Internet experts: Multistakeholder imposition of internet sanctions should be considered

The former head of ICANN, two EU parliamentarians, and technical, security, and legal experts plan to publish an open letter to the internet governance community arguing for multistakeholder imposition of internet sanctions. 

The draft letter, published by the Register lays out principles for internet infrastructure governance sanctions as follows:

  • ‘Disconnecting the population of a country from the Internet is a disproportionate and inappropriate sanction, since it hampers their access to the very information that might lead them to withdraw support for acts of war and leaves them with access to only the information their own government chooses to furnish.
  • The effectiveness of sanctions should be evaluated relative to predefined goals. Ineffective sanctions waste effort and willpower and convey neither unity nor conviction.
  • Sanctions should be focused and precise. They should minimize the chance of unintended consequences or collateral damage. Disproportionate or over-broad sanctions risk fundamentally alienating populations.
  • Military and propaganda agencies and their information infrastructure are potential targets of sanctions.
  • The Internet, due to its transnational nature and consensus-driven multistakeholder system of governance, currently does not easily lend itself to the imposition of sanctions in national conflicts.
  • It is inappropriate and counterproductive for governments to attempt to compel Internet governance mechanisms to impose sanctions outside of the community’s multistakeholder decision-making process.
  • There are nonetheless appropriate, effective, and specific sanctions the Internet governance community may wish to consider in its deliberative processes.’

Finally, the letter recommends that a new multistakeholder mechanism be established. After due process and consensus, it would publish sanctioned IP addresses and domain names in the form of public data feeds, to be followed by any organisation that chooses to subscribe to the principles and their outcomes. The letter notes that such a system would mirror existing systems used by network operators to block spam, malware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and therefore, would require minimal work to implement and no new technology.