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Misunderstanding ICANN

Harvard Law School's distinguished Berkman Center for Internet & Society has published a preliminary study, "Public Participation In ICANN." ...The problem with the preliminary study is that it fundamentally misunderstands the role of ICANN in Internet governance. Specifically, ICANN's duty is not and should not be to simply carry out the will of the "Internet user community." Instead, ICANN's duty is to carry out the responsibilities the organization agreed to in its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and contract with the Department of Commerce. This does not mean that ICANN should exclude stakeholder views. more

Letting DNS Loose

RFID tags, UPC codes, International characters in email addresses and host names, and a variety of other identifiers could all go into DNS, and folks have occasionally proposed doing just that. Its really just a question of figuring out how to use the DNS -- its ready to carry arbitrary identifiers. And by the way, this isn't a new idea, see RFC 1101 for proof, although even earlier I designed the DNS in the early 1980s to allow it to be so, but it seemed too far fetched to document for a while. ...I was in Geneva for a WSIS meeting of CTOs, and was surprised that the various organizations (ITU, ICANN, ISOC) haven't figured out that they need each other to make this technology work, rather than asserting ownership. more

What the Net Did Next

During this slow and long lull of domain name policy and ICANN related news stories, I thought it would be a good time to bring an article by BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward to the attention of the CircleID community. In it, ICANN Chairman of the Board Vint Cerf reflects on the history of the Internet and his involvement as somewhat of a "midwife," rather than the "father" title he doesn't like. He also looks to the future and identifies two key, fundamental changes that will shape the next stage of the Internet. As he puts it, they are VoIP and ENUM. more

WSIS: What Is It 'Really' All About?

Until a few weeks ago, almost everyone in the Internet governance circus seemed to ignore the very existence of WSIS. After it popped up on international newspapers, however, things have been changing; and suddenly, I have started noticing plenty of negative reactions, on the lines of "we don't need WSIS, we don't need the UN, we don't need governments, we don't need internationalization - just go away from our network". However, I often find that these reactions are based on fundamental misunderstandings of the issues at stake; so please let me offer a different perspective. more

A Psychoanalysis of Corporate Domain Names and Branding - Part II

Naming for today's global e-commerce is very fragmented and every corporation is trying to cope with little or no guidance at all. When a name fails to deliver a clear and distinct message no amount of bizarre branding ideas will ever save it. Now to check on the health of a name here are some key reasons and if not corrected, a name will endlessly shout and eventually die. more

ICANN and the Virtues of Deliberative Policymaking - Part II

In the second part of this two-part series article (part one here), Andrew McLaughlin concludes his critical look at the recently reported study, Public Participation in ICANN, by John Palfrey, Clifford Chen, Sam Hwang, and Noah Eisenkraft at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School... "ICANN has never attempted to be -- and was never designed to be -- 'representative' of the worldwide Internet community in any mathematically precise way. In view of the vast size of the global population of Internet users, and the specialized technical focus of ICANN's policy-making responsibilities, it would be a hopeless task to try to achieve truly representative statistical proportionality among ICANN's participants, committees, task forces, or Board members. Rather, here's how the U.S. government's foundational 1998 DNS policy statement described the core principle of 'representation'." more

ICANN and the Virtues of Deliberative Policymaking - Part I

In this two-part series article, Andrew McLaughlin takes a critical look at the recently reported study, Public Participation in ICANN, by John Palfrey, Clifford Chen, Sam Hwang, and Noah Eisenkraft at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School..."The study's presentation and analysis of data contain much of interest, and much that could assist ICANN (and other policy-making bodies) in improving its use and management of online public forums. But the study's value is diminished by two rather fundamental shortcomings: (1) its misapprehension of both the theory and the practice of ICANN's policy-development process, and (2) the sizeable gap between the broad scope of the study's conclusions and the very narrow -- indeed, myopic -- focus of the analysis from which they are derived. Simply put, the study scrutinizes a small and misleading corner of ICANN (namely, its online public comment forums) and leaps to a sweeping (and, in my view, unwarranted) conclusion." more

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

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