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Wednesday, December 20 • 15:00 - 16:30
Content Regulation and Private Ordering at Internet Governance Institutions (WS67)

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Session Format: Round Table - 90 Min

Moderator: Dr Farzaneh Badii, Internet Governance Project
Dr Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Tech
Speaker: Dr Tatiana Tropina, Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute
Speaker: Brian Cute, CEO, Public Interest Registry
Speaker: Becky Burr, Board Member, ICANN  
Speaker: Tim Smith, General Manager, Canadian International Pharmacy Association (remote)
Speaker: Dr Annemarie Bridy, Professor of Law, University of Idaho (remote)
Rapporteur: Ayden Férdeline, ICANN Non-Commercial Users Constituency

Content of the Session:
Private ordering is common in the field of Internet governance, cybersecurity, and cybercrime. Private ordering refers to governance by means of contracts, markets, or voluntary cooperative networks of non-state actors. The Internet relies heavily on private ordering because it is difficult for territorial governments to regulate effectively by traditional methods of intervention.

Private ordering is used in Internet governance institutions such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN implements policies through contractual agreements and develops policies via a multistakeholder process rooted in non-state actors. Nevertheless, ICANN’s control of the root of the Domain Name System (DNS) creates a centralized “choke point” where control over website content and Internet expression can be exerted by regulating domain name registries and registrars (for instance, by taking down domains or withdrawing licenses to register names). Most stakeholders believe that ICANN’s authority to coordinate and make policy for the DNS should not be leveraged to make ICANN a content regulator on the Internet.

As part of ICANN’s reform process, a new mission statement was adopted which expressly forbids ICANN from engaging in content regulation. Some interest groups, however, often put pressure on ICANN to use its power over domains to become an Internet regulator. Most notably, this pressure comes from copyright and trademark interests, law enforcement agencies, and some governments.

This workshop will address the following issues:

  • How do ICANN’s policies affect free expression on the Internet?
  • When is ICANN a “private actor” able to exert control through private contracts, and when is it more like a public regulator that should be subject to free expression protections?
  • What are the dangers for Internet governance institutions, platforms, and the broader Internet governance ecosystem if they step into content regulation?
  • What are the differences between policies and frameworks for addressing DNS abuse related to technical threats and content regulation?
  • What solutions can the multistakeholder community put forward to prevent Internet governance organizations from extending their technical coordination powers into content regulation?

Tag 1: 
Domain Name System
Tag 2: Content

The roundtable discussion will bring together different stakeholders participating in ICANN policy-making processes to discuss the issues and the relevance for the wider Internet governance community.

The roundtable format will allow addressing the issues from different perspectives: there will be a gender balance of participants, speakers from all UN-recognised geographic regions, youth participation, and speakers from a wide array of stakeholder groups. 

Onsite Moderator: Dr Farzaneh Badii
Online Moderator: Dr Renata Aquino Ribeiro
Rapporteur: Ayden Férdeline

Online Participation:
A remote moderator will enlist questions and comments from the audience during the workshop. Prior to the workshop, the hashtags #NCUC and #InternetPolicy will be used to bring in questions and comments from prospective attendees with the aim of enriching the debate. A collaborative document will gather these questions and comments prior to, during, and after the workshop, and they will be integrated into the report. A variety of media will serve as background material for this debate, based on our previous workshops done at the IGF. We will utilise remote participation tools to ensure an inclusive, accessible, and global audience.

Discussion facilitation:
We will have a virtual hub set-up through Skype to engage the NCUC's globally-dispersed membership in this workshop, we will use Twitter and other social media platforms extensively, and we will give equal priority to both in-person and remote participants when making interventions.

Conducted a Workshop in IGF before?: Yes
Link to Report: http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/4098/297

  • Moderator will set the scene and introduce the panel
  • Issue 1: Content regulation and trademark overreach in Internet governance institutions
  • Issue 2: Policies that can lead to trademark overreach and hamper free expressions
  • Issue 3: Stop DNS abuse -- but don't hamper free expression
  • Issue 4: Multistakeholder community response to content regulation in Internet governance institutions

Session Organizers

Wednesday December 20, 2017 15:00 - 16:30 CET
Room XII - A United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)