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A Study on Public Participation in ICANN

The following is an executive summary from the preliminary study by John Palfrey, Clifford Chen, Sam Hwang, and Noah Eisenkraft at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. This study considers to what extent the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has achieved its stated goal of a "representative" and "open" decision-making process. more»

Centralizing the Net, Monetizing DNS, Getting Trendy?

In a Red Herring Conference held last week in California, Mitch Ratcliffe's offers an analytical overview of an interview held with Stratton Scalovs, VerisSign's CEO..."He then goes on to say that we need to move the complexity back into the center of the Net! He says the edge can't be so complex. Get David Isenberg in here! Ross Mayfield, sitting in front of me, laughs out loud. I am dumbfounded. According to VeriSign, the Net should not be open to any type of application, only applications that rely on single providers of services, like VeriSign. This is troglodyte talk." more»

ICANN on Closing Off Port 43

ICANN has launched three task forces on WHOIS restructuring...It sounds innocuous enough -- nobody likes spam -- but the restrictions being discussed reach further than marketers. Pushed by registrars who feel that WHOIS amounts to forced disclosure of their customer lists, the task force is seriously discussing closing off port 43's straightforward access to WHOIS information, replacing it with GIF-based barriers or similar access restrictions. more»

A Psychoanalysis of Corporate Domain Names and Branding - Part I

A corporate name of any merged entity, at best, is really an outcry from the deep bottom of a corporation, all in search of attention and in pursuit of fame and glory. Whether you read a corporate brand name in a column, see it in a phone book, hear it on a radio, TV or come across it on the web, the name is always, a real show-off with a desperate mission to seek all the attention it can get...a corporate brand name is the single most important issue of corporate communications today. Equally, a domain name, the twin of a corporate name, still as to most CEOs, it is the most misunderstood term of corporate communications. Even now, domain name issues are often left to webmasters, ISPs and, sometimes to lawyers. It has yet to earn the respect as the single most important issue of e-Commerce and also to earn the respect as a real and a true passkey for global access for the web. more»

The End of the Experiment

Amidst a firestorm of debate, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has experimented with various forms of governance of the domain name system (DNS) involving input from the Internet community since its founding in 1998. ICANN's experimentation in running a representative and open corporate decision-making process has largely failed. This failure has manifested itself most explicitly by ICANN's retreat from its effort to enable the direct election of a subset of its Board members and, less explicitly, by the extent to which other efforts to engage the Internet user community in the decision-making process have proven ineffective. more»

WSIS Leaving More Questions Than Answers

Two things are important to stress. First, nothing was decided in this meeting, and no actions will be taken until the next meeting in 2005. Secondly, and more importantly, as with anything the devil is in the details. Given the vagueness of the documents available, there are few reliable conclusions that can be drawn from the summit...Before any judgments can be made about the effectiveness, or feasibility of the ideas outlined in the Plan of Action more concrete information is needed. The details of these plans are currently unknown to the Internet community at large, and may even be unknown to the members of the WSIS. Based on the information that is available it appears the Plan of Action needs to be thought through a little more thoroughly. more»

When Did We Give Away the Internet?

I've been following the recent news on the World Summit on the Information Society, and it's getting really bizarre. The Wired article is one example of out of the out-of-this-world coverage on the World Summit; I heard a similar spin yesterday on a radio show that often shares material with the BBC. What king or dictator or bureaucrat has signed the document giving power over the Internet to one organization or another? Did I miss the ceremony? One laughable aspect of news reportage is that the founders and leaders of ICANN always avowed, with the utmost unction, that they were not trying to make policy decisions and were simply tinkering with technical functions on the Internet.  more»

ICC and the U.N. Takeover

An organization which purports to be "the voice of world business" is proposing a de facto U.N. takeover of ICANN. The proposal by a senior official of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) would place ICANN under the U.N. umbrella and give a strong role to U.N. agencies and to various national governments, including those that suppress free speech and free enterprise. In a move of breathtaking arrogance, the ICC refused to even invite ICANN or U.S. government representatives to the meeting at which they are presenting their proposal. more»

Nations at WSIS Better Off with an ICANN-Like Structure

There is much talk currently about the WSIS meeting taking place in Geneva this week which means some needed attention is being paid to Internet governance. While some may view the term "Internet governance" as an oxymoron and my natural reaction is something along the lines of "I hope that they continue to view regulation as too complicated so that we Internet-folks can just keep doing what we are doing" I confess to knowing deep down that we would all be better off with a simple, effective policy framework than with the current anarchic state. more»

Yahoo's New Domain Keys: Will it Be Effective?

To paraphrase an old Klingon proverb, there can be no spam solution, so long as e-mail is free. Yahoo has unveiled plans to launch its Domain Keys software as an open-source toolkit in 2004. The intent is to allow developers of major e-mail systems to integrate Yahoo's public/private key authentication system into their own software and thus create momentum for a standard whose raison d'etre is identify verification. This is a commendable effort, but a closer look reveals that it will not only not stop the spam problem, it may have almost no effect at all. more»

Why WIPO Does Not Like the UDRP

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) -- the same organization whose head recently equated intellectual property infringement with terrorism -- has been pressing ICANN to add domain name monopolies on the names of countries, and the names and acronyms of inter-governmental organizations, into the Uniform Domain Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). Despite the fact that no-one but WIPO seems to want these new exclusions, a working group has nonetheless been convened to study their recommendations. more»

ICANN, WSIS and the Making of a Global Civil Society - Part II

This is the second part of a two-part series interview by Geert Lovink with Milton Mueller discussing ICANN, World Summit on the Information Society, and the escalating debates over Internet Governance. Read the first part of this Interview here. Geert Lovink: "Confronted with Internet governance many cyber activists find themselves in a catch 22 situation. On the one hand they do not trust government bureaucrats to run the Internet, out of a justified fear that regulation through multilateral negotiations might lead to censorship and stifle innovation. On the other hand they criticize the corporate agendas of the engineering class that is anything but representative. What models should activists propose in the light of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)? There seems to be no way back to a nation state 'federalist' solution. Should they buy into the 'global civil society' solution?" more»

Will ICANN Reveal Its True Self To WSIS?

The U.N. World Information Summit (WSIS) meets next Wednesday in Geneva. It is expected that questions will be raised whether the some or all of the functions performed by ICANN would be better vested in an organization such as the ITU...ICANN has not hesitated to ring the bell of its stewardship of these functions before governments and businesses. In fact, I seem to remember court filings in which ICANN tried to excuse itself by hinting to the court that the internet would wobble off of its axis should the court interfere with ICANN and its unfettered role as overseer. Over the last few days, on the IETF mailing list, ICANN's Chairman has tried to tell a different story, a story in which ICANN is merely a "coordinator" with no real power to do much of anything with regard to IP address allocation or operation of the DNS root servers. more»

Market Forces Should Control Registry Services?

Sonia Arrison, a director of the Center for Technology Studies at the California-based non-profit Pacific Research Institute, writes an interesting op-ed piece in the Internet news publication CNET News.com. She argues that the job of privatizing the domain name system should be completed and that market forces should control registry services such as SiteFinder deployed by VeriSign for about three weeks in September...While not a position I would agree with, as I would prefer more government control and additional regulation, it is definitely insightful and well written. She makes some interesting quotes... more»

At the Moment, No One Governs the Internet

What's remarkable about this moment is that the hot potato of DNS standard-setting is still up in the air. The US government didn't want to appear to be in charge, and wanted to convince European governments that it wasn't in charge, and so it created (or called for the creation of) ICANN. ICANN was designed to keep other governments at bay. ICANN has, however, no particular delegated power beyond that accorded to it by the contracts it has signed with registries and registrars. In fact, it can't have more power than that, because if it pretends to be a regulatory agency it should be complying with the APA -- and if it pretends to be a regulator its private nature probably violates US law in a number of respects. more»

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