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The Internet

US Govt Wants to Control ICANN? 468

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the international-and-independent-yeah-right dept.
blankmange writes "ZDNet is covering a new piece of legislation that may be introduced by Sen. Conrad Burns that would give the US government more control of ICANN - the independent corporation that controls the domain-naming system of the internet. 'In a statement released two days before a Senate subcommittee is scheduled to hold hearings on the global body, Burns said the change was necessary because ICANN has exceeded its authority, does not operate in an open fashion, and is dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups.'"
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US Govt Wants to Control ICANN?

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  • Pot? Is that you? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:45AM (#3679167) Homepage Journal
    ICANN has exceeded its authority, does not operate in an open fashion, and is dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups.

    Kind of like... the government??
    • by YanceyAI (192279)
      Yes, except the government knows less about the Internet, technology, and what's at stake.
      • Yeah, but at least we have a shot at voting the bums out if they fuck things up. Don't have that ability, even in theory, with ICANN.

    • Re:Pot? Is that you? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SirSlud (67381) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:56AM (#3679269) Homepage
      Oh please. You know, for all the corruption, backdoor deals, conspiracies, etc, etc private companies have infinately more legistlation in place to protect their ability to do shit behind your back. I will never understand why people fear/dislike their government more than private companies who never even have to let you know anything strange is going on unless they get caught.

      Kinda hard to knock the government when the problem in this case is clearly that the body is operating more like a company than a regulatory body as it should be.

      Government 'n business may be in cahoots, but at least there are still some laws that force the government to be open about its dealings, even if its not always effectively enforced or followed. Aisde, there doesn't seem to be much public push for making soft donations 'n influence of that nature public, so we can lay the blame there on ourselves.

      I'm not saying the government is perfect, but it seems to be that private, even public companies, are in an infinately better position to manipulate your opinions and consent, and not be held accountable for it. Hell, MS's potentially illegal OEM agreement is/was marked as a trade secret, so nobody could look at it. What a joke. I'll trust my government more than companies any day of the week.
      • You do have a point... However, it should be obvious that private entities are subjected to our laws, while the Government is not.

        First, if a company is able to legally lie, and back stab, etc, it's all due to the inaction of our government to properly govern and regulate the businesses. Businesses are there to make money by doing anything they have to within the confines of law.

        Second. There are two things that make Governmnet corruption very dangerous. 1. They are an entity that is designed to do nothing but watch out for us. When they start watching out for each other, or a corporation, then people get harmed. 2. They have more power than any company on earth. Microsoft will not carpet bomb your neighborhood just because you didn't read your license agreement. The Government, however, can ammend the constitution, make laws, repeal laws, use force, and CAN essentially do what they please. Currently, all the corruption is kept low-key, however, it won't take a huge leap to allow our officals absolute power over us. I'm not a diehard NRA member, but if the government takes away out right to bear arms (which they sure as hell can), then we have little recourse against our own government, should to worst-case senario happen.
        • by neocon (580579)

          With due respect, of course the government is subject to our laws. That's what it means to live in a constitutional republic with rule of law and specific limitations on government. I'm not saying there aren't abuses, and we must always be vigilant to fight them, but to say the government is not bound by law is simply incorrect, and is a way of knuckling under to such abuses as do occur.

          By the way, take a look at what is required in order to ammend the constitution [cornell.edu]. This isn't something that government can `just do'.

        • I understand your point regarding the private ownership of firearms, but I don't agree that you would have any recourse at all against our government no matter how many guns you own. They have tanks, planes, smart bombs/missles, chemical and biological weapons, and nukes. Your 30-06 isn't going to intimidate them at all, IMHO.
      • The reason that people fear and dislike the government is because the government doesn't care about the implications of what they do. Remember, this is the government that passed the DMCA, is behind the FCC on the broadband mess, and is trying to pass the SSSCA. It is obvious that the government (1) Does not have any idea about technology and the internet (as previously stated) or (2) they don't care and they are looking for short term power and regulation. ICANN *may be* operating outside of its authority, but at least they are not the caniving senators who are trying to pass legislation inhibiting the growth of technology. As for trusting the government more than companies any day of the week , how about trusting neither and using intellect to figure out what in the world is going on.
        • Dont know much about the FCC, but your DMCA and SSSCA laws wouldn't even be in existance (or on the burner, respectively) were it not for the interests of large companies. They drove the 'demand' for those pieces of legislation, and we've nobody but ourselves to blame for allowing companies to become weathier (and thus more influential than the government) than the interests of the government and people.

          > how about trusting neither and using intellect to figure out what in the world is going on.

          Of course! I simply meant my 'default' state is to trust the intentions of government, more than the intentions of companies. Most of the stupid shit my government does is at the behest of companies, and most of the good stuff they try to do is denounced by companies. Thus, by default, I think the government has generally good intentions - when it does shit not in the interests of the people, you can usually find a corperate lobby-tank behind it.
      • by Reziac (43301)
        The difference is that even tho business may be more inherently devious than gov't, the gov't can come charging in with guns and there's not much you can do about it. The worst business can do is sic their lawyers on you. (Well, unless they're the mob :)

        • > the gov't can come charging in with guns

          Yes they can. At which point you could fight against them, and nobody would protect them other than themselves. You know, this is when its time for a new government.

          > The worst business can do is sic their lawyers on you

          Or sell you a product that kills you. The rough part about this is, they are protected by the government in this case. Procedure, laywers, etc. Companies are sued all the time for releasing dangerous products to the public, and yet, you cannot retaliate in a like-minded manner.

          Which is why, to me, companies are inherently more dangerous. They have the freedom, leverage, and power to do shit and then influence their body gaurd to protect them. When the body gaurd (government) charges, alone, without its funding partner (companies) joining the fight, I think youd be in a much better situation to protect yourself because all bets regarding what constitutes allowable forms of defense would be off.
      • private companies have infinately more legistlation

        And who was it who passed that legislation?

        Also, this isn't just about good vs bad intentions. It's about competence. A body whose only business is operation in one specific operational area (ie provate companies) tend to be better in that area than a body who involves themselves in all and everything going on around them (ie, govermnents)
      • It may not be a private corporation, but it thinks it is.

        I can boycott corporations, but the closest thing to a boycott of the US gov't is illegal.

        The US government is the prime facilitator of most of the things coprorations do that we see as Evil. (DMCA, military action in Guatemala & Nicaragua, Saipan, heck, the amount of time copyrights are good for magically gets longer every time Disnay's copyright in a certain mouse is about to expire.)

        History has shown that these limits on the power of the government that you speak of are fungible. Usually, they are only funged a little bit, for example with limitations on free speech w/r/t certain four-letter words in public. Sometimes, they're funged a lot more. For example with the WWII internment camps.

        I'm still not convinced that the US government values me as anything other than a contributor to the GDP, in the same way that I know large corporations only care about me as a chump that may have a few loose dollars in his pocket.

        As for the laws that limit the gov't, the constitution and laws in this country only hold water because our governing body agrees they do.
        Abraham Lincoln blatantly ignored the Constitution and a few other major laws, I'm sure. The gov't can do that just as easily today. At least corporations have a government standing above their heads waiting to put them in their place (or at least make a pathetic attempt to do so) every random interval unit of time or so. That may not be worth two shits in a can, but it's a psychological comfort.

        Who's going to stop this abulatory conglomeration of tinker toys and assault rifles we Americans like to pretend is a government if it stretches things too far?
      • I'm not saying the government is perfect, but it seems to be that private, even public companies, are in an infinately better position to manipulate your opinions and consent, and not be held accountable for it.

        Of course they're in a better position. The United States of America has the best government money can buy!

        What worries me is the idea of "unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups." How in the blazes can you be accountable to both Internet users and businesses? The interests of individual users and businesses (not to mention "key interest groups" - read: 'corporate sponsored lobbies') are diabolically oppposed at the most fundamental level.

        Vortran out
      • I will never understand why people fear/dislike their government more than private companies who never even have to let you know anything strange is going on unless they get caught.

        Maybe it's for the simple reason that most people work for private companies and they provide a source of income. The government is an organization which simply takes a chunk of that income away. :) At least I can argue with my boss over how much I get paid, there's little wiggle room when dealing with the tax man.
      • The reason some of us are more concerned about abuse of government power than about abuse of corporate power is that Coke very rarely sends fighter planes to strafe villages full of Pepsi drinkers.
      • Two Words... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pollux (102520)
        I will never understand why people fear/dislike their government more than private companies who never even have to let you know anything strange is going on unless they get caught.

        Eminent domain.

        The government has the exclusive power to confiscate (for "fair compensation") property for whatever reason. Now, I'm sure you'd love to believe (as you say you do) that when the government does take something, it's all for an important purpose (aka public works...roads / utilities / etc.). Not always is that the case.

        About five years ago, my college wanted to build a couple extra residental buildings for the campus, but some "old houses" stood in the way. The college asked the city to exercise their right to buy out those properties. Residents complained, because of course it would lower the property value of the neighborhood. So, the residents were heard, but the college still got the land. Why? The mayor was also dean of the college.

        Another good example can be found here [mississippilink.com]. Nissan Automotive bought out the Mississippi Legislature to get a law passed that allowed them to take whatever land they chose to have (and disregard the land's real value).

        My point is this: I don't want a governing body who can be bought out to control the internet. I'm sure someone is going to pipe in and say that "Domain names aren't physical property...the government can't exercise eminent domain!" Anyone who wishes to say such a thing apparently doesn't realize that until a law is on the books that says the government can't, the government will.

  • "more control"? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ldspartan (14035)
    How much control does the US government have now? And how much more do they want?

    Granted ICANN isn't very accountable right now, and isn't doing the best of jobs, but I don't know if I'd feel better with the government in control of such an important and technically complex venture.

    --
    Phil
    • Re:"more control"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drsoran (979) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:51AM (#3679210)
      Granted ICANN isn't very accountable right now, and isn't doing the best of jobs, but I don't know if I'd feel better with the government in control of such an important and technically complex venture.

      Umm, they used to be in control of it. They made some horrible decisions like contracting the work out to Network Solutions, but the US Government did provide a stabilizing force. Nobody knows what the hell ICANN is doing. In all honesty though, the whole thing is kind of a joke. The only reason ICANN has any control is because the DNS admins of the world point to their blessed root servers. If we were to all decide one day to point to another set of servers it would make ICANN, Network Solutions.. err... Verisign, etc. completely irrelevent. So when we hear people bitch we need to take it with a grain of salt. We can fix it, it's just nobody wants to rock the boat.
      • Yeah! Theres more of that Technical Illuminati that I fantasize about .. password/nameserver/account managers of the world, unite! The time is now! ;)

        (I actually wonder if this could happen in the future ... )
  • I'm glad that this may force ICANN to open up the process, and get back to business.

    I'm worried that this may signal a repeat of the morass in South Africa.

    Who knows, we might end up with anarchy after all, and only the future wireless mesh networks holding things together.

    --Mike--

  • Change? But how (Score:2, Interesting)

    ok, we all realise that ICANN needs to be changed, but the US government? HELL NO. It would make things worse. Instead ICANN should be revised into a democratic body of some sort. It would be difficult to set up, but necciasary. The ISPs, internet users, and buisnesses would all have to be fairly represented. Any ideas?

    The US government should not control ICANN, it would be dumped into the FCC and regulated to hell. The internet would become even more difficult to use. Its already hard enough to start a small local ISP, what else will this screw up?
  • How long will it be before ICANN are forced to release the .bush TLD?
  • "ICANN has exceeded its authority, does not operate in an open fashion, and is dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups."

    So the government can take this over so they can exceeded their authority, not operate in an open fashion, be dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups. This sounds like the government is just jealous that another entity has similar incompetence.
  • Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by adam613 (449819) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:50AM (#3679201)
    "Dozens of other governments have charged ICANN with being too dominated by U.S. interests"

    So the solution is to put it under control of the US government. Does this sound as dumb to everyone else as it does to me?

    When I hear stuff like this, I start to wonder what the real motivations are...
  • ICANN is more evil than the Government. Granted it would be better if it was transfered to an international body to better reflect the international community that the Internet has become, but the US government is certainly a step in the right direction. Our government is supposedly of, by, and for the people. ICANN doesn't have such obligations. God I hate them.
    • people seem to forget that the US is becoming a fairly small portion of Internet users. but some folks in Congress think that we own the Internet.

      if ICANN is corrupt we can at least take some comfort in realizing that it has very little power. I wish we could say the same about the US government, which is corrupt but has tremendous power to do harm.
      • the US is becoming a fairly small portion of Internet users...but is currently still the overwhelming majority.
  • Dilemma (Score:3, Troll)

    by lindsayt (210755) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:52AM (#3679226)
    This is a real dilemma. Consider that all the claims the US government makes about ICANN are correct: they're unaccountable, monopolistic, and they certainly don't run things the way they were supposed to. Almost everybody in the /. community can agree that ICANN needs to be reined in.

    The US government used to do this job, and back then, it was fine. But of course then the internet was a small space for researchers and academics to exchange ideas.

    Our current administration is authoritarian and too concerned about what's moral, correct, and in the best interest of scaring the populace. Free speech == bad in the eyes of the Bush regime.

    Add to that the fact that the internet is now worldwide, and the US shouldn't be patrolling the world (though they do it in physical space already - cyber space is a small leap), and it puts us all in a real dilemma.

    I guess the real question is, with which stick would you rather be beaten?

    • Re:Dilemma (Score:4, Informative)

      by gorilla (36491) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:56AM (#3679264)
      I don't think the government every really did it. Jon Postel did, and he was paid by the government to do so, but it was really just Jon doing the right thing, and the government not having any interest in it.
    • Our current administration is authoritarian and too concerned about what's moral, correct, and in the best interest of scaring the populace. Free speech == bad in the eyes of the Bush regime.

      Oh bullshit. Where do you think legislation like the CBDTPA (formerly the SSSCA), DMCA, CDA (Communications Decency Act), et al. come from? Hint - it aint the Republicans, it's Hollywood (or as it's known as in Washington - the Democratic Party).

      Historically, Republicans have been against legislation that invades privacy. It's the fucking nutballs like Fritz Hollings that you have to worry about.

      • Oh bullshit. Where do you think legislation like the CBDTPA (formerly the SSSCA), DMCA, CDA (Communications Decency Act), et al. come from? Hint - it aint the Republicans, it's Hollywood (or as it's known as in Washington - the Democratic Party).

        You do know that, until last year, the Republicans have had a majority in both houses since 1994.


        None of the above bills, those that were put to a vote, could have been passed without the complete support of the Repubs.


        Just saying.


        What's chilling about the Republicans is not what they do when they're in someone's back pocket, as Hollings is, but what they do when they are not.

      • I'm waiting to see when the Republican party starts calling itself the Republicanic party.
  • Talk about coming full circle. ICANN was spun off of the U.S. government so it could be more independant and directly accountable to the Internet's user base; now the latter reason is being used to confiscate ICANN's independance.

    I think we of the Internet community have been reminded of a tragedy of human existance... Where you have idealism, you have politics. In trying to de-politicize ICANN, it ended up being an excessively political body instead.

    ObTroll: I'm now waiting for the protests from the UN, China, et al, that the U.S. is trying to exercise soverignty over the 'Net. (And the current U.S. administration using the War On Terror(TM) as the justification for doing so.)
  • dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups.

    Any chance that Big Money, Inc. hasn't gotten what they thought they bought with ICANN and is instead deciding that its money goes a lot farther with the Government instead?
  • Hey. Remember. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:53AM (#3679232)
    When the US Govt. gave up what power they had over the domain system, it went to shit. Netsol messed it up, ICANN is messing it up even worse.

    I say let the NSF do it again.

    • When the US Govt. gave up what power they had over the domain system, it went to shit. Netsol messed it up, ICANN is messing it up even worse.
      But simply handing it back to the US government won't do much to solve the problems. Maybe it's time to start treating DNS domains as being analagous to telephone numbers, thus have the ITU handle all TLDs.
  • by Diabolical (2110) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:53AM (#3679233) Homepage
    This could mean alot of problems for non US citizens.
    When a non US constituant has a valid complaint against a US constituant who will guarantee that his claim will be handled without disdain or prejudice.

    If ICANN falls under US law couldn't it be mis-interpreted as the Internet falls under US law? The Internet isn't just from or for the US people.

    I think this could be a major problem.

    Besides, what has ICANN do to be in this predicament ? Which laws did they break?
    • Not only does this americanize the "Internet", but the corporate registry becomes insulated from "unacceptable" lawsuits.

      The U.S. federal government (or any of its agencies, presumably including the Dept. of ICANN) cannot be sued unless they consent to it.

      The same goes for any of the Sovereign States. That's the nature of sovereignity.

      If you think there's little accountability now, wait until it's federalized.

      Remember, access to your elected pol is cheap and a good investment. Prices start at $10k worth of free speech campaign contributions...
    • I think in all honesty this is why the scheme is doomed to failure. Consider:

      USA: We're taking over the Internet, ICANN can't be trusted.

      Rest of world: Er, we want some say in how the Internet is run too.

      USA: (Confused responses, some recognising that the USA is not the Internet, some following the Jesse Helms school of diplomacy)

      Rest of world: Screw this. We'll do it ourselves. (ISPs all over the world obliged to point at new root servers. Users suddenly finding Internet access increasingly difficult as every other link ceases to be resolvable, email keeps bouncing, and competing standards and assigned numbers begin to really foul things up)

      {What happens here you'll have to work out for yourself. The ISPs may take things into their own hands, Microsoft may invent a "new reliable Internet", or the governments may realise the urgency of the situation and resolve it with a new, accountable, transnational authority.}
  • I'm sure the gov't will do for ICANN what they did for Amtrack.
    • Stop subsidizing them and expect them to be self-funding? Kinda like the US Postal Service?

      Bad Analogy. Abort? Retry? Fail.
  • by jht (5006) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:54AM (#3679244) Homepage Journal
    ICANN may be an international body, but much of their authority came courtesy of the US government. It would take a major consensus from virtually all ISP's (in the US and the rest of the world as well) to allow a different body to take control of DNS. Since ICANN's authority came via the US government, theoretically it can be taken away as well. Given the way ICANN operates, that may not be a Bad Thing. It might be nice to have a "do-over" with ICANN and try and get it right this time.

    Of course, if Jon Postel hadn't passed on far before his time, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    One interesting point in the article: the GAO rep said that domain name registration had fallen from about $50 to $10 due to ICANN. Check me if I'm wrong here, but I very clearly remember that when NSI started charging for domain names (I also still remember when they were free) they charged $35/year. Not $50. And that's still the price from them today (though they offer longer-term discounts) - other registrars are free to charge what they want and generally undercut NSI.
  • by mindstrm (20013) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:55AM (#3679258)
    The DNS problem is a simple one to solve.

    There are two choices.

    1) We are going to keep adding TLDs.
    2) We are NOT going to keep adding TLDs.

    Period.

    The only other time to change a TLD is if the geopolitical world changes, and we need more (or less) cctlds.

    Other than that, maintain the root servers, and leave it the hell alone.

    • 3) We are going to add TLDs, but very slowly in a controlled manner, in order to create artificial scarcity, thereby creating a sustained market for names. This results in lots of money to be at stake, so that we can both 1) seem important 2) wield power over others 3) skim a little off the top or get kickbacks.
    • There is one other (small) issue:

      1) We are going to allow domains registered under those TLDs to be maintained by their owners
      2) We are going to take back domains and give them to those who bribe us or share our political views.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @09:58AM (#3679282) Journal
    He "said he likely would introduce a bill". Hmmm. First the bill has to be introduced to the Senate. Then he needs co-sponsors. Then it has to get through committee where it may be amended, and he's a Republican and the Democrats control the Senate. Then the it has to be scheduled for a vote. Then the Senate debates (and possibly amends) it. Then it's voted on. Then the same process in the House. Then the House ans Senate versions have to be reconciled, and the reconciled version has to be voted on. Then the President has to sign it.

    This all has to happen during this session, which only has 50 working days left, and which has much else (such as the Department of Homeland Security) on its plate.

    • Perhaps just the reason to BE afraid of this. It could be treated as just a small bill which has some credibility so just sign the damn thing and begone with it, move over to the big stuff...

    • by Irvu (248207)
      But the Dems are the ones who have been taking money from Di$ney and co. That means that they will likely jump at this chance. Imagine an internet controlled by media companies, no publishing or recording of your own thank you, your goal is to consume, consume, consume...

      Granted it may not be this obvious but keep in mind that the Senate is Fritz's domain.
    • It'll probably be tacked on to a Farming Subsidies bill, together with a few new draconian copyright laws and a top tier tax cut.
  • Everyone knows ICANN is scum. [icannwatch.org] See also this [cdt.org] and this [netpolicy.com].

    And of course the UDRP [icann.org] is dreadful [dnlr.com].

    However, this proposal reads to me less like a solution to ICANN's well documented track records of cronyism and broken promises, and more like a US powergrab, orchestrated by Republicans who oppose international institutions on principle - a position which has certain merits but which ought to be promoted honestly. Of course, I may be jumping to conclusions since no specifics of the bill are yet available.

    For all u eurotrash: In the US, instead of Eurosceptics, we have Republicans, who, instead of hating the EU, hate the UN. American leftists generally support the UN and oppose the WTO. We don't have an international umbrella organisation for both ends of the political spectrum to despise (unless you count the federal guvmint.)

  • Burns said the change was necessary because ICANN has exceeded its authority, does not operate in an open fashion, and is dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups.

    Perfect. So when the government takes over, it still won't be accountable to internet users, it will be slightly accountable to the businesses that contribute the most, and it will be at the whim of the special interest groups. This is just what the internet needs.
  • Give it to Amish... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by whitelabrat (469237)
    Great! Just what we need. The Govt and it's beauracracy and politics. How about just slapping ICANN around a bit, so they get their act together.

    I'd rather see the Amish in control of ICANN
  • by m_evanchik (398143) <michel_evanchikATevanchik.net> on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @10:08AM (#3679360) Homepage
    I've had enough of you whiners and complainers. ICANN operates in a fair and free fashion. Their meeting are open to the public.

    Just because you missed their last meeting in Ghana, doesn't mean it's not too late catch the bus over to Romania.

    I understand that the next meeting will be on the dark side of the Moon. They don't want the pale Lunarians feeling left out of the loop.
  • They're only trying to maximize US control of the internet. If you consider the history of the current administration on international matters, you could argue that they certainly do not represent the world opinion any more than the ICANN does.

    If we really want a good ICANN, reform UN and then put ICANN under their control. That way, the rest of us won't be f*cked if the next administration decides only US Citizens can control .com, .net and .org domains.
      • If we really want a good ICANN, reform UN and then put ICANN under their control

      I realise that you said "reform", but bear in mind that UN-WIPO is the domain dispute resolution body of choice for large companies wanting to squash individuals with the temerity to tread on their turf.

      Is there much wrong with having a global body run entirely by referenda of individual users, administrated by a minimal beaurocracy with the sole function of verifying one-voter-one-vote? I know that fraud would be tricky to prevent, but bear in mind that you started by saying "reform [the] UN". ;-)

  • The US is operating well within its rights in this situation. It's a simple case of eminent domain... Unlike other sigs, I can speak with an English accent!
  • Dubious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oldstrat (87076) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @10:24AM (#3679488) Journal
    Dubious, and I don't mean George.
    Through law, one way or another there is government control (ours or someone else's govt.) of just about everything, now.

    What we need are some serious lawsuits to clarify the rules or non rules.
    I for one want to go back to some rules that should never have been changed and another that should have always been.

    Rule one - First come first served.
    The heck with who owns a copyright or trademark, this is a seperate space.
    You want it, get in line, get in line early, if you miss out try to buy it, if you can't buy it, rent it or come up with something else.

    Rule two - One Domain name per customer.
    dove.unilever.com is just fine, the space for dove.com should belong to someone else.
    'www.' should be depricated.

    Rule three - The name must be in active use.
    The lack of this rule has created squaters, and ties directly into the previous two rules.

    Somebody had the rules system pretty close to right in the begining, too bad they wrecked it.

    And last the rule that never was, but should have been.
    You should register once, only once.
    Renewal is a form of extortion at worst, taxation at best, and really creates a situation in which the root registrar is the actual owner.
    This is a public database, registration fees are understandable, but after it is registered, administration is trivial and should be financed by the folks who are pulling daily feeds for the BIND servers that are actually routing it commercially.

    Off the soapbox.
    • Simplicity can be elegant, but it isn't in your case. Isn't there actual case law (not UDRP) granting copyright holders preferential treatment when it comes to overlapping web site names?
      Also, good luck getting "www." deprecated, champ.
    • Re:Dubious (Score:3, Informative)

      by n3bulous (72591)
      Good ideas. My only comments are:

      1) Define Customer. If you are only going to get one domain, it requires you to exist as separate org entities. The domain name defines you, so something like mozilla.org under your plan would be mozilla.netscape.com. Mozilla.org would be owned by someone else and confusion would arise because people would go to mozilla.org looking for a browser.

      (Mozilla.org was originally registered by JWZ, but I don't know if he did it in his name or Netscape's. He also had jwz.org at that point which would have prevented him from doing this.)

      2) dove.com should be required to provide a list of alternate sites (name, brief description) the user may have been looking for, within reason. E.G., dove ice cream bars could could get listed at dove.com as an alternate by just asking.

      3) Your renewal rule makes sense, but w/o renewal, who will maintain the domain databases? It costs too much money to maintain large, important servers for a company to be responsible for without some means to pay for the service.

      Personally, I feel the gov't should have continued to maintain them in the public's interest. However, certain laws would need to be put in place to make sure other countries get fair and equal treatment.

  • NO!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is a *real* dilemma. I mean really. Think about it. Really. Consider that all the claims the US government makes about ICANN are correct: they're unaccountable, monopolistic, and they certainly don't run things the way they were supposed to. Almost everybody in the /. community can agree that ICANN needs to be reined in. Really.

    The US government used to do this job, and back then, it was fine. Really. But of course then the internet was a small space for researchers and academics to exchange ideas.

    Our current administration is authoritarian and too concerned about what's moral, correct, and in the best interest of scaring the populace. Free speech == bad in the eyes of the Bush regime.

    Add to that the fact that the internet is now *reall* worldwide, and the US shouldn't be patrolling the world (though they do it in physical space already - cyber space is a small leap), and it puts us all in a real dilemma.

    I guess the *real* question is, with which stick would you rather be beaten? Mine...or theirs?
  • by gosand (234100) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @10:33AM (#3679543)
    Burns said the change was necessary because ICANN has exceeded its authority, does not operate in an open fashion, and is dangerously unaccountable to Internet users, businesses and other key interest groups.

    I think the key here is "businesses and other key interest groups". In other words, the government doesn't get any kickbacks because they don't have any control over what ICANN does. Seriously, if the government had the "internet users" interests at heart, MS wouldn't be in the position it is in now, and they would have come down on them like a ton of bricks. And arguing that the government is more/less corrupt than businesses is like shopping for dildos - you aren't looking for the one that feels the best, you are looking for the one that hurts the least.

  • The current system is getting abused - the TLD's are getting used for pretty much everything other than their original purpose.

    ccTLD's should be for entities that actually reside in that country, not because for example .tv happens to resemble television (this in itself speaks volumes about how badly we need new TLD's)

    .org was for non-profit organizations

    .net was for internet infrastructure

    .com was for US companies

    I know that .com, .net, .org, .gov and .edu are for US entities, but now the internet is bigger and a bit more important, there should be a rethink:

    everything should get a 2 letter ccTLD *unless* it's a global entity.

    rules on what type of entity is being registered should be strictly enforced:

    e.g. slashdot is a (mostly) US centric, for profit organization, so it's assigned slashdot.com.us

    a *lot* more 2nd level domains are required - lets start with:

    xxx, name, film, music, food, med(ical), tech, fun, sport, etc.

    well, you get the idea...

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @11:23AM (#3679936) Homepage

    A minimal beaurocracy with responsibility for nothing other than running user supplied referenda on which one internet user gets one vote?

    Sure, tricky to administrate, but I'll pick a flawed democracy to a perfect dictatorship any day.

  • ...that "smaller government" that the Republicans are always spouting on about.

    You know, how they all want to get the government "off our backs" or "out of our hair."
  • Consistency? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @11:58AM (#3680176)
    A couple of days ago, we hear how South Africa is trying to take power from ICANN and, as a result, may well get removed from the internet. [slashdot.org] Does this mean that ICANN will disconnect all of the US domains too?

    A net without US script kiddies, self-important housewives, the NRA, the US arms of the MPAA and RIAA spamming P2P networks... Mmmm. :)

  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @12:58PM (#3680609) Homepage Journal
    A good conceptual model is that of a small territory, given independence with the condition that an interim gov't establish an conventional democracy by holding elections.

    That is what ICANN was supposed to do, but it's a simple fact that they elected only 5 board members instead of 9 as originally agreed. They have subsequently disbanded elections and put in place a "nomination" process which concentrates power in the hands of the original rules.

    Similar to the common stories of democracy failing to establish itself in small countries, the original rulers have made some abuses of power. They've played favorites, made arbitrary spending decisions (even blocked inquires from an elected board member for spending records), and they've shown a lack of principle regarding the rights of citizens to whom they should be accountable (witness the unfair domain name dispute policy).

    Comments that "the USA does not own the internet" will abound... but ICANN, like a former territory, was given its authority by the US, with a very clear charter that clearly called for a transition to democratically elected officials to make the decisions. Had they followed their charter, had they ernestly held elections, had the original board members stepped down as they had originally agreed, there would be much more tolerance for some bad decisions.

    But that's not the case here. Unelected interim officials held on to their power and disbanded elections. Abuses have been made by unelected ICANN board members who do not deserve the power they have improperly siezed for themselves. That's a much different situation that poor decisions on the part of elected officials who should have felt accountable to their constituants who will re-elect them.

    Like a developing nation where the interim rulers siezed power and refused to establish democracy as originally chartered, someone needs to step in. The US was both the country that originally granted ICANN its authority, and the US has the clout to demand ICANN's restructing.

    This abuse of power and refusal to transistion to democracy are inexcusable. The US would never tolerate it in a former territory (where there's an economic impact on the US at least), and there's no reason that ICANN should be treated any differently.

  • united nations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OpenMind(tm) (129095) on Tuesday June 11, 2002 @01:25PM (#3680765)
    I'm sure I'll get flamed to hell and back for this one, but here goes:

    We want ICANN to act like a decent international regulatory body. Having it act no more evil than ANSI of IEEE would be nice. Unfortunately, ICANN has a bit more going for it, mainly:

    1. It has the power to force people to follow its will. Unlike most standards organizations, it doesn't have to be democratic to elicit buy-n.
    2. It's regulatory consessions are worth a great deal of money to some people.


    So, to make sure it acts like a public group and not like a business, we feel the need to place some sort of authoritarian control over it. Since its domain is the world, however, the US government makes little sense for this. How about the UN?

    Now I know that many see the UN as either useless or evil, but in certain cases (the World Health Organization, UNICEF, ...) it can do a lot of good while keeping things under world-wide semi-democratic oversight.

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