.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Arab play for the Internet

From The Lawfare Project:

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the entity responsible for assigning domain names on the Internet, and was established as a non-profit corporation based in California during the Clinton administration so that the Internet's development would be coordinated by a single entity.

ICANN works "in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems."[1] As part of this mission, ICANN approves Domain Name Registrars, which are organizations that register specific domain names, and assigns IP addresses, the numerical codes by which computers actually connect to each other via the Internet.

From November 25, 1998 until September 30, 2009, ICANN was overseen by the U.S. Commerce Department. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Commerce and ICANN was allowed to expire, to be replaced by international, multilateral control.

There are three current and developing issues that are of particular concern relating to ICANN:

I. ICANN's Geographical Region classifications;

II. 'Public Morality' Objections to New Domain Names; and

III. Objections to Terrorism Background Checks.

...3) On August 28, 2010, Amre Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, sent a letter to ICANN criticizing the body for not recognizing "the Arab region," and cited "the operational precedent of many UN agencies" as authoritative.[3]

4) On September 25, 2010, the ICANN Board of Directors approved the following resolution: "The definition of Continent or UN Regions in the Guidebook should be expanded to include UNESCO's regional classification list which comprises: Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean."[4]

9) Should the September 25th Resolution become applicable to ICANN's Board of Directors, it would mean that the "Arab States" Region would be entitled to between one and five directorships, while the collapsed "North American and Europe" Region would have a maximum of five seats. In fact, the director of ICANN's Nominating Committee noted at the workshop that, "This year we'll select one individual from North America, which is 400-500 million people with fairly deep penetration of internet."

10) Further alterations to the geographical makeup of ICANN's Board of Directors would mean a considerable shift in power towards the Arab League, which would presumably vote as a bloc far more than preexisting Geographic Regions.

...12) Should the League of Arab States gain bloc voting power at ICANN, there is every indication that it will seek to replicate its effective takeover of the United Nations General Assembly, likely in conjunction with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

13) The OIC is extremely interested in developing internet capability, and recently formed a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) with the following mission statement: "OIC-CERT is to provide a platform for member countries to explore and to develop collaborative initiatives and possible partnerships in matters pertaining to cyber security that shall strengthen their self reliant [sic] in the cyberspace."[7]

14) OIC-CERT's Steering Committee consists of the following countries: Tunisia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.[8]

15) On October 28, 2010, at OIC-CERT's Second Annual General Meeting, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu noted the following as a core mission of OIC-CERT: "In view of the phenomena of discrimination, stereotyping and defamation targeting Muslims and their religion known as 'Islamophobia,' we invite the OIC-CERT to use its available professional and technical resources (in line with its objectives stated in terms of reference) in order to cooperate with the 'OIC Islamophobia Observatory' to identify the best ways and means including technical, administrative and legal tools to combat anti-Islamic contents on the internet."[9] This issue bears more directly on the ongoing debate regarding 'public morality' objections and will be considered more fully in Point 2 below.

The paper goes on to discuss how this could cause limitations on websites that are offensive to Arab nations (such as pornography and "Islamophobia".) beyond that, it could promote terrorist sites on the Internet:
On September 25, 2010, ICANN's board of directors removed a reference to "terrorism" from the fourth version of its Draft Applicant Guidebook (DAG, or DAGv4), after complaints were received from several Arab individuals and organizations. Failing to retain the ability to investigate applicants for ties to terrorism would significantly hamper ICANN's effectiveness, and could lead to a proliferation of pro-terrorist websites.

1) Until 2009, ICANN necessarily complied with applicable United States Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations regarding terrorism, and had no reason to specify such as the subject of a background check.

2) The term "terrorism" was included without any conceivably objectionable modifiers such as "Islamist."

3) The Chairman of the (Pan Arab) Multilingual Internet Group Khaled Fattal declared that the term "terrorism" itself was objectionable because "it will be seen by millions of Muslims and Arabs as racist, prejudicial and profiling." Fattal requested not only its removal, but an apology from ICANN.[25]

4) NOTE: The Multilingual Group's Mission as stated on its website is in part, "To secure this Multilingual Internet, starting with the Arabic Internet on Pan Arab level."[26] All of its actions to date have been to further an Arabic-language Internet.

5) Abdulaziz H. Al-Zoman of SaudiNIT claimed "the international community is extensibly [sic] divided on who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter" as reason to remove the term.[27]
This is not only blatant politicizing of the major authority behind the Internet itself, but it is could conceivably promote censorship of opinions that are deemed "Islamophobic" and otherwise offensive while giving terrorists much freer reign over their own Internet activities.

(h/t Daily Alert via SoccerDad)