The Internet is part of the fabric of our society and our economy, and its governance affects countless aspects of our lives. Empowering individuals to have a voice in shaping the Internet is one of Mozilla’s core principles. Another of those core principles is that continued effectiveness of the Internet depends on decentralized participation worldwide.
We’ve engaged with global Internet governance a few times in past years, from the perspective of advocating for meaningful empowerment of Internet users. Often, the contrast is between so-called “multistakeholder” models and increased direct governmental control – as was the case in 2012, when we engaged in an active debate over whether to expand International Telecommunications Union (ITU) jurisdiction deep into the Internet, something we consider to be a bad idea. In contrast, open discussion forums like the Internet Governance Forum allow for more equitable participation between governments, businesses, and users of the Internet. We consistently support IGF as the best home for collective policy development as it touches the Internet.
Today, one of the major issues in Internet governance is the transition of oversight of certain technical administrative functions away from the U.S. government, where it has resided for decades, to a multistakeholder body. These functions are implemented by a number of groups, but the most well-known is ICANN, a non-profit organization that holds significant responsibility for managing policy decisions around domain names (like “mozilla.org” and “firefox.com”). (For more background: The Global Commission on Internet Governance has produced a thorough paper on this issue.)
At Mozilla, we’ve been tracking this transition, along with other Internet governance developments, from the perspective of promoting trust online and protecting a healthy future for the global, open Internet. We support shifting oversight in this space from the U.S. government to an accountable multistakeholder body, and we’re glad to see progress on the transition, as well as transparency and openness in the process.
For the next few weeks, ICANN is seeking feedback from the public on its proposed transition processes. The first of these is a proposal to transition naming related functions. We encourage you to make your voice heard at this inflection point on evolving global Internet governance.
Update (May 7): ICANN opened its second proposal, on accountability, for public comment as well.