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    Ted Byfied
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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    USA Goverment Relations In the US, the Meme Tide Turns Against ICANN
    posted by michael on Monday April 09 2001, @03:51AM

    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 called "lame";
    • 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."
    • "ICANN has problems of its own, including its failure to fully include representatives of the Internet-using public in its decision-making process. ...
      "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.

      [To respond, or start a new comment thread, click the "Send Your Comment" button in the yellow box to the right.]

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  • The name game: ICANN, charged with clearing up the murky water of domain naming, is under fire from every quarter
  • knocking ICANN
  • Los Angeles Business Journal
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    In the US, the Meme Tide Turns Against ICANN | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 1 comments | Search Discussion
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    Here's one from the UK
    by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Tuesday April 10 2001, @02:20PM (#506)
    User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
    Not exactly anti-ICANN, but rather balanced: the BBC Net Name Chaos Grows by Mark Ward.

    It starts, "The grip of the net's ruling body on the web's system for naming and finding domains is in danger of being undermined."

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]

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