The Future of the Internet Under Locke (and Key Questions to Ask)

by on March 17, 2009 · 5 comments

Former Washington State Governor Gary Locke will likely face some grilling questions at his confirmation hearing tomorrow in the Senate. But will he face any questions about the future of the Internet?

Senators will likely grandstand over the census, the bailout, and the AIG bonuses. The future of Internet governance, however, will surely be sacrificed at the altar of politics. But as my colleague Mark Blafkin writes in his blog post,  Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but the next Secretary will have a large role in determining its future:

As part of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA), the Department of Commerce is set to sever its agreement to backstop the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at the end of the year.  While the Department of Commerce plays no role in the day-to-day management of the Internet, it has played an important role in both holding ICANN accountable for its promises regarding private sector-leadership, and protecting ICANN from institutional capture.  We should be thinking about asking these questions:

  • Before the U.S. Government gives up oversight of ICANN, how do you believe the security of the core infrastructure of the Internet can be protected? For example, should NTIA agree to ICANN’s plan to take over all security management for the Internet root zone?
  • How will ICANN’s accountability be ensured in the absence of Department of Commerce oversight – especially accountability to the private sector stakeholders?
  • If ICANN is fully privatized, what can be done to protect ICANN from capture by foreign governments or the United Nations, which has asserted its own right to manage “Critical Internet Resources” – not the private sector?

These questions are of interest to many in the Internet governance community, if not Commerce Committee.

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