Session description: This page has a long print-news report and video clips from a plenary in which critical internet resources issues that were explored earlier in designated workshops were brought to an open discussion. Rapporteurs from the feeder workshops initiated conversations led by moderators. 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); enhanced cooperation and the internationalization of resources management; and the new top-level domains and internationalized domain names. The print-news story is below the video window. Use the video viewer below to view several clips with brief highlights. Scroll down in right-hand column of print next to the video-viewing pane and click on the captions for each of the videos to view them.
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).
De la Chapelle says goal is no tampering with root zone file
September 15, 2010 – Session chair Mindaugas Glodas, of Microsoft, noted the coming impact of cloud computing. “Our industry is now standing on the doorstep of a paradigm shift,” he said. “We’re standing in front of the real adoption of cloud computing. Governments around the world, small enterprises, big enterprises, when they move to the cloud, will move their mission-critical systems, their mission-critical data to the Internet. Should something happen to the Internet, those corporations, those applications, will virtually cease to exist. Therefore, it is critically important that we make sure the Internet develops well and we take care of the critical Internet resources.”
He noted that the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance, appointed through the WSIS process to establish the IGF, originally defined CIR to include domain name systems, IP addresses, administration of the root servers, technical standards and associated structures, but as the Internet evolves new pieces to the puzzle – such as IPv6 emerge and are added to the discussion.
About an hour into the three-hour CIR session, Bertrand de La Chapelle, ambassador for Internet governance issues in the French foreign affairs ministry, was the first participant in this discussion to bring up management of the root server system – key to the critical Internet infrastructure.
“We all know that there is an interesting double deadline – at the end of 2011 and at the end of 2012 – regarding the IANA [Internet Assigned Numbers Authority] contract [with ICANN] and the cooperative agreement between the United States government and VeriSign [for control of the .com top-level domain] for 2012,” he said. “These are two different contracts. What I want to share here to help move the discussion forward is that as long as the discussion is framed in the terms of the unilateral control of one government over the critical Internet resources of the Internet, we will not be able to have a constructive discussion.
“We all have a common challenge and a common objective, we all want to make sure that no one can voluntarily or involuntarily tamper with the root zone file. Once we agree this is a common interest for all governments, for all stakeholders, then we can begin to discuss whether there is a possibility to go even further than the current arrangement.”
He added that it is expected that no evolution toward internationalization of the root can be achieved if the United States, which is fulfilling this function at the moment, does not perceive that the arrangement will continue to ensure the same level of protection and security that the current system provides. “I wanted just to frame this debate,” he said, “because this is the very good benefit of the Internet Governance Forum – to attempt to find a common formulation for the problem, instead of pitting one group of actors versus another group of actors, or one specific one in this case.”
The representative from the government of China, Xiao Lin, was called on next to make a statement and he chose to simply cite statistics on the amazing rate of Internet adoption in China, noting that there are 420 million users now and it is growing quickly. “We are using one-fifth of the Internet, but the domain names assigned to China represent only one-twentieth of all those used throughout the world,” he said. “The management of the critical Internet resources is critically important for China, if we talk about the actual management of the critical Internet resources, well, China is cooperating with many countries around the world. We are prepared to communicate with other countries to resolve problems that arise in connection with the Internet all over the world.”
Milton Mueller, a professor from Syracuse University and the Internet Governance Project, said the discussion of the IANA contract should be key to the CIR session. “The IANA contract is an important element of the Internet governance regime … it would be nice to actually discuss a real governance issue in this session,” he said. “I agree that governments who complain about US unilateral control have a burden to explain how any alternative institutional arrangement would improve things with respect to the functioning of the Internet.”
“I would remind Bertrand and everyone else it’s not just the domain name root we’re talking about, its also the addressing hierarchy root, and this is an increasingly important element of Internet governance.”
He said there has been discussion about the separation of functions currently bundled in the IANA contract as an element of governance that could be changed or reformed in the process of moving forward. “So, for example, the IANA contract could be separated into a standards component going to the IETF, an addressing component going to somebody, and the Domain Name component. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bundled in one organization.”
He spoke of the role of the IANA contract as an accountability mechanism. “If you simply give this contract to one organization – ICANN, which has weak accountability mechanisms already – the IANA contract renewal could be a good way to ensure that it is more accountable by making it renewable and competitively bid over a period of, let’s say, 5 to 10 years,” he said. “There are some but very few technical interdependencies between the address and the domain name root administration so why do they have to be together? The advantage is the decentralization of power. The disadvantage is you might have to create another policy forum and duplicate the costs of people running around talking about these things.”
Moderator Chris Disspain responded to Mueller regarding the IANA contract that “there are certain people in this room who will not talk about it and cannot talk about it because it’s a legal contract so while I’m very happy to discuss it for the next half an hour, I know that the people you probably want to come to the microphone won’t.”
Internationalizing critical resource management; enhanced cooperation
De La Chapelle introduced a discussion of the way in which UN bodies are defining the phrase “enhanced cooperation.” He reviewed the facts, noting that a discussion of the concept was raised during a Commission on Science and Technology for Development meeting in Geneva in May 2010, and this resulted in a resolution being sent to and endorsed by the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The resolution requested that the secretary-general of the UN organize consultations on enhanced cooperation on a multistakeholder basis.
“I think this is a very important step forward,” he said, “because until now there has been a strong disagreement on what ‘enhanced cooperation’ meant. Whether it was a process that was supposed to deal only with governments and what they were supposed to do on their own, or whether it was something about the interaction of different governments with the other stakeholders …
“The reality and the substance of enhanced cooperation discussion is to determine under which conditions the different stakeholders have a responsibility in the different stages of elaboration of a regime, in the different venues and structures where they participate, and depending on the different topics. So I’m looking forward to the exchanges and consultations by the Secretary General of the UN.”
Peter Dengate Thrush, a longtime ICANN leader, said the organization works through all of its actions in developing enhanced cooperation between stakeholders. “We’ve had a joint board Governmental Advisory Committee Working Group to increase the efficiency of the GAC and ICANN,” he said, noting a number of ICANN projects in which various governments, scientific, cultural and technical NGOs, technical groups, and other organizations are cooperating. “We have a constant eye on enhanced cooperation because that’s how we operate. Recent exercises of course include the internationalized domain names that have helped increase the exposure of the Internet and will bring forth, we think, a whole new generation of entrepreneurs and developers in those countries whose scripts are now available.”
Heather Dryden, Canada’s representative on the GAC, observed that a joint working group is reviewing it to see whether improvements can be made. “The role of the Governmental Advisory Committee is to provide advice on public policy issues arising from the coordination of the DNS,” she explained. “And in terms of enhancing cooperation, there are efforts external to the organisation.?For example, there are about 100 members of the committee, and that includes both governments and public authorities, as well as intergovernmental organisations that regularly attend GAC meetings, and in that sense, UNESCO and WIPO would be two good examples of that kind of interaction.”
Brian Cute said the Accountability and Transparency Review Team (ATRT) established in response to the US government’s Affirmation of Commitments is at work. Established in April, the group of 12 stakeholders is focused on assessing how ICANN manages public input processes, policy development processes and decision-making. “In terms of the work itself, we took a blank slate approach to our task,” he said. “The Affirmation of Commitments is a new agreement between ICANN and the [US] Department of Commerce. There have been prior efforts by ICANN to address accountability and transparency. We’re looking back at those prior efforts, but in terms of how we structure our work and our outputs it’s been a blank-slate approach. I do think it’s a good potential mechanism for other organizations.”
Moving from Internet Protocol Version 4 to IPv6
Earlier in the CIR session, the discussion of the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 was led off by Ruth Puente, representing the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) – AfriNIC, APNIC, ARIN, LACNIC and the RIPE NCC. She noted that the RIRs represent and are supported by more than 15,000 members of organizations around the world who coordinate the administration of this fundamental aspect of Internet infrastructure. She said the “IPv6 Around the World” workshop discussion the day before was characterized by three themes:
• IPv6-specific initiatives that united different stakeholder groups in the process of transition have “a dramatic effect on IPv6 adoption.” She cited go6 in Slovenia and NIC.BR in Brazil as examples where uptake has been inspired by action.
• As the IPv4 Internet reaches capacity, organizations will have to embrace IPv6 to grow their business and their networks – a primary driver of IPv6 is continuity.
• Governments can be key motivators toward technological innovation. She noted that many governments have already deployed IPv6 in their own networks. Later in the CIR session, representatives of the German and Swedish government shared success stories based on their experiences in moving the IPv6 agenda forward in national and municipal government and business circles.
Puente said a study in all five RIR communities that was funded by the European Commission indicates there are misconceptions about the cost of adopting IPv6 and she noted that organizations that wait until the last minute to plan for the transition and deploy it are likely to have to increase their investment. “It is imperative at this stage,” she said, “that every organization be actively pursuing IPv6 deployment.”
Patrik Fältström of Cisco said there are many misconceptions about deployment of IPv6 but progress is being made. “Development and deployment of IPv6 is going very fast,” he said. “There are very specific issues where there are problems, for example, DSL connections, DSL home connections. There are discussions in the IGF on how to handle that, and before the standards are settled it’s hard for vendors like us to actually implement it, but we have Cisco and others’ deployments of IPv6 also in those difficult areas. I think a year from now, really fast, we’ll see more and more that everything that supports the Internet, regardless of whether it’s wireless access like in this room or gear, will be both IPv4 and IPv6, so the transition will be more and more transparent and invisible.”
Jonne Soininen from Nokia Siemens Networks said the transition for mobile devices is also making progress. “In our gear we’re basically adding IP version 6 support all the time,” he said. “Nokia’s mobile phone and all the Symbian devices support IPv6 today and have supported it for many years, so you might have something that supports IPv6 already in your pocket.”
Participants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Botswana shared concerns about implementing IPv6 in developing countries. Disspain noted that due to depletion of IPv4 addresses, “some of the first people who are going to be IPv6 only will actually be in the developing countries because you have to mandate the equipment is IPv6. We may end up actually having the first pure IPv6 access in developing countries.”
Raul Echeberria, president of the Internet Society, supported the point. “In fact, when we offer training workshops in IPv6 in any country of Latin America, we just have to talk with the ISP a few weeks before the workshop and help them to configure IPv6,” he explained, “and without investments, they can offer us, provide us, IPv6 services in any location of the city or given ISP. Sometimes we could conclude wrongly that equipment located?in developing countries is less modern or less powerful than equipment in other places.”
Fältström chimed in on this point. “We have many projects at Cisco, for example, where we together with the Internet Society are building connect points in Africa with equipment that supports IPv6 from the beginning,” he said. “I think we will see the first IPv6-only root servers in a developing country because it’s easier to deploy there.”
Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, said IPv6 should be seen in a new light. “We need to be more focused on why we’re building demand for IPv6 – increased security, a greater number of addresses that allow the tracking of?things, like drugs, assisting during a crisis, protecting children, etcetera. IPv6 has to be thought of a critical resource on its own, a new resource and just in the context of waning IPv4 addresses. We do ourselves a disservice on the demand side when we use IPv4 as the Gateway to IPv6. We shouldn’t do that. It’s a critical resource that we have to get deployed right now.”
Dengate Thrush of ICANN discussed ways in which the number of IP addresses available with IPv6 can be described. “One of the things we focus on is the extraordinary number of addresses, 370 trillion, trillion, trillion,” he said. “Some of the incredible analogies that are available: grains of sand on the beaches of the earth aren’t enough to equal the number; the most recent one I’ve seen is there are enough addresses in IPv6 to give every person on the earth the same number of addresses as there are atoms of carbon in a metric ton of coal.”
Positives and negatives of new TLDs in developing countries
New top-level domains for development were discussed. It was noted that at the earlier workshop on TLDs respondents said there could be positive and negative results for developing countries. Zahid Jamil of Pakistan said an economic study shows there hasn’t been a thorough enough analysis of economic impact. “Did we put the cart before the horse?” he asked. “Should the studies have come first and the rules subsequent to that?”
Andrew Mack of AMGlobal in Washington said he and others have been working in a multistakeholder team assessing different types of support that can be offered to new TLD applicants from the developing world. “We have looked at a series of different kinds of support,” he said, “among them price support – are there ways that costs can be reduced to make it easier for needy applicants to move forward with their application – and technical assistance. We are working on recommendations.”
Fuoad Bajwa, a civil society representative from Pakistan, said the adoption of internationalized domain names in developing countries will be a long process. “In some countries where language has already been localized and it is core to the ICT, or the Internet functions of that country – within the Arabian world and the Chinese world and the Russian world – their adoption may be pretty quick and fast. But for countries, let’s say in regards to my own country, where tradition of English language usage on the Internet has been great, there still must be a lot of attention given towards creating awareness.”
Performance of critical Internet resources during crises and their long-term stability
Participants also discussed the importance of stable critical Internet resources in times of disaster and other crises. They shared reports from Haiti, New Zealand and Pakistan about disaster preparedness and response.
Bill Graham of the Internet Society read a brief report from an earlier workshop on the long-term stability of the Internet. “There was a lot of discussion about overregulation or poorly informed regulation – there’s a lack of people who are really comfortable with technical things,” he said. “This lack of cross-talk between the technical and the policy side brings threats. Also, multistakeholderism is difficult for some policy agencies to?handle. We’re still developing a level of comfort and the ability to do things in a multistakeholder way.
“There’s a need to close the gap among researchers, operational people and policy people. There’s also a need to train people to operate at the intersection of policy and technology … there’s a gap where there’s no functioning mechanism right now for regular global policy coordination or, for a second one, for global operational cooperation. We don’t think there is a need for new organisations, but we should look carefully at how those issues can be dealt with in some mechanism.
“So after going through all that, a group of people have begun to talk about some principles for policy to deal with these kinds of crisis issues, and I think we’ll continue to work on that mapping exercise to try and identify gaps and refer those things out. There’s lots of organizations that are effective in the field. It’s just flagging these particular concerns. It’s about the existing ones coming together dealing with the specific issue.”
The UN’s video recording of the CIR event can be found on this site.
The UN’s official transcript of the CIR event can be found here.
– Video recorded from a remote location, captured
from the live webstream during IGF-2010 sessions
– Senior segment producer, Janna Anderson