‘Internet Architecture & Human Rights’


The panel on ‘Internet Architecture & Human Rights,’ partially sponsored by ICANN, was held on Friday, 29 January 2016 during the conference ‘Computers, Privacy and Data Protection’,[1] which is the largest privacy conference, attracting around 1000 participants from civil society, academia, and policy-making circles.

The panel was convened and organised by our NCUC members to raise awareness about the impact of ICANN’s policies on human rights among data privacy experts community, as well to do some active NCUC outreach at the CPDP. The panel was chaired by Sophie Kwasny (Head of Data Protection Unit, Council of Europe[2]), and moderated by Dr. Monika Zalnieriute (NCUC, University of Melbourne[3]). We had four speakers, each focusing on different aspects of human rights issues related to Internet architecture, and ICANN. Stephanie Perrin (NCUC, University of Toronto[4]) discussed WHOIS and privacy issues, Corrine Cath (University of Oxford[5]) discussed IETF and human rights issues, while Niels ten Oever (NCUC, Article 19[6]) more broadly focused on the problematics of human rights issues within Internet protocols, before Dr. Stefania Milan (NCUC, University of Amsterdam[7]) finished the presentations with a zoom out ‘What’s in there (ICANN) for civil society and academia?’

The panel presentations were followed by a Q & A, and also a short intervention by Andrea Beccalli (ICANN), who was also interested in attracting more civil society and academics to ICANN circles.

Lessons learnt:

The turn out and interest in the panel was very high, the conference room was full, the audience (mainly civil society & academia, but also members from the EU Commission, Council of Europe, etc) were really interested and had many questions of how to participate, and how to contribute to ICANN policy – making processes.

Despite their knowledge of technology related law and politics, quite big proportion of the audience was not really familiar with ICANN and its role in Internet Governance, let alone NCUC and our work, and generally could not understand many acronyms used in relation to Internet Architecture and Internet Governance. This suggests that the crucial information does not reach certain important groups and potential new NCUC members, and we need more outreach and engagement.

For the Future:

The NCUC members on the panel indeed discussed and presented topics that were of great interest to the audience of this conference, and in the opinion of the panellists, more panels on the subject matter and engagement strategies are needed in similar conferences and events that are dominated by civil society and academia.

[1]           http://www.cpdpconferences.org/

[2]           http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/DataProtection/default_en.asp

[3]           http://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/monika-zalnieriute

[4]           http://current.ischool.utoronto.ca/students/stephanie-perrin

[5]           https://www.linkedin.com/in/corinnecath

[6]           https://www.article19.org/pages/en/untitled.html

[7]           https://stefaniamilan.net/about-me


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