[governance] Losing focus: IGF and "technical discussions"

David Allen David_Allen_AB63 at post.harvard.edu
Tue Jan 24 11:38:31 EST 2006

Additional perspective:

The telco world has been evolving, to incorporate the rise of the 
net.  Bill makes clear how NGN is one model for the emerging, robust 
'new telco.'

The Internet side has not been sitting still.  There are a number of 
initiatives underway.  One, fairly recent is GENI 
http://www.nsf.gov/cise/geni/ .  A just released 'snapshot' shows a 
third of a billion (US) dollar effort, for first work anyway 
http://www.geni.net/GENI-10-JAN-06.pdf .  A quick browse through some 
of the graphics in the 122 pages gives a sense of the scope.

There are others.  Besides the fairly well known Internet2 
http://www.internet2.edu/ , Bill St. Arnaud's CANARIE recently linked 
to some others 
http://lists.canarie.ca/pipermail/news/2005/000177.html .  Engineers 
on this IG list (perhaps Ian?) can do a better job pointing us to the 
full picture, for instance to efforts outside the US.

These are the same forces (and some of the same people) who unleashed 
the innovation that became the Internet, from a few decades ago.

One of the more interesting questions is what might be the relation 
between telco NGN and these new visions/versions of a net.  The 
recent history left Bell heads on one side and Net heads on the 
other.  Recent practice at ITU-T, the standardization arm, has 
reached out to arrange for more coordination among international 
standards work, including especially with the IETF, on the net side 
of course.

May I suggest?  Continuing to enable free-form innovation, which is 
on display in these initiatives, is one of the bottom-line 
imperatives ultimately before the IGF.  In my sense anyway, this will 
run in parallel with regulatory efforts that some other concerns may 
engender (as Bill begins to unveil below).

This free-form innovation is IMO just one outcropping of freedom of 
expression, the touchstone for much of what powered WSIS debate, from 
both sides.  And will continue to be driving in IGF, again IMO.  (If 
we look for it in the 'principles,' 'transparent' comes closest.)


William Drake wrote, Tue, 24 Jan 2006 10:46:56 +0100:
>I've deleted MMWG from the cc here, cross-posting filling my box.
>I strongly agree with the thrust of Seiiti's message. While this 
>list was the first place to seriously discuss the case for a broad 
>definition of IG, as was eventually embraced in the Tunis Agenda, 
>the conversation usually defaults back to deconstructing the 
>internal machinations of ICANN, and everything else slips from view. 
>Given the unresolved oversight fight in WSIS and the Tunis call for 
>a new globally applicable policy principles and enhanced cooperation 
>on core resources, one imagines the IGF will end up focusing on this 
>as well in the near-term. This is unquestionably key, but at the 
>same time, there is a lot going on in other issue-areas and 
>cooperative mechanisms that we're not talking about, but that is 
>really important to the future evolution of the net.
>Just to note one example, there is an enormous amount of work going 
>on among governments, telcos, manufacturers and others, most notably 
>but not only in the ITU, under the rubric of 'Next Generation 
>Networks' that is designed to promote shared rules and programs on 
>surveillance (oops, sorry, security and trust) and differentiated 
>levels of service in a convergent environment. This mirrors major 
>developments happening at the national level across the OECD region 
>and probably beyond. In the US context, in addition what the FCC's 
>been doing in its IP-enabled services proceeding, there's been some 
>potentially important legislative action. For example, to strengthen 
>cyberstalking prosecution tools, the recently passed reauthorization 
>of the Violence Against Women Act amends the Communications Act of 
>America by expanding the definition of a telecommunications device 
>to cover any device or software that uses the Internet, including 
>VOIP. This could place a big chunk of the net environment under US 
>telecom 'oversight' and strengthen the drive in the International 
>Law Enforcement Telecom Seminar and elsewhere to mandate the 
>build-in of forensics capabilities, etc. Companies like Verisign are 
>very much at the center of all this, but we only talk about the DNS 
>side of their houses.
>The IGF is supposed to focus inter alia on cross-cutting issues that 
>don't fall neatly within the scope of other bodies, and to promote 
>the application of the Geneva principles (multilateral, 
>multistakeholder, transparent, democratic) in such bodies. If CS 
>doesn't bother to promote these core parts of the mandate, probably 
>they will fall off the table. That'd be unfortunate, and we could 
>all pay for it in spades down the line.
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