Three new toolkits to aid practitioners in cross-border policy have been published by the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network (I&JPN).

They provide policymakers and practitioners with tools and workflows to better address three core policy challenges that are today main drivers of unwanted internet fragmentation: access to electronic evidence, content moderation, and DNS level action to address abuses. They were launched at the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network Conference “Addressing Concrete Challenges to Digital Cooperation” on March 18, 2021. The virtual conference brought together over 240 entities from 60 countries.

Blacknight has been an active participant in this process since it began. Our CEO, Michele Neylon, is a member of the Domains & Jurisdiction Program Contact Group, which developed one of the three toolkits via a multi-stakeholder process over four years.

Each Contact Group worked to define the issues and develop cooperation mechanisms, resulting in three new Toolkits as follows:

As Ireland’s leading domain registrar, Blacknight deals with the practicalities of managing the Domain Name System (DNS) on a daily basis. The development of clearly defined policies in this area is important to us and to our customers.

In fact, the work of I&JPN has already contributed to a Framework to Address Abuse of the DNS, which Blacknight and others signed in 2019. That framework declares that:

Specifically, even without a court order, we believe a registry or registrar should act to disrupt the following forms of Website Content Abuse: (1) child sexual abuse materials (“CSAM”); (2) illegal distribution of opioids online; (3) human trafficking; and (4) specific and credible incitements to violence

DNS is the addressing system of the Internet and its operators do not take lightly their responsibilities. As we’ve explained before, companies such as ours should not usurp the lawful role of police and due legal process. Equally, we have certain responsibilities in relation to domestic and international law. The Internet poses significant challenges when it comes to navigating the complexities of both legal and technological cross-border action.

The key word is ‘interoperability’. Just as interoperability is the key goal for internet engineering, it is also the key to legal cooperation across borders on the Internet. And in both cases, for interoperability to work, we need a common set of definitions, protocols and tools.

The publication of these Toolkits does not solve all these problems. They are not laws or international treaties. They do, however, provide a set of standards, a common understanding which has the merit that it represents the consensus of hundreds of practitioners in relevant disciplines from all over the world. They include engineers, lawyers, community representatives, legislators, law enforcement and businesses.

As published, the Toolkits are not the last word on these matters. Both technology and legislation continue to develop and evolve, and the work of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network continues. But we believe that the launch of these Toolkits is an important milestone and we offer our congratulations to all involved.

We’ll return to this subject in the next few weeks. An upcoming episode of The Blacknight Podcast will have an interview with Elizabeth Behsudi, director of the Domains & Jurisdiction Program at I&JPN. In the meantime, you can listen to this interview with Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon about the Framework to Address DNS Abuse. You can also watch this interview we did with I&JPN Co-Founder and Executive Director Bertrand de la Chapelle, recorded as the work was getting underway in 2015.

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