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ICANN Should Pay Even More and Increase Its Spending Several Fold

Sivasubramanian M

Where does this idea that the employees of all non-profit organizations alike shall lead a public-transportation lifestyle come from? ICANN's monetary resources do not come from war widows and pensioners, for ICANN to feel guilty about every penny that it spends on administration. Nor does its resources, wherever they come from, are any that are earmarked to be spent on famine relief or on basic health care for the most unfortunate.

ICANN's legal status is non-profit, because it is so constituted as not to pursue profits like a Microsoft or a Toyota Motors. But it so happens that its role and responsibilities are larger than the largest of business corporations. ICANN requires the CEOs of a Microsoft, a Google and a Toyota Motors rolled into one to attend to the complexities in policy, and this applies in varied degrees to the positions of the Directors of ICANN Board and to the paid staff at every level of this Corporation who handle the tasks.

It is true that there are committed individuals who come forward to work for an ICANN or to develop standards for an IETF — individuals who are motivated, whose concern for monetary rewards are minimal, but why should the organization take advantage of these individuals' weaknesses for the cause they volunteer to work for? If it can pay, it should. Besides it often becomes necessary on the part of non-profit Corporations, as large as ICANN, to be open to the idea of getting the required talent whatever it takes by way of compensation.

ICANN is transparent, its important decisions follow a certain process and this would ensure that there are no excesses or abuses in its status as a "Public" entity. But beyond constructive and meaningful participation why would anyone stretch the freedom to participate or question beyond acceptable limits bordering on a degree of trivial interference?

The gTLD rationale to charge a certain fee is criticized badly without going into the complexities of managing new gTLDs. (There are non-commercial entities interested in gTLDs, some exceptions could be made, but that is besides the point of the essence of this argument). What is often glossed over is the fact that ICANN, as a non-profit corporation, is doing business mostly with the profit oriented business, and even if it waives all fee for gTLDs to commercial entities who apply for gTLDs, the end user would invariably be charged the same commercial prices, sometimes fair and sometimes unfair.

IANA allocates address blocks at a negligible fee per address space, at less than a dollar if I am right, but do I as a user get an address space for a dollar, for five or even ten? At least one or two ISPs I have dealt with as a customer, bundled IPV4 addresses in their internet service plans in such a way that if I required an IPV4 address as a static address I would commit to pay as much as $500 a month (an entry level subscription plan for an internet connection with a static address and usually there are much higher plans). The price, on paper, is not for the IPV4 address but for a "dedicated internet connection".

ICANN actually happens to be afraid of allowing revenues to come in. And what is ICANN spending what little money that it has on? Fellowships to enhance participation. And why is this criticized? I don't wish to impute motives to everyone who comments on it, but merely would like to point out that any limitation placed on fellowships would result in a greater advantage for the affluent participants from affluent geographeries and affluent sectors.

I don't understand the morality that inspires the position that ICANN should spend no money nor make any. ICANN carries out a huge task and it requires huge monetary resources to sustain itself and manage the Corporation. Is it desirable to reduce ICANN as an entity on a maintenance grant from the Department of Commerce? Or is there an even more imaginative suggestion such as an ICANN Foundation to send out weekly calls for donations from charities?

Whether or not intended, all this ICANN-bashing could possibly lead to a position where ICANN and other non-profit Internet Organizations are reduced to a position of even greater inability to resist the rich and powerful forces that propose to make the Internet what it is not.

Is it possible that all this is really not about ICANN but about Internet's Resources and Internet's capacity for profits for the private enterprise? Is it possible that all this is not against ICANN but against open and participative governance becoming the norm for the Internet?

Internet is an economic sphere of trillions of dollars, if truly measured for direct and indirect economic activity. ICANN handles Critical Internet Resources. It is necessary for ICANN to operate from Plenty, operate from Abundance, not from poverty. I move that ICANN becomes larger, I move that ICANN finds harmless ways of improving its revenues and move that it increases its program spending several fold.

By Sivasubramanian M, CEO, Turiya and President, Internet Society India Chennai. Views expressed here are those of the author's only. Sivasubramanian Muthusamy also contributes to the Wealthy World weblog located here.

Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Top-Level Domains

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Comments

There are no fees for IANA services David Conrad  –  Jan 06, 2009 7:25 PM PDT

Just a clarification:

IANA does not charge any fees for IP addresses (or any other service for that matter).  The RIRs voluntarily contribute to ICANN, but that is unrelated to the services IANA provides and the folks providing IANA services aren't generally aware of whether any fees (or donations) have been paid (that is, IANA staff might know whether some entity has given money to ICANN because they heard about it during a public plenary or whatever, but that has nothing to do with whether or not IANA provides services).

Regards,
-drc

Thank You Sivasubramanian M  –  Jan 06, 2009 10:06 PM PDT

Hello David Conrad,

I didn't know this. Thank you for the clarification.

Siva, you dont know a damned thing is the problem. Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jan 08, 2009 8:31 AM PDT

And you are too quick to comment.  And I kind of lost count of the number of "Hello X, I didnt know this, Thank you" emails you've sent in the past few months.

There's a lot to be said for newbies (even newbies calling themselves an ISOC chapter president..) just keeping their mouth shut and lurking rather than trying to air their knowledge .. or lack of it.

And remember, when you sign yourself as an ISOC chapter's president in all this nonsense, you are making it look like an official statement from ISOC.  Which, I am glad to say it isnt, they have lots of people there who understand policy rather better than you do, thank god.

A quick course on economics (even 101 level) will come in handy - and perhaps another bit of knowledge .. that while it is cheap to get address space, it is quite a costly proposition to actually route that address space, to provide last mile DSL / cable connectivity and a bunch of other things you simply dont factor into that long winded "article". 

Yes, pricing could be lower due to incompetence of ISPs, monopolies in the market (such as existed in India about a decade back), etc.  But if you think just because you can get netblocks cheaply from APNIC (not directly from IANA) that's all there is to a pricing model for internet access ..

And, certainly, as an end user you arent going to get your single DSL IP, let alone connectivity for it, from APNIC.

I could go on and on but I am already late for dinner and dont have any more time to waste pointing out just how nonsensical this nonsense is. 

In any case, at least stop signing yourself "president, isoc chennai" when you post, if the urge to post gets too much for you.

Might I suggest switching to decaffeinated? :-) David Conrad  –  Jan 08, 2009 9:42 AM PDT

Suresh,

It is a common misperception, one that (at least in my experience) has been actively encouraged by ISPs, that the Internet governance structures (RIRs and ICANN) impose significant fees which the ISPs must recover by passing those costs on to their customers. In my experience, ISPs have been quick to blame the RIRs and ICANN to justify their monthly(!) charges for static IP addresses.  I personally have pointed out to at least residential ISPs that the reason they lost my business was because they told me the reason they charge at least $2/month/IP address was because "ARIN requires us to".  The reality is that the yearly membership fees to the RIRs fade into the noise when compared to staff, bandwidth, equipment, etc., particularly given the RIRs essentially provide bulk discounts to larger ISPs. 

However, if you re-read Siva's article, you'll note that only one paragraph out of 11 relates to IP addressing.  Furthermore, if you consider the RIR membership fees (of which a small portion is provided voluntarily to ICANN), Siva is correct: the _cost_ per IP address to the end user is negligible yet the _price_ can be obscenely high.

Regards,
-drc

Response to David Conrad's "Might I suggest switching to decaffeinated? :-)" comment Sivasubramanian M  –  Jan 08, 2009 11:40 AM PDT

Hello David Conrad,

The $2/month/IP address which you have protested is minuscule compared to the way it is bundled here (at least by some) ISPs in India. As I have pointed out, it requires a plan that commits a minimum of about $500 /month for a user to be allotted a static IP address.

And thanks for pointing out that my battle is not against ISPs, I don't see any of them to be against the Internet model. It was just an observation in the context of ICANN as a non-profit doing business with businesses who make profit.

Thank you.

Response to the Know it all Consultant Sivasubramanian M  –  Jan 08, 2009 11:24 AM PDT

And I kind of lost count of the number of "Hello X, I didnt know this, Thank you" emails you've sent in the past few months.

Between the postions "I know it all" and "I don't know", I prefer to say "I don't know" as often as, an attitude that helps me gain more knowledge and newer insights.

Lost count of the "emais" I have sent? When did I ever write to you and why would I? Or is is part of your assignment to track and count my email messages that I send out?

There's a lot to be said for newbies (even newbies calling themselves an ISOC chapter president..) just keeping their mouth shut and lurking rather than trying to air their knowledge .. or lack of it.

Argumentum ad Hominem: "A debater commits the Ad Hominem Fallacy when he introduces irrelevant personal premises about his opponent. Such red herrings may successfully distract the opponent or the audience from the topic of the debate."

And remember, when you sign yourself as an ISOC chapter's president in all this nonsense, you are making it look like an official statement from ISOC. 

None of your business.

(To ISOC: CircleID summarized my profile info into a single line that said "Written by Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, CEO, Turiya and President, ISOC India Chennai." which does not imply that the article is published in "my capacity as president of ISOC Chennai" These are my independent views and I happen to be the President of ISOC Chennai. It appears that my role makes this Consultant or the Organization that represents) a little uncomfortable. George Kirikos's article that I criticized attempted to drive the good people away from ICANN and this comment stretches it a little bit, perhaps with a reverse strategy?)

Which, I am glad to say it isnt, they have lots of people there who understand policy rather better than you do, thank god.

Thank you for your noble prayers.

A quick course on economics (even 101 level) will come in handy

Yes, you know economics (or you know all of economics), and everything that you say or do stems from this plane?

- and perhaps another bit of knowledge .. that while it is cheap to get address space, it is quite a costly proposition to actually route that address space, to provide last mile DSL / cable connectivity and a bunch of other things you simply dont factor into that long winded "article". Yes, pricing could be lower due to incompetence of ISPs, monopolies in the market (such as existed in India about a decade back), etc.  But if you think just because you can get netblocks cheaply from APNIC (not directly from IANA) that's all there is to a pricing model for internet access ..

Impressive. But after all that is factored in, as David Conrad has pointed in his response to you, "the _cost_ per IP address to the end user is negligible yet the _price_ can be obscenely high."

And, certainly, as an end user you arent going to get your single DSL IP, let alone connectivity for it, from APNIC.

I don't know. I will ask APNIC about it.

I could go on and on but I am already late for dinner and dont have any more time to waste pointing out just how nonsensical this nonsense is.

Can think of something sharp to say here, but saying it would reduce me to your level.

In any case, at least stop signing yourself "president, isoc chennai" when you post, if the urge to post gets too much for you.

None of your business.

Most of that is due to competition policy and such .. Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jan 08, 2009 9:53 AM PDT

Monopolies (and in some areas, even stateside, its all cable isp X, or dsl isp Y) charge just what they want. And expecting tier 1 call center staff to know anything at all about ARIN is .. well, they have this nice little grab bag full of buzzwords they can throw around to convince people that no, they are not overcharging.

In developing countries that still believe the "MIT has more addresses than china" meme, or at least trot it out to justify why they need to manage their own IP space (aka the regulator, which then favors the state owned telcos..) - well, they might charge you 50 bucks rather than 2 bucks for a static IP and not blink.

All that has zero, zip, zilch etc to do with why ICANN, or IANA, or the RIRs should be spending more.

Kirikos - for all that I disagree with a lot he wrote in his article - made rather more sense than this guy does.

The money they send should be based Joe xx  –  Jan 12, 2009 11:37 AM PDT

The money they send should be based on the services they provide to the people who are paying the money.  Many people who are paying the fees feel ICANN is not really representing them, that they take the money and do what they want (or what is good for others).  If ICANN were percieved as doing its job then there would not be complaints over the expenditures.

The "non-profit" status merely means that the legal entity, ICANN cannot make a profit.  It does not mean the people involved do not make a profit.  For instance, large amounts of funds have been transferred to law firms for litigation against the interest of domain holders.  In other words, they are taking money from people and transferring it to lawyers to file litigation against the people paying the bills.

ICANN was set up this to avoid scruitiny.  Since they are outside the government they are not subject to the US Freedom of Information Act and they can hide large amounts of information from the people who are funding them.  This is a recipe for disaster and ICANN should be kept as small as possible in order to function.

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