANA and the U.S. government” and that the US government announcement “removes a considerable barrier in those discussions.” This means, however, that the global Internet community must come up with a plan that ensures ICANN’s accountability, as the US government’s intention to cede oversight of ICANN will leave an “accountability vacuum.”

Mueller, Milton. Structural Separation: A Key Principle of IANA GlobalizationInternet Governance Project. March 18, 2014.

  • Mueller emphasizes that last week’s US government announcement may not be properly understood, and that a real understanding of the difference between the IANA functions (currently performed by ICANN) and root zone maintenance (currently performed by Verisign) is incredibly important. The reason is because there must be a “structural separation of the policy making role currently performed by ICANN, and the technical and clerical operational role performed by IANA and Verisign.”

Mueller, Milton. The U.S. Government Will Set the DNS Root Free. Internet Governance Project. March 14, 2014.

  • Mueller argues that the US government announcement is not about “giving up” or “losing control,” but that the transition makes it “a lot harder for opponents of a free and open Internet to pretend that what they are really against is an Internet dominated by one hegemonic state.” This is a huge step in a positive direction, because the global debate becomes clearer when it is not constantly focused on the one issue of US pre-eminence. Mueller warns, however, that “ICANN itself should control the process for crafting an appropriate transition plan” and that it is important to separate the technical/operational processes from the political processes of Internet governance. Thus, Mueller concludes, “let’s not forget that ICANN has been charged with convening a process, not with controlling it.”

Nagesh, Gautham. ICANN 101: Who Will Oversee the Internet? The Wall Street Journal. March 17, 2014.

  • Nagesh answers some basic questions that will help readers navigate the NTIA’s announcement, its potential impact and why it matters to the Internet community. He states this transition will not lead to multi-lateral management over the Internet, stating the “objective for the U.S. is to make sure that NTIA isn’t replaced by the U.N. or another governmental organization.” He also notes that worries over censorship will likely be debated in time, but that “[m]ost stakeholders don’t believe that releasing ICANN from the Commerce Department’s contract will lead to censorship.”

Philipp,  Joshua. US Relinquishes Oversight of Internet, China and Russia May Gain Control. The Epoch Times. March 17, 2014.

  • Philipp focuses on responses to the recent announcement from Republican lawmakers, citing many who warn against the move because of fears that Internet freedom will be compromised by censorship-riddled governments wielding greater control over the Internet. Philips notes, however, that the NTIA has committed to upholding all existing U.S. resolutions aimed at keeping the “global Internet free from the influence of foreign governments” and that it “will not accept a proposal that replaces the former U.S. role in ICANN ‘with a government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution.’”

Prakash, Pranesh. NTIA to give up control of the Internet’s root. Center for Internet & Society, India. March 18, 2014.

  • Prakash states that the US government announcement is “an important one and is also a welcome one.” However, he reminds readers that “some aspects of the Internet’s technical functioning cannot restore the trust that has been lost due to actions taken by the US government and US companies” and that “all the ICANN reform in the world will still not lead to a less spied-upon, more open, and more equitable Internet.”

Rainee, Lee. What happens to the internet after the U.S. hands off ICANN to others? Pew Research. March 20, 2014.

  • Lee Rainee, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, reacts to the US government announcement with a set of questions, including: “how the board and staffing of ICANN will be structured, who gets to pick people for which jobs, who gets to vote when policy is made, how non-government stakeholders like companies and non-profit organizations will have a say in ICANN affairs, and what kinds of appeals mechanisms will be available to those who are on the losing side in policy choices.” He states that it would not be surprising if the transition plan takes longer to formulate than the current expected timeline (finalization in September 2015).

Rosenzweig, Paul. Who Controls the Internet Address Book? ICANN, NTIA and IANA. Lawfare. March 15, 2014.

  • Rosenzweig provides a nuanced look at the implications of the NTIA’s announcement, paying particularly close attention to the likely changes that will result with respect to VeriSign’s role over root zone operation. He also notes that some have voiced concern as to whether ICANN is in a “good position” to handle this transition, noting many feel ICANN is “beholden to the domain name registry industry, who pay large fees to ICANN for the privilege of managing (and reselling) top level domain systems.” He also cites critiques on ICANN accountability and expresses concern that the technical expertise needed to manage the root zone may not be as present as desired in ICANN. He concludes by suggesting the US has been “a fundamentally good steward of the network,” and that, while he’s “optimistic about ICANN,” this transition “may well upset that happy vision” we’ve known up until now.

Shears, Matthew. Goodbye NTIA, hello…? Center for Democracy & Technology. March 19, 2014.

  • According to Shears, “the NTIA announcement is a welcome move, but one potentially fraught with peril.” The transition of the management of the Internet’s core technical resources “must be assessed with the greatest of care,” because although ICANN has been asked to convene stakeholders to develop a proposal for the transition, this does not mean ICANN should assume the IANA functions itself. Shears concludes that “the import (and geopolitical impact) of the ICANN transition is far from clear” and that stakeholders will need to “objectively assess the suitability of all transition proposals.”
GovLab Blog

Talking Open Data with NYC Stakeholders: A Wrap-Up

Written by Marilla Li, Outreach Manager for The GovLab’s Open Data 500 project.

Open government data – that which is released in open formats for anyone to download, use and redistribute – has tremendous potential to increase government transparency and accountability. Open data gives technologists, researchers and the public an opportunity to generate new insights to improve government service delivery and craft applications to benefit the public good.

New York City has been a pioneer in embracing open data, offering a number of datasets in machine-readable formats to the public and working directly with the community in its efforts to do so.

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Last month, the GovLab had the pleasure of hosting a Stakeholders Forum on Open Data run by New York City’s Transparency Working Group – a coalition of civic and civic tech organizations supporting efforts to make NYC government more open and accountable. The event took place in collaboration with the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), the city agency responsible for providing IT services, infrastructure and telecommunication to New York City.

Some key takeaways from the forum include:

  • The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) plans to update the NYC Open Data Plan by July 2014 and spread deadlines until 2018 for all agencies to make their data “open.”
  • Stakeholders wish to see more metadata released in order to better understand the data’s original purpose and collection method, i.e. create visible “life cycles” for Open Data.
  • Productive dialogue around the “life cycles” of Open Data is currently impeded by major searchability issues with the NYC Open Data Platform and portal.
  • Diverse ranges of opinion remain among agencies regarding opening up data, owing mainly to privacy concerns.
  • The City remains limited in responding quickly and appropriately to all community requests and feedback regarding Open Data.

The Forum opened with John Kaehny, Co-Chair of the Working Group and Executive Director of Reinvent Albany, introducing some of the key stakeholders present and paving the agenda for a productive session aimed at moving the dialogue forward on how key stakeholders may shape and improve the future of Open Data in NYC. Specifically, Kaehny noted the session’s goals were to:

  • Review plans for upcoming benchmarks of the NYC Open Data Law;
  • Highlight concerns and brainstorm solutions for data usability; and
  • Explore the Socrata NYC Open Data Platform and portal.

Updates to NYC’s open data plan expected by July 2014 – will offer agencies extended deadlines

Nick O’Brien from MODA briefed the group on the status of implementing the NYC Open Data Law, which became official code in March 2012 and prompted release of the first Open Data Plan iteration last September. While the current plan lists data sets to be posted and contains many manually posted sets provided before the capacity to automate became real, O’Brien highlighted that the ultimate goal is one central, automated hub where all Open Data released by agencies can reside.

While over 1100 datasets currently live on the NYC Open Data Platform, O’Brien acknowledged that not just automation, but regulation and access pose ongoing challenges for both data users and providers. O’Brien reminded forum participants that the Mayor’s Office appointed a Chief Open Platform Officer last April and expressed hope that it marks a turning point in ensuring that “enforcement has enough teeth so that agencies would not skirt regulations.”

Finally, O’Brien highlighted some upcoming benchmarks, including an update to the Open Data Plan expected by July of this year. The update will address comments from the open data community and general public and will feature implementation deadlines spread across the next four years to ensure that NYC remains technically capable of managing both a feedback loop and a quality control loop.

Data usability issues on open data portal spur calls for more metadata

Noel Hidalgo from BetaNYC and Dominic Mauro from Reinvent Albany presented to the forum next, addressing some current data usability concerns, including:

  • A lack of transparency in displaying the metadata – i.e. the internal “hierarchy” that lets users “see what’s going on inside and see different facets of the data”;
  • Ongoing resistance from certain agencies toward opening up its data; and
  • Searchability of the Open Data Portal, which still churns out “a lot of noise” in addition to what users actually searched.

The group then brainstormed initial solutions to some of these challenges, including:

  • The creation of a feature to show users where datasets are coming from;
  • Crafting recommendations to post on the Portal for how to use a given dataset; and
  • Continued efforts to work closely with agencies in order to encourage them to open up their data.

Multiple attendees expressed a desire to interact more with the data creators and creation processes to deepen their understanding of the context of the data’s originally intended usage. However, attendees stated that many users’ struggles to navigate the open data portal serve as a major impediment to even starting such interactions.

Open data platform and portal allows for customization, but navigation challenges persist

After this dynamic discussion, Chris Whong from Socrata provided a user walk-through of the NYC Open Data Platform and portal housing the data. He stressed the importance for the portal to enable any level of user to publish and use data and he provided examples of searching for different data pieces in the platform, noting that “someone with no tech skills should be able to view, filter, and interact as one might without any extra software.”

Whong emphasized the most customizable feature on the portal – a custom application programming interface (API) built so that the data can be “sliced a lot of ways” to be more usable and more contextualized to each data user’s needs. Whong acknowledged, however, that even with all the filtered and unfiltered abilities, both the portal and data prove difficult to navigate in its current, fledgling form.

Notably, the forum brought together a variety of open data stakeholders, including representatives from:

Stay tuned for possible future collaborations between the Transparency Working Group and The GovLab. For updates and to learn more, follow Reinvent Albany on Twitter @Reinvent Albany, and the GovLab @TheGovLab.

GovLab Blog

In Good Company – Beth Noveck one of DC’s top 50 women in tech

Beth Noveck, Director of the Gov Lab has been named one of the DC’s top 50 women in tech by Fedscoop. Honored along with the likes of Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer of the Defense Department, Letitia Long, Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and Alissa Johnson, the Deputy Chief Information Officer in the Executive Office of the President.

She was highlighted for her range of initiatives promoting democratic engagement, from the Peer to Patent program at the US Patent Office, to leading the Open Government Initiative as the Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration to founding the Governance Lab at New York University in 2014.
“The project of designing more effective and legitimate government is a lifelong endeavor.” Says Noveck. “I keep at it because I love the joy that comes from doing work that matters. I love my brilliant and compassionate colleagues at the GovLab. I love the insights and ideas that come from collaboration across disciplines and sectors. And, ultimately, I believe in the evolutionary project of democracy.”
Focused on the intersection of technology and governance, Fedscoop collaborates with top leaders from Washington, the tech industry, and academic institutions to share best practices and keep up with the latest innovations from the field.

GovLab Academy GovLab Blog

Introducing Open Gov Stories

By Emily Thenhaus
March 19, 2014

“The world is becoming more open because of all the changes we are witnessing,” says Romain Lacombe, Head of Innovation for the French Open Data Task Force, Etalab. “The question from a government standpoint is, ‘Do you want to fight it, or do you want to go along? Do you want actually harness those forces and this tremendous power to the benefit of your citizens?’”.

This week The GovLab Academy launched Open Gov Stories, an oral history video series which captures the stories of open government innovators like Romain and their efforts at harnessing technology and open innovation around the world to solve public problems.


Funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, this first series of Open Gov Stories includes fifteen global open government innovators working on powerful, diverse projects that advance openness and transparency in their own countries. Projects include collaborative innovation in Finland, publishing open financial data in the Philippines, developing tools to show the relationships between politicians in Kenya and Chile, and open innovation challenges using open data in France and Montenegro. Created together with the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international federation of about 60 countries, these stories were collected at the OGP summit in London in the fall of 2013 in a recording booth designed by our production partners, Lightweight Media.

Spanning Africa, Asia, Europe & Latin America, the Open Gov Stories describe the powerful impacts that these projects have had in a wide range of countries. Several of the changemakers we talked to were also interviewed for our “Howcasts,” short videos where they describe how they designed their projects and the lessons that other innovators can learn from.

“Open Gov Stories enriches the curriculum of the GovLab Academy, our Knight-funded project to develop comprehensive online resources on the different aspects of opening governance,” says Beth Noveck, Founder and Director of The GovLab. “Open Gov Stories operates as an integral part of the Gov Lab Academy, a free online community for those wanting to teach and learn how to solve public problems and improve lives using innovations in governance.” Launched in conjunction with the 2013 OGP Summit, the Academy offers curated videos, podcasts, readings and activities for practitioners to learn new skills and get inspired by others in this field.

“People in Liberia, in Finland, in Spain, the Philippines, and all over the world are participating in this new kind of activism that opens up government for the good of the community,” says Joel Gurin, Senior Advisor at the Gov Lab, Director of the Open Data 500 and author of the new book, Open Data Now. “The videos are compelling and inspiring in their own right. Together with the GovLab Academy’s other resources, they help provide a roadmap for open government activists anywhere”.
“Stories are a powerful resource for communicating the value of open government and providing examples that show its impact” says Cosmo Fujiyama, The GovLab Academy fellow. “In the future series Open Gov Stories , we aim to include more voices including city officials in the US who are working to improve their communities with innovative, collaborative solutions.”
View Open Gov Stories at :

GovLab Blog

The GovLab Presents on the Promise of Open Health Data at NHS Health Expo 2014

On March 4th,  The GovLab’s Chief of Research and Development Stefaan Verhulst presented on the promise of open data for health and care at the Health and Care Innovation Expo, a conference hosted by the National Health Service (NHS) in Manchester, England.
Verhulst outlined how open data is currently being leveraged within the healthcare sector to improve overall care, and unveiled a new conceptual framework illustrating how the NHS and other government institutions might measure the impact of open data in the healthcare sector. The presentation was part of a larger conversation about the impact of transparency on healthcare with Samantha Miekle, Director of London Connect and Roger Taylor, Co-founder Dr Foster Intelligence and special advisor to the NHS Care Quality Commission.
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