Governance Ecology - Home Page
What decision making process should decide the allocation and use of the .nyc Top Level Domain? How does .nyc link with traditional New York City communities, governments, technologists, companies, and the Internet's global oversight systems? Here we develop a governance ecology that will facilitate those relationships.
Good Governance Defined
Wiser Earth defines good governance as "the practice of decision-making and administering an organization, company, or public institution in an impartial, efficient, transparent, and fair way that is free of corruption and respects the rule of law."
Internet Governance Defined
The WSIS provided the following definition of Internet Governance,
"Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet."Within the Internet Governance community, the term multi-stakeholder is used, it stands for "by governments, civil society and the private sector, in their respective roles."
On Internet Governance The White House
"Central to the Internet’s value as a platform for innovation, democracy, access to information and scientific progress are the technical standards on which it is built and the open manner in which it is governed." The White House Office of Technology, May 2, 2012
Governance and economics are intimately tied together. Some say good governance evolves from good economic policy, others the opposite. Perhaps they are both right. Here are a few of the governance options for the .nyc TLD:
- The Standard Model - like .com and .net where the goal is selling names.
- The modified Standard Model used by .org, with profits from selling names directed to civil society.
- The Common-Pool Resource Management approach, untried in TLD management.
- As a peer produced Wikicity. See the experiment at NYCwiki.org.
- Peer to Peer Governance.
- The public access cable TV model, which created one not-for-profit per borough to oversee the public access channels.
- The Green Bay Packers not-for-profit model.
According to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), the fundamental principle of Internet governance is that it be multistakeholder. Paragraph 68 of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society states:… We also recognize the need for development of public policy by governments in consultation with all stakeholders. 1
Many international and inter-governmental organizations have formally recognized the value of direct multistakeholder participation in the development of principles, guidelines etc. that affect the Internet.
One example at the global level was the steps taken by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to include the Internet technical community and civil society in their Internet related policy work since the June 2008 Seoul Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is another good example.
What steps will we take to engage .nyc's stakeholders?
The Local Planning Process
We advocate for a three step TLD planning process.
- We view Toward City-TLDs in the Public Interest - A White Paper as the first of a three step process.
- The second step is to be what we've nicknames the CARPA study, a multi-sector review that will look at how we organize the totality of our city's resources within a more localized Net.
- The final and most important step should be a ULURP-like review enabling users and the public to ponder and comment on the issues raised by the CARPA study.
Keep in mind that there's no deadline for completing this plan. No one will take .nyc from the New York community. It is ours when we want it. Care and forethought are the guiding lights.
Governance OF vs. ON on the Net
An April 2013 discussion on the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus list brought to the fore an intriguing bifurcation of the definition of Internet governance. Governance...
- OF the Internet: existing Internet institutional ecosystem (RIRs, standards bodies like IETF or W3C, ICANN, etc...) deal in a distributed manner with the governance OF the Internet, especially what's called CIR (Critical Internet Resources) - wires, routers, names, numbers, tables and the like, vs. governance
- ON the Internet: governance of the application layer, things such as privacy, freedom of expression, copyright, security, etc...
The NeuStar Contract
See the March 2012 contract the city signed with NeuStar to market and operate the .nyc TLD here.
If thoughtfully developed, the .nyc TLD will be the central nervous system for a smarter New York City, connecting our information and objects and facilitating our thoughts and actions.
To effectively manage this pervasive and powerful new technology, we need a governance structure that enables a 400 year old geographically-based community to manage the ongoing operation of the .nyc TLD.
[Note: Governance of the .nyc TLD will have three life phases: acquisition, development, and operation. With great fluidity and little transparency in the acquisition phase, our focus is creating a governance ecology for the later phases.]
When people speak of Internet governance, the terms one hears most often are top-down, bottom-up, multi-stakeholder, transparency, open, and accountability. Here's one recent pronouncement:
"Central to the Internet’s value as a platform for innovation, democracy,
access to information and scientific progress are the technical standards
on which it is built and the open manner in which it is governed."
The White House, May 2, 2012
In suggesting a governance structure for the .nyc TLD we observe the following:
- In a digital era, a TLD will be as integral and vital a part of New York's infrastructure as our roads, subways, air, water, schools, libraries, and civic culture.
- City residents should have a guiding say in the operation of such vital resources.
- Governance authority for the TLD's oversight derives from its users and those upon whom it has direct impact.
- The ICANN, a California not-for-profit corporation established to operate the Internet's Domain Name System, will decide on the entity to which New York's TLD is issued. Module 1 of ICANN's Application Guidebook states that an application must have a letter of support (or non-objection) from the governing authority. There is some ambiguity in this as the city, state, and the federal government have a role, see here.
- The ongoing operation of the .nyc TLD will be guided by its governance structure, the relationship with the city's stakeholders, and its participation with the Internet's global oversight and development structures - ICANN, IETF, IGF, ISOC, etc.
- The competitive nature of the TLD market (one can choose a .com or from more than 250 other TLDs), sensitivities associated with .nyc's naming operation, and the benefits derived from operating .nyc in the public interest, shade toward a measure of independence from the traditional business and government structures.
- The .nyc TLD holds many of the characteristics of a common pool resource and its governance can benefit from the experience of common property regimes. See our dotNeighborhoods pages for more on this.
The .nyc Stakeholders
With the New York TLD's operation intimately tied into the city's future, we take a broad view of its stakeholders and provide for inclusion of the following in its governance processes:
- Residents - All residents, both those online and off.
- Future Residents - A mechanism to provide for the needs of future residents is challenging with the answer perhaps to be found within the sustainability movement. See our Sustainable City-TLD page.
- Businesses and Institutions - Particularly small businesses and those with a nexus in the city.
- Community and Civic Organizations
- City Government
- The Internet Community - With our TLD part of a global network, the Internet's technical community (ICANN, ISOC, IETF, ISPs) and our ISPs and hosting entities are another important stakeholder.
The Governance Ecology
To govern the .nyc TLD as a public interest resource, a complex set of relationships need to be created and maintained locally and globally. We envision three elements to this governance ecology:
- a local oversight structure that sets policy and engages residents and organizations in the TLD's governance,
- an operating entity to oversee the TLD's daily operation,
- and a series of relationships with the Internet's global technical and governance communities.
Local Oversight Structure
The following chart shows a governance structure derived in part from that used to oversee the operation of the city's cable TV public access channels. See Governance Ecology - Local Oversight for background information and details on its operation.
Historic Note: The following section was prepared during the period when the city government had declared that it had no intention to apply for the .nyc TLD.
The Operating Entity
Central to the .nyc TLD's success is a management entity that administers the policies and technologies that are fundamental to its effective and efficient operation. Connecting.nyc Inc. or similar public interest organization should be identified or created. The assumptions and experiences that led to the selection of this structure and the goals, plans, and processes for creating an inclusive and transparent governance structure are presented here.
The Global Element
As a global technology, built on protocols and oversight structures that integrate .nyc with the broader Internet, it is essential that relationships be maintained with an assortment of organizations. Those organizations and relationships are found here.
Among the areas for exploration are existing TLDs.
- .ca - The Canadian TLD is governed by CIRA. Anyone who registers a .ca domain can become a member of CIRA for free.
Other sources for research include:
- Who Makes the Internet Work: The Internet Ecosystem - A 2010 paper by the Internet Society.
- Core Principles of Public Engagement - 7 Principles that apply to both on and offline civic engagement.
- Accountability Circle - The Issue of Public Accountability: A Summary for Citizens
- ICANN Inc.: Accountability and Participation in the Governance of Critical Internet Resources - Milton Muller and others.
Lex Mercatoria - A legal system used by merchants in medieval Europe.
- Public Consultation Best Practices
- Peer Production of Governance - See Johnson, Crawford & Palfrey, The Accountable Internet: Peer Production of Internet Governance, 2004.
- The Bulgarian Experience with Internet Governance
- Critique of Stakeholder Model - Karl Auerbach
- Internet Empowerment Resolution - Passed by Queens Community Board 3, the city of New York
- Debian Governance - Here "the authors showed how a production community designed a governance system that incorporates a constitutionally endowed basis of authority with democratic mechanisms to ensure control by the majority, with shifting conceptions of authority and meritocracy over time."
- Social Charters - A organizational structure for governing a commons.
Related .nyc Governance Pages
- Governance Ecology - Home (this page)
- Governance Ecology - The .NYC Advisory Board
- Governance Ecology - Global Element
- Governance Ecology - City Contract Documents
- Common Pool Resource Management
- Governance Layers
- The Voter Project
Key .nyc Pages
- The .nyc Wiki Home Page
- The Operating Environment
- Certificate of Incorporation (a .pdf file)
- By Laws