Mueller, Milton

Candidate Speech

Photo of Milton Mueller
Organization: Syracuse University School of Information Studies

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Candidate Questionnaire

Provide a brief biography of recent experience, associations, and affiliations relevant to serving on the Advisory Council.

I am Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, where I directed the Masters of Science program in Telecommunications and Network Management from 1998 to 2007. From 2008-2010 I held a Chair on the Privacy and Security of Internet users endowed by the Dutch Internet Service Provider, XS4All. I am also the Director of the Internet Governance Project, where since 2004 we have monitored Internet governance institutions and applied research and scholarship to current Internet policy issues. I served on the Advisory Council of Public Interest Registry (.org) for many years. I have played a significant role in the formation of ICANN and in its policy development processes. I was a founder of the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) in ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) and have served as its chair. I am currently on the Executive Committee of ICANN’s Noncommercial Stakeholders Group. I have been elected to the GNSO Council twice and have chaired a working group that developed policy for the divestiture of the .org domain in 2002-3. I have also served and made significant contributions to ICANN working groups on Whois-privacy and vertical integration of registries and registrars. I have attended a few RIR meetings and have been an active participant on the policy lists of RIPE and ARIN.

Describe the relevance of your experience to the Advisory Council.

My professional experience has brought me into contact with nearly all of the relevant actors shaping Internet resource policies, from high-level government officials to small-scale ISPs, to large telecom firms to civil society digital rights advocates. I understand the basic policy choices facing the Internet community at the global level, and must explain them in depth to college students. My research has required me to look at those issues more critically and independently, taking nothing for granted and being willing to challenge entrenched worldviews. I also have now one term of service on the Advisory Council so I have an idea how it works and what is involved.

What Internet-related services do you or your organization provide?

My employer is a University and provides educational services. Our School pioneered online degree delivery in 1992 and, with the migration of more of the classroom and course administration to online platforms, these educational services might be called an Internet-related service. Of course, Syracuse University provides extensive broadband internet services to its students and faculty and holds a legacy address block or two. As a program director and teacher in the Telecommunications and Network Management program, I have often interacted with the networking technicians in the Information Technology Services department – but am not part of ITS itself.

What conflicts, real or perceived, might arise should you be elected to the AC?

I don’t think so. My status as an academic researcher gives me an unusual degree of independence from business-related conflicts of interest. IGP was originally supported by the Ford Foundation and since then has been supported primarily by research grants from the National Science Foundation. My main interest is in correctly analyzing the effects of policies and in understanding how governance institutions actually work – including what makes them perform well or poorly. Other than the 3-year XS4All Chair, which is finished, I have not been affiliated with any Internet service provider. Occasionally we have asked Internet companies for small donations to support academic conferences, blogging or student projects. The sums involved are small and the positions taken by the academic researchers are unrelated to the support. Syracuse University requires researchers every year to fill out conflict of interest forms revealing whether they have any economic interests in companies that might be affected by their research outcomes.

The AC meets every year on a Friday in January, in Reston, VA for a workshop to review AC practices and policies. Can you commit to attending in person, and does that pose any conflict or concern?

It depends on the Friday, and on my teaching schedule. If it is early January the answer is almost certainly yes. If it is later in the month and I teach a Friday class, I would probably have to miss it again.

Describe any limitations on your ability to attend AC and Public Policy Meetings in person or to serve the entirety of a 3-year term.

As an academic I have a relatively flexible schedule, bounded by teaching commitments. In my first year of service I attended both in-person ARIN meetings (Barbados and will attend Phoenix), missing only the AC orientation in January as it fell on the first week of classes. I attended all but two of the AC’s monthly teleconferences and shepherded one proposal that involved additional email consultations and a teleconference. My attendance record is at the median or slightly above relative to other AC members.

What differentiates you as a candidate, or makes you uniquely suitable to the post?

I represent a different point of view on some of the key issues. I am skeptical of centralized power, deeply familiar with the entire picture of Internet governance (ranging from IP addressing to domain names to federal cybersecurity initiatives) and seek to preserve teh autonomy and freedom of Internet users and suppliers across all those domains. I am also an independent voice and while I am capable of working in groups to achieve common goals, I also refuse to be intimidated by behind-the-scenes pressure or disagreements from other AC and Board members. I have a principled mission and am not in this to attend meetings for free in exotic places or to make friends and network for my own advancement. Whether you agree with me or not, I have a rare combination of expertise that synthesizes policy and economics with technical knowledge of Internet addressing and routing. My research and publications have investigated many of the economic and technical issues related to the IPv4 – IPv6 migration, the emergence of IPv4 markets, RPKI, the policies that might be applied to IP address Whois, and the relationship between governments and private-sector internet institutions.

How do you foresee ARIN’s function, scale, or role changing in the future?

IPv4 depletion will push all RIRs, not just ARIN, to make significant changes in their functions, and roles. I realize, however, that the AC is in no position to initiate or direct those changes. The economic forces created by IPv4 scarcity and IPv6 migration, as well as cybersecurity concerns and the rising power of national governments over the internet, all need to be dealt with creatively. I think ARIN needs to adjust certain attitudes and practices in order to open a viable path to the future. Some people fear these changes but it would be useful to have an advocate of change, someone who embraces rather than resists challenges, on the AC.

What is your opinion of the principles outlined in RFCs 2050 and 2050bis?

The word “principles” does not appear in RFC 2050. RFC 2050 refers to itself as a description of “the IP assignment policies currently used by the Regional Registries to implement the guidelines developed by the IANA”. In other words, it was IANA that articulated what it called “guidelines” (in effect, broader principles) and RFC 2050 tried to translate those principles into policies. RFC 2050 bis is an attempt to update RFC 2050, in recognition of the fact that the situation in 2012-3 is very different from that of 1996-7. Interestingly, RFC 2050 bis also does not use the word “principles” but instead sets forth “goals.” There is some consistency in the basic goals and policies of both documents: both, for example, emphasize the need for unique registration, aggregation, and conservation. However, in updating 2050, there is a danger that ideologues may try to freeze in place policies that need to change by elevating them to the status of a principle. I would recommend avoiding a debate on “principles” and focusing instead on finding the proper policies in a pragmatic way.

What areas of policy, if any, need more attention and why?

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How do you separate your personal opinions from those of your organization and those of the community?

This issue did not really come up during my first year on the AC, although there were some interesting debates about the interpretation of levels of opposition or support on the PPML list. It is clear that AC members may be prone to unconsciously distorting their notion of how much support a proposal has based on their own view of its desirability.

Separating my opinions from my employer will be easy – my employer has virtually no interest in IP addressing issues. As for the community, it is not homogeneous but contains a very diverse set of views. When all the groups agree or are near agreement, then it is easy to make the separation. When, as is more often the case, there are factions putting forward different views, then one must take account of the way the positions advocated serve or harm the interests of various actors. One must assess whether objections are reasonable and raise public interest issues, or simply self-serving and obstructionist. My approach in cases of disagreement within the community would be to throw out my own ‘favorite’ policy while also discounting views from the community that, in my opinion, were obviously wrong or self-seeking. Working within those parameters, I would look for solutions that resolve the conflicts while promoting the smooth and stable functioning of addressing and routing. Basically, it is a matter of avoiding favoritism and seeking just but efficient proposals. I have experience doing this from ICANN working groups and Council


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