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Asia Pacific Community speaks up on the IANA Stewardship Transition

4 September 2015

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Collage of Asia Pacific community members engaging in discussion and attending presentations

In my recent commentary in the TODAY newspaper, titled "Keeping the Internet Open and Free", I posed a couple of questions to our Asian and Pacific readers to gauge their awareness of the issues surrounding the Internet's governance (i.e. the current affairs of the Internet), and the need to participate in these conversations. Every voice counts, and even if we may not be involved in the day-to-day discussions ourselves, we should at least be concerned with who is representing us and speaking up for our community.

For example, one important ongoing discussion revolves around the future of oversight for key functions of the Internet's infrastructure. This global, inclusive process to transition the U.S. Government's oversight to the multistakeholder community is called the IANA Stewardship Transition.

We are at the tail end of two critical public comment periods for the IANA Stewardship Transition and the parallel process to enhance ICANN's accountability. Public comment periods are critical to an open and inclusive policy development process because they allow any member of the public, from any country, even in an individual capacity, to review and comment on the draft proposals put together by Internet community members to address these two issues. An update of the conversations at the global level, including the public comments received, can be found here.

It is a good time to take stock of our region's participation in this conversation to address the questions I'd raised.

Awareness, Understanding, Participation

It is a known fact that we Asians are typically not as vocal as other regions. Therefore, I am delighted to report the buzzing activity from this region on these discussions. Many are led from ground-up (i.e. community), demonstrating the multistakeholder model of Internet Governance in action.

Awareness is the first stepping-stone to global participation, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight that many local communities have raised awareness of the IANA Stewardship Transition issue amongst themselves. One example of this awareness building can be seen in the efforts of Korean professor Young-Eum Lee, who shared, on her social media network, her desire for Korean stakeholders to participate in the process. Her post, in Korean, can be found here.

Articles and blogs addressing the importance of the IANA Stewardship Transition have also surfaced from several Indian and Japanese community leaders. Read the article by India's Bedavyasa Mohanty of the Observer Research Foundation Cyber Initiative article here; or Izumi Okutani's (of the Japan Network Information Centre) blog in Japanese here.

Various meetings and discussions (both online and offline) led by local community members and facilitated by ICANN APAC hub staff, have also sprouted up in the past month. Many have addressed the lack of understanding about the issues at play, which are at times technically complex and multi-layered in nature. In addition, the interrelated conversation on enhancing ICANN's accountability mechanisms, in the absence of a contract with the U.S. Government, has also generated a significant portion of the discussions.

In Beijing, the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) led a multistakeholder briefing and meeting aimed at describing and simplifying the two proposals published for community feedback. Participants included stakeholders from government, the technical community, domain name and telecom industries and academia.

India has also held several conversations led by the government, as well as civil society. Korea and Japan, with their multistakeholder Internet Governance "coalitions" – the Korea Internet Governance Alliance (KIGA) and the Internet Governance Conference Japan (IGCJ) – met with key stakeholders respectively in their local communities to discuss the proposals as well.

Next week, we will be joining the region's technical and "numbering resources" (IP addressing) communities in Jakarta for the APNIC40 meeting, and we anticipate both proposals to be topics of high interest.

So what's next?

As a result of the above consultations, we expect more public comment submissions before the public comment periods close (8 September for the IANA Stewardship Transition proposal and 12 September for the Enhancing ICANN Accountability proposal). It is not too late to join the conversation, and I highly encourage you to do so.

The amount of activity on this critical issue has certainly bucked our region's "track record" as typical price takers in Internet Governance conversations. This highlights the importance and relevance of this issue to our region and signifies the collective recognition that we need to work together to make sure that the outcome of this discussion reflects our region's interests – where half of all Internet users reside.

From the ICANN Asia Pacific Hub, we would like to thank the community for their efforts. We will continue to work with you to contribute towards a healthy Internet ecosystem for the Asia-Pacific region.

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Low Jia-Rong is ICANN's Senior Director of Global Stakeholder Engagement, Asia.


Jia-Rong Low

Jia-Rong Low

VP, Stakeholder Engagement & Managing Director - Asia Pacific