I have finally finished my analysis of the 632 comments sent to the NTIA following its Notice of Inquiry over the continued role of ICANN as Internet overseer, and it’s going to come as a shock to the US government.
A remarkable 87.3 percent of comments that discussed the USG’s role said it should transition itself away from complete control to a more international body. ICANN fared little better: 63.4 percent of comments about it varied from critical to downright hostile.
Yes, I have bothered to go through every single comment, read every single word and do an analysis. The only analysis I didn’t do (and which now I cannot summon the energy to do) was to find out what percentage of the comments came from which region (mostly inside the US and outside the US) – so if someone wants to…
What’s the upshot? Everyone wants the USG to hand over control. Many of those in support were clearly from people that didn’t know what they were talking about – the same sort of blind patriotism that we saw during the World Summit. But there is no mistaking that everyone agrees that the USG has to get on with this.
I hope to god that people in the DoC have a masterplan for transition and recognise why they should do it because this topic is going to get out of hand very soon. I understand that governments are going to try to pressure the USG again at the ITU meeting in September – away from the prying eyes of the world’s press. And there is the risk that the IGF will also be sullied if the DoC doesn’t offer the world something.
Of course alot of the comments were unusable and if anyone is to blame for this, it is me. Of the 632 comments (there were eight repeated emails), 153 were about Net neutrality, and 174 were about, well, I don’t know what some of them were about. Lots of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” style nonsense, lots of “keep the Net free!!!”.
But what was usable was good. Some of it really good. If I had to pick out two to read, it would be the Internet Governance Project’s response and Network Solutions’ response. Every knows Milton Mueller’s views but there is some expansive and innovative thinking in there too – particular his suggestion of adding two principles to ICANN’s basic charter: freedom of expression, and accountability.
Network Solutions’ response is a very thorough piece, almost academic. It concerns itself slightly too much with the VeriSign dotcom contract issue for obvious reasons, but it is still a very useful document, particularly because it attaches Becky Burr’s testimony the other day to Congress as an exhibit. (It also includes Michael Roberts’, which caused me to think: where is Mike Roberts these days?)
There are lots of other interesting responses too. I started making a list but when the list got past 20, I decided I would highlight only two.
Support? What support?
What is noticeable however is that support for ICANN and for the USG is not easy to find. There are some words of support pointing out especially the e-IANA decision and the ccNSO rules changes – but these are very, very recent changes and it really smacks of BBC charter renewal time.
[Quick background: the BBC has a charter with the UK government which is renewed every 10 years. Every 10 years, when it is up for renewal, the BBC is suddenly very nice to the government, it always announces a restructure and across-the-board cost-cutting and makes lots of noise about what a great service it provides. Then, as soon as the charter is renewed, it bloats out again and starts criticising the government.]
Items of interest:
- Syria’s plan for a new Internet governance structure – anyone want to take a bet on this?
- Karl Auerbach is always a good read
- Danny Younger goes into some depth about Internet issues and ICANN
- A mildly bizarre suggestion to use sea laws for international Internet problems
- George Sadowsky gives a broad-scope perspective
Apart from that, here are my stats in case anyone wants to take issue with my methodology.
Basically, I split comments into:
- Pro-ICANN (supportive)
- Anti-ICANN (critical)
- Pro-USG (should stay in charge)
- Anti-USG (should not stay in charge)
- Anti-USG (from the IGP boilerplate)
- Net neutrality
- Random (unusable in this inquiry’s context)
- Domain names
I noted down what each comment’s primary point was and if there was a strong secondary point. As such here are the figures according to my calculations, with the secondary points in brackets:
- Pro-ICANN: 24 (6)
- Anti-ICANN: 44 (8)
- Pro-USG: 26 (4)
- Anti-USG: 98 (9)
- Anti-USG (IGP): 99
- Net neutrality: 153
- Random: 174
- Whois: 4
- Domain names: 8
- .xxx: 2
This means that 51.7 percent of comments were not relevant to the inquiry. That 2.2 percent of comments were about specific issues. That 67.7 percent of all relevant comments, and 87.3 percent of comments that mentioned the USG role were against the USG maintaining control. That 8.9 percent of all relevant comments, and 12.7 percent of comments that mentioned the USG role were for the USG maintaining control.
That 15.1 percent of all relevant comments, and 63.4 percent of all comments that mentioned ICANN’s role were critical or not supportive of ICANN. And finally that 8.3 percent of all relevant comments, and 36.6 percent of all comments that mentioned ICANN’s role were supportive of ICANN.
Any questions, queries or comments, please comment below.