Syracuse University-based project fosters global dialogue on controversial Internet issues at inaugural meeting of United Nations forum
Syracuse University-based project fosters global dialogue on controversial Internet issues at inaugural meeting of United Nations forumOctober 16, 2006Margaret Costello Spillettmcostell@syr.edu
As Internet technology and access continue to expand both in the United States and globally, two of the most difficult and controversial problems remain — the regulation of Internet content and the controls of the Internet’s root servers and addressing system.
To address these issues, the Internet Governance Project (IGP) will host two workshops at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Athens, Greece, from Oct. 30-Nov. 2. IGP (http://www.internetgovernance.org) is an international consortium of academics who specialize in global Internet policy. The group’s operations and three of its partners are based at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. The project is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.
“Our two workshops address issues that were not resolved a year ago at the World Summit on the Information Society,” says Milton Mueller, IGP partner and professor at SU’s School of Information Studies. “The new Internet Governance Forum is not a binding decision-making or negotiating body; it is based entirely on fostering dialogue and discussion. We believe that there is a real need for these discussions and that they can and will lead to more authoritative actions elsewhere.”
The first workshop, “Freedom of Expression and Internet Content Filtering and Blocking by National States,” will be held Oct. 31. The panel will explore current efforts to regulate the interactions of private Internet companies with the governments of countries that heavily regulate and censor content, such as China. The panel will bring together diplomats from the U.S. State Department, France and China; global Internet companies such as Yahoo and Microsoft; and advocacy groups. The group will discuss how countries with varying notions of legal and illegal content can reconcile these differences in a way that maximizes the freedom and value of the Internet and makes it possible for Internet service providers to operate in a more secure and stable legal environment. The workshop will be co-moderated by IGP partner Jeanette Hofmann of the Berlin Social Science Research Center and Moegens Schmidt of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The second panel, “New Technical and Policy Challenges in the Management of the Domain Name System (DNS) Root,” will be held on Nov. 1. That workshop will examine efforts to make the domain name system more secure through the DNSSEC protocol, and to assess criticisms and defenses of the privileged oversight role of the U.S. government in managing the DNS root. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently signed an agreement with the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to begin shifting control from U.S.-centered to a more multi-stakeholder, internationally based management system. The workshop will look at the pros and cons of these new realities in managing the DNS root, including multilingual scripts, security and privatization.
Mueller, founder and co-director of the Convergence Center at SU, will moderate the panel, which includes a multinational group of DNS root server experts. Mueller wrote the authoritative book on the subject, “Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace” (MIT Press 2002).