From: Aaron Bowen <asb01@u.washington.edu>
To: <DNSTransition@ntia.doc.gov>
Date: Fri, Jul 7, 2006 4:44 PM
Subject: Internet governance -- follow Brazil's model

Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to comment on how the Internet is governed.

At the second round of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in Tunis from November 16th to 18th of 2005, the issue of Internet governance received particular attention. The Brazilian government called for a change to the status quo of Internet governance and proposed its own national system as a model for global Internet moderation.

Internet development in Brazil was not a simple or smooth process. Over the past fifteen years it has faced such challenges as the diffusion of Internet-related hardware and services outside of Brazil’s major urban centers, the costs of Internet access through the Brazilian telecommunications industry, an increasing digital divide in Brazilian society between citizens with Internet access and those without, a government making a challenging transition from military autocracy to modern democracy, and, through this governmental metamorphosis, a transition from protectionist policies to open markets in the IT industry.

Between 1990 and 2003 the Brazilian government refined various policies in order to respond to these challenges. Among other reforms, the Brazilian government recognized a need for a national Internet governance policy and a government body to implement that policy. Thus in May of 1995 the Comitê Gestor da Internet no Brasil (CGI.br) was formed to fill this need. Between 1995 and 2003, however, CGI.br had no steering committee or forum in which the various sectors of the Brazilian economy could discuss Internet governance. Responding to a public debate on Internet governance in Brazil in early 2003, President Lula da Silva issued Presidential Decree No. 4,829 on September 3, 2003. This decree changed the structure of CGI.br to include a 21 member steering committee, which serves as the current governing regime.

This revamped version of CGI.br has received positive endorsements from Waudo Siganga on behalf of the UN's Working Group on Internet Governance:

http://www.wgig.org/docs/book/Waudo-Siganga.html

The 2003 incarnation of CGI.br has also been praised in a paper prepared for the Third World Institute by Carlos Afonso, a prominent Brazilian Internet liberalization activist:

http://wsispapers.choike.org/briefings/eng/carlos_brazil_edit.pdf

A Brazilian-style steering committee done on a global scale currently does not feature in ICANN's governance structure, but this is something ICANN should incorporate in its management of Internet domain names. A steering committee comprised of representatives from around the world to which ICANN must answer would be a positive and necessary model for Internet governance in the future. This will allow all nations of the world to act as stakeholders in governing the Internet as the global resource it is. Other nations and peoples of the world will not consider ICANN a legitimate governance body in the absence of such a steering committee. Having a legitimate forum in which each nation has a voice in Internet governance is very much in America's interest as well as the interest of the rest of the world.