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ICANN's Contract Renewed 64

mrogers writes "The International Herald Tribune is reporting that ICANN's contract has been renewed for the next five years. This means the non-profit corporation, which is responsible for allocating IP addresses and administering the top level of the Domain Name System, will not become independent from the U.S. Department of Commerce until at least 2011. The contract is also available as a PDF."
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ICANN's Contract Renewed

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  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:12PM (#15921308) Homepage Journal
    ICANN't believe it.

    • Why are we suddenly supporting ICANN? Because it's an opportunity to attack the U.S.? Come on – wasn't this the same organization that held meetings on critical issues in Ghana so that critics wouldn't come?

      Gee, let's hold an important meeting on how much we'll let the public participate in ICANN in a country with less than impressive internal stability so the critics will be scared away! BRILLIANT!

      Sorry, given the choice of ICANN control of root servers and U.S. control of root servers... I'll s

  • More ICANN (Score:5, Informative)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:15PM (#15921336) Homepage Journal
    For those of you new to the controversy, there is a long history of ICANN being debated on Slashdot [google.com].

    For all of its faults, I do not think that there is harm in renewing ICANN's contract. I do not know if they should be renewing it for 5 years, though, as that is an eternity in Internet time.

    Those who complain about ICANN cite generally now-resolved issues that have arisen but fail to demonstrate how another agency would have prevented them from becoming problems. On the flipside of the argument, eWeek has a detailed op-ed piece of ICANN's issues. [eweek.com]

    • Re:More ICANN (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 4solarisinfo ( 941037 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:22PM (#15921396)
      I do not know if they should be renewing it for 5 years, though, as that is an eternity in Internet time.

      Actually, I think if it's going to be renewed, it SHOULD be an 'eternity in Internet time'. Standards change often enough, and ICANN is one of the few stabilizing factors out there. It's one thing to keep pushing the technology envelope, but working on large systems with a long lead time You really learn to appreciate that if nothing stays the same, you can never finish.
      • Re:More ICANN (Score:3, Informative)

        Yes, I especially like the way that ICANN helps keep domain prices the same, even though the cost to provide them drops every year.
        • I believe pricing is more the main registrar's domain. That and any cost reductions to the registrars are offset by increasing costs from ICANN.
          • That is true; the registries set the prices. But ICANN seems to award all the registry contracts to the same cartel of companies and has now even added presumptive renewal of those contracts, making them effectively perpetual (sort of like copyrights).
    • ICANN 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:47PM (#15921577)
      ICANN needs to address domainers who acquire domain names essentially for ransom. Two months ago, while trying to purchase a cool domain name that had expired more than 45 days prior, we were told we had to submit a backorder request, which we did. On about the 40th day, we were told the then current registror had not yet released the domain name (they had just started a 5 day process of release). But the domain name never was released. Instead, a known domainer had somehow managed to get the domain name on the 5th day, just prior to release. What is annoying is that the domainer is also an ICANN approved registror, which makes one question the legalities involved.
    • Re:More ICANN (Score:4, Informative)

      by karl.auerbach ( 157250 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @04:39AM (#15925407) Homepage
      Don't read too much into this contract. It is really only a purchase by the gov't from ICANN of a very few, limited services.

      What is important to understand is that this contract does *not* include all of the controversial stuff.

      This contract does *not* include ICANN's role as arbiter of who gets to put a new top level domain into the root zone. Nor does this contract deal with ICANN's right to impose its regulatory system onto the domain name registries, registrars, and domain name buyers. Nor does this deal with ICANN's operation of the L-root server.

      All that this contract does, in the DNS space, is to obligate ICANN to do some clerical work, according to a prescribed procedure and schedule, to handle requests to update name server (NS) records in the root zone and to update the TLD whois records accordingly.

      All-in-all, this leaves ICANN in a precarious legal situation - ICANN is most clearly a combination that restrains trade. And most countries have laws about that sort of thing. As soon as the US government lift's its hand from ICANN's shoulder - and that hand is not to be found in this contract - then folks around the world might begin to ask whether ICANN's combination in restraint of trade passes legal muster under their national laws.

      ICANN, presumably gets its authority to do all the stuff that is controversial via a separate document, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US gov't. That has not yet been renewed.
    • by 6031769 ( 829845 )
      It's just as well that they weren't holding back any controversial announcements [slashdot.org] until nine days afterwards, eh?

      Repeat after me, "Not ... to ... be ... trusted".
  • Lovely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:19PM (#15921374) Journal
    These are the brilliant geniuses that brought us the completely useless domains of .aero, .museum, and .coop, not to mention the spam-haven of .biz! I wonder what sort of cr*p they can bring out in the next five years? ;-)
  • Big deal.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't quite see why everyone outside the USA (maybe its just the EU) is freaking out over this. ICANN seems to be doing good job of running the show so far. Why change it over to another organization where the possiblity for more political drama to occur?

    If it ain't broke, no need to mess with it, right?
    • Absolutely. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      All the bellyachers out there are always perfectly free to just use the Internet as a layer-3 transport, and invent their own name-to-address mapping system and go play in their own sandbox by themselves or with whoever will join them there, but they need to realize that when they want to play in the 'big sandbox' where most everyone else is at, that they are required to abide by the big sandbox owner's rules.
      • And that means buttsex.
    • The biggest objection to ICANN that comes to my mind is that they renewed their contract with Verisign, which seems a very dubious decision indeed.

    • Maybe they only seem to be doing a good job from an American point of view. Maybe somebody else could do a better job. Maybe not. But we won't ever find out.
  • Is there anyone who can step in right now and take over? It's kind of like wondering why Halliburton got all the contracts in Iraq. Who else?
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:48PM (#15921588)
      In both the areas of military/support contracting and administering network address-space issues, it's not a question of whether or not there's someone else with equal experience, structure, stability, and readiness to step up. Just as much of the audience here would rather see some services go unprovided than have them provided by The Man (a large company that specializes in such things), some other spots around the world just can't stand that an operation friendly (read: "not hostile") to western/US interests is in charge of TLDs and address ranges.

      It's the same reason that some extremists would rather have totally militarized, radicalized, corrupt "social services" management in southern Lebanon courtesy of Iran via their Hezbollah proxies than embrace western investment in some actually productive, forward-looking western-style democracy and economic productivity that would more quickly raise the standard of living. It simply doesn't feel as good to have someone you resent doing something useful that you're not ready/willing to do yourself. It's the same reason teenagers go through the "I hate my parents" phase... they have a hard time reconciling their dependence, the growing awareness that they don't know how to do everything, and the fact that doing it all yourself is actually very hard, expensive work. So, it's easier just to bitch about it, and let it keep working. Just like the teenagers that "hate" their parents are still happy to sit at the table and wait for Mom to scramble some eggs for them in the morning. Resentment is cheap and easy, and hey, Mom's making eggs (and address space) anyway, right?
      • I don't know about that, but suddenly I have the urge to make an subnet omelet.
    • The US government could have admitted that ICANN is broken, renewed the contract for one year, and started building a replacement during that year. But instead we get ICANN forever.
  • DAMN!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:35PM (#15921484)
    I just thought of another "Missing Option" for the "What is Your Least Favorite Acronym?" poll.
  • Government Cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spacemky ( 236551 ) * <nick@ary[ ]com ['fi.' in gap]> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:41PM (#15921538) Homepage Journal
    I found this paragraph in the contract interesting:

    The Contractor shall furnish the necessary personnel, material, equipment, services, and facilities to perform the following requirements without any cost to the Government. On or after the effective date of this purchase order, the Contractor may establish and collect fees from third parties (i.e, other than the Government) for the functions performed under this purchase order, provided the fee levels are approved by the Contracting Officer before going into effect, which approval shall not be withheld unreasonably and provided the fee levels are fair and equitable and provided the aggregate fees charged during the term of this purchase order do not exceed the cost of providing the requirements of this purchase order. The Government will review the Contractor's accounting data at anytime fees are charged to verify that the above conditions are being met.

  • Silly Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:50PM (#15921597)
    If ICANN wanted to be independent, they would be. They have a CONTRACT with the US government. They aren't slaves or government employees (or any mix in between!). ICANN could go its own separate way tomorrow if it chose to, subject to whatever termination clause the contract has. They don't do it because they don't want to.

    And that is a good thing, because if ICANN did become independent, the US would be free to come up with something to replace it. National entitites are not forced to comply with ICANN. They do it for convienience and compatibility. And seeing as the US is a huge part of the IP traffic in the world, I don't think anyone wants it going off on its own. We definitely do not want W getting any more crazy ideas about "leadership" and "freedom".
    • Re:Silly Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:57PM (#15921643)
      We definitely do not want W getting any more crazy ideas about "leadership" and "freedom".

      You were sounding so rational there, right up to that point. The administration has been one of the most consistent voices speaking out specifically to maintain this arrangement. Exactly in the interests of leadership and freedom. Do you really want the committee-chairman-of-the-week in some back corner of the UN having influence over this vital area? Me neither. Neither does the current administration, which is why they've thrown their weight behind the current arrangement for a long time now.

      I know a lot of people just have to reflexively toss in a Bush jab at every turn ("Man, traffic was slow today because of that road work on the freeway. And then when I got to work, I stubbed my toe on my desk chair, as if Bush doesn't have better things to do!"), but these non-sequitors (or worse, contrary-to-the-actual-facts notions) don't help you discredit the administration, they make your complaints seem less valid and more shrill. At least take your shots in the right direction - it's more effective.
      • Re:Silly Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:13PM (#15921759)
        The complaint, among others, is that ICANN has been the tool of the US government for too long. That somehow it would be better if it were less US-centric. That may or may not be true. But that same alternative includes in it the risk that the US would just create another ICANN to do the work of the previous one. And any new agency would certainly be more US centric than the last one.

        Especially any new agency formed by the Bush administration, which is responsible for me stubbing my toe this morning.

        Does that explain it a little better?

        • The complaint, among others, is that ICANN has been the tool of the US government for too long. That somehow it would be better if it were less US-centric. That may or may not be true.

          Well, there's the problem - it's not true! ICANN has been pretty damn level-headed and easy going, and hasn't been doing the owners of other internation TLDs any disservice (other than not being hostile to the US, which some countries DO consider to be a disservice - too bad!). But not being hostile to the US (or anyone) do
        • Could you explain to me what the current problem we're trying to fix is? That is what seems to be missing from all of the "we need a less US-centric alternative to ICANN" complaints.
          • Re:Silly Premise (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Tiger4 ( 840741 )
            Other than the fact that ICANN was more or less created by the US government*, No I can't. I think they are slow and dilatory, but basically OK.

            People seem to really dislike the "taint" of the US on anything. But it doesn't always make those things bad.

            *(through several intermediate steps, yes I know)
          • Re:Silly Premise (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
            I'm not sure if there's actually a problem with US-centricism. In fact, I'm sure there isn't, because there's a ton of foreign companies and individuals with ostensibly-US domains, which is to say, those with a three letter top level domain. (The fact that "three letter domain" and "top level domain" compress to the same acronym will prevent me from using it for either...) The problem that I would like ICANN to address is domain squatting. The first step? Stop doing business with Verisign. Verisign has been
      • Do you really want the committee-chairman-of-the-week in some back corner of the UN having influence over this vital area?

        Fine by me.

        Me neither.

        Oh! I didn't realize you were an ass.
        • Fine by me.

          Really? Which country's policies would you most like influencing it on some given week, China's, or Venezuela's? Hugo Chavez has some excellent thoughts on freedom of communication, thought China is a little more thorough.
          • It's a fucking text file on a server in a data center, not the freaking Magna Carta!

            Get a grip!
            • It's a fucking text file on a server in a data center, not the freaking Magna Carta!

              Get a grip!

              It's not about the content of the file - it's about who says where that server is, which tells people what IP address to resolve when they're sitting in Beijing trying to search for the phrase "Magna Carta." This is about how the freakin' network works, and whether regimes that arrest people for writing about the Magna Carta get to chime in on how it all works. Get your own grip.
              • by kindbud ( 90044 )
                Yes, they should. You learn by doing, not by being told what to do as if you were child.

                The network will work just fine with or without DNS, by the way. DNS is just another directory application, like LDAP. It isn't integral to anything but DNS clients. In fact, it pretty much sucks in its role as master hostname directory. Let something else replace it. Killing it would be an act of mercy.

    • The whole problem with ICANN is reflected in many of the posts I'm reading here, divided over the usual baloney about whether it's good or bad and whether anybody else could have done a better job, bla bla. The Bushies have got you right where they want you - in the dark, as with everything else your government does (the smug tone is coming to you from Toronto, .ca).

      It's easy to make a case that ICANN is dysfunctional because it's run by staff lawyers and held hostage by progressive sovereign states like Ch
  • Ip's? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jest3r ( 458429 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:07PM (#15921718)
    I though ARIN was in charge of IP's?

    http://www.arin.net/ [arin.net]
    • Re:Ip's? (Score:4, Informative)

      by kimba ( 12893 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:18PM (#15921788)
      ARIN hands out IP addresses in North America to ISPs and network operators, however, ARIN only hands out numbers it has been given by IANA.
    • Re:Ip's? (Score:5, Informative)

      by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @03:19PM (#15921795)
      I though ARIN was in charge of IP's?

      ARIN is a Regionnal Internet Registry [wikipedia.org], it only doles out IP's for North America. In Europe, there's RIPE, then there's APNIC for Asia-Pacific, LACNIC for Latin America and AfriNic for Africa (the latest RIR).

      The RIRs have handled IP and AS address allocation since before ICANN existed. While ICANN is officially (to some) at the top of the hierarchy, the RIRs don't really need ICANN. For that matter, nobody really needs ICANN - if the entire staff of ICANN were to go on holiday for 2 years, scant anyone would notice. In fact, I'm not entirely sure they have been working for the past few years at all.
  • by Devv ( 992734 )
    Does this mean that it's needed to make the U.S. Department of Commerce independent from ICANN instead? Or turn time to 2011? Or just not care too much?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Has there been much discussion about the development of peer-to-peer domain name servers? Is this even possible.... perhaps something to work towards?

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