Internet Governance

Internet Governance / Featured Blogs

ICANN and the Developing World: Examining The Outreach Program

Shravanti Reddy’s recent piece draws attention to an important issue that has nagged at ICANN ever since the ill-fated at large elections, when participants from the developed world greatly outnumbered those from the developing world. This imbalance was somewhat mitigated by the regional delineation of candidates, but it nonetheless raised two important questions that have yet to be settled:

First, how can ICANN (and, more generally, Internet governance) be more inclusive of developing countries? And second (less often asked, but perhaps even more important): Why should developing countries care about ICANN -- i.e., why does the answer to the first question even matter? This article discusses some recent developments related to the first question; a later article will consider some specific reasons why ICANN matters to the developing world. more

Internet Governance: There Are No Masterplans

Please pardon me if I start this story by telling about an incident that happened to me at the Madrid airport while flying to the ICANN meetings in Rio.

It was about midnight when, after flying in from Turin, my hometown, I had to go through the passport control to reach my gate for the flight to Rio. The war between the US/UK and Iraq had started two days before, and even if the Spanish government was among its supporters, security checks were apparently proceeding as usual. Passport controls inside the EU for EU citizens usually take a few seconds, and the line ahead of me was proceeding quickly. more

Brownian Motion And ICANN's Latest Status Report To The United States

Brownian motion is the ceaseless random movement of particles suspended in a warm fluid. The particles move because they are buffeted by random collisions with molecules and atoms speeding this way and that under the impetus of heat. The greater the heat, the greater the motion. But no matter how much motion and how much heat, Brownian motion brings no progress.

Today I learned from Bret Fausett's ICANN Blog that ICANN has just published its Sixth Status Report Under ICANN/US Government Memorandum of Understanding, dated March 31, 2003. This report is subtitled "Report by ICANN to United States Department of Commerce Re: Progress Toward Objectives of Memorandum of Understanding" (emphasis added.) more

With No Privacy Standards Who Knows Who Is Abusing The Whois Database

John Banks is a loan officer in New York. John's supervisor recently warned John about the potential number of bad loans he may be carrying as part of his portfolio. To dump some of the bad loans he might be carrying, John came up with a scheme. He pointed his web browser to www.whois.org and entered terms denoting disease or poor health such as 'cancer' and 'illness'. This query on the Internet's WHOIS database reported results of names and addresses of domain name owners who had developed websites devoted to providing information on certain serious illnesses. John compared these names and addresses with those in his portfolio of loans. For the matches, he canceled the loans and required immediate payment-in-full. more

Why ICANN Needs Fresh Blood: A Deeper View

I grew up in a utopian community in India.

I make this statement -- which may seem at best tangential to an article on the DNS -- at the outset because it suggests that I know something about ideology and ideologically charged debates.

Like the town where I grew up, the Internet was the product of dreamers, people who believed in the possibility of surmounting reality. In Code, Lessig compared early Internet euphoria to the euphoria that met the downfall of communism. He could just as well have compared it to the utopianism that accompanied the birth of communism. The point is that Internet pioneers were inspired by ideology, by a fervor to change the world. more

Internet Users: Is It Time For A Declaration Of Independence?

Although, undoubtedly, it is disappointing, it is not surprising that after four years of experimenting with Internet governance, the first corporate entity to take on the ambitious task -- the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- has not achieved the legitimacy of a global consensus-based manager of the Internet's domain name system. Simson Garfinkel explains, in his insightful piece in the March 2003 issue of Technology Review, that it has become conventional wisdom that "ICANN serves as a model for systematically shutting the public out" of its policy making activities. It should go without further explanation that the ICANN model is a particularly bad governance model, if consensus-building is supposed to be the corporation's linchpin of legitimacy. Among a few other concerns, ICANN, unmistakably, suffers from power-sharing phobia. more

Thinking Outside The ICANN Box: Creating A Prototype Based On Internet Experience - Part I

In research, one of the important steps is to identify the problem that needs exploration. Another step is to identify how to find a solution. Once it is possible to agree on the nature of the problem, then it begins to be a matter of how to approach the problem. more

United Nations vs. ICANN: One ccTLD At A Time

What happens if ICANN fails? Who will run the DNS then?

Of course to many, ICANN already has failed -- spectacularly so. Critics have long complained that ICANN not only lacks accountability and legitimacy, but also that it is inefficient (at best) and downright destructive (at worst). According to these critics, ICANN's many sins include threatening the stability of the Internet, limiting access by imposing an artificial domain name scarcity, and generally behaving like a petulant dictator. more

Internet Governance: The Proof Is In The Pudding

"ICANN remains the frontier institution and the test case for global governance in the IT sector," writes Zoe Baird in an article in the November-December 2002 issue of "Foreign Affairs". Baird is the President of the Markle Foundation. Her article "Governing the Internet: Engaging Government, Business and Nonprofits" appears in "Foreign Affairs", a magazine usually devoted to the discussion of American foreign policy interests.

The opening line of the article is striking. "The rapid growth of the Internet," Baird writes, "has led to a worldwide crisis of governance." On the surface, a serious problem has been identified. There is the promise of a fruitful discussion to follow. more

Domain Name Theft Part II: Did ICANN Leave Foxes Guarding the Chicken COOP?

When it comes to stealing domain names, I suspect that there are two reasons why so many web bandits appear to be immune from ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers uses the acronym ICANN): the first reason I discussed in my last column on domain name theft (where I described a substantive void in domain name "regulation" as a primary factor for the increasing incidence of domain name theft), the second reason, which is the focus of this column, is the procedural anomaly that currently infuses ICANN's uniform dispute resolution process (UDRP) by providing no administrative forum for domain name registrants who become victims of domain name theft carried out by ICANN's registrars. more