The Global “Public Interest” in Critical Internet Resources

11 November 2015 - A Workshop on Other in João Pessoa, Brazil


The draft outcomes document for the WSIS+10 review says that, "We recognize that the Internet is a global resource that must be managed in an open and inclusive manner, which serves the public interest."  The NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement says the “Internet is a global resource which should be managed in the public interest.” Resolutions appended to the ITU’s core treaties say that IP-based networks must be interoperable and globally reachable in the public interest, and that governments must provide a clear legal framework “to ensure adequate protection of public interests in the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses.” ICANN’s Bylaws and Affirmation of Commitments employ the term three and five times, respectively. ICANN’s GAC has invoked the term to justify some of its positions, and applicants for new gTLDs are asked to undertake Public Interest Commitments. But what does the “public interest” really mean with respect to critical Internet resources? There has been no collective effort to clarify the standard to be followed. ICANN’s new Strategic Plan prioritizes developing ”a common consensus based definition of public interest” for the organization; could a broader, parallel public discussion be helpful? 

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