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AFRIK-IT  July 2003

AFRIK-IT July 2003


CHAKULA Issue No. 6, July 2003: Internet Governance and Civil Society Organizations


Emmanuel Njenga <[log in to unmask]>


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Thu, 3 Jul 2003 13:02:06 +1000





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Africa ICT Policy Monitor newsletter from the APC
Issue No. 6, July 2003:  Internet Governance and Civil Society Organizations


In this issues of Chakula:

* Editorial
* Introduction: 'Internet Governance - Overview and Issues'
* Technical Standards
* Accessibility and Architecture of the World Wide Web
* Management of Internet Names and Numbers
* Good Governance At The Country Domain Level
* Recent Debates from the WSIS Process
* What next for Internet Governance?
* News from the latest ICANN Meeting - Montreal, Canada
* Internet Governance Resources and Organizations



In this month's APC Africa Internet Rights Newsletter 'Chakula' we focus on
the issue of  'Internet Governance' a term that is loosely used to describe
policy issues regarding the  Internet. These include factors such as
management of Internet names and numbers,  establishment and management of
policy-making bodies, and equity and representation issues  within Internet
policy-making bodies.

This newsletter also connects these issues to the ongoing process of the
World Summit on  Information Society (WSIS) which has raised and made
various statements on the subject.

The role of civil society organizations in Internet governance is also
explored while we  conclude with a list of organizations and resources with
more detailed information that  may be of interest to civil society



Today, information and communications technologies, especially the Internet
and email, are  important tools for development. The Internet offers a
relatively cheap, versatile and  technically efficient service that
complements standard telephony. It allows businesses to  sell goods and
services directly to customers online. The Internet also offers
considerable promise in facilitating the delivery of basic services, such as
health and  education[1]. Email is an extremely fast and comparatively cheap
method of communication.

The Internet has undergone an exponential growth in the last years though
growth has been  uneven and the majority of Internet users are located in
developed countries especially in  the United States and Europe[2]. The use
of the Internet as an essential communications  tool means that consumers
and business organizations round the world are demanding a  stable and
efficient Internet system. Another governance concern relates to the way
Internet resources are managed and allocated such as domain names and
Internet numbers.  Policy-making processes and all major decisions affecting
the Internet internationally  have until recently been determined by the
United States which financed the research for  the its development [3].

Three main areas of the Internet have been identified that requires some
form of  policy-making or governance[4], briefly described below:

* Technical Standards
* Accessibility and Architecture of the World Wide Web
* The Management of Internet Names and Numbers



Setting technical standards requires the work of technical experts, but
often involves  much wider issues than just technical ones. The setting of
standards often has political  and economic implications and can be a means
of protection, domination and exclusion[5].

Internet standards were initially set by small groups of technicians or
individuals, when  neither the private sector nor governments paid too much
attention to the governance of  the Internet. This situation still exists in
some countries in Africa and elsewhere e.g.  small countries like Curacao in
the Caribbean. Standards setting took place within a  culture of computer
technicians who favoured openness and consensus and was commonly  referred
to as 'self regulation'.  The prevailing view was that governments should
stay  out of Internet governance, market forces and self-regulation were
sufficient to create  order and enforce standards of behaviour, but this
view has proven inadequate, as the  Internet has become mainstream[6].
Further to this, the 'self regulation' has not created  appropriate
standards in a diverse world, as shown by the fact that for many years
Internet protocol standards only accommodated Latin characters and
demonstrated the fact  that early Internet standards were determined by
North Americans and Europeans.

The body responsible for technical standards is the Internet Engineering
Task Force  (IETF):

The IETF sets the underlying technical standards for the Internet such a
determining the  standard for how information is transmitted from one
computer to another and security. It  describes itself as a "loosely
self-organised group of people who make technical and other  contributions
to the engineering and evolution of the Internet and its technologies".
Membership of IETF working groups is open to anyone who chooses to
participate via e-mail.  These working groups develop technical
specifications based on "rough consensus and  working code".

In recent times the IETF has come under increasing pressure from private
sector  organisations complaining that its policy of reaching wide consensus
makes it too slow,  and from governments and law enforcement agencies
wanting to impose legal obligations on  it to incorporate such elements as
wiretapping facilities and trace-ability of users into  its standards[7].



The World Wide Web is a system of servers or computers around the world
connected to the  Internet that support specially formatted documents such
as html pages through use of  technologies or protocols.  The protocols
ensure that documents can be accessed via the  Internet and also support
links to other documents, as well as graphics, audio, and video  files. This
means you can jump from one document to another simply by clicking on hot
spots or links are commonly referred. Web browsers such as Netscape
Navigator and  Microsoft's Internet Explorer make it easy to access the
World Wide Web[8].

The body responsible for WWW standards is the World Wide Web Consortium

W3C develops these technologies or protocols to lead the Web to its full
potential. Its  structure differs fundamentally from the IETF in that
participation is restricted to  member organisations willing to pay annual
membership fees or to "invited experts". The  W3C has maintained relatively
open standards, partly as a result of the powerful  participation of one
individual, Tim Berners-Lee, the "inventor" of the World Wide Web,  who sees
W3C as a place for open and free information exchange.

The sustainability of this "benevolent dictatorship" is questionable. There
are great  pressures on W3C to introduce ways of filtering out "harmful"
content. Such mechanisms  could potentially be used by governments to
restrict content that criticises their  policies. At the same time,
commercial interests and law enforcement bodies are demanding  standards
that will enable collection of data on users, and make it possible for the
publishers and users of content to be easily traced[9].

Recently, the W3C introduced a recommendation draft policy that would allow
the W3C to  incorporate patented technology into web standards as long as
the patent holder agreed to  license the technology in a "reasonable and
non-discriminatory" manner. After receiving  lots of complaints especially
from the public, W3C reversed their recommendation, to  exclude patented
standards[10]. The proposed policy would have meant the start of a future
web whose standards include patented technology that could only be accessed
with  proprietary (commercial) software - would make certain vendors very
happy - and a very  different web than the one we have now which only uses
open non-commercial standards.



Internet numbers technically known as IP (Internet protocol) numbers are
used to identify  computers connected to the Internet so messages sent on
the Internet can find their way to  their final destination. An example of
an IP number can be something like, but  since these numbers are
difficult to remember a name that identifies one or more IP  addresses are
used. These names are called domain names, for example

As the Internet growth expanded, the need to review the process of managing
Internet  domain names and numbers, which naturally have to be unique, was
recognized by both users  and domain name administrators. These
administrators were often voluntary.

The body responsible for managing Internet domain names is the Internet
Corporation for  Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):

ICANN was set up in 1998 by the Clinton administration as a US
not-for-profit organization  with international participation, based on
consensus, to administer the Internet domain  name system. It was intended
to increase efficiency and coordination in the management of  domain names,
and to manage the creation of new top-level domains to join the existing
.com, .org, .ac, .edu, .net, etc. ICANN also manages the network of thirteen
computers  around the world commonly referred to as root servers that are
essential to the proper  functioning of the Internet[11].

Since its inception, ICANN has faced open controversy as it attempted to
increase  efficiency without clear accountability, legitimacy and oversight.
Many have questioned  ICANN's decision-making and governance processes with
a focus on two major issues,  legitimacy and equity[12]. The ICANN
governance process, initially based on  self-regulation, kept governments
and civil society out on the notion that only technical  experts like
computer engineers could keep up with the technology and little
consideration  was given to the need for consultation or involvement of the
wider community who were  impacted by the decisions made.

Many people feel that even though ICANN formal mandate is only technical in
nature, the  decisions made concerning the management of Internet resources
have substantial political,  economic, cultural, and social implications
that affect all Internet users and service  providers around the world [13].
And several of the decisions made by ICANN in response to  applications for
new top-level domains (tld), such as. union, have proved very  controversial
precisely because the decisions taken by ICANN were indeed based on
non-technical reasons.

* Managing Internet Names At Numbers At Regional And National Level:

ICANN has regional "subsidiaries" or Regional Internet Registries (RIR),
which are  responsible for the management of IP numbers and domain names for
each region of the world  (Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Europe/Middle East,
North America and Africa).

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other selected organizations that
satisfy certain  criteria obtain IP addresses from the RIR that serves their
area; other Internet users ordinarily obtain their IP addresses from their
ISP. At  present, there are four RIRs: the RIPE (serving Europe and
surrounding areas, including parts of Africa), the APNIC (serving the Asia
and Pacific Rim region), the ARIN (serving the rest of the world, including
parts of Africa) and the newest RIR set up last year, LACNIC (serving Latin
America and  some Caribbean Islands).

An neutral, African-based non-profit regional registry (AfriNIC) has been
nominated to act  in the long-term best interests of the entire African
community by managing IP in the  continent. Once AFRINIC is implemented and
regognized, it is expected that African  organizations that presently obtain
IP addresses from RIPE or the ARIN will in future  obtain IP addresses from
the AfriNIC.

In each country there is a national managing entity (designated by ICANN),
with  attributions similar to ICANN's but limited to the country code Top
Level Domain (ccTLD)   (e.g. the .za in a South African email address). This
entity is organized by different  bodies (when it is at all) depending on
the country in question - many are run by  government departments, others
are non-profit organizations, some are academic entities  and still others
are private for-profit companies. In many developing countries these
managing entities are located outside the country to which the domain name
relates. A  detailed list of who is who can be found on the ICANN website,
see details on:



When the managing entity for domain names in a country has not been
established in an  acceptable procedure by all stakeholders, often for
historical reasons, it is clearly  better governance to 'redelegate'
management of the ccTLD, and make the administration of  the domain name
more responsive to the public interest[14]. This is especially true when
the ccTLD of a country is being administered from another country. This is
actually the  case in The Gambia and Libya[15]. The process of assigning
domain names, and the control  of those domains, needs to be transparent and
accessible. Mismanagement can result in your  website being knocked offline
or your website address stolen.[16].

* Examples of Redelegation of ccTLDs:

The two case studies from Africa are highlighted to describe the process of
'redelegation'. The third, from Brazil, demonstrates how redelegation to
improve  accountability will increase public revenue that can be used for
digital inclusion.

* South Africa:

The county Domain name (.za) administration was initially conducted by a
volunteer, who  later initiated a process to shift responsibility for the
domain to a non-profit entity,  Namespace ZA with the support of the local
Internet community, the South Africa Internet  Service Providers Association
(ISPA), ISOC and the government's Department of  Communications[17].

Under a new bill that was introduced at about the same time, named the
Electronic  Communications Bill, Chapter 10 proposed the set up of a new .za
domain name authority  with board members effectively chosen by the Ministry
of  Communications. The new  authority proposed to bring a more
representative entity to enable all South Africans to  have a say in South
African Internet administration and governance, which is seen by many  as an
important national asset.

The bill provoked a huge debate and clashes between the differing groups
around domain  name administration in South Africa, and was highly
publicised by the media.

Those opposed to the Bill at the time said they preferred government
involvement, rather  than control while ICANN forbade a takeover of domain
administration by any body that was  not sanctioned by the local Internet

On behalf of civil society interests, APC sent a statement with this regard
emphasizing  the reflecting a need to create a truly democratic, accountable
and representative domain  name authority in South Africa. The statement
concluded by reflecting the importance of  taking into consideration the
interest of Internet users, including those potential users  that do not yet
have access, can be served better by a domain name management system which
is independent from government and from the Internet industry, but that
works closely with  both, and that includes civil society

The Minister of Communications is currently appointing a panel who will
recommend board  members to make proposals regarding the regulation of the
.za ccTLD and ancillary matters.

* Kenya:

The Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) was formed in 2002 as a result
of a  consultation process between multiple stakeholders consisting of
government  representatives, the private sector and civil society
organizations. Just as in many other  developing countries around the world,
the technical functions and administrative  functions of country domain
management was being carried out by individuals who were  becoming
overwhelmed by the administrative work and growing responsibilities
involved. A  new body was established on the understanding that domain names
are a public resource that  should be managed in the interest of all
sectors. [19].

KENIC's membership is made of Board Members and Associate Members. The
current membership  comprises of a good cross-section of the Kenyan Internet
community and the Government.  KENIC's board members are drawn from the
Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK),  Computer Society of Kenya (CSK),
Kenya Information Society (KIS), Kenya Education Network  (KENET),
Nationwide Taskforce on Electronic Commerce, the Government, and the
Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK). The East African
Internet  Association (EAIA) is an associate member[20].

The benefits of redelegation in Kenya are already bearing fruits which will
greatly  benefit Kenyan Internet service users and providers. According to
Mr Michuki Mwangi, a  Senior Systems Engineer at KENIC, registering a .ke
domain has plummeted to 25% of its  price just a few months ago [21].

Apart from the reduced costs, it now takes at most 24 hours to have a domain
registered  and working, whereas it used to take at least 48 hours. KENIC is
also inviting the public  to influence the policies and services of KENIC
through a public mailing list for which  people can register from their

* Brazil:

In Brazil, civil society has come together to change the way the Internet is
governed -  having grown fed up of the anti-democratic nature of the
management of the Brazilian  Internet which is in the hands of a group of
volunteers and there is no accounting for the  millions of dollars raised in
the sale of .br Internet addresses every year[22]. A  seminar[23] was held
February 25-26 2003 in Rio de Janeiro and partly as a result of  discussions
with government officials and the seminar recommendations, the government
has  decided to support the transition to a new Internet governance
structure for Brazil. It is  proposed that the profits from the sale of .br
addresses go to create a new digital  inclusion fund.



The World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) has included in its
deliberations the issue  of Internet governance with various stakeholders
voicing their concerns around governance  issues during the recently
concluded call for inputs to the WSIS draft declaration and  action plan.
Chakula staff took a look at some of those inputs, which focus on the role
of  different stakeholders in the management of public resources such as the
country top level  domains (ccTLDs) and some reflections on the overall
governance of the Internet at global  level.

The draft declaration of Principles and Action Plan of the WSIS dated March
21st 2003[24]  suggested the following wording regarding the management of
Internet names and addresses:

* Principle:

Under item No.44. "Management of Internet names and addresses: Internet
governance must be  multilateral, democratic and transparent, taking into
account the needs of the public and  private sectors as well as those of the
civil society, and respecting multilingualism. The  coordination
responsibility for root servers, domain names, and Internet Protocol (IP)
address assignment should rest with a suitable international,
inter-governmental  organization. The policy authority for country code
top-level-domain names (ccTLDs) should  be the sovereign right of

* Action Plan:

Under item No.33. "Internet governance": A transparent and democratic
governance of the  Internet shall constitute the basis for the development
of a global culture of  cyber-security. An [international]
[intergovernmental] organisation should ensure  multilateral, democratic and
transparent management of root servers, domain names and  Internet Protocol
(IP) address assignment.

(Note -square brackets above mean the phrase or word bracketed is a subject
for  negotiation and has not been accepted)

Read the review of inputs that were made by different organizations
including governments  and civil society organizations in reaction to the
above item numbers of the draft  principle and action plan of WSIS as of
21st March 2003:



For now the debates on Internet governance will continue, especially since
the WSIS  process is taking this debate amongst other issues to a wider
audience who would otherwise  perhaps have not been aware or concerned about
Internet governance. As some of the inputs  from different sectors and
governments naturally conflict, there will be a lot of  negotiation involved
in the upcoming intersessional meeting of the WSIS in Paris next  month and
also during the third and final preparatory conference ("PrepCom") in
September  in Geneva. Then we'll have to work to ensure the UN action plan
will be implemented in our  countries and not become just another political

ICANN just held the second of this year's ICANN meetings, in Montreal,
Canada last week  (22-26 June) - see details below. ICANN meetings are
usually open to anyone wishing to  participate. Those unable to attend the
meeting physically can also take part in the  web-cast and remote
participation via mailing lists. Full details can be obtained from the
ICANN website below:

As a final word, it is very important that civil society organizations and
especially  those from developing countries take interest in these
developments and participate in  debates as opportunity arises. This can be
at international level as well as at national  levels with regard to the
management of your country's top-level domain names and resource  allocation
to ensure that management is transparent, accountable and equitable. Follow
Brazil's example with us over the next few months, to see how civil society
is working to  change Internet governance in Brazil.

This introduction merely scratches the surface of issues and debates around
Internet  governance and related public policy issues. We hope to bring you
more issues in the  coming months.



News emerging from the latest ICANN meeting says it will involve the global
internet  community in its decision-making.

A framework to form local, regional and global groups was approved by
ICANN's board and an  interim At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) will accept
applications from groups seeking  input.

It is a critical step, says ICANN president and chief executive Paul Twomey.
The  organisation has been criticised for being ineffective.

ICANN gave some examples of issues of interest, such as new domain names and
privacy in  the WHOIS database.

The board agreed to improve communication with country code top-level domain
registries  and a Country Code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) was

More details can be found on the address:



* APC Internet Charter on Internet Governance:

The APC Internet Rights Charter for social justice and development has a
section on  national, regional and global governance of the Internet.

* Glossary of Internet Terms and Abbreviations:

A complete glossary of terms and abbreviations is available from the ICANN
website, please  visit to view a comprehensive description of common
Internet terms and organizations.

* The Global Internet Policy Initiative Project:

The Global Internet Policy Initiative supports adoption in developing
countries of the  legal and policy framework for an open and democratic
Internet. The project works with  local stakeholders in consultative,
coalition-based efforts to promote the principles of a  decentralized,
accessible, user-controlled, and market-driven Internet.

* ICANNWATCH is a news and commentary website forum for people interested
in questions  about the doing of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers.

* Internet Democracy Project

The Internet Democracy Project recognizes that the Internet is a unique
medium in which  key governance decisions about the Internet's central
resources and operations are being  made by quasi-governmental agencies such
as ICANN. The primary goal of the Internet  Democracy Project is to enable a
critical mass of non governmental organizations to work  on creating
Internet governance structures that preserve and promote the principles of a
civil society.

* The Africa - ICANN Group (AfrICANN)

The Africa - ICANN Group an open forum whose primary objectives is to
support and promote  Africa's interests in ICANN.


The African Network Information Center (AfriNIC), is the emerging
organization that will  administer Internet number resources for the
continent of Africa on behalf of the Internet  community.

* Africa Top Level Domain Group - AFTLD

AFTLD acts as a focal point for all the African ccTLDs), to discuss matters
of policy that  affect country domains (ccTLDs) globally and then, where
possible, to present the group's  position as one voice. One coherent voice
from a large group of African ccTLDs will have  more influence and will make
it easier for external parties to gauge the opinion of the  AFTLD

* The African Internet - A Status Report

The use of the Internet has grown relatively rapidly in most urban areas in
Africa, in  much the same pattern as the adoption of the mobile phone, which
followed shortly after.  As an indication, five years ago, only a handful of
countries had local Internet access,  now it is available in every capital
city. But although these are encouraging trends, the  differences between
the development levels of Africa and the rest of the world are much  wider
in this area than they are using more traditional measures of development.

* AfriDNS - Africans and Africa in ICANN

Africa Domain Names (AFRIDNS) is Africa's parallel organization to the
Domain Name  Supporting Organization (DNSO) of ICANN. This is supposed to
enable Africans to discuss  DNSO issues, how it affects us, determine and
articulate positions for mutual benefit,  plan and coordinate the African
constituencies of the DNSO etc. There are only two ICANN  regions with this
parallel organization, Asia Pacific Domain Names (APDNS) and AfriDNS.

* Can ICANN meet the needs of developing countries?

Article from the Digital Freedom Network on the growing knowledge and
participation divide  between "developed" and "undeveloped" countries on
decisions regarding the global  structure of the Internet that is currently
under the mandate of ICANN (May 2003).

* ccTLD Governance Project:

This project reviews the relationship between country code Top Level Domains
(ccTLDs) and  governments in 45 countries. Included are 1) tables which
highlight the main  relationships, and 2) country-specific information.

* A review of Government involvement in ccTLD Administration:

This website describes the level of involvement of Governments in ccTLD
administration,  with details such as legislation, whether the administrator
is a private sector or  non-profit and any details on contract with ICANN.


[1] ITU 1999: Challenges to the Network:
[2] The State of the Internet, growth and gaps:
[3] Wolfgang Kleinwächter, 2001: Global Governance in the Information Age:
[4] Kate Wild, 2001: ICT policy for civic networking
[5] APC Internet governance pages:
[6] Zoe Baird, 2002: Governing the Internet, governments, business and non
[7] APC Internet governance pages:
[9] APC Internet governance pages:
[12] Tracy Cohen, 2000: ICANN Primer for the Internet Service Providers
[13] Wolfgang Kleinwächter, 2001: Global Governance in the Information Age:
[14] GIPI Project 2003: Redelegation of Country Code Top Level Domains:
[16] APC Internet governance pages:
[17] Phillip de Wet, ITweb 2002: Govt, Namespace find compromise on .za:
[18] South Africa Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill APC Press
[19] Report on the Kenya ccTLD Delegation:
[21] Tom Kwanya: Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) finally gains
control of the dot ke (.ke) domains
[22] "Dangers of monopolies and closed practices are key to debate on
digital inclusion" -- APCNews 26/Jan/03

Chakula: Africa ICT Policy Monitor newsletter
Contact [log in to unmask] with questions, comments and contributions.

Chakula is produced by the Africa ICT Policy Monitor Project of the
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)


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