February 22nd, 2005

APDIP Internet Governance Panel @ APRICOT


I was at a panel on Internet Governance organized by APDIP. The show goes to Geoff Hutson, who gave the most eloquent impromptu speech1 I have heard. Unfortunate for me, I didn’t really prepared much before I was up on the panel; Instead, I was busy scribbling some talking points while the other speakers takes their turn.

Anyway, I was speaking about the definitions of Internet Governance : that so far, all the proposed made are either too engineering-centric or too political-centric, the first is not easily understood and the latter has a habit of saying a lot about nothing. And there is a debate if it there is any sense to talk about the “governance” since Internet is more about “coordination”. But regardless of the choice of words, everyone wants a piece of the action.

Particularly, there is also a percepted “center of power” in US – percepted but because the reality is that the real “power” is distributed across the Net among various groups who are collobrating and working together. For example, it isn’t clear who “control” IP address allocation to the end-users: is it ICANN, IANA, RIRs or ISPs? The reality is that all of them are and neither of them is.

Very often, I was also asked if I am for ICANN or am I for ITU; First, a wrong question because it isn’t a war between ICANN and ITU – both their function in the governance/coordination of Internet – and Internet Governance is bigger then ICANN. My position on Internet Governance is that it covers any issues which relates to proper function of Internet but it does not mean we need government regulation on all of them.

Speaking of government, there is also a general concern that government or regulation are bad. Yes, we should reject bad regulation – regulation that tries to protect certain groups or monopolies, regulation that hurts competitions and discourage innovation – but we should embrace regulations that remove impendence to adoption of new technology, that encourage competitions etc. Likewise, for government involvement – the question is how to we direct them to doing good things and less of trying to fix things that does not need to be fixed.

1 I believe transcript will be available later.

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