| ||At Large Membership and Civil Society Participation in ICANN||
In the US, the Meme Tide Turns Against ICANN|
posted by michael on Monday April 09 2001, @02:51AM
Two years ago, ICANN was sailing on the banner of privatization (and
bottom-up governance, but that got lost in shuffle real quickly
.....). It was supposed to be Ira Magaziner's redemptive,
anti-government, move after the debacle of health care. The Internet's
new "governing body" got some really good press. Not any more.
Anthony Shadid's article in today's Boston Globe The name game:
ICANN, charged with clearing up the murky water of
domain naming, is under fire from every quarter, is a perfect example of the new trend. The article gives great prominence to both Congressional and public-interest critics of ICANN. Sample quote: Congressman John Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, saying that
ICANN is accountable only to "God almighty."
Indeed, commentators all over are starting to notice that this privatization is
not all it was cracked up to be. Routinely, for example, commentators
now (correctly) note that many of ICANN's decisions are subject to
review by the U.S. department of commerce. And with the recent
challenge to ICANN posed by the entrepreneurial new.net, we find that many libertarians, ordinarily receptive to all things "privatized," are
having second thoughts about ICANN, because it constrains the market,
and it feels like government.
OK, maybe one article by Jesse Walker, knocking
ICANN in Reason magazine hardly counts as a trend. Perhaps a more
significant harbinger of a reconfiguration in the meme forest is Joe
Salkowski's article, Domain Registry Group Lacks Authority,
Leadership in the March, 2001 Los Angeles Business
Journal (site requires cookies, content only available for a
fee). This article is significant because it predates the latest flap
over the VeriSign deal.
There's nothing in there ICANNWatch readers
won't have heard before but it sure doesn't pull any punches:
- ICANN is compared to Michael Keaton role in "The Paper," an editor
for a New York City tabloid who manages to stroll past a desk sergeant
and into a police station without even identifying himself - except
that ICANN is called "clumsy";
- The names of the seven new gTLDs are
- The decision to require a non-refundable $50,000 fee
is called "lamer";
"No act of Congress created ICANN,
and no court has ever recognized its right to award domain names or,
more importantly, deny them. And even if a U.S. judge gives the group
the benefit of the doubt, courts in other countries might well reject a
group that claims dominion over an international network just because
some American bureaucrats said so."
has problems of its own, including its failure to fully include
representatives of the Internet-using public in its decision-making
"You can't blame ICANN or its volunteer board members
for trying to fill a leadership void on the Net, particularly when the
United States government asked them to do just that. But if you're
going to make claims to authority you might not have, you've got to do
a pretty good job of it."
Maybe I'm wrong, but we didn't hear much stuff like this in the
mainstream a few years ago. Something important seems to have changed.
The really interesting question is to what extent this will spread to other countries.
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