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On the Upcoming Hearings on ICANN by the US Senate

Karl Auerbach

The Communications subcommittee of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding a hearing on ICANN today, July 31, 2003 at 2:30pm EDT.

You can listen in via http://www.capitolhearings.org/ (scan down for the appropriate item for Room SR-253). I'm not sure where the written materials will be posted - I'll post the URL when I find out.

I was a witness at the two prior hearing, one in 2001 and another in 2002 - it's quite an experience.

My submission to this year's hearing is online at http://www.cavebear.com/rw/senate-july-31-2003.htm

What's going to be said by the witnesses? I don't know. But I have some guesses:

  • ICANN will once again try to make us believe that it is responsive to the public.
  • NTIA will once again threaten to pull the contractual plug on ICANN.
  • CDT will present its usual - an extremely competent and extremely reasonable position, wrapped in very polite, perhaps too polite, terms.
  • Verisign and eNOM will argue that ICANN's invasive regulatory schemes are impeding their ability to innovate and offer customers viable products.

In my own materials I make several points. Perhaps the most important are these:
  1. ICANN's system of allocating new TLDs is a complete failure. I should be terminated and replaced immediately with something in line with that suggested by Professors Mueller and McKnight (see The Post-COM Internet: A Five-Step Process for Top Level Domain Additions pdf) and of Professors Solum and Manheim (see An Economic Analysis of Domain Name Policy).
  2. ICANN has abandoned its obligation to oversee the IP address allocation system.
  3. ICANN's response to security of the DNS is an empty facade.
  4. The actions of the US Department of Commerce reflect a trend to expand executive branch governmental authority, perhaps in violation of US Constitutional principles, through the use of putatively private agents such as ICANN.
  5. Congress should enact a "Public Powers Act" that would define how and under what conditions the exercise of pubic and governmental powers may be delegated to private bodies and define the obligations of such private bodies when they are endowed with the ability to exercise these governmental powers.
  6. ICANN has become a supranational legislature that exports "laws" desired by intellectual property interests onto nations of the world without their consent.
  7. ICANN has not met its obligations to be open, transparent, and accountable to the public.  Instead ICANN has restructured itself so as to be further than ever from the public.  The gap between the public and ICANN's centers of power is filled with insulating layer upon insulating layer of ICANN created, and ICANN-regulated "structures", "organizations", and "committees".

My materials also include a copy of my comments on ICANN's CRADA report and a copy of the public version of the evaluation of ICANN (pdf) that I submitted to ICANN at the end of my term.

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This article originally published in the CaveBear Blog at http://www.cavebear.com/cbblog/

By Karl Auerbach, Chief Technical Officer at InterWorking Labs
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