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Time for Reformation of the Internet

James Seng

An anonymous writer posted an article titled Time for Reformation of the Internet on Susan Crawford's blog. The article calls for a liberal approach towards ICANN, making a number of references to IETF and its process.

It's time for netizens to come to a similar realization about their direct relationship with the empowerment offered by the internet. None of the core principles that produced the net give any set of clerics — even the original engineers, or ISOC, much less ICANN — the right to prevent innovation at the edge. Indeed, the sacred texts of the net explicitly empower decentralized action. The internet arose because everything not prohibited was permitted.

This prompted a series of discussion in the blogosphere:

From Elliot Noss

Now some credit. I found "Time for Reformation of the Internet" to be well written and highly entertaining. I found many of the individual numbered points to be quite true. This, however, is what makes the document so misleading in my view. Take a number of powerful points and bury some fundamentally flawed underpinnings and you have a dangerous document.

From Susan Crawford

But even though I didn't write it, I don't agree with some of Elliot's criticisms of it. I do think that ICANN's "everything not permitted is prohibited" default setting is the wrong way to go. I don't think registries are monopolies — no more than any one car brand is a monopoly. Registries are competing — hard. I do think that the internet community can ban things if they want to, through consensus.

From James Seng

While I reject technical arguments like the "DNS can only support 20 gTLD", there are other reasons why it is a bad idea. Innovation ideas are like frogs' egg: a thousand hatched only one or two survive to maturity (quote Peter Drucker). Like many others, I love to have that one or two frogs but we aren't sure how to deal with the 999 other dead tadpoles. Particularly, how do we deal with the registrants who become dependent on the failed registries. "Oh too bad" is not an acceptable answer.

By James Seng, Vice President
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