Elon University

Main Session: Managing Critical Internet Resources

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JPA to AoC, IPv4 to IPv6 and ‘cash for clunkers’ discussed

Session description: This open discussion was targeted at issues tied to the people, policies and technologies involved in the Internet’s architecture – the infrastructure, control systems and protocols that allow the Internet to function. Among the topics covered were the transition from Internet Protocol version 4 to Internet Protocol version 6; the role of governments in critical Internet resources (CIR); the internationalization of resources management; and the importance of new top-level domains and internationalized domain names for development.

Moderators for the open, main-room session on CIR were: Jeanette Hofmann, senior researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science; and Chris Disspain, chief executive officer, .AU Registry and chair of the Council of Country-Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO). The session was chaired by Nitin Desai, special adviser on Internet Governance to the UN secretary-general.

From JPA to AoC and IPv4 to IPv6
November 16, 2009 – People who follow the politics of the Internet are quite familiar with acronyms like JPA, ICANN and IANA. In October, the U.S. government took a step toward further internationalization of control of the Internet in its decision not to renew the Joint Project Agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Instead, the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN announced a new official relationship through a document titled the Affirmation of Commitments.

A wide-ranging three-hour session on critical Internet resources yielded a number of vigorous discussions. Now that the JPA is gone and the AoC is in place, there will be special attention paid to the oversight processes of ICANN and a new key critical Internet resources topic will be the operation of the IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. This entity oversees Internet root zone management, global IP address allocation and most Internet Protocol assignments. It is currently operated by ICANN. Many people prefer that control over the root system be more internationalized.

Several IGF attendees questioned the status quo. “I think we should certainly see the Affirmation of Commitments as a major important step forward in Internet governance,” said Willie Currie of the Association for Progressive Communications. “And I think it opens up the possibility of a range of actions to be taken in its wake. I think one of them is the transfer of responsibility for the IANA contract to ICANN itself. And there’s no reason to wait until 2011 for this to take place.”

Currie said the U.S. has made it clear that it will not hand over the control of the root zone file. “I would submit that policy needs to be reviewed and is a missing element in the Affirmation of Commitments,” he said. “If one peruses the transcript of the ICM registry versus ICANN matter before the independent review panel, there seems to be a prima facie evidence that the U.S. government, through the Department of Commerce was willing to try to use leverage – use its control over the root as leverage in the dot XXX decision. This raises important freedom of expression issues.”

Y.J. Park, a Multistakeholder Advisory Group member and a professor at Delft University of Technology, agreed with Curry. “U.S. government still remains as a sole global authority that approves all delegation and redelegation of the rest of 251 ccTLDs and 21 gTLDs as of today,” Park said.

“According to IDN fast-track process identified by ICANN, U.S. government is about to exercise its power once again to approve IDN ccTLDs as final authority. Such a practice of delegating sole power to a nation state without global consensus is very unusual in a national community. As one of the academics who studied ccTLDs, my study found that under the supervision of one nation makes it very difficult to have more stable relationship between ICANN and ccTLDs. Therefore, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to urge that the next IANA contract between IANA and U.S. government should not repeat what AoC did.

“Instead, the next IANA contract should identify an international body that will take over the current role of the U.S. government. Since the IANA contract is to expire in 2011, I would like to remind IGF community here that we, international community, have only more than a year or so to identify the international body. Therefore, I would like to propose the IGF should start to encourage such discussion. Who can replace the current supervisor? Who coordinates the global critical Internet infrastructure?”

Mueller Speaking IGF 2009 ICANN veteran and Internet Governance Project leader Milton Mueller disagreed that the time is right for this move. “As a member of civil society, we welcome the U.S. government’s step away from ICANN, we recognize that the IANA contract is a bigger step,” he said. “I’m not sure I see the need to rush that. Recognize that when many people call for internationalizing the IANA contract, they want to participate in the power of the U.S. government rather than eliminating that power. And I’m not sure that’s always a good thing. Good that the global public interest is memorialized. It’s very good that language about fact-based policy development and thorough and reasoned explanation is in there.

“We do not think self-reviews by the ICANN community are a substitute for accountability. And we have actually, as IGP, the Internet Government Project, are releasing a new paperabout this accountability issue and how we might go forward with it.”

This discussion of critical Internet resources started off much earlier in the morning with a discussion of the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 – a move needed to establish enough network addresses to meet the needs of the future. One way people in the know explain this is to say that if you think of all of the IPv4 addresses available as being about the size of a golf ball, the number of addresses available under IPv6 is about equivalent to the size of the sun. The transition is being gradually accomplished globally, and has been in progress for many years.

Hofmann Speaking IGF 2009 Moderator Jeanette Hofmann started things off by inviting Paul Wilson of APNIC, the Regional Internet Registry for the Asia Pacific region, to give an update on IPv6. “Everyone and no one is responsible for the IPv6 transition,” he said, “but that’s not exactly a new thing when it comes to the Internet. In the case of the v6 transition there’s a whole new group of stakeholders, and many of them are active right now. Things are more complex, and we’ve got a great number of people who need to move forward at the same time towards the same goal. This is already happening. Internet providers are deploying it.”

He said the process is expected to progress for at least another decade, with IPv4 running in a dual-stack configuration with IPv6. “The trick will be in a couple of years’ time,” he said, “when we have a drastically reduced number of IPv4 addresses to distribute.” One reason for the move to IPv6 was a recognition that IPv4 depletion was approaching.

Transition has been slow partly because of the expense of moving from v4 to v6. “We have only a tiny fraction of 1 percent,” Wilson said, “but it’s growing at an exponential rate at the moment.” Hofmann observed, “What has happened since last year? The answer is not that much.” Wilson replied, “A fraction of anything on the Internet is quite substantial. In the next two years we expect there to be a really rapid increase in deployment. There will be enough addresses for everyone – 300 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. The perception is that this process is slow or it somehow should be faster. It is simply not the case. It is a choice that we will transition in the future when its necessary, when we’re ready, when we’re justified.”

He said businesses have been waiting to make the switch. “It’s an informed, intelligent business decision we see,” he said, adding that surveys indicate that most businesses have the transition in their future plans.

Conserving addresses, development and ‘cash for clunkers’
Many discussants had comments or questions from the floor for each of the segments of the CIR discussion. Raul Echeberria of LACNIC noted that many moves toward implementation of IPv6 are taking place in his region. “The number of people who have been trained on IPv6 is really big – more than 1,000.”

Migrating to a new technical standard is a challenge. Mueller raised the question of depleting the IPv6 numbers. “Scarcity could exist, and we have to worry now about how we allocate IPv6 addresses,” he said. Echeberria agreed, “We have to conserve the resource now,” he said.

Beckstrom Speaking IGF 2009Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, rose to point out – in a pleasant but defensive mode that “the addresses are absolutely available and every country is treated equally.” He added, “If anyone in this room has a simple example of any corporation, government or NGO that has requested and not gotten an address let me know. IPv6 addresses are available. That is not a constraint.

Fouad Bajwa, a civil society member of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group, expressed concerns over the expense of the transition for people in developing nations. He appealed to representatives of governments attending IGF, saying, “When you are looking forward, you have to put the IPv6 investment in there to make it easier for the future.”

Beckstrom chimed in: “I had a discussion with Vint Cerf about this. Many of you have heard of the ‘cash for clunkers’ program for automobiles in the U.S. The idea I came up with is network cash for clunkers. Let the government help you replace clunker architecture. Governments could incentivize the implementation of IPv6 with DNSSEC. This could be in the form of credits, subsidies. If the countries of the world could look to stimulus funds to upgrade the network infrastructure, it would be great.”

New internationalized domain names and new generic top-level domains, more discussion of the Affirmation of Commitments and the role of governments, and the concept of enhanced cooperation were other topics covered in the session.

The UN’s video recording of the CIR event can be found here.

The UN’s official transcript of the CIR event can be found here.

 – Senior segment producer, Janna Anderson
Additional reporting by Andie Diemer, Eugene Daniel,
Shelley Russell, Drew Smith and Dan Anderson

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