NTIA Chief Lawrence Strickling Speaks at Georgia Tech on New Internet Governance Policy

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On October 26 the School of Public Policy’s Internet Governance Project (IGP) hosted an event honoring Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling, who played a leading role in the transition of the Internet to private governance.

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On October 26 the School of Public Policy’s Internet Governance Project (IGP) hosted an event honoring Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling.  Strickling, who also holds the position of Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), played a leading role in one of the most innovative Internet policies ever made: the transition of the Internet to private governance.  Not only is this new policy significant for the Internet sector, it breaks new ground in the institutional design for the governance of any sector.

On October 1, 2016, the contract between the US Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was allowed to expire. ICANN will no longer be a creature of the US government, but a free-standing institution accountable to the global multistakeholder community. The transition occurred after the community of stakeholders around ICANN spent two years of intensive work developing a new institutional structure for the governance of the Internet’s “IANA functions” and ICANN’s corporate governance generally.

This Internet privatization was preceded by nearly two months of controversy, some of it centered in the US Congress.  Opponents claimed the transition was “giving away control of the Internet to Russia and China,” while supporters of the move, which included Georgia Tech Professor Milton Mueller, deemed it a step toward “transnational popular sovereignty” in global Internet governance. Not until 6 pm on September 30, when a Texas judge denied a last-ditch legal challenge, was it clear that the transition would go through.

Georgia Tech was the venue where the NTIA’s Strickling reflected publicly for the first time on the new policy.  About seventy-five students, faculty and interested members of the community attended, and another 30-40 watched the simultaneous webcast. SPP Chair Kaye Husbands-Fealing welcomed the participants. After a speech recounting the historical background and political significance of the transition, IGP Director Milton Mueller introduced Assistant Secretary Strickling, who spoke about the virtues and limitations of the so-called multistakeholder model of Internet governance, which relies on nongovernmental institutions and open and voluntary working groups to make policy.

After Secretary Strickling’s speech, SPP Professor Hans Klein moderated a panel consisting of Strickling, Mueller, Georgia Tech Professor Peter Swire, Internet Architecture Board chair Andrew Sullivan, the Verisign, Inc. Vice President for Policy Keith Drazek, and Internet Society representative Konstantinos Komaitis. Pressed with tough questions by Klein and from the audience, the panelists discussed the accountability of ICANN staff going forward, the strengths and weaknesses of multistakeholder processes, and the role of governments in multistakeholder institutions. 

A paragraph from Asst. Secretary Strickling’s speech summed up the sentiments of many:

“Looking back on this two-year effort, is there any question whether we were correct to call on the multistakeholder community to develop the transition proposal?  I believe without a doubt that we were.  Could any other process have brought together the views and ideas of so many people in such a short period of time to solve such complicated and important issues?  I do not think so.”

More information at:   http://www.internetgovernance.org/2016/10/05/the-self-governing-internet/ 

A video on the event can be found here.

A writeup from Bloomberg on the event can be found here.

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School of Public Policy

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  • Created By: Ryan McDonnell
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Nov 2, 2016 - 9:57pm
  • Last Updated: Nov 2, 2016 - 9:57pm