Internet and Society 1999
The Technologies and Politics of Control
Scribes Notes -- Lecture 2: ICANN Part II
The List (“names”)
your boring ICANN/class mail into its own folder…
between ISOC and ICANN?
people say ICANN is a front for ISOC.
This view to be presented on mailing list.
formal strings between the two.
has three Supporting Organizations (Addresses, Protocols, Domain Names) which
jointly elect half of the board, while the At-Large Membership elects the other
half. Three SOs map to three roles of
between IETF and ISOC?
answer: New organizations created as decoys to prevent capture by big
companies. IETF is techies without much
formality. ISOC is a real corporation
with dues, chapters, members, corporate structure.
is going to be (part of?) the PSO of ICANN.
didn’t put sufficient emphasis on commercial interests?
interests are well-represented in the process.
Results tend to be surprisingly similar to what the commercial interests
want. But commercial interests may not
openly state their true positions – sending only observers, etc., not so
comfortable with “big open meetings with scribes” because they’re used to
exerting their influence in other ways.
Trade associations sometimes more vocal.
When business began to move onto the web, got worried that the ‘net’s
infrastructure wasn’t managed the way as other resources important to the
businesses. (i.e. lobby the zoning
board to get changes as desired.) But
the Internet architecture (as it was before ICANN) had Postel making comparable
decisions, and ICANN is supposed to be a place where businesses (and others!)
can come to make their opinions known in a more formal, structured
process. So far, all commercial
interests seem to support ICANN, save for NSI.
today: Andrew McLaughlin: Corporate Secretary, Vice President for Policy, … of
ICANN, and fellow of the Berkman Center.
at “unruly” meetings. Students wanted
to scribe future classes – instead of final paper.
the record is OK. This record of the
class is important.
?= Internet Governance
“ICANN does technical coordination, not Internet governance.” That’s the party line. But the truth is that technical coordination
is in some ways a lot like governance.
it depends what governance means.
governance means making decisions about a resource to be managed in the public
interest, well, maybe.
it means being a global democracy, then no.
ICANN has a limited mandate and has a “precarious perch.” Supposed to concentrate on unique assignment
of numbers & names as necessary and that the system runs smoothly. But don’t want ICANN to be in the content
though, with borderline questions like trademarks. ICANN thinks this is important to keep the DNS system running
smoothly, while others argue that this is going too far. What about, say, shutting down web sites
that have violations of copyright law?
That’d be going too far, clearly, but it’s technically possible. Have to hope procedural safeguards are
adequate to present as much.
So is it true or false or the wrong question to be asking?
to Miguel Danielson: What’s the worst thing ICANN could do if it ran completely
of control – policies would not correspond with what constituencies wanted.
Worst thing ICANN can do is to deny someone a domain name? But ICANN doesn’t run the database that
actually controls where, say, CNN.COM goes; that’s NSI’s job as the registry
for .COM. But ICANN has (rather, will
soon have) a contract with NSI; ICANN could set policy binding NSI or other
NSI already does this? A [McLaughlin]:
NSI has an ad hoc policy to avoid getting sued. But policy was unpopular.
ICANN’s new policy is “do nothing unless a court tells you to except if:
the challenger has a trademark, the holder has no legitimate interest in the
name, and there’s bad faith.” What
ICANN actually has is “joint custody” over a file [the root zone] which is
actually located at NSI; in about two weeks the file will be moved to an ICANN
server in California.
ICANN could point TLDs from where they “belong” to wherever they wanted? McLaughlin: But then the twelve mirror root server
operators would decide not to take orders from ICANN anymore.
Does the Internet need a domain name system?
Couldn’t we just have Yahoo-like directories mapping names to IPs?
strictly speaking. Demo of getting to a
web site by IP address. But is there a
need for memorable addressing systems that work across the network?
Cybersquatting, as with gwbush.com.
What if there were no “good” domain names available?
The URL itself is not a form of expression, rather just an addressing / routing
mechanism. Worth noting the fundamental
differences between trademarks, domain name system – can have multiple
companies with the same trademark bounded by geography and/or industry. Note also that gwbush.com can’t be
trademarked (because not a product or service), so the new ICANN policy can’t
protect as much.
to find out if a domain name is taken?
Either just try it and see if it works, or check the WHOIS database.
is the actual list.
is the middle-man that actually does business with the customer.
Changes to be made to eliminate the anti-competitive threats posed by NSI as
registry for .COM?
Negotiations in progress. But that’s
not how ICANN plans to proceed.
When new TLDs?
One of the four top priorities of the USG.
Committees / working groups discussing this have had trouble moving
forward. This board will consider the
question before leaving in September 2000.
Cooperative agreement between ICANN and USG, NSI-USG Cooperative Agreement
Amendment 11, ICANN By-laws. Working on
contractual relationships with appropriate parties on varied timetables.
Couldn’t root server operators throw a coup?
Absolutely, but it’s actually trickier than that as a result of mirroring /
caching. But coups aren’t supposed to
happen in the first place since ICANN is supposed to reflect consensus.
Zittrain: Finishing up the “what’s the worst thing that ICANN
could do” question – it seems to be taking away a domain name. Also censorship – like the old NSI “no seven
dirty words” policy.
But remember that there are procedural limitations blocking such abuses – would
have to write a contract to accomplish the abuse, and that would require a
public comment period. Perhaps openness
stops these worries from being so serious.
if no ICANN? Do we really need ICANN at
of asking IE for cars and getting carpoint.com.
be discussed in the listserv. Ask the
experts & principals on the list what they think.
organization” – what does that mean?
How do you design such an organization if that’s what your client wants?
Richardson: Include the points of view of all Internet users; any Internet user
Greenberg: Want to avoid votes by people who aren’t sufficiently knowledgeable.
pigs are more equal than others.”
We still don’t know what “consensus” means.
Have come to understand about “reasonable doubt” etc., but no such understanding
Why should consensus be the standard anyway?
No American consensus about abortion, for example, yet policy is &
must be made. For technical questions,
there is a right answer that can be found by trying some alternatives, then we
use consensus. But for non-technical
questions, perhaps consensus isn’t the right way to (try to) solve the problem.
Consensus must mean something different than majority or unanimity. How about “no one ‘significant’
What about all the people who aren’t (yet) using the Internet? Need to represent their interests too.
It’s not consensus when the NC (chosen by a relatively obscure process) takes
and proceeds according to a majority vote.
Anestis: To ask the list the question of why it would be so bad if ICANN
The Pitch – McLaughlin
people to help with a few projects at ICANN.
Committees that need staff work – monitoring discussions, doing
research. Funding (ten people from around
the world), future of numbering in connection with mobile telephone networks,
etc. For clinical credit