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

    The Big Picture Amadeu Abril i Abril Reflects
    posted by michael on Thursday October 16 2003, @09:15PM

    Amadeu Abril i Abril is a former member of the ICANN Board, and was a strong supporter of the ICANN-as-wedge to internationalize the root. We've often disagreed, but I always found in him a most honest and free-thinking person. Yesterday he sent in a thoughful note to the GNSO mailing list. Again, there's plenty to agree or disagree with [can we never reboot, Amadeu??], and much to think about. I've reprinted the text below, with Amadeu's kind permission.

    Subject: [ga] Five years ago...
    From: Amadeu Abril i Abril
    Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 22:35:27 +0200
    To: ga@gnso.icann.org

    ..... Jon Postel died.


    I remember quite well that day. Some other subscirbers of this list were also in a meeting in Barcelona, precisely the first DNSO formation meeting.


    OK, a date as arbitrary as any other. But how have we all performed in the tasks we brought to the organization (priorities might vary, and indeed, some people here and elsewhere have as their only priority preventing anytihng from being done by DNSO/GNSO/ICANN.... but that's a different topic)

    INHO, we have peroformed a less than stellar job. I would even say a quite poor job. Is the DNS a better place for its users than five years ago? hardly.

    For one thing, ICANN's primary goal was as an answer to the question "who has policy control over the root"? It could be USGov alone, it could be an  intergovernmental treaty organization, ITU or new one, but ICANN  was the anser in terms of a "international non-for-profit entity based on open participation of the private sector".

    Hell, we have not even STARTTED the discussion about this. Not only the USGov stills retains the policy control, but not even the management of the root is coordinated in the way it was supposed to. VeriSign, old good NSI, still runs the A-server, if you jsut want a symbol. Nothing has been achieved in terms of "insitutionalization" of the root server opeartors agreemnts. OK, it works, sure. And perhaps nothing needed to be done from a management point of view, i accept it. But as a programatic point, is a clear failure for this process. And the policy control issue is simply our deepest and most worrisome failure. ICANN as an alibi for USGov direct control? An expensive one, hell, we don't need all these travels around the world jsut to provide an illusion of internationalization.

    The internationalization of the process itself has also been, well, mixed. For years, ICANN's real cultural diversity, as for who really counted, ranged from Harvard to UCLA, more or less ;-)) It's becomeing a little more balanced, not that much. At least in numbers. B ut the mentality is still quite "Washington DC-centric". A fact of life? Yup, but we all were supposed to help there, once again...

    Are the TLDs managed in a way the better reprewsents the public interest (in its largest sense)?. Once again, I wouldn't bet much money on this one. The USGov forced a ridiculous agreement with NSI (by not using its powr and prerrogatives in leaning towards a more balanced one). The model,allowing for-profit, shareholder run registries to treat TLDs (a common resource) as their private asset is not oly still present, but has been extended to the new registries, which is makes it worse. Another model failure. SiteFinder is its logical child...

    Do we have more competition?. Well we have more diversity. To start with, we do have more regbistry operators. But do they really compete? A long debats, the short anser being "no, or not a to a large extent, becasue they cannot". But increaed divversity and "power diveristy", yes.

    We then have the reigstrars, sure. But is this a healthy competitive market? A debate for another day, too long. It is certainly more competition, saying the contrary would be ridiculous, but this does not mean htat we have established a solidly competittive system. Registrars are very weak element in a reinforced registry.centric model (WLS; SiteFinder, .anme email forwarding...). More importantly, form the users point of view, which is the most important one, competition is still difficult to achieve. The paramount conept was and is domain name protability.... and we have miserably failed to impose on registrars a system that really guarantees such portability. It's really difficult to do, even at the end of 2003. And this one a very sinmple one, from day one. Shame on us.

    Do we have m more diversified DNS? Do we have astable, comprehensive, understandable system for addition of new TLDs, or for not adding them? Yu, we do have seven more TLDs (or it is yet six, as of today?). Perhaps you haven't noticed them all, but theyr are there, just pay more atterntion... But, FIVE YEARS LATER not only we lack a hint of an idea of how to do it. We lack the debate, the intellectual process for doing so. In this regard (and not only in this regard) the old gTLD-MoU process was years ahead. Or the Newdom-lists days. At least there was debate, and there was a discussion of the proncs and cons of alternative methods. Today, silence.... Just discussion of whether we should have an RFC for sponsored TLDs open to all applicatns or limited to those who fialed in November 2000. I stop here, before I sasy somehting I would reret tomorrow ,-)

    Is the DNS simpler, more stable, more user-friendly? Think about the non-geek, the non-ICANN-proficient user. Do you know a single person who could tell sunrise from IP claims? Anyone, outside the inner circle of domain name or IP orofessionals who got a clue about defensive registrations? about successive landrushes? The eperts build a sytem for experts-only. Not good ;-)))

    Oh, and no, I won't comment on SiteFinder anymore, promised ;-)

    Have we improved the DNS traditional services in order to accomodate some recurrent requests, for isntance, about privacy? Oh, yes, we had several WhoIs WGs and TFs and papers and.... ntohing yet, so many years later. We are not too fast, no we won't break any traffic speed limit!!!

    Are we efficient preventing "bad things" to happen? I promised Iwould not mention again certain service, so.... Think about so-called internationalised domain names. We all want a system that accepts our and everygbodys non-US-ASCII characters, sure. But are we allsure that once introduced, the way it's being introduced, we will still have a syustem that can claim addresses are unique and universally resolvable? I am not sure, quite the contrary.

    Not to speak about what will happen with the hundreds of thousands of names that were pre-registered into the so-called VeriSign "testbed". Will we allow them to be "grandfathered" into the zone without any sort of general, open surise or whatever other process for the introdcution of what is more sensible than a new TLD? The end of "first come, fisrt served"? Cusmoters of some companies having prior and bettrer rights than the genral public that decided that, according to what ICANN was saying, no IDNs exited yet? And without any debate? No good, no godd...

    Oh, but we do have the structure tht will allow solving/improving all this and many other things over time. Yes. But in the meeting I mentioned, five years ago, the ccTLDs were there. Now they are sort of builidng their own apartment in the condominium. The RIRs, sort of. The root server oeprators, they are doing fine, thanks. Yes, we do have the structure, and we LOVE fighting over it, is the thing taht took most energy over all these years. But by the end of 2003 it still looks incomplete, and could look more stable, frankly.

    Don't misunderstnad me: this is still my procesws. This is still the better option I see to at least try some of those things (or the contrary of those things, if you want). No WSIS-sposnored alternative could come close to it, in my view. Disbanding ICANN, or the GNSO, or whatever not only would not help making things any better, it would make them a lot worse, for sure.

    But all this time, this energy, this efforts.... and only these results? We all have done a less than stellar job, I've already say it. Let's face it.

    OK, I leave it here. I have a GNSO Council telconf, now ;-)))

    Have a good night. And make your own evaluation.


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      Related Links  
    · ITU
    · VeriSign/NSI
    · ICANN
    · http://www.postel.org/postel.h tml
    · http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/ rfc2468.txt
    · http://www.dnso.org/history/ww w.dnso.org/docs/barcelona-meet ing.htm
    · Amadeu Abril i Abril
    · a thoughful note
    · More The Big Picture stories
    · Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Amadeu Abril i Abril Reflects | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 16 comments | Search Discussion
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    No new ideas about TLDs????
    by Mueller ({mueller} {at} {syr.edu}) on Tuesday October 21 2003, @11:08AM (#12511)
    User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/
    Amadeu sez "FIVE YEARS LATER not only we lack a hint of an idea of how to [add new TLDs]. We lack the debate, the intellectual process for doing so. In this regard (and not only in this regard) the old gTLD-MoU process was years ahead. Or the Newdom-lists days. At least there was debate, and there was a discussion of the proncs and cons of alternative methods."

    Huh? Lee McKnight and I published a paper [umich.edu] that provides a precise and well-documented approach to introducing new TLDs at the Rio meeting, back in March 2003. The idea has been taken seriously by a variety of participants in the ICANN process, including some members of GAC. Economists at the Loyola law school have proposed similar ideas. So how can Amadeu claim that there is no discssion of that critical issue?

    Oh, I forgot. Milton Mueller is persona non grata because he is critical of ICANN, and was critical of the gTLD-MoU power grab so dear to Amadeu's heart. So if the ideas come from official nonpersons designated by the ICANN Politburo, they don't really exist.

    That's Amadeu for you. Posturing as the elder statesman concerned for the public interest, but in a variety of ways doing everything he can to maintain ICANN as an exclusive little club in which he is a privileged member.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:Why Bother Now?
    by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Friday October 17 2003, @06:19AM (#12493)
    User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
    I think he had an overriding agenda: pry the root from the US. This, I think, caused him to be silent about ICANN's faults because to speak about them, or to alientate its allies, was to lessen the odds of achieving what was to him an over-riding goal.

    I continue to think this was a horribly mistaken strategy on all fronts: 1. The US was clearly not going to give up the root; 2. ICANN got away with murder in the DNS space; 3. It sets a rotten precedent for global governance efforts.

    But I think that unlike many (but not all) of the folks who pursued the strong-ICANN agenda, Amadeu had pure motives. He was in no one's pay, and he arrived at his policy choices in a way that followed reasonably from his priorities. I have time for that. If you don't, well, we disagree.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:Amadeu Spews Chunks
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Saturday October 18 2003, @05:27PM (#12503)
    User #2810 Info
    Actually Amadeu didn't sit silent during the new TLD process. And that's not a good thing as he was supposedly recused. -g
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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