Susan Crawford

Gender Female
Age 41
Region North America
Nationality USA
Residence USA
Languages English (fluent); French (good)
Nominated by Milton Mueller
Endorsed by -

Personal statement

I left my the partnership at Wilmer Cutler (an international law firm based in Washington, DC) at the end of 2002 and went to work at the Center for Democracy & Technology for six months; I then moved to New York and a job as a law professor at Cardozo. I teach cyberlaw and real property law, and have written recently about the role of the Federal Communications Commission in regulating the internet. Last week, I convened a major conference, co-sponsored by Yale, called Nethead/Bellhead: The FCC Takes On The Internet.

I no longer practice law, but my professional life is even more closely connected to internet matters than it was at the law firm. I am a policy fellow with CDT, I'm on the advisory board of Public Knowledge, I am a fellow of the Yale Law School cyber project, I'm active in Berkman Center programs, I'm active with the Aspen Institute, and I go down to Washington for internet policy meetings whenever I can. None of these things result in payment to me, but I feel enriched by it all.

How does this all relate to internet governance? This is a very interesting time to be alive and working in internet policy areas. We are in the midst of a titanic struggle for the future of the internet. Government telecom agencies all over the world look at their very broad statutes, realize that the internet has become important, and say, "We should be in charge." Because ICANN is the only thing to look at in the world of "internet governance," it gets a lot of attention from these telecom agencies. But the fact is that ICANN was formed to provide a forum for discussion of policies about the allocation of top-level-domains and IP addresses. Its powers come from a web of contracts and an international standard-setting tradition. It works, like the internet itself, because of cooperation and discussion. It has a narrow, consensus-based mandate to coordinate these particular resources. It does not try to do anything more than this, and has no desire to become a chokepoint for the imposition of grander government policies about online life. Very few people understand this. Many academics, even, believe that ICANN is some sort of online government, and rail about its lack of legitimacy to govern.

I understand where ICANN fits, and I understand the debates that are going on now about internet governance. I know the history of the ARPANET and the development of TCP/IP, the background of the IETF and the current debates about whois and authentication. I know how important ICANN is and how important it isn't. And I know the internet is under great threats now from international institutions who would like to annex it. I recognize that ICANN has some troubles, but it is a far better governance model (for this coordination role) than some of these international institutions recognize. ICANN's nature is tied to the architecture of the internet itself -- decentralized, based on cooperation, and international. It fits what it's trying to do, and I am anxious for it to succeed. Other issues, such as spyware, may be amenable to an international, harmonized approach, but in my view most internet problems should be left to end-user or domestic government control.

So: my education (lawyer), skills (counseling, writing, engaging), and experience (business, online issues, ICANN knowledge) all relate to the work that the WGIG is going to undertake. I would commit myself to working very hard on the WGIG issues.