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New Trends in Industry Self-Governance

by Prasad Krishna last modified Oct 04, 2012 11:37 AM
Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK and Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ, University of Zurich, Switzerland and Nominet, UK is organising this workshop on November 7, 2012 at the seventh annual IGF meeting to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. This workshop will be held in Conference Room 2, from 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. Sunil Abraham is one of the panelists at this workshop.

Concise description of the proposed workshop:
Informal rule setting still plays a significant role in Internet governance. Non-governmental governance can occur at two levels: by shared rules negotiated through bodies like ICANN, and via private ordering by individual firms with significant market power. This panel will explore these two levels drawing on research into ICANN and two recent cases: the Google Books [non-] settlement, and several governments’ demands that service providers such as Research In Motion and Facebook give local law enforcement agencies access to user communications. 

Google’s project to digitize, index, and later to sell access to large numbers of out-of-print books is a leading example of an Internet-triggered shift from public to private regulation and the declining authority of copyright law. It triggered a major international controversy encompassing three class action lawsuits, a proposed and subsequently amended settlement by the litigating parties, more than 400 filings by class-members and "friends of the court" (including the French and German governments), two court hearings, various conferences, innumerous blog entries and articles. A New York federal district court ultimately rejected a proposed settlement between Google and representatives of book authors and publishers, stating that the issues would be “more appropriately decided by Congress than through an agreement among private, self-interested parties."

While almost all states allow law enforcement agencies to intercept Internet communications, the growing use of encryption has restricted access to in-transit communications and social networking data. The governments of India and several Middle Eastern nations have all pressed Research In Motion to allow police access to BlackBerry encrypted messages, threatening otherwise to shut down services. RIM has installed local servers in several countries to meet these demands. The Indian government is reportedly now looking at encrypted services provided by Google and Skype. These and other online services, often hosted in the US, receive frequent requests from foreign law enforcement agencies for user data. Such requests have no statutory force, but may be voluntarily granted under US law – raising questions about user privacy and the oversight of this access.

These cases have much wider implications for other Internet services and users around the world. The proposed workshop will facilitate a multi-stakeholder exploration of these implications.

Four researchers will give precise, provocative five-minute opening statements on the key lessons for Internet rule setting from these cases. Each speaker will pose three specific questions on the accountability, viability and efficiency of these governance structures. These questions will kick-off roundtable discussion between the panelists from government, civil society, business and the technical community. The objective will be to draw out further lessons in how the public interest can best be protected in informal Internet governance processes, with contributions and questions from workshop and remote participants.representing official positions.

Background Paper:

Name of the organiser(s) of the workshop and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups:
Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
William Drake, University of Zurich Business, technical community, Civil Society, government co-sponsors in process (TBD)

Have you, or any of your co-organisers, organised an IGF workshop before?: Yes
Please provide link(s) to workshop(s) or report(s):

Provide the names and affiliations of the panellists you are planning to invite:
Sunil Abraham, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore
Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford (Moderator)
William Drake, University of Zurich
Jeanette Hoffman, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin
Emily Taylor, Independent Consultant, UK
Rolf Weber, University of Zurich
Google representative TBC
Government representative TBC

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