“The Affirmation of Commitment was kind of a truce,” says Froomkin. “ICANN got most of what it wanted; the Europeans and Japanese got most of what they wanted; the US gave up, you know, a lot, without giving up the core thing -- which is that, in case of emergency, it can step in.”
He added that it entailed “very substantial but not total independence” for ICANN.
So when the Uruguay statement mentions “accelerating the globalization of ICANN,” it’s essentially reopening negotiations which ended four years ago. Moreover, the statement frames ICANN’s independence as an eventual, unavoidable end to history. Talk about “accelerating” something, and you’re suggesting its an incontrovertible process.
This is, in other words, a savvy way to state an opening negotiating position.
And what is the occasion of this negotiating? It can be found in another bullet:
[The signatories] expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance.
This sentence doesn’t mention the NSA but it’s totally talking about the NSA.
The NSA leaks, says Froomkin, have “become a way for a lot of different agendas to meet.”
Many groups have something against the U.S.: “You’ve got all the countries who are unhappy about the NSA’s surveillance. You’ve got all the countries and parties who were unhappy they didn’t get everything they wanted in the last round, in terms of independence. And you have ICANN itself, which is always trying to get out from any control over its behavior by anybody.”
Milton Mueller, the Syracuse professor, agrees: The statement constitutes “the latest, and one of the most significant manifestations of the fallout from the Snowden revelations about NSA spying on the global Internet.”
So this statement is tied to the NSA. But it’s not entirely provoked by the NSA. Rather, it lets countries (with their own spying services) and companies (who often want more freedom on the web) complain about the U.S.’s small corner of Internet oversight, and possibly find a reason to re-negotiate with the country.
But if negotiations restart, what will ICANN go to the table to seek? And what would replace the U.S. in overseeing ICANN?
“What you’ll notice,” says Froomkin, “is that the resolution is pretty vague about what’s going to replace the U.S. in terms of controls.”