Steve DelBianco

Steve DelBianco

Executive Director at NetChoice
Joined on January 11, 2009
Total Post Views: 414,483


As the executive director of NetChoice, Steve DelBianco is a well-known expert on Internet governance, online consumer protection, and Internet taxation.

Steve has provided expert testimony in 14 Congressional hearings, and is a frequent witness in state legislatures. Beyond the US, Steve is an advocate for business interests at meetings of the Internet Governance Forum and at ICANN, where he serves as policy chair for the Business Constituency.

Steve is often quoted on technology issues in the media, including a segment on “60 Minutes” to expose barriers to e-commerce in residential real estate. Before joining NetChoice, Steve was founder and president of Financial Dynamics, an information technology consulting firm delivering on financial and marketing solutions. He guided the firm through the rapid evolution of industry trends and sold the business to a national firm in 1997.

Steve holds degrees in Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the Wharton School.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Steve DelBianco on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Governments Shouldn’t Play Games with the Internet

Governments often use small players as pawns in their global games of chess. Two weeks ago the European Court of Justice invalidated the EU-US Safe Harbor ("Safe Harbor") framework, turning Internet businesses into expendable pawns in a government game. But for the past fifteen years, Safe Harbor allowed data flows across the Atlantic -- fostering innovation and incredible economic development. more

NETmundial Initiative Lacks Backing, and ICANN Should Not Lead

A fledgling attempt to create a new global Internet governance clearinghouse has run into trouble as leading business and civil organizations said they are not yet prepared to participate in the NETmundial Initiative (NMI) championed by ICANN President Fadi Chehade. In highlighting that there remain several unanswered questions, the Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-BASIS) raised serious concerns... more

ICANN in Hollywood: Foreshadowing a Happy Ending?

As we arrived in Hollywood -- the land of happy endings -- ICANN had just given us cause to hope that the ICANN accountability process might get its own Hollywood ending, despite a fitful start. As one who's been critical of ICANN management's heavy-handed attempts to control the accountability process, it's only appropriate to give credit where credit is due. In accepting the community's strenuous -- and nearly unanimous -- calls for a cross-community working group to lead the process of improving ICANN's accountability mechanisms, ICANN management says it's now prepared to follow the community's lead, rather than dictating and constraining it. more

Want to Make a Difference in Internet Governance? Just Show Up

It was 20 years earlier than ICANN, and 25 years ahead of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that Woody Allen said "80 percent of life is just showing up," but he could have just as easily been talking about our current multistakeholder policy situation. The emergence of powerful multistakeholder governance and engagement models has fundamentally changed the way we do Internet policy, and the roles that companies, organizations and individuals play in the process. more

Making ICANN History in the Shadow of the Magna Carta

Two miles (and a short Tube ride) from where ICANN is gathering in London, rests an original copy of the Magna Carta, which introduced the concept of imposing limits on the powers of the king. I'm taking the proximity of this icon of constitutional history as a good omen for our task: to create a charter to limit ICANN's powers and enhance its accountability, in the wake of the U.S. Government's decision to terminate its legacy role. more

Parallel Processes: ICANN Accountability and the IANA Transition

ICANN President Fadi Chehade gave Internet stakeholders a welcome surprise last week when he announced ICANN would launch a community-driven process to strengthen its accountability, and that this process would be "interdependent" with the transition of IANA functions away from U.S. Government oversight. It was fitting that Fadi announced the accountability process at NETmundial in Sao Paolo, where Internet stakeholders from around the world gathered to discuss the evolution of the global Internet governance. more

A Programmer’s Perspective on the IANA Transition

Earlier this week, I posted from Singapore on the challenges we face in designing the transition of IANA functions from the US government to the global multistakeholder community. Now, let's consider how a programmer would design new mechanisms to accomplish this transition. For starters, a programmer would need something more than high-level principles. Coding requires use cases for routine interaction and especially for cases where users don't follow the expected routine and where the real world intervenes with inconvenient problems. more

The Path Forward: Accountability Through the IANA Transition

It's clear that the US government is intent on dropping its legacy contractual role for the IANA functions. Whatever your views on the wisdom or timing of that decision, the challenge now is to ensure that the transition leaves ICANN in the best possible position to succeed. Arriving yesterday to the island nation of Singapore felt strangely appropriate. Over the past week I've been one of the lonely people in the ICANN community to express concern about the US government's decision. more

Playing the Long Game at the Internet Governance Poker Table

Poker players say if you can't spot the fish within your first 15 minutes at the table, you're the fish. With that in mind, I'm tempted to ask ICANN President Fadi Chehade who's the fish in the high-stakes game of global Internet governance we're now playing. In 2013, ICANN dramatically changed its course in the global Internet governance debate. For a decade ICANN largely stayed out of the game, allowing stakeholders to defend the multi-stakeholder model where private sector and civil society are on equal footing with governments. But in 2013 ICANN went on the offensive... more

The ICANN Quilombo

Argentines use the word "quilombo" to describe "a real mess", which is what I feared was awaiting us at the outset of ICANN's meeting in Buenos Aires this week. Since then, ICANN President Fadi Chehade has done a good job cleaning-up the internal process quilombo he and the board created. But ICANN's leadership has left the ICANN community struggling to answer deep and ongoing questions about the future of the Internet and the multistakeholder model. more

‘Rethinking ICANN’ is Not a One-Man Job

In the midst of the overseeing the biggest change in the history of the Internet's global addressing system, ICANN President Fadi Chehade has inexplicably embarked on a high-stakes battle over the very future of his organization and its relationship to world governments -- at the expense of the private sector's historical role in Internet governance. Worse, Fadi's global government gambit could have serious repercussions for the future of the Internet. more

ICANN Mission Creep is Becoming Mission Leap

Under the leadership of Fadi Chehade and Steve Crocker, ICANN finally runs like an organization that has grown up. When it comes to process, accountability, and transparency, this is excellent news for the Internet. But it also raises a new question: how far will we let ICANN grow "out" of the limited technical mission for which it was created? In his opening remarks here in Durban, Chehade announced the expansion of local engagement centers and significant expansion of ICANN staff - for the second straight year. more

New TLDs: Time For a Do-Over on Plural Similarity

Mandarin is a tricky language, but ICANN may want to learn the expression chóngfù before leaving the Beijing meeting. Chóngfù means "do-over" and that's what ICANN needs to forestall an entirely preventable disaster in the delegation of new top-level domains (TLDs). The issue of "string similarity" seems straightforward. Nobody inside ICANN or out there in the real world wants Internet users to be confused by new TLDs that are confusingly similar. Imagine hearing an ad offering low rates at but you encounter something completely different at instead? more

The GAC Strikes Back

Last week in Prague, the GAC (Government Advisory Committee) relentlessly hammered ICANN over a range of issues relating to the new gTLD program. And while their criticisms were legitimate, one has to wonder to what extent governments were punishing ICANN for past offenses. At the same time, the ICANN board and management seem to have finally - much belatedly - figured out how important it is to maintain a constructive and positive relationship with governments. more

An Open Letter to ICANN’s New CEO, Fadi Chehadé

Congratulations on your appointment as the next CEO of ICANN, and welcome to our little rogues' gallery. Some denizens of this domain (your humble author included) may strike you as a little odd at first, but we're mostly harmless. We usually steer first-timers onto the Newcomers track, but in your case, that may be... inadequate. And while we would never presume to tell you how to do your job -- which may be one of the world's hardest - we thought we might offer a few pieces of friendly advice, based on our time here. more

Ethiopia Shows That Congress Is Right to Be Worried About UN Control of the Internet

Today a key committee in the US Congress approved a resolution opposing United Nations "control over the Internet." While some in the Internet community have dismissed the bipartisan effort as mere political grandstanding, recent actions by some UN Member States show that lawmakers have good reason to be worried. Last month, UN voting member Ethiopia made it a crime -- punishable by 15 years in prison - to make calls over the Internet.  more

Costa Rica, ICANN, and Nonviolent Governance

There's a peaceful feeling in the air at ICANN's meeting this week, and I think it has something to do with being here in Costa Rica. Speaking at today's opening ceremony, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla described how, back in 1948, her country became the first to willingly go without any kind of armed forces for national defense. In that respect, Costa Rica is a lot like ICANN: alone in a hostile world with only its constituents and allies for protection. more

The Privacy Party and Leaving Dishes in the Sink

Boy, that was a great party the White House threw yesterday when their new online privacy rights were unwrapped and passed around. Most everyone hefted their shiny new rights, agreed they were nice, and talked about the need for swift adoption. But when the party was done, everyone filed out, turning a blind eye to the post-party cleanup and a sink full of dirty dishes. more

Four Promises ICANN Must Meet with New Top-Level Domains

Just back from a week of ICANN meetings in Dakar. Is it just me, or is the new top-level domain program starting to feel like a TLD triathlon, where everyone's now jockeying for position in the final stage -- a grueling marathon? When ICANN's board approved the new gTLD plan in Singapore, it came with the promise of small but substantive changes to improve the program. I hope that wasn't empty rhetoric... more

A Month in Africa Charts the Promise and Perils of Internet Governance

There may be no better illustration of how far we've come in Internet governance, than this: twice in the past 30 days, the global Internet community has gathered in sub-Saharan Africa to plot a path to bring the Internet to its next billion users. Just weeks after wrapping up the sixth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Kenya, Internet stakeholders from around the world traveled back to Africa for ICANN's 42nd meeting in Dakar, Senegal. more

Multi-Stakeholder Debate at the IGF: Lessons from a Safari

Here at the IGF in Kenya, we're debating how governments, private sector, and civil society can improve the multi-stakeholder model that's helped the Internet become such a vital part of life around the world. Makes me think of another kind of multi-stakeholder model I saw last week on a photo safari in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. more

Now Begins the Third Stage of ICANN’s TLD Triathlon

The ICANN community here in Singapore is celebrating after the historic vote to expand top-level domains (TLDs). And while I wouldn't begrudge anyone a few Singapore Slings, I think it's a little early to start celebrating. The marathon effort ICANN began 5 years ago isn't even close to reaching the finish line. more

Decision Day for ICANN: The End of the Beginning, or the Beginning of the End?

I've just arrived in Singapore, where ICANN's board will almost surely vote to launch an unprecedented expansion plan for generic top-level domains (gTLDs). As the new gTLDs start lighting-up over the next two years, we'll look back on this week as the "end of the beginning" since it ended several years of planning for the actual expansion. After the vote the real work begins: evaluating applications, implementing new mechanisms, and contract compliance on a scale far greater than ICANN has ever seen. more

.XXX Exposes the Naked Truth for ICANN

Internet governance can be a little on the dry side. So when tech policy reporters get a chance to write an ICANN story that features porn stars on picket lines, it's hard to blame them when they run with it. But all the media hype about ICANN's .xxx decision at last week's meeting in San Francisco exposed the real dilemma facing ICANN: how to engage governments in a multi-stakeholder model that's led by the private sector. more

Eureka! We’ve Struck ... Consensus

It took a trip to California - the land of the gold rush - to discover that most elusive of ICANN aspirations: consensus. ICANN kicked off this week's meeting in San Francisco with a parade of Internet pioneers discussing the past, present and future of ICANN. ... ICANN insiders might focus on points of contention that came out of this morning's comments -- whether on new gTLDs or the future of the IANA functions -- but I was more interested by those areas where ICANN pioneers clearly agreed. more

To Serve the Public Interest You First Have to Define ‘Public Interest’

In the ancient parable, six blind men are asked to describe an elephant, with each coming up with wildly different answers, depending on which part of the animal they touched. Now, while I would hesitate to call participants in the ICANN process "blind men," I am starting to think that "public interest" is their elephant. ICANN is on the threshold of completing its first major obligation under the Affirmation of Commitments it signed with the U.S. Government in 2009. more

Institutionalizing Consumer Trust and Public Interest at ICANN

For an organization where people argue for hours over arcane minutiae, it's remarkable that virtually everyone agrees that ICANN should serve the "global public interest" and build "consumer trust" in the Internet. Although it's only three pages long, ICANN's Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) cites "public interest" five times and "consumer trust" eight times. So at the ICANN meeting today in Cartagena, Colombia, a group of participants explored ways to "institutionalize" these concepts within the organization. more

US Government Waves the Caution Flag at ICANN

This month, ICANN is driving hard to get two of its horses to the finish line. The first is barely a year old - it's the first formal review of ICANN's accountability and transparency. The second horse is going on 4 years old: ICANN's plan to introduce hundreds of new top-level domains (TLDs) for the Internet. Just as these horses have entered the home stretch, one of the racecourse officials is vigorously waving the yellow caution flag. And ICANN would do well to pull back on the reins. more

A Tale of Two Governance Models

As many of us in the Internet community gear up for the ICANN meeting in Colombia next week, it's important to remember that not everybody embraces the multi-stakeholder approach that we've gradually learned to love. Just a month ago, a group with a very different vision of how to run things wrapped up their own Internet governance meeting in Latin America. Their meeting was three times as long and accomplished about a third as much, but they'd still like to see their model replace the ICANN model. more

Precrime Regulation of Internet Innovation

In the sci-fi movie Minority Report, a 'precrime' police unit relies on the visions of psychics to predict future crimes, then arrests the potential perpetrators before they do anything wrong. In the world of Internet governance, the future is now, as regulators want online services to predict and prevent safety threats before they actually occur. more

When Having a Voice Isn’t Enough

In Brussels on Friday, an esteemed panel of experts got together to discuss the challenge of improving ICANN's accountability. It's just too bad nobody from ICANN came by to hear it. ... While their prescriptions varied widely, the panelists were remarkably similar in their diagnoses - namely, that ICANN has yet to meet the fundamental challenge of making its board and staff accountable and answerable to the community that it is intended to serve. more

IDNs in cc-Minor: an Unfinished Symphony

When he wanted to show the transformative and unifying power of the Internet to open this week's ICANN meeting in Seoul, ICANN President Rod Beckstrom had an ace in the hole: Korean guitarist Jay (Jeong-hyun Lim), who became a global YouTube sensation with his hard-rocking version of Pachelbel's Canon. As I watched Jay wail on his gold-plated guitar to standing ovations, I couldn't help but think of Rod waxing that the Internet was a "symphony" of ideas and voices from around the world. more

ICANN’s September Surprise

"Surprise, surprise, surprise!" is how Gomer Pyle would react to the news that the US government has allowed the JPA to expire, thus completing the transition of DNS management to ICANN. Plenty of skeptics doubted the US would let it happen, but today really is ICANN's independence day. more

On New Domains and ICANN Accountability, More Questions than Answers

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) went before a Congressional panel this week to defend its plan to create an unlimited number of new Internet domains (like .web, .food, etc.) I was a witness at the hearing, which made one thing clear: the "consensus" on new Internet domains is not as strong as ICANN would have us think. more

Threats to Internet Oversight Mount as Key Protection Expires

Before the US Government abdicates its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) it should take a long, hard look at the mounting efforts by world governments to assume greater power over the Internet's addressing system. If those efforts meet no further resistance, the once-theoretical threat of "capture" could become a reality. At the end of September, the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between ICANN and the US Government is set to expire. The JPA is part of a decade-long agreement where the US transitions control of Internet addressing to ICANN. more