Byron Holland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). View bio
What can a domain registry possibly have to say that might be of interest, some might ask?
Well, quite frankly, I think most people would be rather surprised by the number of interesting and relevant Internet-related issues that our organization touches or is involved in. The goal of this blog will be to act as a catalyst for insight, discussion and debate on a wide range of Internet-related topics, as well as to inform and educate on the wide range of global Internet issues facing the Canadian Internet community.
A lot has changed on the net in the 10 years since CIRA was created, since the Internet really became a mass medium. Only 10 years ago, the Internet cracked the 100 million user mark globally…now we are over 1.2 billion. From what was generally considered the domain of academics, geeks and military folks, the net has become the backbone of the global economy, communications and social interaction on the positive side, but it has also has developed more troubling traits in terms of cybercrime, terrorism and warfare. In becoming this “global operating system”, many issues have arisen that require education, discussion, debate and advocacy. This is the intersection of operating the Internet and developing policy. This is the environment that CIRA works in.
How are the “Skanks of New York” and the United Nations relevant to CIRA’s day to day role? Believe it or not, both of them are very relevant.
While the Skanks story makes for some very sensational reading, it is really about the intersection of established Internet culture — anonymity on the net and “flaming”, the name given to often excessive name-calling and insults — and good old fashioned law, in the name of libel and defamation. Throw Google into the mix and its defense of the blogger’s privacy, and you have a very interesting situation where digital culture clashes with established case law, where the net meets the law; the right to privacy versus the right to not be defamed or flamed. We, too, are involved in a policy issue that is similar in nature, the right to know versus the right to privacy.
At a global level, there is a serious battle afoot for who actually gets to govern and coordinate the Internet. While all nations get to determine their domestic environment, at a global level, the Internet is coordinated by ICANN. This is the organization that, despite its warts, has been central to bringing 1.2 billion people online in the past 10 years. In spite of this, there are powerful voices that would like to see the coordination of the Internet brought under the control of the UN, through the ITU.
Needless to say, there are many stakeholders who think that the UN running the Internet is a really, really bad idea.
Both of the above-mentioned issues are very relevant to the average Canadian Internet user, and it is issues like these, and numerous others, around which this blog will seek to act as a catalyst to inform, entertain, educate and, most of all, stimulate discussion and debate.