How the US government exerts control over ICANN


Michael Geist sez, "The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the ITU (a UN body), which in turn is characterized as a choice between a private-sector led, bottoms-up, consensus model (ICANN) or a governmental-controlled approach. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)."

While the GAC claims its role is merely to provide 'advice' to ICANN, it often seems to take the view that its suggestions can't be refused. Indeed, late on Friday, ICANN proposed a by-law change that would grant governments even greater control over its decision-making process. At the moment, ICANN looks to various supporting organizations to develop policies designed to represent the views of many different stakeholders, including the GAC. Where the GAC and the ICANN board disagree on a policy issue, the ICANN board decision governs provided that a simple majority of board members vote against the GAC advice and that ICANN provide an explanation for the decision.

ICANN is now proposing that the threshold be increased so that 2/3 of eligible ICANN board members would be required to vote against GAC advice in order to reject it. The increased threshold would grant governments enormous power over ICANN, coming close to an effective veto over decisions based on broad consultations and participation from around the world. With the GAC intervening with increasing frequency (particularly on new generic TLD issues), ICANN has maintained that it is not required to follow the governmental advice. That is technically true, but the proposed by-law chance would make it exceptionally difficult to overcome government demands. In effect, governments would be given near-complete veto power over ICANN board decisions.

Government Control Over Internet Governance: Proposal Would Give the GAC Increased Power over ICANN Board Decisions [Michael Geist]

Crowdfunding Lantern, a P2P anti-censorship tool


Scout writes, "Billions of people experience a severely-censored version of the Internet -- most famously in countries like China and Iran. Now there's something you can do about it."

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Microsoft wants to rename Internet Explorer to shed negative associations

Turd-polishing at its finest. What do you think they should call it?

Paranoid Paul: get notified of silent, sneaky terms of service updates


Paul writes, "I've created a free service called ParanoidPaul that notifies you when updates are made to the terms that affect you. I strongly believe that the websites we use every day should be accountable to their users, and transparent about changes made to their privacy policies and terms of services."

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Profile of Flickr and Slack founder Stewart Butterfield


The long and affectionate piece from Wired's Mat Honan details Butterfield's pattern of founding unsuccessful whimsical games companies (Game Neverending, Glitch) that spawn innovative, beautifully functional tech startups (Flickr, Slack).

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NZ TV won't air ads for geo-unblocking ISP

Callum writes, "A New Zealand ISP has had its TV ads rejected by multiple NZ TV Networks (there are three in total, bless) citing a possible 'breach of copyright'."

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Brits trust Wikipedia more than the BBC, "serious" newspapers


According to a Yougov poll, 64% of Britons believe Wikipedia tells the truth "a great deal" or "a fair amount."

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Great video explainer: Vint Cerf on ICANN and NTIA

The "father of the Internet" explains why the Congressional posturing and global freakout about the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration stepping back from management of the Internet domain name system is misplaced.

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Department of Dirty will help Cameron depornify the Internet

Pam writes, "Open Rights Group has produced a new satirical film to raise awareness of internet filters - a spoof campaign by the 'Department of Dirty'."

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Pirate Bay traffic doubles over three years


It's probably the most censored site on the Internet, blocked by national firewalls all over the world, but more people use it every day.

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The apology letter Google SHOULD have used to announce the end of G+ "Real Names"

The sudden reversal of Google's years-long insistence on "real names" for G+ users came after a long fight about the biases inherent in such a policy.

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White House caught secretly tracking Web visitors with sneaky spyware


They proudly say that they comply with federal privacy law, eschewing cookies, but sneakily use Addthis's "canvas fingerprinting," a product whose other major user is Youporn (but they stopped after they were outed, and the White House didn't).

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Claims of looting at MH17 crash-site

An article in The Wire, citing mostly tabloid and Ukrainian government sources, claims that locals and separatists looted the wreckage of MH17, creating difficulties for forensic investigators.

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Google Plus drops "Real Names" policy

After years of criticism, Google Plus has finally dropped its controversial, Facebook-alike "Real Names" policy.

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New Mexico threatens inmate with 90 days' solitary because his family made him a Facebook page

The New Mexico Corrections Department has a policy prohibiting inmates from "accessing the Internet through third parties," which they've interpreted to mean that prisoners whose families maintain Facebook pages for them can be punished with solitary confinement.

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