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Flying the Flag for the Technical Community: CENTR Provides Feedback to the United Nations’ Initiative on a Global Digital Compact

CENTR, the association which represents European country code top-level domain name registries (ccTLDs), such as .de for Germany or .no for Norway, has provided feedback to the United Nations’ initiative on a Global Digital Compact (GDC).

The GDC seeks to “outline shared principles for an open, free and secure digital future for all,” and invites multistakeholder participation in the consultation phase. Notably, the technical community, such as ccTLDs represents the absolute minority of submissions (<1% as of 25 April 2023).

CENTR members are guardians of the Domain Name System (DNS), a well-established network protocol at the heart of the technical internet infrastructure. As critical actors in the internet ecosystem, CENTR members will be impacted by the principles put forth by the GDC. Therefore, our participation is crucial in order to set impulses from the perspective of the technical community, as well as to support the multistakeholder model of internet governance.

The GDC proposed seven topical pillars around which participants could structure their responses. CENTR responded to four: (i) connecting all people to the internet; (ii) avoiding internet fragmentation; (iii) protecting data; and (iv) applying human rights online. The objective in selecting these pillars was to narrow the CENTR submission to overarching principles where the ccTLD perspective could make a unique contribution. Further, the submission sought to highlight CENTR members’ successes and innovations.

Summary of CENTR’s Recommendation:

  • CENTR urges governments to refrain from introducing unnecessary and disproportionate barriers to the domain name registration process via national and international legislation, as well as promote balanced and evidence-based policymaking, in order to retain the universal accessibility of essential digital infrastructure, such as the DNS.
  • To ensure balanced and evidence-based policymaking, we strongly encourage greater dialogue between policy-makers and the technical internet infrastructure community.
  • All stakeholders should support and respect the multistakeholder governance of the DNS, which facilitates the development of common open standards and protocols supporting global interoperability (e.g., standard-setting in the IETF).
  • Given the cross-border nature of the technical infrastructure, governments should ensure that data protection regulations are non-conflicting, and that there is no need nor justification for the lowering of data protection standards.
  • All stakeholders should recognise that the technical internet infrastructure is not an appropriate point for intervention on content-related issues. Addressing societal problems with purely technical solutions, including through interventions via the technical internet infrastructure, should be avoided.

Please see the CENTR submission in full here.

By Marlene Straub, Senior Policy Advisor at CENTR

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