Internet Governance

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SECSAC Special Meeting on Site Finder: A Technical Analysis

After attending the afternoon ICANN Security & Stability Committee meeting, I realized that the issues involved fall into several related but independent dimensions. Shy person that I am *Cough*, I have opinions in all, but I think it's worthwhile simply to be able to explain the Big Picture to media and other folks that aren't immersed in our field. In these notes, I'm trying to maintain neutrality about the issues. I do have strong opinions about most, but I'll post those separately, often dealing with one issue at a time. more

Online Registries: The DNS and Beyond

As the world grows more connected and more complicated, we all need ways of defining, identifying and keeping track of things and cross-referencing them with their owners. The simplest way to do that is with registries -- everything from the Domesday Book, a medieval registry of land, property and people; to current-day auto registries on the one hand and the worldwide Domain Name System on the other...But now, companies and organizations have to keep track of ever more things and people, not just inside their walls but across extended organizational boundaries. Call this new wrinkle an "external registry". Finally, they may want to interact with things and people, rather than just look them up, via an "active registry".  more

Principles for Internet Policy

Of all the candidates for the Democratic nomination, Howard Dean raised the most amount of money over the Internet. On March 15th, the Dean campaign launched the first official weblog in presidential campaign history, six days after Dean himself first stumped in the blogosphere. What follows are Dean's principles for Internet Policy.

This nation -- and not just this nation -- needs to have an honest conversation about what's real, possible and desirable when it comes to the gift of the Internet. Conversations need shared ground. Here are the beliefs we think should guide the development of a fact-based federal policy. We put these forward as part of a continuing Great American Conversation. more

Al's Story: Another Small Domain Holder Falls Victim to Flawed ICANN Policy

Al Bode is typical of the many small, individual domain name holders throughout the United States and the world. He is a high school teacher of the Spanish language, not a techie, and he registered the domain IOWAWLA.ORG to provide an online presence for the Iowa World Language Association, a professional association for foreign-language educators in the US State of Iowa, of which he is a member. This domain could in no way be considered a commercial venture. In his own words, "I am a school teacher from Iowa whose websites are personally funded for the express purpose of education. There is no profit motive or even profit other than the knowledge that others may gain from my website." more

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