The Internet belongs to us all


Recently, I blogged about the ITU Plenipotentiary 2010 (PP10) conference in Mexico, here, and here. There was a lot of activity and discussion both inside and outside the ITU conference (it was not a public event, nor were any of the documents that were discussed made public) about what the future of the ITU’s involvement with the Internet would be.

For years, the ITU has been making repeated attempts at taking over the Internet, basically ignoring existing organizations, like ICANN, who are involved in running the Internet. There were some very interesting – and concerning – resolutions put forward at PP10, including one that would have seen ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee replaced with an ITU-appointed body.

In the end, the ITU plenary agreed to a number of watered down, benign (from my point of view) resolutions. There’s a good wrap up of the conference here, including the resolutions passed by the ITU in Mexico.

However, there was one resolution that sparked my interest. It related to initiating discussions to work with organizations that already work in the Internet governance arena. ICANN was named by the ITU as one of these organizations. Interestingly, the mere mention of ICANN in an ITU resolution is seen as a breakthrough. What kind of world is it when the mere acknowledgement that there are other players involved in running the Internet is considered a huge step forward?

What all of the activity around the PP10 showed me is that Internet governance is increasingly important, not just to those of us who attend ITU and ICANN meetings, but to everyone. The Internet touches all of our lives, both personally and professionally. As I stated in an earlier post, the Internet really is the greatest driver of the economy since the invention of the steam engine, and has given voice to the voiceless.

It should be, then, the goal of those of us on the ‘inside’ to do two things. First, we should start communicating what happens at these fora in a meaningful way, and second, we should listen. The Internet doesn’t belong to ICANN or IANA or the ITU. It belongs to everybody, so it only makes sense that we take the time to listen.

That’s why I’m proud to say that this week, CIRA, with some help from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Media Awareness Network (MNet) has started a new initiative, a Canadian Internet forum. Over the next month, we will be hosting regional, by-invitation consultations in Winnipeg, Halifax, Iqaluit, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

This forum will be the place to discuss, debate and propose directions for the development, deployment and governance of the Internet in Canada. In essence, we are charting Canada’s Internet future. If you are not participating in the consultation, have no fear. You will have plenty of opportunity to have your voice heard throughout the process (including via an online discussion forum), and the outcomes will be discussed at a national, open-to-the-public event in February 2011.

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  • Jim Fleming

    “Interestingly, the mere mention of ICANN in an ITU resolution is seen as a breakthrough.”

    It was an absurd distraction for the ITU.

    ICANN was formed by THE Clintons and Ira Magaziner for a limited mission for a limited amount of time. Recent announcements from the ICANN Board should make it clear that time is coming to an end.

    Why would the ITU waste their time “mentioning” (in foot-notes?) selected private companies ? Was CIRA mentioned?

  • Jim Fleming

    By the way, even the ISOC has started to wake up and smell the future beyond the ICANN (IANA) incubator. People will be headed to San.Francisco.CA instead of the ICANN meeting.

    San Francisco California, December 8-9, 2010

    “Brought to you by the Internet Society, the first ever Internet ON (ION) event is designed to enable network, product and service engineers to stay ahead of the curve in terms of understanding and deploying emerging Internet technologies. It also presents them with a unique opportunity to discuss Internet standards with the people who helped create them.”

  • Serge

    It has always been somewhat worrying to see ICANN so broadly overshoot its narrow mandate to take over the coordination role that Jon Postel had previously held. To see CIRA now seeking to follow in its footsteps is not encouraging. Do we really need a CIRA which tries to become “the place to discuss, debate and propose directions for the development, deployment and governance of the Internet in Canada”? Should CIRA not, rather, focus on discharging the specific technical function for which it is mandated?

  • Byron

    Debating ICANN’s role in the Internet eco system is everyone’s favourite sport. For every person in the room, there will be a different opinion.

    As far as CIRA goes however, I must correct your mis-interpretation of our mandate. The Binder Letter ( ), our original guiding document, sets out a much broader direction than your very narrow definition. Further our Articles of Incorporation specifically speak other Internet related activities.

    In fact, the 3rd object in our articles is, “…to develop, carry out and/or support any other Internet related activities in Canada;”

    Hopefully that sheds some light on our clearly defined role to engage in other Internet activities other than just matching names to numbers.


  • Jim Fleming

    “Sourdough starter is made with a small amount of old dough saved from a prior batch, and is sometimes called mother dough or chef.” – wikipedia

    John Demco is/was the Jon Postel of Canada.
    CIRA has DNA from John Demco

  • Byron

    CIRA has more than just the DNA of John Demco, he is also a current, sitting Board member.

  • Jim Fleming

    “The Internet doesn’t belong to ICANN or IANA or the ITU. It belongs to everybody, so it only makes sense that we take the time to listen.”

    Does the Internet also belong to VIRTUAL AVATARS ?

    What if a VIRTUAL Rock Star has more money than CIRA ?

    Isn’t Money the Bottom Line ?

    Is CIRA going to disclose all the people they pay ?

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