Dynamic Coalition on Core Internet Values

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Dynamic Coalition

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[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

The Dynamic Coalition (DC) on Core Internet values session started with the moderator, Mr Oliver MJ Crepin-Leblond, Chair, DC on Core Internet Values, welcoming all participants and introducing the panel as well as setting the scene for the session in two parts. The first part discussed an issue paper published on the IGF website, while the second part discussed internal issues of the DC. Without any additions, Crepin-Leblond moved for the adoption of the agenda

First Agenda

Referencing the DC paper, the Crepin-Leblond mentioned how technology is always a challenge. This coalition has been looking at the core Internet values (CIVs) which are the more technical values as opposed to the DC on Internet rights and principles, which considers societal aspects of the Internet. He explained how the paper is structured on previously published papers that looked at a specific set of CIVs. Today’s session focused on whether there had been some changes in the past 12 months.

The CIVs looked at were:

  1. The Internet is a global medium open to all regardless of geography or nationality. Also, there has been a significant rise in the Internet being restricted due to local conflicts and governments seeing the Internet as a threat (i.e., gives rise to military coups, elections, etc.)
  2. Interoperability as well as benefits and challenges were considered. He explained that IPv6 has grown and it has been implemented in more places. Also, the new HTML5 standard has been rolled out, but requires plug-ins for some browsers. He cited one challenge as being the expansion of applications – some applications are developed to be ‘walled gardens’ which are not the Internet but one’s own app and one’s own world. Interoperability on a technical level has been working such that there has not been any significant change to this CIV.
  3. There is a strong need for identification regarding the IoT (Internet of Things). On the positive side, IPv6 has made the IoT more reliable, since it was loosely meshed. Network blackouts in some parts of the world were observed during the early days.
  4. The Internet should remain open as a network of networks since its core architecture is based on open standards – any service application or type of data (video, audio, and text) should be allowed on it.
  5. The Internet is decentralised – it is free of any centralised control. Thirteen route servers and the DNS are distributed around the world, and are running very well. Despite frequent attacks (such as denial of service {DoS}, cyber-attacks, etc.), to date there has been no attack on DNS servers that has caused a shutdown of the Internet.
  6. In terms of the end-to-end connection principle, the rise of IPv6 is addressing the carrier grade network address translation barrier.
  7. To date, the Internet remains robust and reliable despite the exponential rise in cybersecurity attacks.

Crepin-Leblond’s conclusion on the CIVs raised a question on whether there should be a new CIV that would drive efforts at standardisation and protocol development.

Crepin-Leblond called for freedom from harm (FFH) or safety as a new CIV to be considered. To buttress his point, he raised issues of commercialisation as well as widespread use of the internet that have made it an unsafe place, for example, technical challenges due to sources of software updates, DoS attacks, etc.

Mr Alejandro Pisanty, UNDM / ISOC-Mexico, in responding to the safety CIV, had the following points to make:

  1. FFH is traditionally one of the most basic core functions of the state, i.e., the social contract – the bargain between citizens and state where citizens relinquish liberty, money, and mobility in exchange for being protected from harm.
  2. Safety and harm and FFH vary culturally within and between countries.
  3. This CIV has serious implementation issues that need to be worked out. One way is to get the FFH on the check list of RFCs and ITF.
  4. There are security considerations regarding IoT devices. These devices have radio components managed by spectrum management organisations such as the GSMA (Global System for Mobile communications Association), etc.
  5. Scaling beyond borders (i.e., device compliance) where devices manufactured in one country many not work outside that country can be problematic.
  6. Is there an Internet way to do this?

Mr Vint Cerf of Google, Inc., argued that the Internet needed to become a much safer place. Also, the people who designed the devices had no idea whether the devices were going to be abused.

Mr Maarten Botterman from ICANN was of the view that the principle driving the technical community to address safety issues should be transparency, since it helps people to understand how important it is that they live up to best practices. Also, manufacturers should be responsible as well as accountable. He concluded that the best possible perspective of the Internet values should be change and innovation and that a multistakeholder environment is always important.

Ms Lise Fuhr from ETNO was of the view that it was important to keep the principles of the FFH. She added that interoperability is key. In terms of cyberattacks, governments and telecoms are doing well in addressing them. There are no specific definitions of harm, spam, etc., and these are issues that ICANN ought to step up and look into.

Mr Mathew Sheers, CDT, pointed out that the issue under discussion is more political than technical. There is the need to understand Internet design, net-neutrality, as well as open Internet, which will lead to a desire to address some very pressing and policy issues.

Other key issues discussed:

  1. In terms of addressing safety issues, there should not be enforcement but incentives or enticement, i.e., find ways to persuade the manufacturers of software-bearing products to attend to safety in their own best interests.
  2. Adopt a discussion of this proposal (FFH) as a work programme and collaborate with other groups to address them.
  3. Technical considerations cannot be ignored in discussing safety standards.
  4. Very important to restrain the DC on CIV to concentrate more on the technical design principle than on the higher layer rights and values, which are much less well-defined, and universally variable.
  5. The discussion points should be put on the mailing list, make a small publication of it, further discussed to reach a common conclusion, and then a work programme created for the coalition.

Second segment

The second session focused the discussion on the internal issues of the DC on CIV: planning the coalition’s work going forward and the kind of leadership structure to be put together.  The following action plans was discussed:

  1. Crepin-Leblond suggested getting more people involved, running a bottom-up structure, and setting up steering committees.
  2. The coalition is open to everyone who wants to contribute to the work.
  3. Much broader definitions of values, roles, membership elections, and setting a clear and objective management and leadership structure are needed.
  4. The functioning of the coalition should be made more transparent.
  5. The organisation of the work should be staged:  one stage is identifying the barriers and breaking boundaries between technical and social standards.

by Ivy Hoetu, Internet Society Ghan

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