08 June 2015

On 26 May, ICANN President and Chief Executive Officer Fadi Chehadé met EIF members and friends in the European Parliament. Following this meeting, Ajit Jaokar, EIF Advisor, shares his thoughts on the Internet Governance and IANA stewardship transition process.

Ajit says: "We all recognize the power of the Internet and its benefit to society and community. The Internet’s value has been created on the basis of ‘permissionless innovation’. 

Fadi’s talk was based on the evolution of ICANN, the need to be globally inclusive and to preserve the Internet’s values going forward. From ICANN’s perspective, this means: 

  1. Changing the DNA of ICANN – making it more global.
  2. Making ICANN truly independent of patronage of any country  after the sun-setting of the American role in ICANN.

Since the UN is not ready to solve the intergovernmental issues relating to the Internet – the new institution must be able to handle these complex challenges. This means institutionalizing ICANN with processes that make it act less of a start-up. It also means, making ICANN more poly-centric since poly-centric systems are inherently stable.

Fadi also succinctly compared the whole problem of Internet Governance to a ‘Table’ with three layers:  

  1. Things that are below the table
  2. Things that are on the table top and 
  3. Things which are above the table.


As per the analogy, 

  1. Under the table’ are the networks governed by bodies such as ITU, IEEE, IETF, GSMA etc. This layer is working fine and is open.
  2. The ‘table top layer’ includes the logical infrastructure comprising numbers (IP addresses), names (www...) and protocol parameters. ICANN traditionally coordinates all of that. That is complex – but also working fine.
  3. The layer above this is the Industrial and Social layer – ‘Above the table’. This includes the Cloud, Child protection, Social networks and even Uber. This layer currently does not have the institutions that govern it. The missing institutions lead to a ‘religious fight’ – but we want a pragmatic fight! We may need a new hybrid model.


To me, the talk brought out Fadi’s sincerity of the mission and the sheer scope of the issue.

The need for a globally consistent Internet experience would ultimately benefit everyone. But it is a challenging task – and ICANN appears to be taking the right steps by creating an inclusive, bottom up, multi-stakeholder initiative."

ICANN overview the debate at their blog: 'The NTIA Stewardship Transition: Catalyst for Enhancing the Multistakeholder Approach' 

Fadi Chehadé's full speech in full is available here:

 Pictures from the event are available at this link.

by Ajit Jaokar



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