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    ICANN Strategy Committee | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 2 comments | Search Discussion
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    Stakeholders, Principles, and Purposes
    by KarlAuerbach on Friday August 25 2006, @09:27PM (#16880)
    User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
    1. Could we dispense with the word "stakeholder"? It is a word that embodies prejudice and preferred classes.

    *Everybody* is a stakeholder in the internet.


    There is no reason to pre-select certain preferred industrial classes - mainly intellectual property attorneys and DNS businesses - and give them special seats on ICANN's decision making organs, especially while the real body of "stakeholders", the community of internet users is forced to sit outside and listen to the noises as ICANN's "stakeholders" feast on the internet and its spoils (we ought not to forget that ICANN and its stakeholders are sucking several hundred millions of dollars every year out of the pockets of internet users.)

    And before we start "fixing" ICANN, let's step back and ask "What is ICANN supposed to be doing?"

    Well one part, one very tiny part is administering the root zone file - that is the main subject of the recent IANA purchase order. That IANA contract defines a very tiny clerical job - one that contains no special expertise beyond that routinely offered by thousands upon thousands of firms around the world.

    And then there's that small part to maintain a big book of numbers on behalf of the IETF - again this is clerical and it would make sense to require the IETF to maintain its own number assignments, just as the IEEE, W3C, ITU and other internet standards bodies do.

    And then there's IP number assignment - This ought to be a big issue, but it hasn't developed into one. And ICANN's policy is to hand to the RIRs that which the RIRs ask for. That leaves policy making to the RIRs. Since policy making for addresses has found a home in the RIR's it makes sense to leave it there.

    The L root server? Put it up for auction. No need for ICANN to be conflicted by running it.

    Oversight of the root servers? Nobody is doing it, certainly not ICANN.

    Do we care if the root servers go awry or are sold to parties that want to do data mining or data manipulation. Do we care that several root servers are operated by the US military and could easily be required by their superiors to be used to promote US interests at the expense of the internet users?

    Yes, we care. But ICANN has disavowed that it has a role in such matters.

    So there's a clear gap - root server oversight. We need a body for that. But it can be a small body that simply defines and imposes *technical* operational requirements, virtually all of which the root servers now meet (but are not obligated to continue to meet.)

    Do we need a body to check on the business plans of those who want to run new TLDs?

    No, there is no reason to burden the internet with that kind of anti-competitive system.

    On the other hand we know that even though the root zone can technically grow to millions upon millions of names, we certainly don't want to let it grow that big or for that growth to occur in the kind of instant that would happen if the ICANN-created "sunrise" and "land-rush" trademark-friendly mechanism were used.

    So we need somebody to run a fair system of allocation - an auction or auction levened with a lottery - so that everybody has a chance (sometimes a small chance) at getting a TLD.

    (And along the way, can we stop the techno-FUD that is thrown at competing roots - shouldn't we remember the end-to-end principle lets everyone make their own choices about how they want to use the net?)

    Do we need a body to enforce a brand of trademark-over-everything private law on the internet?

    No, we have national legislatures that are more than capable of-, and far more experienced in-, defining appropriate laws for that purpose.

    Do we need somebody to figure out who gets to be the "owner" of a ccTLD? Yes, we do. And that's a very high politically charged choice that amounts to the recognition of nations on the internet.

    A body such as ICANN is ill equipped to make that kind of choice.

    But after the checking of credentials of those making maintanence requests the maintainence of the records regarding ccTLDs is a clerical and non-discretionary task.

    So, when we finally ask "What do we need ICANN to do?" we find that we have a short list of functions, many of which are clerical and free of discretionary aspects, and one or two discretionary jobs.

    With this recognition, we can find the best legal structure to encompass each specific job, and limit each such entity so that it has exactly the power it needs to accomplish its task and no more.

    As for principles - the entire ICANN history is devoid of discussion of underlying principles.

    We need clearly definied beneficiaries - internet users? Trademark owners? Domain name renters?

    We need clearly defined principles to guide us how to balance the interests of these beneficiaries.

    I've articulated my "First Law of the Internet" as one such principle:

    + Every person shall be free to use the Internet in any way that is privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental.

          - The burden of demonstrating public detriment shall be on those who wish to prevent the private use.

                  - Such a demonstration shall require clear and convincing evidence of public detriment.

          - The public detriment must be of such degree and extent as to justify the suppression of the private activity.

    The End-to-End principle is another principle that ICANN ought to adopt.

    In summary - until we sweep aside the bias embodied in the word "stakeholder" and until we know what we want to be done and what principles we want to guide us, the kind of trivial adjustments that are being discussed will remain just that, trivial adjustments.

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