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<nettime> Larry Strickling: ICANN and Global Internet Governance: The Road to Sao Paulo, and Beyond

ICANN - Singapore
 Non-Commercial Users Constituency
 ICANN and Global Internet Governance:  The Road to Sao Paulo, and Beyond
 21 March 2014 
   >>BILL DRAKE:   So I think probably, Larry, we don't -- I get to say
somebody who doesn't need much introduction in this case.  Given recent
events, I think that I don't have to read your bio.  But it is linked off
the Web site, if anybody wants to know who Larry Strickling is, the
Honorable Assistant Secretary of State, head of the NTIA -- of Commerce,
sorry.  Commerce.  I'm tired.  And head of the NTIA.  Here is Larry

  >>LARRY STRICKLING:   Well, thank you, Bill.  And thank you for having us
here.  I mean, no better way to show a person he's welcome than to have him
fly 24 hours and then sit through eight hours of meeting and then react to
what he's heard all day.  So we'll see how exactly this plays out.

 But Bill had assured me, you don't have to prepare any comments.  Just show
up and react to the group.  So that's what I'm going to do.  But we'll try
to cover any of the topics that I'm sure are on your mind, whether -- if I
don't touch on them directly, do we have some time for Q&A?  We'll try to
take a few questions to make sure that we are able to address your issues.
 But I am extremely pleased to appear here because for 15 years, people said
this would never happen.  And I want to be able to -- I'm so pleased to be
here to be able to say that finally the United States government has done
something that Milton Mueller likes.  So --
 [ Laughter ]
 [ Applause ]
 Not that that was our goal.
 [ Laughter ]
 But it didn't hurt.

 So I just have a few points I'd like to emphasize.  And again, I did sit
through the discussion today with the idea of trying to pick up some of the
themes and trying to weave them together into some points that then relate
to the action that we did announce last Friday.

 And I will say that probably the most important take-away for me out of the
discussion today is a point that was emphasized right from the beginning by
Steve Crocker, right through the end, Marilia emphasized it again, and
that's it idea that this IANA issue, the transition of the United States out
of its role with the IANA functions, is really only one part of the Internet
governance debate we are facing this year.  And I would tell you that one of
our greatest concerns in the U.S. government about this was the fear that --
well, not fear.  The concern that by taking the action we took last week,
that somehow we would suck the oxygen out of this larger discussion that I
will tell you, in my own mind, is much more important longer term, and
that's the question of how do we engage the developing world and build
acceptance of the multistakeholder model in countries that haven't had the
same level of experience with it as the more developed countries.  That, I
think, should be the focus of NETmundial.  And I'm pleased, from Marilia's
comments, that it should be a major topic down there.  That's the role of
this high-level panel chaired by the President of Estonia to start to think
about that.  And, frankly, it was a very important part of today's
discussion as reflected in the last panel.  But that, I think, is the big,
big set of issues that we have to be working on.

 We have to find a way to get the developed world -- developing world
engaged in this more than they have been.  And part of that requires getting
the communities in these countries, civil society, business communities, to
be able to organize themselves to then provide the stakeholders that you
need to have for a multistakeholder discussion.

 So it's not just a question of talking and convincing governments of the
wisdom of this.  It's partly how do you reach out to the economies in these
countries that are struggling to get their arms around the Internet economy
and how to kind of ride that economic wave that comes with it.  But that's
what we really have to be focused on.

 And my deepest hope of what we put into play last week is that it might
serve as something of a booster shot to the efforts to focus on this larger
question.  And if it doesn't turn into that, then we should all say shame on
ourselves because that's really what's at stake here, not just the question
of who or what replaces the U.S. role in verifying the accuracy of changes
to the root zone.

 So that's kind of my first point.

 The second one is that we did set out some principles for this transition
last Friday.  And what I hope and what I heard today is that I think that
what we laid out, which were very basic, but I think that they already
represent a consensus of the community.  And I hope that that gets
established in the discussion over the next few days, and, in particular, at
the public session on Monday.  But the four principles that we used to build
the frame around the transition planning is we need to support and happens
-- or the transition plan needs to support and enhance the multistakeholder
model, it needs to maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the
Domain Name System, it needs to meet the needs of the global customers and
partners of the IANA services, and it needs to maintain the openness of the
Internet.  I hope those are not controversial.  We didn't intend them to be
particularly controversial.  We thought that these did reflect consensus
viewpoints, and I hope that the community is able to affirm that.

 I read with great interest Milton's and the IGP's proposal, and I think the
statement of principles laid out there is very much resonant with some of
this.  Certainly his comment about governments is one that I think is very
much in sync with what we have said, which is that we are saying very
clearly that there shouldn't be a government-led solution to this or a
solution that is an intergovernmental organization.  And just to clarify,
because I guess it was a matter of debate this morning, we're not saying
governments don't play a role.  Governments are part of the stakeholders
like everyone else, so they clearly need to be part of the discussion.  But
I think Milton's paper makes a good point, which is you don't want to
replace a single government solution with a multi-government solution.  And
I think that's common sense, and it's certainly something that I hope the
community embraces.

 But on the question of the multistakeholder involvement for all this, we've
tried to make it very clear from the outset that this is broader than just
ICANN.  ICANN is the party with whom we contract for the performance of the
IANA functions.  ICANN obviously, through these meetings and through its
activities, has great experience in terms of running multistakeholder
processes and, more importantly, iterative multistakeholder processes where
people can work together on an issue over a period of time to reach a
consensus decision.

 So we've asked ICANN to convene, but we've made it very clear that this is
something that we expect the Internet society, the Internet Engineering Task
Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the RIRs, all of the technical
community needs to be participating in this, and we expect that will be
reflected in the session on Monday and will be reflected in the process as
it's designed and carried out throughout all of this.
 We think it's essential the process be transparent.  I don't know how long
it will be it's something where it's just large groups of people continuing
to meet on it, but whatever it settles on, whatever the community settles on
as the right process, we believe absolutely it's got to be transparent so
that people can see exactly how it's playing out.
And we certainly aren't interested in seeing a top-down solution.  We'd like
to see this emerge out of a discussion in the community that then filters up
into the proposal that is finally presented to us.

 A lot of questions with accountability.  A lot of discussion about
accountability.  And one thing I wanted to make clear, I guess people read
our statement but maybe they didn't read what we didn't say.  But one of the
things we didn't say was we didn't put the Affirmation of Commitments into
play by this at all.  Now, does that mean the community can't talk about it?
Not at all.  We fully expect that the discussion that will take place among
the community is going to fairly quickly segue into these larger questions
of accountability and transparency and how well the existing AoC will
operate in whatever is designed and whatever the community wants to go
forward with.  But I want to make it crystal career that we didn't come back
and say we think that document is out of touch with the times or is past
due, and we're basically saying that can work, and it should still work.
And if the community wants to find a way to improve it, go to it.  You're
welcome to take it on.  But in the absence of that the affirmation is still
there and will continue to operate as envisioned.
 I am -- I think Steve made the point, I guess a couple of times today, and
I know he has made it in some of his writings.  This issue of the fact that
when we did the IANA contract in 2012, we had to go out and do it twice
because we had to make it clear that first we took input from the
international community and we reflected that in the scope of the contract
that we wanted parties to compete for, and we had to do it twice to make
sure that the winning bidder was actually going to take on the commitments
that the international community wanted.

 I do think the community has to have an important discussion about that as
it thinks about what replaces us.

As Fiona made very clear, our role today is primarily fairly clerical in
terms of what we actually do with the IANA functions.  But we certainly
understand the symbolism of all this.  That's been a source of comfort for a
lot of people, but has probably been a source of irritation for just as many
if not more, other people.  But this whole question -- in no way are we
doing this in a way where we're handing the keys to ICANN and walking away
from it.  We're asking the community to stand up and say is it you want to
have in terms of not just replacing the technical role we perform, but how
do you replace the sense of confidence that people take out of the idea that
somehow we're sitting in the middle.  So we do think that's going to be a
very important discussion for this community to have.

 I do want to also talk a little bit about some of the international versus
domestic interplay here.  Those of you who are from the U.S. and have been
watching the press know that already we're starting to see other issues
emerge out of all this.  And I think people need to be understanding of
that.  Not that they should be modifying their discussions or their
viewpoints about this, but already we're seeing people who are suggesting
that the U.S. is abandoning the Internet or that this is somehow going to
inevitably lead to the loss of free expression on the Internet.  We don't
think that's the case, but we are being pushed by some of the political
elements to keep emphasizing how conditional our offer was of the
transition.  The idea that conditions have to be satisfied.  And I think the
community should simply take that up as a challenge to bring back a
well-thought-through, very solid plan to us so that we can push back against
some of the political pressure that's starting to emerge on this.

 In our mind, it's time to do the transition, but the community's got to
step up now and really take this on in a way that can reassure policymakers
in Washington and other people who simply want to comment on this sort of
thing or use it to score political points that the responsible -- that
there's a sense of responsibility here in the community to ensure these very
important values such as free expression.

 So my final point to you is as this discussion plays out over the next many
months, don't let this become a political football.  We've got at least two
communities that need to be really, really impressed by the discussion and
the debate that's going to be held.  The first is where I started.  It's the
developing world that still isn't certain that the multistakeholder process
is going to meet their needs.  All right.  Well, here, we've been talking
about the benefits and the values of this for years and years.  Now's the
chance, as I think Mikey said, the world is watching.  Yeah, they are
watching, and they're going to see is this community able to come together
quickly?  Are they able to approach this in the goal of reaching consensus
as quickly as possible?

 We all know the multistakeholder process is chaotic, and there are going to
be people out there looking to pick at it, because the second audience we're
dealing with are the people who want to score political points out of this
by trying to say it's not working or that it's a mess or that it's chaotic.
Well, we know it's going to be that way at the outset, so it's really
important for this community to act with a real sense of purpose and get
people engaged in this process who are absolutely dedicated to reaching a
consensus outcome in a responsible, realistic, maybe creative, hopefully
creative, way.  We can't let all these extraneous issues kind of take away
from the goal we have because there's just too much at stake here.

 So I hope the community on Monday is able to establish some consensus
around the principles we've set for it, and I'm really hoping the community
can step up and take responsibility for this as quickly as possible and
demonstrate once and for all that this multistakeholder business really
works and is the way to move forward with these Internet policy-making
issues as we work through these issues over the next many years.

 So thank you very much, and with that, I'll take some questions.

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