Republican Senators Express Concern Over Renewall of ICANN Contracts With DoC
Date: Friday August 02 2002, @08:22AM
Topic: USA Goverment Relations

Juliana Gruenwald of BNA reports that seven Republican Senators from the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force wrote to the Commerce Department yesterday about the renewal of ICANN's agreements with the Dept. of Commerce. The Senators said that ICANN was going far beyond its original mandate of providing technical coordination of the domain name system...which turns out to mean "price control" ... suggesting that this is a coordinated effort with the the WLS-tinged letters by Verisign and the related letter from major ccTLDs. Nevertheless, whether the Senators all know it yet or not, the issues go much deeper than WLS. (Would WLS even be an issue if the DNS were far more open to competition from multiple open TLDs?) Full text of the Republican Senators' letter below.

Text of the letter:

August 1, 2002

The Honorable Don Evans
Secretary
United States Department of Commerce
Washington, DC 20230

Dear Secretary Evans:

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Commerce that is up for renewal on September 30, 2002. As members of the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force, we are writing to express our concerns about the renewal of this agreement.

We commend Assistant Secretary Nancy Victory's efforts to promote transparency and accountability in ICANN's governance. However, we continue to be concerned that ICANN is deviating from its original mission to coordinate the technical management of the Internet's domain name system, the allocation of IP address space, the assignment of protocol parameters, and the management of the root server system.

We are particularly concerned that ICANN is becoming an unaccountable regulatory body that controls prices, services, and business practices of domain name companies. Price controls are not part of ICANN's core functions, nor are they necessary to keep the Internet a global marketplace.

We encourage you to examine the renewal of the ICANN Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that it properly reflects their role in the administration of the Internet.

George Allen (Va)
Chairman
Wayne Allard (CO)
Robert Bennett (UT)
Sam Brownback (KS)
Conrad Burns (MT)
Susan Collins (ME)
John Ensign (NV)
Kay Baily Hutchinson(tx)
Jeff Sessions (Al)
Gordon Smith (Or)

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Re: Republican Senators Express Concern Over Renew
by PeterBarron (pebarron@hotmail.com) on Friday August 02 2002, @08:56AM (#8317)
User #3240 Info | http://www.icannwatch.org/
Michael, your observation is spot on. This wouldn't be nearly the problem it is if there were more competition.

After reading the new TLD evaluation taskforce's latest stream of consciousness, it appears to me that 2006 is the earliest that ICANN will even give the matter thought.

That needs to change.

++Peter
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My own take
by lextext on Friday August 02 2002, @10:05AM (#8320)
User #6 Info | http://www.lextext.com
I have a hard time with that letter. Here's what I wrote on my weblog.
-- Bret
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Re: Republican Senators Express Concern Over Renew
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Friday August 02 2002, @12:13PM (#8330)
User #2810 Info
The registrar community itself could come up with a self-regulatory model. While there have been some moves in that area, that is likely well into the future if the past is any example. In lieu of that, ICANN should define just what it means by registrar accreditation. Are they accrediting only the technical competence (or even the technical competence, given the lowest competence level is very low), or are they also accrediting based on business practices? If they are, they should be very specific and open about where and how much, and the why of it wouldn't hurt either. It would then fall to governments and courts to regulate the remainder. Even that isn't perfect, ICANN has its UDRP and it is sometimes in collision with courts and laws. I'd prefer a minimalist model for ICANN, that they keep to technical competence questions, if that, and let courts and laws sort out the rest.

Right now we have a situation where no-one is doing it, the governments leave it to ICANN, ICANN either doesn't do it or does it badly. It will be messy and probably inconsistent, but each registrar is based within the reach of some law(s) and some government(s), and there are registrants all over the globe. Go after a rogue registrar or two and see how quickly the rest wise up. Organized registrants could do this better and pick an optimal situation and location to send a message, or a series of them. If they fail to organize, or even to act individually in their respective countries, they must themselves share the blame. I do, however, think that ICANN should work to have some minimal standards in place to deal with questionable business practices.

For example, it seems strange to talk about ICANN regulating prices, what do you think the prices of the best .info and .biz names that the registrars snagged for themselves will be when they sell them? -g

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Re: Republican Senators Express Concern Over Renew
by PeterBarron (pebarron@hotmail.com) on Saturday August 03 2002, @08:54AM (#8345)
User #3240 Info | http://www.icannwatch.org/
Allow me to paraphrase for Rick:

I'm tired of being the patsy and having people laugh at me. I'm going to make as much money off of this mess as I can. If you don't like it, please play with yourself on a bus.

++Peter
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Re: Republican Senators Express Concern Over Renew
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Saturday August 03 2002, @11:43AM (#8347)
User #2810 Info
All together now:

You can't get anything for free
At Alice's Registry

You'd have to know the song. Sorry Rick, couldn't resist. ;) -g

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