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IGP Asks You to Weigh in on the USG's .xxx Intervention

Milton Mueller

Responding to the .xxx intervention by the US Commerce Department, the Internet Governance Project has produced a "STATEMENT OPPOSING POLITICAL INTERVENTION IN THE INTERNET'S CORE TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS." You can view the statement here and add your name as a signatory at the bottom. Over 60 people have endorsed it.

The Statement claims that "The NTIA's recent intervention in the .xxx proceeding undermines assurances" that the U.S. government's special unilateral authority over ICANN "would never be used to shape policy but was only a means of protecting the stability of the organization and its processes." The NTIA's open acknowledgment of the influence of religious groups made the intervention particularly dangerous.

The Statement notes that "The new voice and power being given to national governments contrasts sharply with the powerlessness of individual domain name registrants within ICANN, who, despite being the most significant stakeholder in the system, were deprived of their right to vote for ICANN Board members in 2002."

Acknowledging WSIS pressure to revise the oversight relationship between ICANN and governments, the Statement says that "If there are to be any government-imposed limitations or constraints on the global name space, they should meet the most stringent procedural and substantive standards, such as: * A well-defined process controlling when and in what form governments are permitted to intervene in the TLD addition process; * General principles defining what criteria can be used to justify a decision to refuse to permit the addition of a particular name and (equally important) what criteria are not admissible * Very high levels of agreement, or complete consensus, among governments before any veto could be taken."

The statement concludes: "In reviewing its decision regarding the .xxx delegation, we urge the ICANN Board to be mindful of the future, and of the Internet's legacy of freedom. Its decision must take into account the need to restrain the influence of national politics and content regulation advocacy on the Internet's operation. We urge it not to make any concessions or statements that would encourage more such interventions in the future. We urge the world's governments to take a more deliberative and procedurally sound approach to the reform of ICANN."

By Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy
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