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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

.Name Registry Hacked

On Saturday, November 29, 2003 a post on the GNSO mailing list indicated that the .name registry website had been hacked. As reported by George Kirikos, "The .name registry's main website www.nic.name has been hacked, as of Saturday evening in North America. According to Netcraft, they're running Linux. They must not have kept up to date with all security updates, or someone cracked a password. Hopefully offsite backups were made, to ensure data integrity." Although, due to this emergency, the .name web servers have been pulled down as of this writing, just a short few hours ago, visitors to the .name registry home page would find a mysterious black screen upon visiting the site, including the following text... more

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

This is the first 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 second part of this Interview here. Geert Lovink: "Would it make sense to analyse ICANN (and its predecessors) as a test model for some sort of secretive 'world government' that is run by self appointed experts? Could you explain why governments are seen as incapable of running the Internet? This all comes close to a conspiracy theory. I am not at all a fan of such reductionist easy-to-understand explanations. However, the discontent with 'global governance' discourse is widespread and it seems that the International Relations experts have little understanding how the Internet is actually run. Where do you think theorization of Internet governance should start?" more

Report on Survey of Domain Registration Services

Numerous competitive registrars offer diverse domain registration services to individuals, companies, and organizations. This study attempts to index and analyze their service offerings, facilitating analysis by other researchers and in preparation for additional analysis by the author.  more

Registrar Market Share: An Alternative Perspective

In the past, most measurements of registrar market share have tracked overall registrar shares -- number of domains registered by a registrar divided by number of domains registered by all registrars. In this article, I propose some alternatives -- particular subsets of domains in which to measure registrar market shares, providing a basis for comparison with overall market shares. Results vary dramatically across these subsets, with implications on the future customer retention rates of the corresponding registrars.  more

What is WSIS Getting At?

Attacks on ICANN are coming from several different directions, and the list of concerns includes "cybercrime and protection of intellectual property rights."... First, it's not apparent to me that any government can "control" the internet -- and it's even less likely that that control can happen through the DNS. The most that governments will do will be to build walls between nations, requiring their ISPs to point only to approved sites. (China is well on its way to doing this already.) That's not controlling the Internet, that's creating different, national Internets. more

Blissful Ignorance: Placement Prostituting the Press

Andrew McLaughlin, in his excellent dismemberment of the BBC's report on the "IPv4 address crisis", is observing not a random piece of sloppy research, but the success of settled policy. That policy, pursued by public relations companies serving information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) companies, is simple to sum up: "identify, support and encourage technically ignorant journalism". It centres around the most valuable word in the lexicon of the public relations firm: "placement"...A key characteristic of the "placement" story is its conformance to a template...With one search, I found a CNET story published in July with quite startling parallels to the BBC story... more

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