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    USA Goverment Relations IGP Campaign Irritates NTIA
    posted by Mueller on Friday June 30 2006, @06:54AM

    Over a week ago, word reached me that the NTIA - the branch of the U.S. Commerce Department that supervises ICANN and approves its decisions -- was irritated with the Internet Governance Project email campaign in response to its Notice of Inquiry on the ICANN transition. IGP's email campaign, you may recall, encourages people around the world to email NTIA a simple message expressing opposition to U.S. government control of the root. It does so because most Internet users are not professional lobbyists or lawyers and lack the time to read the Federal Register and respond point by point to a governmental Notice of Inquiry in a language that may not be their own.

    Response to the email campaign has not been that big, certainly nothing of .xxx proportions. Nevertheless, it currently accounts for almost all of the responses in the NTIA proceeding. In other words, so far most of the people who care to comment at all about the seemingly obscure topic of DNS management want to tell the U.S. to work cooperatively for a more global solution. That's not what the NTIA wanted to hear.

    So now a counter-campaign to discredit the message begins. First shot is an article at the web site "Email Battles," (EB) which purports to be a source of expert news and opinion on "spam, security, phishing" and the like.



    The article describes the IGP campaign as "spam" and as a product of "angry and impotent"... "people who despise ICANN." Nice. Moving even further into ugly American mode, it advises the NTIA to ignore all comments that come from foreigners. The message tries to ridicule the numbers, but conveniently overlooks the fact that IGP responses outnumber all others by a factor of 20 to 1. As I said before, DNS root zone oversight ain't pornography when it comes to animating the masses.

    The EB article thus bypasses the substantive issues and tries to dismiss the campaign as "spam" and the people who send it as unthinking. Of course, that kind of a ploy is standard operating procedure in DC politics. But still, people who purport to be technical experts on "spam" ought to use the term carefully and abide by a correct definition of it. Spam has two chief characteristics: it is unsolicited, and it is sent out by one party in bulk. The U.S. Department of Commerce solicited public comment; it asked people to send it their opinion and it didn't restrict the request to U.S. citizens. And each message sent to it results from an individual choosing to send that message, not from a bulk mailing. The IGP email campaign is thus not spam, and the use of that pejorative indicates an inability to engage with the real issues.

    The EB article's attempt to attribute the whole campaign to "ICANN-haters" also reveals a serious lack of knowledge of the substantive Internet governance issues at stake. IGP, and probably most of the people who sent in its message, are not "anti-ICANN." They are against the U.S. government having unilateral control over ICANN, a very different thing. Many of them are active participants in ICANN, and much prefer the model to intergovernmental organizations.

    The message is not calling for the elimination of ICANN, but for the elimination of a system of distortive, arbitrary and increasingly politicized control of ICANN by the U.S. government. In many ways, that campaign is supportive of the survival of ICANN as an organization and its model of private sector-led governance. As IGP pointed out during the .xxx fiasco, ICANN's credibility as a policy making institution would be severely damaged by arbitrary U.S. interference in its processes. With its reversal of ICANN's .xxx decision, and its current war to reverse a GNSO decision on Whois policy, the USG is steering dangerously closer to the point at which ICANN becomes perceived as a puppet operation that no one needs to waste their time on.

    (And I can't resist adding here that perhaps the most famous REAL despiser of ICANN, ICANNWatch's Michael Froomkin, has not signed the IGP email and doesn't think it should ever be cut free of governmental control.)

    So let's keep our eye on the ball. The future of U.S. oversight is the single most important issue in the NTIA inquiry. Love or hate the IGP message, we've made sure that that issue doesn't get avoided.

    I predict that ultimately, the NTIA proceeding will attract many more detailed comments, perhaps 30-40 in all, from a diverse set of participants. I predict that all of the comments from objective and reasonable parties will recognize unilateral US oversight as an issues that needs to be dealt with. I predict that most of the detailed comments will propose some change in the system of US unilateral control. Many of the detailed comments -- possibly a majority, depending on whether European and Asian organizations take the proceeding seriously enough to bother to comment -- will, either subtly or directly, support a position similar to the one in the IGP message. IGP itself will submit detailed comments. It is also possible that the IGP campaign could trigger a backlash campaign from U.S.-based business interests and the astroturf policy think tanks that march to whatever tune those corporations fund. But that's democracy in America!

     
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      Related Links  
    · US Nat'l Telecom & Info Admin.
    · Michael Froomkin
    · ICANN
    · NTIA
    · Internet Governance Project
    · email NTIA a simple message expressing opposition to U.S. government control of the root.
    · "Email Battles," (EB)
    · More USA Goverment Relations stories
    · Also by Mueller
     
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    IGP Campaign Irritates NTIA | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 3 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re:Your letter to the NTIA
    by Mueller ({mueller} {at} {syr.edu}) on Sunday July 02 2006, @06:12AM (#16849)
    User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/
    >Do you bet that half of the people sending
    >your spam, haven't even read it?

    I am quite sure that every one of the people who have sent in the message have read it and understand it. The message was derived from a WSIS civil society statement that was discussed and debated publicly at length, presented publicly at a WSIS Prepcom. It also uses language from the WGIG Report, which was accepted by the US government among others.

    >the proposed text is useless, because it
    >says "give up the Internet from the US >government to another... government!"

    Ah, I see that you have not read the statement! It does not say that. So I guess your complaint about our signatories amounts to projection of your own failure onto others.

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