ICANN CEO’s Promise to China of a Seat At The Table

In 2014, the ICANN CEO promised to make ICANN more truly global. China, now one-third of the Internet, has never been represented on the ICANN board and is bypassed on most issues.* No wonder they are creating alternatives. Since so many in “Internet Governance” seem not to know this, I’m reprinting the transcript from an event in the Manhattan Borough President’s office. The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhFk-fcuTEM

“Our danger really was that the Chinese were going to announce they will have their own Internet and run away with their own root and leave us kind of a second Internet. That was the biggest danger we were facing. (Audience question) What would happen if they did? (Fadi continued) If they did, and it’s a good point, if the Chinese separated their Internet I think the Internet as we know it – as a single platform to share ideas, to share commerce, with a minimum of barriers, with a minimum friction – inevitably if they separate the root we will have friction between the networks. They’ll put rules, they’ll connect walls.

To get into their Internet you need “x”. To get out of their Internet you need “y.” That’s not the Internet we want. We want an Internet that is open as Tim Berners-Lee would say. That information and ideas and commerce flows through it. I think it very important to know that that danger largely is behind us. I just came from China yesterday and China has made clear announcements that they are now supporting ICANN, [inaudible] ICANN. They are legitimizing the root of ICANN, legitimizing that we want one single Internet. That’s extremely powerful and notable this year. (Borough President Gail Brewer said) Congratulations. (Fadi continues) Yes, it is a huge, huge step forward for us.

Now, we are watching, we are not naive about the importance of this event and the importance of what it means. So in [inaudible] this week I was there with the CEO of, from New York here, Thomson-Reuters, the CEO of Linkedin, the CEO of Qualcomm and many others. We went to meet with Premier ?Li and Premier ?Li asserted and confirmed again that China is for one global Internet. Now, they had never said this before London. One global Internet. One Internet, One world. [inaudible name] said.

Now, the Chinese of course expect “One Internet, one world” means they have a seat at the table. That seat at the table was impossible so long as ICANN is, still today or will continue to be, under contract to the U.S. government. It just wasn’t [partially inaudible. Possibly congruent.] We could just not tell the Chinese you have an equal seat at the table in one global Internet but sorry to inform you the root is really under contract to the U.S. government. It just wasn’t going to go. I think this is pretty obvious at a basic level. Now, getting it all done is complicated and here we are.”

    Recorded by Joly MacFie of ISOC-NY, who has posted it on YouTube


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