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    The Big Picture ICANN's Next Move: On To Africa
    posted by michael on Thursday September 23 2004, @06:40PM

    Bruce Levinson writes "According to an ICANN Press Release, the corporation is seeking to discuss "the growing involvement of Africa in the core Internet structures." Furthermore, ICANN seeks to engage the African community "in identifying appropriate modes and locations on the African continent for an ICANN regional presence and how a local presence can assist with operational issues."

    Nominally, ICANN's interest in expanding operations in Africa appears to be both beneficial and in keeping with the requirements of their MOU with the Department of Commerce. Section II.C.9 of the 6th Amendment to the MOU calls for the corporation to "develop, to test, and to implement appropriate mechanisms that foster informed participation in ICANN by the global Internet community, such as providing educational services and fostering information sharing for constituents and promoting best practices among industry segments."

    However, ICANN's new African Initiative raises as many questions as it answers. "




    "For example, the Press Release stated that ICANN is "seeking input from the African community on the key form and functions most important to Africa." The key questions are which groups and/or organizations in Africa from which ICANN be seeking advice? There is no question that Africa has the potential to make important contributions to the international communications revolution exemplified by the internet that would benefit both the continent and the world.

    However, it also true that many groups in Africa suffer from substantial repression because of ethnic, religious and/or political discrimination. Sudan and Zimbabwe are among the most notorious, but not only, examples of this type of repressive situation. Will ICANN actively solicit input from oppressed groups and peoples, many of who could well benefit from the internet to communicate their situation to the wider world?

    Unfortunately, ICANN's Press Release give little hope that the corporation will do little other than focus their attention on the dominant power groups and states. For example, the Press Release states that ICANN "will seek participation of local entities in establishing an African presence, including potentially the donation of infrastructure, office space, and staffing."

    However, it seems quite unlikely that refugees in Darfur or political dissidents in Zimbabwe would be in a position to provide ICANN with the requested resources. Furthermore, there is no indication that ICANN has any intention of potentially alienating ruling governments by reaching out to oppressed peoples.

    ICANN has the potential to bring communication and information benefits to diverse peoples in Africa. Alternatively, the corporation could focus their attention and resources to the benefit of the existing power structures. Regrettably, ICANN has not yet shown any inclination to reach beyond the continent's elite political establishment and engage in dialog with those most in need."

     
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      Related Links  
    · CORE
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    · More The Big Picture stories
    · Also by michael
     
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    ICANN's Next Move: On To Africa | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 9 comments | Search Discussion
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    Why merely Africa?
    by KarlAuerbach on Monday September 27 2004, @08:51AM (#14223)
    User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
    ICANN has locked the doors to shut out the community of internet users.

    At the same time ICANN has rolled out the red carpet for intellectual property interests and selected sellers of certain kinds of domain name products.

    It isn't merely the community of internet users in Africa that is disenfranchised in ICANN. Rather it is the whole community of internet users everywhere around the world.

    ICANN's ALAC was a disaster in concept and has proved to be a disaster in practice; the number of groups that have signed up couldn't even field a marching band's worth of people - far fewer than the numbers who participated back in ICANN's only open public processes in year 2000.

    I was amused to see one of ICANN's insider architects of the ALAC complain that the UN WGIG isn't representative of net users. It is even more amusing to remember that so many ICANNites have tried to justify ICANN's anti-user mechanisms on the grounds that governments (which form the WGIG) are the representatives of their citizens. ICANN, like many sleazy politicos, likes to chose the story and the reason to support the desired outcome; consistency and logic don't seem to be considered important.
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