[ALAC] Steve Crocker's Op-Ed in the WSJ
Rinalia Abdul Rahim
rinalia.abdulrahim at gmail.com
Wed Apr 20 05:32:20 UTC 2016
Steve Crocker's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal below.
*Broadening the Oversight of a Free and Open Internet *
*Stewardship by the global community will guard against ‘capture’ by one
group or government.*
*By Stephen D. Crocker, **April 19, 2016 6:31 p.m. ET*
Today the global Internet connects three billion of us. While it has grown,
the world has shrunk. Geographic distance has become less relevant as we
can more easily access information, communicate and reach new customers.
The Internet has matured because it is free and open, led by the private
economy and based on voluntary standards. It is built on the principles
that define America: free enterprise and limited government.
It is those same ideals of privatization that frame a proposal
recently sent to the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration that would transition stewardship of some key Internet
technical functions away from the U.S. to a diverse and accountable global
Why is such a transition needed? Since the Internet’s inception, the U.S.
Commerce Department and the California nonprofit corporation that I head,
the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, have been in
charge of coordinating the global assignment of Internet addresses and
domain names. In 2014 the U.S. government decided a more international
stewardship was appropriate. Since then, the global Internet community has
been working on a proposal that assures that such a transition will not
threaten the openness and freedom of the Internet.
First and foremost, this proposal guards against “capture” by any one group
or government. This is the primary reason the Internet community—along with
businesses, civil society and other interest groups—has given its blessing
to the changes.
On March 17, representatives from the Intel <http://quotes.wsj.com/INTC>
<http://quotes.wsj.com/INTC>Corporation, the Internet Society and others
told Congress they supported the transition. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
the U.S. Council for International Business, the Information Technology
Industry Council, the Software & Information Industry Association and
others also approve of the plan.
Business leaders from companies like Google, Verizon
<http://quotes.wsj.com/CSCO> <http://quotes.wsj.com/CSCO>and Yahoo
<http://quotes.wsj.com/YHOO> <http://quotes.wsj.com/YHOO>participated in
the development of the proposal. Academics from Harvard, George Mason
University and other institutions also weighed in. From the International
Chamber of Commerce to the Center for Democracy and Technology, diverse
organizations have voiced support.
These groups understand the vital role of the Internet in strengthening the
global economy by creating jobs and economic growth. Almost $8 trillion of
commerce takes place on the Internet annually, an example of how dependent
the world economy has become on a single, unified network.
But there are no guarantees about the Internet’s future. In fact, the
transition proposal came from the understanding that maintaining the status
quo would risk the single, free and open Internet that we cherish.
If the U.S. does not transition its stewardship role to the global Internet
community, then other governments may try to move control to organizations
like the United Nations. There is also a risk that some governments may
form their own national or regional networks. This disruptive splintering
would damage the economy and weaken personal Internet use.
This potential threat to the Internet was understood as far back as 1997,
when the U.S. formalized its largely symbolic role as steward of some of
the Internet’s technical functions. It intended to move away from this role
once Icann was mature enough to operate without the U.S. as a backstop.
In March 2014, the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration announced that it wanted to begin the process of severing
its contract with Icann. The government stipulated that Icann remain an
incorporated U.S. nonprofit entity and would need to be strongly
accountable to diverse stakeholders with an interest in the Internet.
Over the past two years, myriad interests and participants in the global
Internet community worked tirelessly to meet that challenge. Hundreds of
stakeholders undertook an amazing effort that logged more than 400 meetings
and calls, some 32,000 mailing list exchanges and hundreds of working hours
to devise a transition proposal. A plan describing how the transition
always envisioned could be implemented has now been delivered to the
The proposal reinforces the private economy-led model that has allowed
policy to keep pace with the Internet’s growth. What could be more American
than a world that has a free and open Internet, in which all stakeholders
have a voice in its governance and no one interest has a controlling say?
A successful stewardship transition will allow online innovation and
productivity to continue to thrive. What’s more, it will be a validation of
the approaches to other pressing transnational issues such as privacy,
online content, interconnection fees, taxation and cybersecurity.
This transition, maintaining the global Internet’s role as an incubator for
innovation and a stimulator of domestic and international economic growth,
merits broad support. We owe it to future generations to assure that the
Internet of tomorrow is as free, open and resilient as the Internet of
*Mr. Crocker is the chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers.*
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