GovLab Blog SCAN

The GovLab SCAN – Issue 40

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our 40th edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at

This week’s highlights:

  • This week the NETmundial Initiative launched at the World Economic Forum in Geneva. The Initiative is intended to “contribute to the broader international effort to advance multistakeholder Internet governance on the basis of the NETmundial principles”. The event was recorded and live-streamed; the recordings are available here.
  • The ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) begins next week (September 2 – 5). The 2014 IGF will focus on many topics, including the IANA Stewardship Transition, the purpose and goals of the NETmundial Initiative, and issues such as privacy, security, access, and Internet technologies.


ICANN Chair Responds to TPI’s ICANN Accountability Concerns. Technology Policy Institute. August 26, 2014.

  • The Technology Policy Institute here publishes ICANN Board Chairman Steven Crocker’s line-by-line responses to a piece concerning ICANN’s accountability published in The Hill. Crocker argues that ICANN’s accountability structures are complex yet rigorous; that there is no reason to assume that domain name system management will not work as well after the U.S. gives up its role through the NTIA; that there is a reason why ICANN is not only composed of registries, registrars, and Regional Internet Registries (because ICANN is not a trade association); and that improvements to ICANN’s accountability “can only come with a solid understanding of how we are structured, why we’re structured as we are, and what incremental improvements in structure would make meaningful improvements in accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency”.

Internet Governance

Avila, Renata. World Wide Web Foundation Warns Google HTTPS Policy Could Create Unequal Web. World Wide Web Foundation. August 22, 2014.

  • The Snowden revelations highlighted the potential for user privacy to be violated through mass surveillance programs. In response, Google has announced that it will “prioritize secure sites” –those using HTTPS/TLS—in search results. While Avila and the World Wide Web Foundation commend these efforts, they also find that such search result rankings could discourage or penalize smaller Web users “especially in the developing world” because HTTPS certification costs money and can be a hassle. This article therefore recommends a set of measures to aid in the adoption of HTTPS as a universal standard, including the establishment of mechanisms to reduce the costs of certification for non-profits, “micro users”, and small and medium enterprises.

Badii, Farzaneh. Killing .Ir to Compensate Terrorist Victims: IGOs to the Rescue? Internet Governance Project. August 26, 2014.

  • Recently the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order to seize .Ir (the domain name for Iran) and Iranian IP addresses. Badii discusses “the ruling’s implications for global Internet governance”, questioning whether the issue would have developed differently if ICANN was an intergovernmental organization rather than a private corporation in U.S. jurisdiction. Badii argues that “intergovernmental arrangements are vulnerable to power imbalances between stakeholders, enabling strong ones to use these mechanisms punitively” and that “private ordering allows for a more consensus based, multistakeholder approach than intergovernmental organizations do”.

Bouverot, Anne. How do we protect the future of the Internet? World Economic Forum. August 28, 2014.

  • Bouverot argues that, in the context of the IANA Stewardship Transition and “intense discussions about an equitable commercial model for internet traffic”, “it is critical that effective mechanisms are put in place to enable all stakeholders to participate in the reform process and decide its outcomes collaboratively”. The NETmundial Initiative is focused on the development of such mechanisms and Bouverot points out that the Initiative “has the potential to bring together stakeholders from civil society, governments, industry, academia and others, to help to find solutions to internet governance challenges that have not been addressed adequately in other forums”. Bouverot argues that this is only possible if the Initiative is inclusive and open to all, with “clearly articulated goals and processes that are communicated in a transparent way”, and without duplicating the work of other Internet governance forums or organizations.

Epstein, Zach. This interactive map of global Internet censorship is the most important thing you’ll see today. BGR. August 26, 2014.

  • A new interactive map from –a VPN service provider—shows “which parts of the world are most affected by Internet censorship”. The map distinguishes levels of censorship in different countries by assigning scored using various criteria. Issues are split into four main categories: “human rights violations,” “freedom on the Net,” “obstacles to access” and “limits to content.”

Jellema, Anne. The Fall of Internet Governance? World Wide Web Foundation. August 14, 2014.

  • Although many positive developments in the Internet regulation space (for example, legislation on net neutrality and data collection in Europe, and the Marco Civil in Brazil) since the Snowden revelations, Jellema observes that “pieces of good news are few and far between and bad news is easy to find”. Jellema points out that the meetings of the NETmundial Initiative, the Internet Governance Forum, and the ITU Plenipotentiary (all taking place this year) are good opportunities to push forward proposals related to Internet regulation. The World Wide Web Foundation here provides a set of proposals to emphasize at these events, including: committing to policy coherence through increased cooperation; popularizing Internet issues so that more people are aware of and understand them globally; including more voices; opening Internet governance discussions up (by, for example, using remote participation technologies); and investing in national level change.

Joint Statement on United States-Republic of Korea Bilateral Cyber Policy Consultations. U.S. Department of State. August 26, 2014.

  • The governments of the Republic of Korea and the United States this week held the third bilateral Cyber Policy Consultations in Seoul. The Consultations “reinforced the cooperation between the United States and ROK on a wide range of cyber issues, including the assessment of cyber threats, development of international norms of state behavior in cyberspace and cyber confidence-building measures, cooperation in building the cybersecurity capacity of developing countries, Internet governance and the importance of a multistakeholder approach, cooperation in enhancing cybersecurity, including that of critical infrastructure, and cooperation in international fora, such as the 2015 Netherlands Conference on Cyberspace”.

Karklins, Janis. IGF 2014 – The Gateway for the Future. Internet Governance Forum. August 23, 2014.

  • Karklins –Chair of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG)—argues that the success of the IGF depends the proactive contributions of Internet stakeholders. Topics to be considered this year include “many complex policy issues, such as IANA stewardship transition and net neutrality” and “policies enhancing access, growth and development on the Internet, bridging the digital divide, freedom of expression, privacy, and cultural and linguistic diversity”. More than 3000 participants are registered for the event and several hundred more are expected to participate remotely. The goals of the IGF “include identifying more focused and concrete outcomes and the promotion of best practices on a range of important issues such as the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, child online protection, local content creation, ensuring security and combatting spam”.

Kurbalija, Jovan. 10 points for the EU’s future digital policy. Diplo. August 27, 2014.

  • Kurbalija discusses the 10 main “digital” points contained in the Policy Guidelines for the European Commission delivered at the European Parliament by Jean-Claude Junker, the new president of the EC, in July. Kurbalija points out that “the more Europe depends on the Internet, the more strategic Europe’s digital policy issues become”. Among the 10 main points are: using the digital sphere to drive the EU’s economic and social growth; using the digital economy for job creation; promoting small and medium sized digital enterprises; developing an EU data protection strategy; the development of digital standards; and “introducing more robust procedures in multistakeholder processes in order to ensure transparency in the activities of different stakeholders”.

Malcolm, Jeremy. Internet Governance and the NETnundial Initiative: A Flawed Attempt at Turning Words into Action. Electronic Frontier Foundation. August 28, 2014.

  • Malcom discusses the launch of the NETmundial Initiative by the World Economic Forum this week and argues that “it wasn’t a promising start”. In particular, Malcolm points out that the planning and organization that went into the NETmundial Meeting (held in April in Brazil) reflected a degree of transparency that was absent in the NETmundial Initiative. Malcolm argues that the Initiative proposes “a laudably action-focused agenda to take forward the NETmundial Principles, but by means of a rather closed, top-down and opaque process” and that “initial indications suggest it is far from an ideal model of global Internet governance in action”.

Ring, Tim. European Commission backs Microsoft in Privacy Fight with US. SC Magazine. SC Magazine. August 12, 2014.

  • Following a case in which a U.S. judge “ruled that a US search warrant demanding access to [a] European customer’s email in relation to a drugs investigation was legal”, the European Commission has said that “the court decision to disclose the data goes against Irish and European law”. This has resulted in a jurisdictional competition and a debate over transnational coordination of privacy laws. The European Commission and the U.S. are exploring legal frameworks so that either can “request any access to personal data through existing governmental ‘mutual assistance’ agreements, and leave the tech companies out of it”.

WEF Unveils ‘Crowdsourcing’ Push on How to Run the Web. Global Post. August 28, 2014.

  • The World Economic Forum this week announced the launch of the NETMundial Initiative, a project “aimed at connecting governments, businesses, academia, technicians and civil society worldwide to brainstorm the best ways to govern the Internet”. The Initiative may “enable ‘crowdsourcing with the best experts in the world’ to help determine the path forward on a wide range of issues”. More than “20,000 others followed [the] discussions online”. The Initiative does not intend to become an oversight body for the Internet, but rather wants to “make sure that the Internet does not become fragmented”.

Papers and Reports

Call for proposals: Research on Internet governance principles. UNESCO Communication and Information Sector. August 26, 2014.

  • UNESCO is seeking “to contract an individual or organization to review international and regional declarations, normative frameworks and accountability measures related to Internet governance principles as part of UNESCO’s comprehensive study on Internet-related issues”. The study should “provide a comprehensive review of key initiatives on Internet governance principles which have been developed by various stakeholders, and analyze the extent to which various declarations have been used as normative instruments”. Research questions include: “What international and regional normative documents related to access to information, freedom of expression, privacy and ethical dimensions of the information society have been developed? What networks and observatories exist to identify developments regarding Internet governance? How does UNESCO’s draft concept of Internet universality fit into existing documents? Is there a gap that needs to be filled to cover the areas under UNESCO’s mandate?” Proposals should be submitted by September 20, 2014.

Hofmann, Jeanette and Katzenbach, Christian and Gollatz, Kirsten, Between Coordination and Regulation: Conceptualizing Governance in Internet Governance. HIIG Discussion Paper Series No. 2014-4. August 21, 2014.

  • This paper, “led by the question of how to define (Internet) governance in a way that is theoretically grounded as well as empirically instructive”, “contributes to the recent move towards a more systematic reflection on the conceptual foundations of Internet governance”. In constructing its arguments, the paper “mobilizes literature from the broader field of governance and regulation studies as well as sociological theory and applies these concepts to issues of Internet governance”. According to the paper’s abstract, “a brief literature review reveals that studies on Internet governance rely on partly contradictory notions of governance. The common understanding as some form of deliberate steering or regulation clashes with equally common definitions of Internet governance that emphasize its distributed and heterogeneous character taking ordering effects of interconnection agreements or discursive arenas like the IGF into account.”

McCarthy, Niall. Giant Chart: Global Internet Usage By The Numbers. Forbes. August 27, 2014.

  • This infographic chart provides statistics on: the global number of worldwide Internet users from 2000 to 2014; the regional distribution of Internet users worldwide in 2014; a forecast of global Internet consumer traffic in 2018; the traffic composition of Internet usage in North America in 2014; countries with the fastest average Internet connection speed in 2014; and the share of mobile Internet traffic in global regions between 2013 and 2014.

Prince, Matthew. The Relative Cost of Bandwidth Around the World. CloudFlare. August 26, 2014.

  • This report looks into global network operations “to explain how networks operate, and the relative costs of Internet connectivity in different parts of the world”. The article describes how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) connect various networks; how to buy bandwidth from providers; what “peering” is; and then looks at these issues in different regions.


(See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)

The IGF 2014 Fragmentation Track. Internet & Jurisdiction Project. September 2- 5, 2014.

  • Internet “fragmentation” is a general concern in Internet governance that applies to areas of access and connectivity, digital standards and technology, as well as trade and policy. The Internet Society (ISOC), the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and the Internet & Jurisdiction Project are organizing three workshops on the issue of fragmentation at the Internet Governance Forum 2014. The sessions, listed on this page, will “help frame the broader debate and shed light on complementary perspectives on the risk of fragmentation: What are the processes that could lead to fragmentation, what are the broader costs associated with fragmentation and how can cooperation regimes be developed to prevent fragmentation?”

Internet Ungovernance Forum. Istanbul Bilgi University, Santral Campus. September 4 – 5, 2014.

  • This forum will be held in parallel to the 2014 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul. The organizers of the event believe “the main perpetrators of many of the Internet’s problems, governments and corporations, are getting representation in IGF they don’t deserve” and are the organizers are therefore taking “initiative to defend the Internet as we know it and to create a space to raise the voices of civil society initiatives, activists and common people”. Registration is available through the main page.

NETmundial Initiative – Initial Scoping Meeting. World Economic Forum. August 28, 2014.

  • The NETmundial Initiative launched this week at the World Economic Forum with an initial Scoping Meeting that focused on questions such as, “what key Internet governance issues would benefit from additional high-level interdisciplinary (e.g., cross-ministry and cross-industry) multistakeholder dialogue?” and “which particular perspectives, expertise and stakeholders need to be engaged?” The meeting brought together a range of leaders across the range of Internet stakeholders participating in Internet governance today. The event included a press conference and ended with a debrief with the Initiative’s founding partners, looking to answer questions such as the Initiative’s medium term objectives, goals for the next six months, the development of consultative processes, assigning roles and resources, and composing the Transitional Steering Committee of the Initiative before it is more formally defined. These events were recorded and the recordings, along with the meeting FAQ, Agenda, Participants, Initiative Brief, and Presentation can be found by clicking through the link. 
GovLab Blog

Better Understanding Through Visualizations

Social issues often remain hidden until brought to light by events such as the Ferguson, MO protests. When this happens, the media will employ the use of visualizations to help people understand how policy affects these issues. Throughout the past couple of weeks, a lot of media outlets have been outputting data visualizations, maps  and graphics in order to better explain the events in Ferguson. These visualizations can also explain the many different aspects of policy and demographics that influence communities across the country like Ferguson. Visualizations such as this graphic published by The Economist today, can also be used to illustrate how differences in national policies can have dramatic effects on things such as fatal shootings by police officers.
Source: The Economist
The original Economist graphic is composed of two circles representing the number of people fatally wounded by police in four different countries (Japan and Britain had zero fatal shootings by police, hence no circle). Since people are generally better at perceiving differences in length than area, I entered the numbers into a bar chart; result shown below.
Police Shootings

GovLab Blog SCAN

The GovLab SCAN – Issue 39

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our thirty-ninth 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 ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will take place from September 2 – 5, 2014.
  • ICANN has released a proposed revision to its Bylaws that would require a two-thirds majority vote for the ICANN Board to reject Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice.
  • The Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) of ICANN has released a report detailing and explaining the history and management of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.


Accountability & Governance Public Experts Group Members Announced. August 19, 2014.

  • In the context of the construction of the Strengthening ICANN Governance and Accountability Track, ICANN’s President and CEO has selected four members of a Public Experts Group who will be responsible for the further selection of up to seven advisors to sit on the ICANN Accountability & Governance Coordination Group. ICANN has announced a process which will structure ICANN’s “accountability enhancement” to include a Cross Community Group (“envisioned as the place for representative participation for the ICANN community) and a Coordination Group (“a smaller, more intensive work group). According to ICANN, the Public Experts Group “will remain available as a resource to the review and may help access a broader network of expertise as needed”.

Public Comment Invited: Proposed Bylaws Changes Regarding Consideration of GAC Advice. August 15, 2014.

  • ICANN has posted proposed revisions to its Bylaws “that would incorporate a higher voting threshold for the Board to determine not act consistently with the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee [GAC]”. “Currently, the Bylaws require a simple majority of the Board (50% + 1) to vote to act consistently a piece of advice from the GAC. The proposed amendments to the Bylaws would require 2/3 of the voting members of the Board to vote to not act consistently with a piece of GAC advice.” Public comment on the revisions is invited through this announcement.

Solomon, Howard. Controversy over proposed ICANN voting hits Internet governance. IT World Canada. August 19, 2014.

  • Solomon outlines some reactions to ICANN’s recent proposal to revise its Bylaws concerning Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice, notably that there are fears that formalizing a voting threshold for rejecting GAC advice will make it more difficult for ICANN’s Board to overcome government demands. However, Solomon also points out that the GAC has “occasionally protected end user interests in a way that hasn’t come from the rest of the ICANN community” and that giving governments greater say at ICANN could therefore be both good and bad. The proposed revisions can be found here.

Internet Governance

African Union Adopts Framework on Cyber Security and Data Protection. Access Blog. August 22, 2014.

  • This article discusses the possible positive and negative impacts of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, approved by leaders in the African Union (AU) in June this year. Positively, the convention helps to establish data protection standards by mandating each AU member state to institute Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), and the” cybersecurity sections of the Convention specifically protect human rights”. Negatively, the convention contains broad provisions on content restrictions; may rule out user consent for certain uses of personal data; and contains “v ague, broad provisions defining computer fraud [that] hinge on “unauthorized access,” an undefined term”.

Cerf, Vinton G. How to Save the Net: Keep It Open. Wired. August 19, 2014.

  • Cerf argues that the “openness principle” (“the idea that anyone can reach any site online and that information and data should be freely exchangeable”) has been fundamental and beneficial to the development of the Internet and to the development of global interconnectivity. However, the same “openness principle” sometimes conflicts with principles of national sovereignty, “leading to national and regional legislation that may splinter the Internet and interfere with end-to-end connectivity”. Cerf points out that the IANA Stewardship Transition presents “a unique opportunity to redesign the Internet’s governance by enshrining the openness principle and the concept that all stakeholders should participate in policy development”.

Chehadé, Fadi. An Initiative for Action. ICANN Blog. August 18, 2014.

  • Chehadé –President and CEO of ICANN—discusses the beginnings of “the process of shifting some of ICANN’s recent role in Internet governance to a broader group” in order to transition ICANN’s role in the Internet governance ecosystem “from leader to participant”. According to Chehadé, “ICANN will soon join several countries and multistakeholder organizations to begin to build a global initiative for Internet cooperation and governance with an emphasis on action”.  The initiative, which will be announced next week from the World Economic Forum, will “explore in a very practical way the decentralized operationalization of a 21st century collaborative and distributed Internet cooperation ecosystem”. Furthermore, the initiative “will not have any authority over governance organizations like ICANN, nor will it have any role in the oversight of ICANN or the IANA functions”.

Gillmor, Dan. The New Editors of the Internet. The Atlantic. August 22, 2014.

  • In the wake of the murder of James Foley by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), Twitter and YouTube have removed photo and video content depicting the incident. Gillmor points out that, even while this seems like the “right thing” for Twitter and YouTube to have done, the actions raise important questions regarding the ability of Internet content providers to decide what content users can access online. Gillmor goes on to discuss the centralization of information control to big media and content providing companies, the concern of intermediary liability of Internet Service Providers, and the efforts of software developers to produce tools that give users more control over their own information.

González, Juan Alfonso Fernández. Internet Governance and Celestial Mechanics. Intellectual Property Watch. August 19, 2014.

  • In these remarks made at a recent meeting of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), González –Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Communications of Cuba—points out that the use of the word “ecosystem” to describe the complex world of Internet governance is problematic because “it recognizes the existence of ‘unknown factors’ in the complex relationship between the different actors (organisms of the business world) of the ecosystem”. According to González, “when in any topic we have no idea of what is happening we call it an ‘ecosystem’”. González therefore suggests the use of the term “celestial mechanics”, because, similar to the formation of the solar system, “Internet governance is at an early stage of its formation, where many actors, processes and institutions repel and attract each other”.

Karr, Timothy. Net Blocking: A Problem in Need of a Solution. FreePress. August 20, 2014.

  • Karr points out that while representatives of the telecommunications industry have often called net neutrality “a solution in search of a problem”, there is a history of cases in which telecoms providers have blocked content or access, and that these cases show the need for real net neutrality protections. This article contains a list of relevant cases spanning from 2005 to today. Karr concludes a Federal Communications Commission reclassification of broadband providers as “common carriers” “is the only approach that would enable the agency to create and enforce strong Net Neutrality protections” and that “in the absence of any rules, violations of the open Internet will become more and more common”.

Kleinwächter, Wolfgang. Sailing Backwards: WSIS 10+ Avoids Entering Uncharted Territory. CircleID. August 18, 2014.

  • This month the United Nations General Assembly “agreed on the procedures how to review the results of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) from 2005”. WSIS 10+ will take the form of a high level intergovernmental meeting to be held in New York in December, 2015. The meeting is expected to adopt an outcome document, and “non-governmental stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and technical community will be invited for ‘informal interactive consultation’ in a parallel process” to negotiate the outcome document draft. Kleinwächter points out that the exclusion of non-governmental stakeholders from the drafting of the outcome document may take away from the legitimacy of the outcome and produce political conflict.

Mueller, Milton. What’s More Important than Accountability? Internet Governance Project. August 17, 2014.

  • Discussing two ICANN-related process concerning the accountability of global Internet governance (the IANA transition and the “enhancing ICANN accountability and Governance process”), Mueller argues that “the ongoing debate about ICANN’s accountability cannot be detached from broader concepts of ICANN’s mission and its role in the overall system of Internet governance” and that “accountability is relevant only insofar as it serves the bigger goal of keeping the internet open and free”. Mueller points out that “the community is getting so deeply involved in the details of both of these processes that they are losing sight of the fundamental issue at stake” which Mueller argues is that question of “how much power [] ICANN [should] have”. The article concludes with a proposal for a “contract that limits the scope of ICANN’s binding policies”.

Papers and Reports

Biddle, Ellery Roberts. Netizen Report: Ukrainian Journalists Confront Kremlinesque Censorship Scheme. Global Voices Advocacy. August 21, 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.” In this week’s highlights: A new draft law in Ukraine empowers the Ukrainian government to shut down media outlets and block websites; the Malaysian government is considering banning Facebook in the country; a new Russian law may require Internet users to provide official identification when using public WiFi hotspots.

SAC067: Overview and History of the IANA Functions. ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee. August 15, 2014.

  • This report by ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) –which “advises the ICANN community and Board on matters relating to the security and integrity of the Internet’s naming and address allocation systems”—“provides an overview of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions—what they are—and a history of how they evolved from the informal activities of a single person into the structured set of activities that are performed today in the context of a variety of contracts and agreements”. Topics covered include DNS root zone management, Internet numbers registry management, protocol parameter registry management, as well as contractual agreements related to IANA. According to the report, “understanding this background is particularly important as the community considers the transfer of IANA Functions stewardship from the United States government to some other, yet–to–be–determined structure”.


(See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)

Internet Governance Forum 2014, Istanbul, Turkey. September 2 – 5, 2014.

  • The ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held from September 2 to 5, 2014, in Istanbul, Turkey. The theme for this year’s IGF is “Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance”, with subthemes including: “Policies enabling Access”, “Content Creation”, “Dissemination and Use”, “Internet as engine for growth & development”, “IGF & The Future of the Internet ecosystem”, “Enhancing Digital Trust”, “Internet and Human Right[s]”, “Critical Internet Resource”, and “Emerging Issues”. An official invitation issued by Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo can be found here. The schedule for this year’s IGF is here. Remote participation details can be found here.

Johnson, Nicole Blake. Seen and Heart at ILTA 2014. BizTech Magazine. August 19, 2014.

  • The 2014 conference of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) has just concluded. Topics covered include information management, technology operations, data security, data encryption, the predictive coding, and cybersecurity. Session recordings will be available through the main ILTA website soon; BizTech Magazine also maintains a content hub for ILTA coverage.

#PP14Youth: Online Consultation for Young People. International Telecommunications Union News Log. August 21, 2014.

  • The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) “is inviting young people around the world to share their thoughts and opinions on the scope and mandate of [the ITU’s] future work related to youth”. A policy document which will be presented to ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) in Busan, Republic of Korea from October 20 to November 7, 2014, is open for input through the online consultation which can be accessed here. Main questions include, “what if we were able to crowdsource public policy?” and, “what if we had the tools to connect policy-makers and citizens in an open dialogue on governance processes? What if policies were created by those upon whom they have the biggest impact?”.

Roberts, Phil. New CEA Webinar Archive on IPv6 and Broadband. Internet Society. August 14, 2014.

  • The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has organized a webinar series focusing on IPv6. The first webinar in the series saw network operators discuss “their own IPv6 deployments, their challenges, their solutions, and remaining obstacles to more IPv6 deployment”. A recording of the webinar is available here. An upcoming webinar from 2 – 3pm Eastern Time on September 16, 2014 will “feature a number of large website operators who have also enabled IPv6 on their networks”.  Registration for the upcoming webinar is available here.

Vint Cerf August 25th Webinar – Internet 2025: Can we keep it open and evolving? The Marconi Society. August 25, 2014.

  • Vint Cerf will lead a webinar to take place at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on August 25, 2014. Aside from the primary topic of Internet governance, topics likely to be addressed include “privacy, safety, fraud, cyber-attacks, economics and business model disruption and social conventions in online environments”. Advance questions for Vint Cerf may be sent to (put “Webinar question” in the subject line).


GovLab Academy GovLab Blog

The GovLab Academy’s new course can help you solve problems that matter.

Are you passionate about civic tech? Are you…

  • Working in government with an innovative project you want to bring to life?
  • An independent social innovator who wants to expand your toolkit for real-world change?
  • Someone with an important idea for tackling a social problem but who needs to develop the key skills to take your vision from idea to implementation?

Spaces for online participation are now available for the GovLab Academy’s flagship 14-week, Masters-level course, Solving Public Problems with Technology. Learn about the program here.

In the Fall Semester of 2014 this course is being taught live for students at the MIT Media Lab (Wednesdays from 11am to 1pm) and NYU students (Thursdays from6:30 pm to 9:30 pm). You can apply to join either session as an online participant in the program (credit will not be granted at either institution for online participants). The course will be taught by Professor Beth Simone Noveck (Director of the Governance Lab, author of Wiki Government and the forthcoming Smart Citizen, Smarter State, and former Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration), with contributions from the GovLab Faculty and a wide range experts in the fields of open governance and civic technology. Details on the subject matter covered, the work assigned, the supplementary readings and videos, and participation logistics are all contained in the online syllabus.

Solving Public Problems with Technology is not a traditional course. We offer a hands-on learning and mentoring program designed to help you shape and implement an innovative project using civic technology. To that end, we will prepare you to take advantage of the latest innovations in open and participatory problem-solving, including the application of open data, crowdsourcing, expert networks and systems, game mechanics, and prizes. We will prepare you to work with real-world institutions and partners, such as agencies and NGOs, to develop more effective and scalable initiatives. We will also give you ready access to a community of like-minded practitioners and experts, who will provide a network of support as you take your project through to implementation.

  • Individuals and teams are both eligible to apply. Online participation is free of charge thanks to a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
  • While online participants will not receive academic credit the GovLab will recognize satisfactory completion of all course requirements with a certificate and demonstration of relevant skills and capabilities with appropriate open badges.
  • Students enrolled at other institutions wishing to explore the possibility of being granted independent study credit at their home institution should contact us. We will be happy to collaborate.
  • If you wish to apply, please fill out our application form here. Applications for Fall 2014 semester are due by August 27th, but additional courses will be offered later this year and throughout 2015.

Can’t participate in this semester’s course? Stay updated on future offerings by signing up here.

If you have questions please contact us at:

GovLab Blog

Academy of Management Announces Opening Governance Theme for Annual Meeting

In an effort to accelerate new insights in how organizations gain authority and mandates for action, Prof. Anita McGahan, the Academy of Management’s 2015 Program Chair and member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance announced recently the Academy’s annual meeting will focus on Opening Governance. In particular, the meeting will consider how digital technologies that expand the information and expertise available to organizational leaders improves the effectiveness and creativity of their organizations in how they govern valuable resources.

Founded in 1936, the Academy of Management is a member-driven global community comprising nearly 20,000 members and spans 115 countries. Governed by a volunteer Board of Governors, the Academy seeks to inspire and enable a better world through scholarship and teaching about management and organizations, and has the mission of building a vibrant and supportive community of scholars by markedly expanding opportunities to connect and explore ideas. The Academy is organized along 25 divisions and interest groups, ranging from Entrepreneurship and Healthcare Management to Organizational Behavior and Technology and Innovation Management.

The Academy’s Annual Meeting – the signature opportunity for members to connect and explore ideas – brings together more than 10,000 students, academics, scholars and professionals in the scholarly management and organization space. The choice for next year’s theme will enable perhaps the largest scale conversation of Opening Governance in the movement’s existence. The assembled members will take part in impact-focused discussions on questions like “How and when should managers open governance practices to involvement by engaged stakeholders?” and “How can organizations work more effectively with governmental agencies and foundations to create value?”

Prof. Anita McGahan

Read the full-text of McGahan’s announcement below.

The theme of the 2015 conference, Opening Governance, invites members to consider opportunities to improve the effectiveness and creativity of organizations by restructuring systems at the highest organizational levels. The term ‘governance’ refers to leadership systems, managerial control protocols, property rights, decision rights, and other practices that give organizations their authority and mandates for action. Opening governance involves revisiting these practices especially in light of big data, crowdsourcing, and other emerging digital technologies that expand the information and expertise available to organizational leaders. How and when should managers open governance practices to involvement by engaged stakeholders? What advances and problems arise from transparency in decision making? The Opening Governance theme also points to fundamental questions about how various types of organization forms compete to govern valuable resources. What are the tradeoffs associated with pursuing a specific value-creation opportunity under the governance structure of an investor-owned corporation as opposed to a privately held corporation, a B Corporation, or even a licensing arrangement or non-profit organization? How can organizations work more effectively with governmental agencies and foundations to create value?

Organizations operating under all kinds of governance structures – including companies, non-governmental organizations, hospitals, schools, and governments — will be pressed over the next generation to make better decisions; respond more quickly to information; coordinate better; disseminate important information faster; waste less; operate more cleanly and fairly; cultivate trust through transparency; and mobilize expertise more efficiently. Digital analytics are already generating new types of insights about personal and organizational behavior. As a result, questions about the control and ownership of behavioral data will become acute. Innovation in systems of governance over massive amounts of this machine-enabled data will be central to taking up the opportunity for innovating at the levels required to address the biggest problems of our time – such as climate change and the fragility of financial systems. Organizations will be compelled to confront the interests of stakeholders in their most important information assets and, at the same time, only be able to develop and use these assets through collaboration and partnership.

The opportunities for new approaches to value creation are also extensive. Important new resources are available at scale for managing more effectively in the face of large problems: digitized information, data (big and small), communication technologies, new analytical techniques, extensive networks of relationships, and knowledge of all sorts. We know relatively less about effective mechanisms for deploying these resources effectively, and we know little about management techniques for conceptualizing and designing resources to address such problems as the informal economy or massive migrations of people into the world’s cities.

The challenge of governing across organizational boundaries is as complex as governing within organizations. We must develop systems that put the right organizations at the forefront of problem solving at the right times. Governmental bodies must have the intelligence and governance structures to regulate private organizations while at the same encouraging rather than discouraging decentralized initiative to solve pressing problems. Organizations of all forms must work together flexibly, such as when pharmaceutical companies distribute essential medicines to non-governmental agencies through public hospitals in settings of poverty. Responding to public emergencies and innovation opportunities will become a hallmark of effective cross-organization management in the 21st century.

What will opening governance involve as a practical matter? It may involve new functions for organizations, such as creating innovation platforms and sponsoring the creation of digital standards. It also may create opportunities for new types of public-private collaboration, such as when multilateral agencies subcontract critical health-delivery and educational functions to private companies. For private organizations, it may involve pooling knowledge to create new datasets and then competing over the opportunities created by the data. New business models may emerge, such as when companies license technology to rivals, or when companies seek to create networks of entrepreneurial actors that compete for control rights over information. Companies may also benefit from differences in information rules across jurisdictional boundaries, such as when companies test new products in one country and then introduce them in other countries. As these practices disseminate, Boards of Directors will need to become more engaged in their firms’ information technology practices. NGOs, health-care providers, educators and governmental actors may collaborate to exchange data and commit to mutual collaboration in the face of system failures. The implications are almost endless – too extensive to list.

Opening Governance is an invitation to think broadly and creatively about the ways in which organizations take action to address the most important management problems and opportunities of our time. For our meeting in Vancouver, Opening Governance raises questions that AOM members of various divisions and interest groups may tackle from many different perspectives. Thank you for considering the invitation and for engaging on this theme. Each of the nearly 19,000 members of our Academy has insights that are welcome at the AOM’s 75th meeting. It will be great to see you there.


Anita M McGahan

2015 Program Chair


GovLab Blog GovLab Digest

Technology’s Crucial Role in the Fight Against Hunger

Crowdsourcing, predictive analytics and other new tools could go far toward finding innovative solutions for America’s food insecurity.

National Geographic recently sent three photographers to explore hunger in the United States. It was an effort to give a face to a very troubling statistic: Even today, one-sixth of Americans do not have enough food to eat. Fifty million people in this country are “food insecure” — having to make daily trade-offs among paying for food, housing or medical care — and 17 million of them skip at least one meal a day to get by. When choosing what to eat, many of these individuals must make choices between lesser quantities of higher-quality food and larger quantities of less-nutritious processed foods, the consumption of which often leads to expensive health problems down the road.
This is an extremely serious, but not easily visible, social problem. Nor does the challenge it poses become any easier when poorly designed public-assistance programs continue to count the sauce on a pizza as a vegetable. The deficiencies caused by hunger increase the likelihood that a child will drop out of school, lowering her lifetime earning potential. In 2010 alone, food insecurity cost America $167.5 billion, a figure that includes lost economic productivity, avoidable health-care expenses and social-services programs.
As much as we need specific policy innovations, if we are to eliminate hunger in America food insecurity is just one of many extraordinarily complex and interdependent “systemic” problems facing us that would benefit from the application of technology, not just to identify innovative solutions but to implement them as well. In addition to laudable policy initiatives by such states as Illinois and Nevada, which have made hunger a priority, or Arkansas, which suffers the greatest level of food insecurity but which is making great strides at providing breakfast to schoolchildren, we can — we must — bring technology to bear to create a sustained conversation between government and citizens to engage more Americans in the fight against hunger.

Identifying who is genuinely in need cannot be done as well by a centralized government bureaucracy — even one with regional offices — as it can through a distributed network of individuals and organizations able to pinpoint with on-the-ground accuracy where the demand is greatest. Just as Ushahidi uses crowdsourcing to help locate and identify disaster victims, it should be possible to leverage the crowd to spot victims of hunger. As it stands, attempts to eradicate so-called food deserts are often built around developing solutions for residents rather than with residents. Strategies to date tend to focus on the introduction of new grocery stores or farmers’ markets but with little input from or involvement of the citizens actually affected.

Applying predictive analytics to newly available sources of public as well as private data, such as that regularly gathered by supermarkets and other vendors, could also make it easier to offer coupons and discounts to those most in need. In addition, analyzing nonprofits’ tax returns, which are legally open and available to all, could help map where the organizations serving those in need leave gaps that need to be closed by other efforts. The Governance Lab recently brought together U.S. Department of Agriculture officials with companies that use USDA data in an effort to focus on strategies supporting a White House initiative to use climate-change and other open data to improve food production.

Such innovative uses of technology, which put citizens at the center of the service-delivery process and streamline the delivery of government support, could also speed the delivery of benefits, thus reducing both costs and, every bit as important, the indignity of applying for assistance.

Being open to new and creative ideas from outside government through brainstorming and crowdsourcing exercises using social media can go beyond simply improving the quality of the services delivered. Some of these ideas, such as those arising from exciting new social-science experiments involving the use of incentives for “nudging” people to change their behaviors, might even lead them to purchase more healthful food.

Further, new kinds of public-private collaborative partnerships could create the means for people to produce their own food. Both new kinds of financing arrangements and new apps for managing the shared use of common real estate could make more community gardens possible. Similarly, with the kind of attention, convening and funding that government can bring to an issue, new neighbor-helping-neighbor programs — where, for example, people take turns shopping and cooking for one another to alleviate time away from work — could be scaled up.

Then, too, advances in citizen engagement and oversight could make it more difficult for lawmakers to cave to the pressures of lobbying groups that push for subsidies for those crops, such as white potatoes and corn, that result in our current large-scale reliance on less-nutritious foods. At the same time, citizen scientists reporting data through an app would be able do a much better job than government inspectors in reporting what is and is not working in local communities.

As a society, we may not yet be able to banish hunger entirely. But if we commit to using new technologies and mechanisms of citizen engagement widely and wisely, we could vastly reduce its power to do harm.

GovLab Blog

Student Fellows (Interns) at The GovLab

The GovLab’s mission is to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern. GovLab believes in rewarding dedicated students who support this mission and who have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to studying, testing and promoting open governance innovations to the betterment of our public institutions––through paid positions and opportunities in the field in the form of a renewable fellowship position.
This competitive fellowship is open to graduate students who take up residence at the GovLab’s office (Metrotech Center, Brooklyn) and help to carry out the GovLab’s mission and run its programs in close collaboration with GovLab leadership and full-time staff. Student Fellows play a central role in managing and shaping the organization and its projects and will receive a desk and are treated as full members of the GovLab team. They are included in all training, seminars, and events and have myriad opportunities for research and publication. They will receive a stipend (in addition to work-study compensation if available) for their contributions to the GovLab.
Fellows are expected to:

  • Commit to three semesters of work (plus Summer) – GovLab invests heavily in our Student Fellows and provides myriad coaching, mentoring, training, publication, and professional development opportunities. To take full advantage, Student Fellows we accept will be expected to be available to commit to at least 3 semesters and a summer, though the option will be contingent upon Fellow performance, which will be evaluated after the first three months of work.
  • Work 20 hours per week – Because GovLab works with partner institutions to deliver projects aimed at tackling real world problems, we work on a schedule with deadlines and deliverables. Hence we are looking for reliable Student Fellows who are willing to commit to us – and to whom we can commit – to do serious work consistent with the demands of the academic calendar.
  • Be in the office on a regular and fixed schedule at GovLab HQ at NYU Poly (Metrotech Center, Brooklyn) – To realize the full benefit of the peer-to-peer learning and camaraderie, and to help other interested students and individuals who want to learn more about GovLab––Fellows are expected to be in the office on a regular basis with consistent hours. Fellows are also welcome to use the office on off-hours to do school work. They should think of GovLab as their home away from home.

Successful applicants will be those who:

  • Work professionally and with the highest standards of care – We are seeking Student Fellows who will “go the extra mile” and are passionate about what we do and who want to immerse themselves in the field.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to contribute in a wide variety of ways to the activities of GovLab and to work collaboratively with other Student Fellows – Applicants should consult the GovLab website to gain an understanding of what we do and should be up for investing in understanding the organization in order to find ways to which they are capable of meaningfully contributing. Flexibility, a collaborative spirit, and responsiveness to rapidly evolving challenges are key to success in this position.
  • While a background in technology is not required, the successful applicant must be comfortable with and willing to learn about and work with technology – Existing technology skills and/or a passion to learn will count favorably toward selection and should be specified by the applicant.

Activities of a GovLab Student Fellows will include:

  • Work as a team member of a variety of projects across GovLab.
  • Helping to maintain the GovLab blog and social media presence.
  • Attending events and conferences and sharing learning back with the GovLab team in the form of blogs and presentations.
  • Assisting in the creation of the GovLab Annual Report and the development of new GovLab communication efforts and events.
  • Supporting GovLab staff in research and projects.
  • Conceptualizing and designing new initiatives to further GovLab’s mission.

To Apply:

  • All interested applicants should apply by submitting the following to
  • Cover Letter.
  • Resume.
  • Relevant writing sample.

For more information: Please visit or email with any additional questions.

GovLab Blog SCAN

The GovLab SCAN – Issue 38

As part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project, this is our thirty-eighth edition of The SCAN – Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance. Feel free to share your suggestions with us at

This week’s highlights:

  • Several articles this week discuss the possibility of “fundamentally redesigning the Internet”. This is in response to continuous incidents of Internet technologies used for purposes that were originally unintended and potentially harmful to Internet users.
  • ICANN has released a draft organizational structure for its “Strengthening ICANN Governance and Accountability track” (the “accountability update”). The proposed structure has been criticized for lacking transparency in its development and for the “Board-appointed advisors” which are part of the proposed structure.


Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group Releases Statement on ICANN Staff’s Accountability Plan. CircleID. August 12, 2014.

  • ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) has released a statement on ICANN staff’s accountability plan. The NCSG notes its disappointment with ICANN staff for not providing a “synthesis of public input upon which staff relied in the formulation of its accountability proposal” and argues that “this is an example of top-down policymaking, which runs counter to ICANN’s bottom-up methodology and may inspire mistrust on the part of the stakeholders”. The NCSG does not support the proposal as it is currently drafted and asks in particular that the “make-up, roles and responsibilities of the members of the proposed CCG [Community Coordination Group] must be reformulated in a more bottom-up fashion by the community for this proposal to be acceptable”.

Swinehart, Theresa. IANA Functions Stewardship Transition & Strengthening ICANN Governance and Accountability: Monthly Update. ICANN Blog. August 8, 2014.

  • Swinehart –ICANN’s Senior Advisor to the President on Global Strategy—in this post provides an update on the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and the “Strengthening ICANN Governance and Accountability track”. Swinehart points out that the “process on enhancing ICANN’s accountability will be key to the success of the transition” and that “trust and alignment are going to be important moving forward with both of these processes”. The post contains links to relevant resources for both processes.

York, Dan. Video Interviews of IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) Members. CircleID. August 7, 2014.

  • ICANN has published a set of interviews with members of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG). York notes that the videos are a “good sampling of the variety of people involved with the ICG and [do] provide a range of different viewpoints into what is going on within the ICG process”. Links to the videos are in the article.

Internet Governance

Gibbs, Samuel. Is the Internet ‘Full’ and Going to Shut Down? The Guardian. August 14, 2014.

  • Gibbs discusses the cause of several Internet outages this week, which happened as a result of some Internet Service Provider hardware reaching a maximum number of Internet connections in the available memory. According to Gibbs, “the issue revolved around a limit on the number of concurrent connections made to routers that underpin the internet”. Exceeding this limits leads to “leaks” in Internet address space, which can cause websites to go offline because they become disconnected. Gibbs points to the incident as an example of the difficulty of rebooting or updating Internet hardware as these are relied upon by hundreds of thousands of customers at a time.

Guerrini, Federico. Regulating the Web: Does the Internet Need Its Own Bill of Rights? ZDNet. August 11, 2014.

  • The Italian government –through an ad-hoc committee “composed partly of politicians from all parliamentary parties, and partly by independent experts in the field”—is working on a “bill of rights for the Internet”, which “could serve as the foundation for a model defining web users’ rights and obligations, potentially not just in Italy but throughout the continent”. The proposal is expected to be completed in October, in time for a Meeting on Fundamental Rights to take place in Rome, organized by the EU Presidency. The proposal will focus on “internet access as a universal right; net neutrality; freedom of information; the need to find a balance between transparency, the rule of law and privacy; protecting users against the misuse of their data by online companies; and digital literacy”.

Hu, Elise. A Fascinating Look Inside Those 1.1 Million Open-Internet Comments. NPR. August 12, 2014.

  • The Federal Communications Commission received over 1 million comments when it asked for “public comments about the issue of keeping the Internet free and open”. A data analysis firm has “looked beyond keywords to find the sentiment and arguments in those public comments”, finding that while the comments did include “anti” net neutrality positions, “every emergent theme was ‘pro’ net neutrality, or supports the idea of a level playing field for content on the Internet”. The analysis also found that some arguments seek to frame threats to net neutrality as “attacks on the very nature of what it means to be American”, which Hu points out are “surprising emerging arguments [that are] not outflows of advocacy group talking points or news media”.

Kuerbis, Brenden. A Tale of Two Processes. Internet Governance Project. August 8, 2014.

  • Kuerbis briefly overviews the history to date of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) and ICANN’s concurrent accountability enhancement process, and argues that the latter process, though interdependent with the former, has been formulated with too little input from ICANN’s stakeholders. ICANN has proposed an organizational structure for determining ICANN accountability enhancements that differs from typical cross-community working groups (CCWGs) and includes seven “board appointed advisors”, which Kuerbis argues is “ad-hoc” and “opportunistic”.

Moss, Brandon. It’s Not You, It’s Me: Committee of Cryptographic Experts Tries to Crack NIST/NSA Relationship. Access Blog. August 7, 2014.

  • Moss discusses the relationship between the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute for Standards and Technologies (NIST) in the context of recent stories on the NSA’s active undermining of encryption standards. NIST is “responsible for researching and promoting [encryption] standards, among others, and is required by law to consult with the NSA in their creation”. Access would like to see NIST’s independence increased so that the NSA cannot undermine encryption algorithms through NIST. In particular, Access supports a drive for “additional funding for the NIST to hire cryptography experts and additional transparency for public review”.

Wolff, Josephine. The Internet’s Vulnerable Backbone. Slate Future Tense. August 12, 2014.

  • Wolff discusses how the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) –which allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to direct traffic between each other’s networks—was used to “redirect the online activity of several bitcoin mining groups and steal the bitcoins that they mined during those periods”. Wolff points out that the “heist demonstrates how old ways of exploiting the Internet’s architecture continue to be recycled and reused for new purposes as the Internet itself takes on new functions” and that these security problems “arise not from Internet weaknesses but instead from Internet strengths—or rather, from the fundamental design of the Internet”. Wolff concludes that a fundamental re-imagining of the Internet’s design is necessary to prevent such problems from arising.

Zevenbergen, Ben, and Penney, Jon. Monitoring Internet Openness and Rights: Report from the Citizen Lab Summer Institute 2014. The Policy and Internet Blog, Oxford Internet Institute. August 12, 2014.

  • The Citizen Lab Summer Institute “brought together academics, business representatives and regulators to discuss information control research and practice in the fields such as censorship, circumvention, surveillance to private sector and governmental adherence to human rights”. Zevenbergen and Penney discuss “Internet-related corporate transparency reporting” and “ethical guidelines for the protection of privacy with regards to Internet measurements” in an analysis of the political and commercial uses of the control of “information flows” on the Internet.

Internet Technology

The IANA Functions. August 11, 2014.

  • This infographic describes the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions and how they allow users to access the Internet. IANA’s history, stewardship transition, root zone management partners, and relationship with number resources, protocol parameters, and domains names are covered.

Papers and Reports

Chertoff, Michael. The Strategic Significance of the Internet Commons. Strategic Studies Quarterly, Volume 8, Issue 2. Summer, 2014.

  • Chertoff argues that cyberspace is both a “critical strategic resource” and a “global commons” and that it “requires a universally supported code of conduct that preserves its freedom and openness while enhancing its security”. Cyberspace is the “newest global commons” and “managing it presents a unique challenge”. Further, “too much or too little protection can damage the balance between security and economic stability”. Thus, protecting cyberspace as a global commons requires “international cooperation and respect”, with “standards to preserve continued global exploration, access, and information sharing”. Chertoff considers what global rules are needed to “preserve the balance between protection of privacy and national security while safeguarding against cyber theft, hacking, and spam”, and emphasizes that these rules will need enforcement mechanisms. Critically, Chertoff points out that “the Internet cannot be governed by one. Safeguarding the global commons demands a code of conduct universally supported by a global community”.

Taneja, Harsh, and Wu, Angela Xiao. The Rise of the Global South on the World Wide Web: Bridging Internet Policies and Web User Behavior. Internet Policy Observatory. August 12, 2014 (published July 25, 2014).

  • Taneja and Wu “examine the relationship between internet governance and internet user behavior, empirically investigating web user behavior on a global scale”. Their analysis “revealed a number of ‘clusters’ of websites, whereby sites within the cluster had more users in common than they did with sites outside the cluster”. The “most salient means upon which websites clustered together were both language and geography (and not content type)” and “the authors interpret such clusters as online expressions of place-based cultures, or “regional cultures”, with data suggesting a de-Americanization and rise of the Global South on the WWW since 2009”. The full report is here.

Zuckerman, Ethan. The Internet’s Original Sin. The Atlantic. August 14, 2014.

  • In this extensive article on the effects of online advertising business models, Zuckerman argues that our current model of using advertising as the “default business model on the web” is “bad, broken, and corrosive”. While an ad-supported web supports Internet “free riders” and “has been key in opening the web to young people and those in the developing world”, it has also come with costs. For example, advertising generates surveillance; creates “incentives to produce and share content that generates pageviews and mouse clicks” but little engagement; tends to centralize the web; and leads to content-personalization to the degree that individuals become isolated in their own web experiences. Zuckerman argues that in the midst of global discussions about the “Web We Want”, we must “consider how we want the web to make money, as these decisions have powerful unintended consequences”. As we consider moving away from an ad-supported web, it’s “time to start paying for privacy, to support services we love, and to abandon those that are free, but sell us—the users and our attention—as the product”.


(See The GovLab’s Master Events Calendar for more Internet Governance events)

Vyorst, David. Net Neutrality in Europe: Lessons for the US? Internet Policy Hub. August 11, 2014.

  • This discussion took place on August 6th and compared net neutrality issues and regulation in Europe and the U.S., looking at definitions of net neutrality; how net neutrality raises concerns; how quality of Internet service can be differentiated; how price is differentiated; U.S. and EU market structures; competition laws; and regulations. This article contains a video of the event as well as the presentation deck.


Demos for Democracy GovLab Blog Smarter Governance

A modern wiki for a modern internet: the Smallest Federated Wiki on The GovLab’s Demos for Democracy

Recently, we held the second session of the relaunched Demos for Democracy program. The program holds interactive online introductions to some of the latest tools designed to bring greater openness and collaboration to how we govern. We offer these in an effort to jumpstart conversation about what works and what doesn’t, and to provide developers an interested audience to help refine and improve their tools.
We were joined by Ward Cunningham and Mike Caulfield, the activists for and contributors to the Smallest Federated Wiki: a wiki designed for in-depth discussion and analysis. Cunningham, creator of this new iteration of the wiki, wanted to solve a problem he felt existed in the classic wiki model: personal ownership.
Screenshot 2014-08-15 at 5.41.05 PMIn a traditional wiki, like Wikipedia, individual users contribute to and read from a single central server. There is a single page for each topic, and users can edit that page to change it. The Smallest Federated Wiki, on the other hand, embraces a distributed model. Each user can make their own pages and do edits to them, but can’t directly change the pages that other users have created. Instead, users can “fork” pages of other users, creating an identical copy that they can then edit. This allows for multiple pages on a single topic, approaching it from different perspectives or angles. Under this model, each user is the host and curator of their own personal wiki, linking and taking elements of other user’s wikis as they wish.
Every page a user creates will belong to that user. Collaboration between users can be accomplished by repeatedly forking the same page back and forth, changing sentences or paragraphs until both parties are satisfied. The Smallest Federated Wiki also allows for much more opinion, speculation, and analysis that Wikipedia does: without a standard of neutrality, writers and editors can create whatever type of content they want.
Webpages and other pieces of content on the Internet can also be imported into a wiki, allowing a creator to put relevant information directly onto their page. The imported information will update every time the source changes, so users writing about, for example, obesity could display accurate and current information without needing to manually update it.
Pic 1Cunningham and Caulfield discussed a number of different use cases and examples, showing how different groups could have their wikis interact with each other and the outside world. All of the different groups above are using heavily overlapping sources and data, but each have a different take on the end product. Their wikis will be able to have the same foundational pages, but combined in different ways with different pieces of analysis.
Pic 2
Cunningham and Caulfield walked us through the actual wiki itself, and the product was quite slick. When you use Wikipedia, you’ll often find yourself with tons of tabs. The Smallest Federated Wiki was created to make the process of moving between pages substantially easier by showing multiple pages of content on a single tab in your browser. Editing, linking, and simple browsing have all been made easier and more convenient for an ordinary user.
The Smallest Federated Wiki is still a work in progress, and likely will never be done (in the same way that Wikipedia will never be done). Even now, however, it offers a new and interesting way to collect, share, and collaborate. If you’re interested, the entire project has been made open source on GitHub.
The entire discussion is available on The GovLab’s channel of YouTube:

GovLab Blog

USDA Open Data Roundtable: Climate Change and the Food Supply

In March the White House launched the Climate Data Initiative, which it described as “an ambitious new effort bringing together extensive open government data” with other resources “to develop data-driven planning and resilience tools for local communities.” With increasing climate risk from drought, floods, and extreme weather events, the initiative is designed to harness one of the government’s most important resources – open data – to help communities around the country predict the risks they face, prepare for them, and adapt. Crop, weather, soil, and other kinds of USDA data can help both large and small farms if it’s readily available to them and they know how to use it.
On August 1, the GovLab held an Open Data Roundtable with the USDA to focus on a specific climate risk – the risk to the food supply. The event came at the end of a week of events organized by the White House to help build “food resilience.”  Like the Roundtable we hosted with the White House and the Department of Commerce in June, this event was designed to promote a dialogue between government agencies that supply data and the companies and organizations that use it. The ultimate goal of all our Roundtables is to make open government data more relevant, accessible, and actionable.
The event combined presentations from several government officials with breakout sessions that brought the public and private sectors together for an action-oriented discussion. We heard presentations from Dr. Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for the USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area and the Department’s Chief Scientist; Dr. Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary for REE; Cheryl Cook, Chief Information Officer of the USDA; and Erie Meyer, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Several companies came to the Roundtable having already made commitments to support food resilience through the Climate Data Initiative. In the days before our event, the White House announced that Amazon Web Services, the Climate Corporation, Esri, and IBM, among other companies, have committed to launch research programs, offer free online and mobile services and computing capacity, and help release new data relating to food resilience. At the same time, smaller companies are developing new tools and services to help keep the food supply robust and reliable. For example, FarmLogs helps farmers make more informed decisions about crop management, nutrient management, and soil and water conservation with USDA data.
These companies and about a dozen others that attended the Roundtable bring diverse perspectives to the agricultural, economic, and social challenges of feeding the U.S. and the world despite increasing climate challenges. They are all either current or prospective members of the Open Data 500, our ongoing study, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to research companies that use open government data as a key business resource.
Dr. Woteki has stressed the importance of open data to the USDA’s work, and the importance of this Roundtable and further dialogue in applying the data. “Agriculture provides fertile ground for the implementation of open data initiatives,” she said.  “Farmers around the world face a huge challenge to produce more safe and health-promoting food for more people, and to provide the other services expected from agriculture – clean water, renewable energy, and a vibrant bioeconomy. The only way to achieve this is through a solid research base and the type of collaborative work and innovation sharing that the GovLab Roundtables make possible.”
In a blog post last week, Joyce Hunter, Deputy CIO of the USDA and the lead organizer of this roundtable, summarized several of the recommendations that came out of the day’s discussions. Many relate to improving how the USDA develops, manages, and distributes data: fostering more dialogue between data providers and data users; improving data standards; and making it easier to request, find, and use data from USDA. Other ideas include building an app that provides a “real time” data alert system, which could be used during weather crises that affect food production, and ideas for leveraging existing datasets, such as drought monitoring, to help farmers. As part of our process for all the Open Data Roundtables, the GovLab will publish a report on these recommendations and potential next steps in the fall.
At the GovLab, we hope that our series of Open Data Roundtables will make a significant difference in how government data is accessed and used. The U.S. government has developed many new programs to release more data for public use. The Roundtable series will build on that work to give agencies structured feedback from data users that can help make their data more valuable. The White House recognized the value of our Open Data Roundtables in the U.S. Open Data Action Plan, released on May 9, 2014, which described the Roundtables as helping to “support innovators and improve open data based on feedback.” The Plan notes that “Specific, actionable feedback from these sessions [the Roundtables] and others has the potential to improve descriptions, formats, and accessibility of government data.”
We are now working with several other federal agencies  to plan additional Open Data Roundtables, with the financial help of Series Sponsors Amazon Web Services and PricewaterhouseCoopers. We’re also preparing a public report on the Department of Commerce Roundtable as we follow up on our work with the USDA as well.  We invite you to send us your ideas, comments, and offers to participate at
–   Joel Gurin, Senior Advisor at the GovLab and Project Director, Open Data 500