Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
The Internet Your Rights Online

Farber, Neumann, and Weinstein Call for End to ICANN 105

lapse writes: "PFIR's latest policy statement calls for bringing an end to ICANN. Without assigning blame, it calls for immediate action, and suggests some possible paths forward. Let's hope that this clear statement from such a respected trio will lead to better times ahead for Internet policy management." Salon also has an interview with Karl Auerbach about his lawsuit against ICANN.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Farber, Neumann, and Weinstein Call for End to ICANN

Comments Filter:
  • It will take time to do, especially if ICANN does not want to give up control. It's got to be done though.
    • Unfortunately, it is nessesary, what with all the contriversy and politiking lately. The ICANN will have to be scrapped, it just doesn't work. Kudos to Farber et al. for this piece of work, let's start implementing it immediately!
  • Take it easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mnordstr ( 472213 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @07:44AM (#3186137) Homepage Journal
    First, as an immediate temporary measure, all Internet policy, operational, and other Internet-related functions currently performed by ICANN should be transferred, as soon as practicable while maintaining continuity, to a different, already existing non-profit organization (or organizations) on a non-permanent, strictly stewardship basis. One potential candidate we would suggest considering for this role would be the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), although there are a range of other possibilities of course. The process to plan and begin a transfer of responsibilities from ICANN should be initiated immediately.

    If you say so, but these kinds of global decissions should not be made easily. If they are going to reconstruct the system, make it a good one, and something that will work in the future (with future expandings of the network).
    • Re:Take it easy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gorf ( 182301 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:03AM (#3186174)

      I think they're basically saying that ICANN is going to be destructive to peoples' interests, and so should be absolved of any power as soon as possible; hence the non-permanent, strictly stewardship basis.

      I think that in the short-term an organization without political or economic interests needs to be in charge.

      • Where are we going to find people without political or economic interests? How long will they keep their neutrality in the face of verisign driving up to their house with dump trucks full of money?

        We need a single person like Postel again. An arrogant intelligent stiff necked bastard with nearly arbitrary power. I'd volunteer but for the "intelligent" requirement.

        • Very good point, I'd mod you up if I hadn't posted and actually had any points left :-)

          So the question is, is a single person more likely to be corrupt or not act in the best interests of his job than a corporation? I think ICANN is a particularly bad example, but the idea of a board is that a single person can't do something stupid (but of course the beaurocracy and politics gets involved then).

          I'm not sure if there's an answer to that one. A single person with some integrity would be perfect, but if he became corrupt then there'd be major problems. Of course it's easier to get a single person out than a corporation :)

    • a non-permanent, strictly stewardship basis

      Like the incumbent founding directors?


    • I think there are a few things amiss with the pfir plan and I'd like to suggest and comment on some alternatives and have a few comments about our continues use of 20th century DNS.

      Look back at the creation of ICANN and it's not difficult to see why it has failed. The timeline goes something like this: when the Wired article came out in 1994 where Joshua Quittner reported he registered [] and McDonalds didn't want it he ended up selling it to Burger King. At the time InterNIC registrations were taking about 3 days. This shot up to 11 weeks in a matter of days. The NSF [], who funded NSI to run the InterNIC, did not feel it's role, which is to foster academic and scientific advancement, included subsidizing and the like, so, it asked the FNCAC [] to do something. What they did was instruct the NSF to tell NSI to begin charging for domains. This caught the Internet community rather off guard and discussion ensued on a "newdom" mailing list (whose archives can be found here [newdom.faq]). Several forces came into play. First was the rift between the group that felt they too could run a TLD and the group that though this should be run from a great big central registry. The latter became the IAHC/CORE thing while the former became the first alternative root. The US Government shut down the IAHC and began it's own proceedings []: the white paper was produced. Other governments, most notably in the form of Paul Twoomey from Australia
      and Chris Wilkinson from the EU balked at the plan and the revised plan, the green paper took out the language about creating 5 new TLDs immediately (thereby throwing each conflicted group at least one bone). At the time Mikki Barry and Kathy Kleinman suggested in Becky Burr's office that a set of global meetings take place, not to decide answers to tough problems, but to determine just where there was consensus on the various issues. This became the IFWP forum and 3 meetings were held in Reston Va., Geneva, and Singapore. There was to be a followup meeting to merge these consensus points into a framework for the new corporation that was to replace IANA. While this was happening, NSI and IANA were negotiating, and Ira Magaziner, Clinton's senior science advisor and Roger Cochetti, a VP of IBM were running around selecting a new board. The IFWP wrap up meeting never happened, it was scuttled by Mike Roberts (suspicion is high he had been told be would be president) and the vast amount of time and energy, money, hopes and aspirations that was IFWP [] went down the toilet - which is a real shame as it was a significant body of work. Three proposals went in to the US government to form the new corporation. The IANA/NSI proposal drafted by Joe Sims and NSI, the Boston Working Group [] proposal (which is where the wrap-up meeting was to have been) which was a sane version of the NSI/ICANN proposal, and the ORSC proposal [] which was the BWG plan [] with greater fiscal responsibility and an existing corporate shell. Citing popular public support for the IANA/NSI [] plan it was selected - but if you read the public comments on the NTIA site carefully you'll see far less support than implied and much of it was tentative, frankly. A board materialized out if thin air, selected because they didn't know anything about DNS. So what went wrong? Was the original ICANN plan flawed or were the people just the wrong choices? [] I suggest that if Karl Aurbach and 9 people like him has been the original board we would not now be even talking about DNS; the board appointed from in high did not represent the Internet community whatsoever and instead represented telco, government and trademark special interests. It is believed the concessions made so that foreign government supported the "green paper" was that they got to pick certain members of the board. The first big clue there was trouble was when the board missed it's deadline to define a process for their replacement and simply extended their jobs; they should have been gone over two years ago now.

      So what have we learned from this? In my opinion, no group that says "we're in charge" really is; respect is earned, not asserted and I think this was the great failing of both IAHC and ICANN. So while I generally like Weinstein, Newman and Farber, I do distrust the IAB to some extent based on previous debacles like the Boston Tea party where they were thrown out for claiming OSI and not TCP/IP was the way to go. The ISOC is another non-starter, it's wanted to get it's hands on the DNS for over a decade [] and has been a great supporter of the authoritarian regimes of both IAHC and ICANN. The key, I believe, is not some group claiming they should be in charge or that they have all the answers - nobody does - but the good old fashioned and time proven method of Internet collaborative cooperation. And this means actually doing it, not paying lip service to it like ICANN did. Oh and cut out the 5 star hotels and first class Concorde flights.

      Is this about Internet governance? No. Absolutely not. In it's most basic form this is nothing more than an institutionalized debate between Dave Crocker and Karl Denninger in 1986 taken to it's logical conclusion. But it's nothing to do with governance of the Internet. Face it, if all you do is read and write email and/or usenet news, and play on ISC or muck about on the web, you may never have heard of ICANN and it certainly has zero effect on you. This is just about new top level domains, period; the IP addresses have virtually all been handed over to the regional registries and the port allocations are handles by somebody than CAN add one to a number and write it down on a piece of paper.

      But didn't ICANN break up NSI ? Nope. That was Ira Magaziners plan executed through the Department of Commerce. You don't really think NSI gave in because ICANN though it was a good idea do you? What has ICANN really done in 4 years? They've knuckled under to WIPO and given us the horribly flawed UDRP and 7 really stupid TLDs that despite $2.$M worth of scrutiny still had huge problems to the point of being dragged into court over it.

      What alternative roots exist? Quite a few [] actually, and while on the face of it you might think this would be a problem, but face it, if you can pick up your mail and get to Yahoo! then they work, and any of them will let you do that. The differences in them are what new TLDs they publish in their root zones. I need to disclaim right away that I coordinate, with Brian Reid's help, the ORSC [] root [], and it's generally believed to have the greatest penetration and is certainly the longest continuously operating one. The barrier to entry it low: show us working TLD servers and we'll list you. Other notable ones are the TINC [] root which is operated by some old time Usenet people such as Peter da Silva which has a policy of one tld per entity, which I don't like think can be made to work (the now defunct eDNS tried this and it was found to be too easily worked around), PacROOT [] which in my opinion swings too far the other way with their NameSlinger client - I don't think I know the proper number of TLDS any entity should operate but I do know it's not in the hundreds if not thousands; this raises anti-trust issues, and OpenNIC [] which is pretty good but only has a small number of new TLDs. There is also NameSpace [] which believes they should run all tlds. This grates against the notion of the root as a collection of independantly run TLDs in my opinion. But, it doesn't matter to me which one people use as long as they use one of them. Vote with your nameservers - it is in nobody's interest to break anything and using any of these roots will let you see all current DNS names and a whole universe of new ones although how many depends on which one you pick.

      Why do we still use root servers? Now this is where it gets interesting. What if the US Government suddenly shut off the legacy root servers? 90% of the net would feel some sort of perturbation immediately especially since at least one TLD (.SE) is name-served directly from the root (not TLD!) servers as are many delegations. As the TTLs to TLD servers expired, users of the legacy root would not be able to resolve any DNS names. But, people that use other root servers would be immune to the demise of the legacy roots (modulo one of Swedens 7 .SE nameservers of course) but an even better tactic in my opinion is to primary the root zone for yourself. Then, any or all root servers could be shut off and you wouldn't notice a thing. This would leave you with one remaining problem and that is where could you get the root zone from. Your upstream might be a good place or as DJB has suggested [], a cryptographically signed root zone could be posted to usenet periodically. This has the inherent advantage of being out of band of TCP/IP; that is, even a UUCP connection could inject the zone into the news stream. That's one answer to "how do you bootstrap DNS without DNS".

      Do I think ORSC should be the next ICANN as the ICANNWATCH poll [] suggests? No and hell no! Nobody should be in charge, and given that the net and the DNS itself is edge controlled - that is, whoever has the root password to a nameserver determines what dns names exist and what don't - any model that asserts a central authority is doomed to fail. There is need for coordination, but not authority.

      Vote with your nameserver; vote early and vote often.

      Richard Sexton
      March 19, 2002

  • ICANN (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ozan ( 176854 )
    Was it ICANN that refused to introduce the highly demanded .kids and .sex TLD but instead brought up that useless .aero TLD, so that in the end the Congress discussed introducing a SLD?
    IMHO ICANN is a useless good-will-bad-act organisation.
    • Re:ICANN (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:05AM (#3186182) Homepage Journal
      The "highly demanded" .kids and .sex are also highly controversial. Who gets to decide the standards? The least restrictive community in the world? The most restrictive community in the world? Politicians? ICANN?

      While many people may have legitimate gripes with ICANNs selection of new gTLDs, .kids and .sex were perhaps the two most controversial TLDs you could try for.

      US Congress discussing is a much more sensible approach, as it limits the scope. The US government already to a great extent has determined what is suitable for kids in the US through various regulation, and setting criteria for a may thus be a lot easier than setting criteria for a global ".kids" where whats acceptable in one country would be considered illegal pornography in another.

      (ObDisclaimer: I'm co-founded GNR, the company who got .name)

      • Re:ICANN (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ami Ganguli ( 921 )

        I really don't understand the objections to '.kids' and '.sex'. Why does somebody need to set standards? Few who are in the sex business have any incentive to register under '.kids', and vice-versa.

        Sure there will be a few exceptions. There are always a few idiots. But so what? The system doesn't need to be infallible, just reasonable.

        • A .sex domain would be -far- more convenient for the porn industry than all the "click here if you're such an age, in this list of countries, blah blah" hoops that they currently have to jump through.

          It'd make the net safer for people who don't want porn, and easier for those who do. Put simply, the net will become less confusing.

          It also protects porn sites from harassement by illiberal states/countries/groups, with the simple retort "well what the hell did you expect at"

          Yes, there'll still be porn sites in the .com domain, yes will still be there, yes there'll be cybersquatters on the .sex domain, yes there'll be more spare names on the .com domain, yes people will start to filter the .sex domain.

          But overall it does the internet equvalent of separating Las Vegas from New York from Cleveland. Live in one, work in one, party in the other.

        • And if someone put some thought about how the setting up of the .sex domain would work even fewer problems would arise from abuse like cyber-squatting on TM names.

          That Australian guy who use to run the domain for AU who got the boot a while back - I now know why he was a royal pain in the ass, and I agree with him now 100%.
        • Because many sites that would be considered acceptable for ".kids" in Europe for instance would be considered offensive, obscene and pornographic in the US. And material considered acceptable in the US (such as a picture of two fully dressed adults kissing) would be considered highly offensive, and even illegal in more restrictive countries.

          There is no consensus on what is acceptable for kids, and the problem is hardly that tons of pornographers (by Western standards) would register domains in .kids, but that there are no globally accepted standards for what is suitable for kids.

          • How does lack of consensus matter? There's no consensus now, so things can't possibly get worse. I don't think there should be any restrictions on what can go under these domains, they're simply a guideline. If your content is targeted at kids, then put it under the .kids domain. If it's meant to titilate, then put it under the .sex domain.

            Despite all the strange laws in different places, kids (real kids, not teenagers) aren't particularly interested in sex. The vast majority of people who are interested in sex aren't interested in kids (yeah, I know there are exceptions). The system is self-regulating.

            • You don't think that there should be any restrictions. Millions of people agree with you, and millions of people disagree with you. That's the problem. The top level domains that were chosen for inclusion may have varying degree of support and a lot of people don't like the choices that were made, but none of them have involved highly controversial policies on who can and cannot register under them.

              For the "restricted" domains (.aero, .museum, .coop and .pro) there are no major points of contention for what can and cannot be accepted under them.

              For the "unrestricted" domains (.name, .info, .biz), the rules are again pretty clear: As long as you don't violate trademarks etc. you can register, with the additional rule that on .name you are supposed to register a personal name, nickname or fictional character, allthough nobody checks if you really do register a name. Additionally, under .name you have better protection if your name matches a trademark and the domain name you registers matches your name.

              Again, there's no controversy, because they don't involve deciding which set of "community standards" or similar should be applied, and the rules doesn't include the extremely vague and controversial criteria of whether a site is sexually explicit or suitable for children.

              It's exactly because people can't agree, and some people feel very strongly about it that .kids is a potential problem.

              I think .kids., such as the proposed will stand a much better chance. They'll be controversial enough, but at least the controversy is confined to defining what is considered "suitable for children" in one country. On another note they may be more useful for kids, as if they are country specific, it will make it easier to identify children friendly sites that use the kids own language.

        • In part because in most civilized countries it's perfectly legal for folks under the age of 18 to have sex with just about anyone they please (ages ranging from 12-16 across most of the First World). Here in the good ol' U.S., where morality rules and biology is for fools, a site in the .kids section devoted to discussing the sexual issues of teens in detail - especially if it involved sexuality with someone *over* the age of 18, a criminal act in all 50 states - would cause a major uproar.

          If that happened we'd have to openly admit that the U.S. is, indeed, a country of blind prudes and that our European compatriots are a bunch of oversexed heathen scum out to corrupt our children with their 'loose' morals. Might even have to brand the sons-of-bitches 'terrorists', devil-worshippers, or whatever the hell my countrymen seem to be enthralled with at the moment.

          Even Canada is a nation of perverion where it's legal for a 14-year-old to have sex with anyone who isn't in a position of authority over him or her (e.g., teachers are off-limits, the next-door-neighbor isn't). If the Canadians started setting up sites like this in the .kids section we might have to invade or something, all to save our chiiillllddren!

          Or at least get rid of Terrence and Philip....


          • In part because in most civilized countries it's perfectly legal for folks under the age of 18 to have sex with just about anyone they please (ages ranging from 12-16 across most of the First World). Here in the good ol' U.S., where morality rules and biology is for fools, a site in the .kids section devoted to discussing the sexual issues of teens in detail - especially if it involved sexuality with someone *over* the age of 18, a criminal act in all 50 states - would cause a major uproar.
            You have no idea what you're talking about. While the age of consent in many states is 18, it isn't uniform for all 50 states. It's 16 for several states, and some have conditions, such as 17, but 14 if you're less than 5 years apart. Hawaii's age of consent is just 14.

            See this site [] for a chart showing the ages of consent around the world & all 50 states.
            • > While the age of consent in many states is 18, it isn't uniform for all 50 states. It's 16 for several states, and some have conditions, such as 17, but 14 if you're less than 5 years apart.

              The site you mentioned ( didn't mention the 5 years apart bit, so I'll try and explain it. In some states it is an exception, in others it is a defense (NOT an exception).

              In Oregon, ORS 163.345 [] says that if the only reason consent could not be obtained was because of age, then "it is a defense the actor was less than three years older than the victim at the time of the alleged offense." (Also note that this does not apply to rape in the first degree (ORS 163.375), where the victim is under 12.)

              In states such as Oregon, statutory rape is statutory rape regardless of the age of the other actor (and both actors can be charged if they're both under the legal age of consent). What you're talking about is age as a defense. According to my criminal law teacher, this means that the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove the age difference.

              Maryland's law surprised me (since everything is a crime in Maryland []). While actually getting to the text is a challenge, you can try this []. Anyway, article 27, section 463 defines second degree rape. Subsection three (3) says "a person is guilty of rape if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person who is under 14 years of age and the person performing the act is at least four years older than the victim." So, I guess, it *is* an exception in Maryland.

              Hope that clears this up a little...

              (disclaimer: IANAL. I took a criminal law class in high school... oh, and I was in mock trial)
    • Re:ICANN (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Masem ( 1171 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @10:14AM (#3186748)
      It should be noted that due to lack of response from ICANN, one of the Houses of Congress (The House, I believe) passed a bill that would force the creation of a .kids TLD, and put it into the hands of NeuStar, the group that had originally proposed it to ICANN and was previous rejected. The bill would force NeuStar to police (with a good-faith effort) sites registered under .kids to make sure they are appropriate. Whether the other House has passed this, I don't know yet.

      (I dont' remember the source of the story though I think it was, it was about 2 months ago, and did try to submit here to /.)

      • I dont' remember the source of the story though I think it was, it was about 2 months ago, and did try to submit here to /.

        Ummm... en.internet.ap/

        Elide the space between the letters 'r' and 'e' in 'children' above, of course. You can even grab the full House Resolution as a PDF from a government site ... you want H.R. 3833 (107th Congress). It has some juicy bits.

        For the record, I was going to submit the story myself back on the 8th when I read the article on -- then I figued the editors would quash it. Just like yesterday's submission concerning the vogue of Web subscriptions ... guess they took it personally. ;)

    • One thing in common between the ICANN and Internet Ad-Hoc Committee proposals for new global TLDs was that they did their first round of expansion with seven relatively boring names, instead of the commercially interesting .inc, .ltd, and .sex. This was an important and correct choice to make - the real problems in starting a new TLD aren't picking the names - they're deciding on policies for who owns them, how the registries work, how to get the old Network Solutions monopoly out of total control, and similar issues that may not succeed the first time. You're only going to get one chance to start the official .inc TLD, and you don't want to botch the job - much better to start off with .aero and .museum and .name and .shop, so you can see if your process works and see whether the Internet community throws you out on your ear. If you succeed, *then* you sell off the expensive names.

      And resisting .kids was also a good move - it's not driven by the market, but by US politicians, and the policy decisions about what should or should not go into it are a maze of little twisty passages that get rearranged while you're walking through them. It's not just about not having sex in that part of the internet - it's also about not having violence (can you show CNN?) and having lots of conflicting opinions about how much greed and commerciality shows up - would the dominant climate be Sesame Street with enhanced underwriting instead of ads, or would it be US Saturday morning cartoons with ads for sugar-coated cereal and consumer products?...

  • So basically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@ d a l . net> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:00AM (#3186170)
    Toss out ICANN, give all the responcibility to another exisiting organization, and hope for the best. Why does this not impress me.

    The fact of the matter is that the internet as a whole cannot be properly managed, unless the world as a whole starts co-operating. Right now, you've got each country carrying out its own laws on the internet, and meanwhile conflicting laws between countries are allowing virtually no semblence of consistancy or even proper causality. Trying to organize something as "big" as the internet without a consistant causality is always going to be impossible.

    What needs to happen, regardless of ICANN or ARIN or any other "internet regulation group", is some type of international agreement on what the internet entails. It was easy when the internet was just starting to pop up on the international platform, but now this global network needs global management - not national management.

    On the specifics on what was said about ICANN, I agree, partly. ICANN in its present form shouldnt live on. Theres a complete lack of direction, and it appears to be bumbling about like it cant decide what to do. I doubt we'll ever quite get over the mess its made.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      DNS only needs a little bit of administration and conflict arbitration ... thats it, needs a small organization. ICANN doesnt need direction, it just needs to do that small job. They cannot accept they just have to do the job they have been given and try to invent more work to grow their organization, thats the only problem.

      Noone needs to define what the internet entails, it is what it is. It worked when the internet just popped up, and it still works.
    • This network needs no global management at all. In fact it's built to work without this sort of management. The only people who insist on such a thing are:

      a) businesses who want to impose some sort of model on the internet they can profit from,

      b) folks who want to legislate their morality world-wide, or

      c) the anal-retentive types who can't *stand* anything that doesn't smack of clean, orderly, centralized control.

      We don't need any sort of international, world-wide agreements re the net. Everything will sort itself out just fine without such interference. Well, it may not please any of the three groups above, but really - fuck the lot of them. Business can adapt, the morality shits are assholes in need of a good bullet between the eyes, and the anal-retentive types should be on Prozac anyway.

  • Close the TLD's for new registrations and let the individual countries sort things out for their own domains. End of story.


  • by Romancer ( 19668 ) <romancer@deathsdoo[ ]om ['r.c' in gap]> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:11AM (#3186193) Journal
    It's a wonder he even got the position with an attitude like this:

    "That's why I want to look at the records, to find out where the money goes. Why does it take $2.4 million (47 applicants paid $50,000 each) to evaluate seven top-level domains?"

    It goes against all the immorral business practices that companies get sucked into.

    It's amaizing that a non profit organization can have a budget that's so high, and the people that they represent get representation like Auerbach who has the integrity to ask a question like "...Why does it take $2.4 million..."

    I believe that this is a clear case of public interest being served sloppy seconds from a management commitee that pays out sallarries to anywhere from 50 to a 100 people supposedly working to do something that like everybody says, should take less than 20.

    Non profit company = not for profit.
    somehow with the numbers there talking about, ie 23 million, I think someone is making some nice paychecks.

    As he says here:

    "What kinds of alternatives are you offering? How do you think some of the problems, particularly with fraud, should be fixed?

    First, get rid of management. Here are people whose primary belief is that elections will never
    work, therefore they don't try. There's a lack of will here. Also, we don't have to have electronic elections. We can have good old paper elections, the kind that work for all kinds of nonprofits all over the world. You send people an envelope, they fill out the paper and send it back.
    Is that so hard? Is that so extensive?

    Why do you think these kinds of things aren't being considered?

    Because it gets in their way of building an empire."

    A non profit empire run by people who control the worlds access (in some ways) to the internet.

    "And that's what ICANN is turning into -- bureaucracy upon bureaucracy."

    And one last comment:

    "As far as finances go, the thing is just naive. Here he is asking governments to pay. Who in the U.S. has been the most vociferous opponent to ICANN at the federal level? Congress. If anybody at ICANN would bother to read something simple, like the U.S. Constitution, they'd recognize that funds have to be approved by Congress; the executive branch doesn't print money and spend it. If someone's going to pay ICANN, it's going to have to be passed by Congress. And that certainly gives Congress a much stronger level to exert control.

    And how are you going to get governments to agree? Governments are required, under the Lynn plan, to gather into clubs and select someone. But now, according to a recent clarification, they have to select from a list prepared by this council -- and then pay for the privilege."

    Pay for the privilege?!

    A non profit organization requiring people to pay for the right to have participation in the proceeding that the non profit organization was made for?

    It just strikes me as odd that these people got away with anything like this for as long as they did, but I can understand with the current and past administration. Also without slashdot and other websited like them I'd be totally in the dark about these things, they're not in the news or the local paper. It seems like people are just ending over for anything these days.

    I'm totally proud of Auerbach and his ability to cut to the chase. SHOW HIM THE MONEY!

    • A non profit organisation does not neccesarily mean nobody who works there makes money. People there can get nice fat paychecks, the company itself does not turn a profit, all excess funds go back into itself.
      • That's the point, "...all excess funds go back into itself.

        That's fundamentally wrong.

        So the more "excess funds" they can generate the more they make. They require payment for the use of a right to participate and be represented in the proceedings. That's frankly BS.

        A non profit organization that claims to be a public service company, should not be giving out paychecks in excess of the cost of the service they provide.

        PBS employees don't make 250,000 a year even if they are the most highly paid exec in the company.
        This is because the service they provide is expensive to run, bandwidth, airtime, show costs, sets, etc. This is where a nonprofit business should spend the money. I don't see 13 beowolf clusters serving as root servers for the net. (not that I think they need that kind of power)

        But the budget should be used for the company not the management board.
        • A good many non-profits have been pulling just this kind of scam for quite some time - paying out some small portion on the dollar to their cause while pocketing the rest to spend on 'management', 'consulting fees to relative x', and so forth. They're essentially money-making ventures cloaked in non-profit status for tax purposes.

    • It's a wonder he even got the position with an attitude like this...

      Try to keep up. Karl was elected by the "at large" ICANN membership in .us and .ca. (This was stated at the very beginning of the linked news article.) You got to be an "at large" member if you applied for membership during a short time window in 1999 or 2000 and jumped through some paperwork hoops.

      So Karl wasn't chosen by ICANN management. He was chosen by a somewhat reasonably clued subset of Internet users in North America.

      Not surprisingly, ICANN is now strongly considering doing away with seats for elected directors.

      • OK, keep up with the complex logical banter...

        my quote:
        It's a wonder he even got the position with an attitude like this...

        your response:
        So Karl wasn't chosen by ICANN management. He was chosen by a somewhat reasonably clued subset of Internet users in North America.

        my reply:
        I did not say he was chosen by management.

        You seem to understand the article fairly well but you might want to read the posts before you start subtly insulting people for things you misread.
  • by martin ( 1336 )


    they call for an immediate transfer to an existing non-profit organation. Who would they like this to be then???


    • Did you read the article at all? They suggest that there should be an immediate transfer on a non-permananent, stewardshhip basis to another non proit organisation, and then suggest the Internet Arcitecture Board, the IAB.

      Please reread before posting any more paranoid comments...

    • I cannot think of anybody associated with the Internet that I trust more than Dave Farber, Peter Neumann, and Lauren Weinstein. Sure, PFIR would be a fine organization, although they suggest IAB as a more appropriate organization.
      • I think it's painfully obvious how poorly structured and poorly functioning the ICANN has turned out to be.

        What's needed most are a small number of representatives with good technical understanding of the Internet and how it needs to grow, some organizational ability and follow-through, and absolutely nothing to gain directly from their participation in such a committee.

        One of the biggest problems with many international organizations and governmental institutions of all kinds is that insidious problem of becoming self-promoting.

        As usual in such circumstances, the people best qualified and most suited for such positions are the ones that do not seek such authority or position.

  • Defining date (Score:5, Informative)

    by karl.auerbach ( 157250 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:16AM (#3186202) Homepage
    One of the dates coming up on the ICANN calendar this summer or very early autumn is the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between ICANN and the Nat'l Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) [part of the US Dept of Commerce].

    That MoU is the vehicle through which ICANN gains most of its authority over DNS. See [] for a pointer to the MoU and its series of amendments.

    Another vehicle is a contract with NIST for the "IANA Function": .htm [] This is due for renewal about now.
  • by nyjx ( 523123 )
    The fundamental problem with this proposal is that It appeals to the "global Internet community" - who is that? who represents them and what does it take to say "great idea - lets move ICANN's functions to the IAB / whatever" - i.e. what is the forum for consensus on this?

    On the face of it it appears that the only forum is ICANN itself and baring that (for obvious reasons) all u have left is the UN! The only other power player in this is really IAB/ISOC/IETF - but this forum has no "jurisdiction" over ICANN and can't be seen as neutral.

    The only way to deal with this is for a large majority of the people that support ICANN at the grass roots to set up a consensual forum not controlled by the current ICANN leadership to thrash out a solution - subsequently seeking the support of groups such as IAB and so forth (now we know what yahoo groups are useful for...). Without this non-body will be able to claim any consensus.

    I think the fundamental contribution made by this article stands though - do this "outside" ICANN. Once consensus builds this forum should be able to dictate terms to ICANN and/or simply replace it. Not easy but possible if the right leading figures emerge.

  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) <> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:23AM (#3186218) Homepage Journal
    There's much I sympathise with in this paper. The analysis seems to me largely correct. The synthesis, however, leaves me extremely sceptical. The authors say
    ...we recommend that an intensive, international study be started at once, with a mandate to propose detailed and meaningful paths for the Internet's development, operations, and management. The goal of this study would be to help guide the formation of purpose-built representative organisations and policies that would be beneficial both to established Internet stakeholders and to the wide variety of organizations and individuals who are effectively disenfranchised in the current Internet policy environment.

    That sounds to me an exact description of the International Working Party on the White Paper, the consultation process which led to the setting up of ICANN (and, which, incidentally, I took part in in Geneva).

    What worries me is that if we do the whole thing again in the same way,

    • There's a very high probability that we'll come up with something more or less exactly like ICANN;
    • If we go round this cycle often enough, Governments (plural) are going to get pissed off, and the functions will either be put into the hands of the ITU [] or a new, intergovermental (or UN) body will be set up to take over.

    It's a shame Jon Postel [] went and died on us; we moaned enough about him during his lifetime, but he died this job far better than ICANN have. Short of finding another individual as unmoved by commercial pressures, and as essentially fair minded as Jon was, we are stuck with a bunch of extremely wealthy conflicting vested interests, and a lot of hungry looking lawyers. The horizon to windward looks stormy.

    • The IFWP you refer to was not the source of ICANN. Rather, it was Joe Sims of Jones Day who worked in secret, making unknown agreements with unknown parties for unknown quid-pro-quos who created the ICANN we know today.

      The IFWP process was derailed by a self-appointed steering committee that included, among others, the person who (unknown to the public) soon be named the President of the new ICANN.

      The IFWP materials may be seen via []
    • If we go round this cycle often enough, Governments (plural) are going to get pissed off, and the functions will either be put into the hands of the ITU [] or a new, intergovermental (or UN) body will be set up to take over.

      I fail to grasp how this would be a Bad Thing. At least ITU has an established scope and clear lines of authority. ICANN, well, who died and made them God? Oh wait, you answered that--

      It's a shame Jon Postel [] went and died on us; we moaned enough about him during his lifetime, but he died this job far better than ICANN have.

      Hear, hear.

      Still, someone explain to me why it would be so bad for an existing international standards body to take over the past work of IANA.

  • General Comment. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Arimus ( 198136 )
    ICANN for all their faults are probably no worse than another body that could be appointed to fulfill the same role.

    The big problem with the TLD's is that they're global as opposed to country specific and so any regulation needs to be done from that perspective -- and regardless of the rights and wrongs a central body is needed to prevent anarchy... unfortunatly given that power corrupts any replacement will probably over the years go the same way.
  • Mr and Mrs
    David J. Farber, Peter G. Neumann, and Lauren Weinstein

    I feel that in the best interest of ICANN you should turn over control to me. I am the best man for the job because I will give people want they want. I plan on rolling out TLDs like .thissucks .lotsoffreepornhere .tryingtoripyo uoff .thisinfoisnotreal etc. I run a server farm of 386s which I have been told are the top of the line. I also live in a rural area where my internet connection tops out at 19.2 baud, I think this should be enough to service requests. Hopefully you will consider my application. I look forward to talking to you in the next few weeks.

    Nate Tobik

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @08:57AM (#3186308) Homepage

    Why do we need to have some central group of people telling us what hints file we have to put in our DNS servers? Why do we need to have some central group of people deciding what TLDs go into some group of root servers?

    The simple solution also lets the market decide about what TLDs survive, and what TLDs fail. Everyone who runs a DNS server gets to create their own root zone file, and put in whatever TLDs they want (I do recommend all the 2-letter national TLDs). They can even point them to whatever servers they want or even run some themselves for own, or their customers. Or they can just outsource it to whoever they want to let decide it for them.

    A little chaos is a good thing. It's called competition. We don't all get our food from the same place. We don't all get our computers from the same place. Why do TLDs have to be any different. Sure, we might want to have the same TLD as someone else, and if so, then we can choose to do that. So we end up with people peddling root zone files. It's your choice.

    And if you don't have a DNS server, you can simply use whatever want you want to (if they permit it). And an ISP can ever set up more than one if they have varying issues to give customers more choice about.

    The big advantage I see to this is that it avoids a lot of the legal wars going on now over ownership of domains, and whether domains are subject to trademark rules, and such. Make it totally open there's no longer a target to sue.

    • Because if you take away the universal standard, there's no garuantee that a host will be universally accessible. Suddenly, there will be a dozen and a thousand sites.
      • Suddenly, there will be a dozen and a thousand sites.

        If you want slashdot, you wouldn't use a dns server that doesn't do correctly, icann or no icann...

        Benjamin Coates
        • Yeah but a lot of people do not have a choice.
          No, a "do what you want" dns system is NOT a good idea.
          • You really think any major ISP will point COM/NET/ORG anywhere other than where they are pointed now? But if they do, it's a chance to break up a monopoly. And you can still use a DNS server other than your bandwidth provider. Maybe the AOL crowd won't know how to do that, but the /. crowd will.

            • Breaking up the centralized DNS system still doesn't make any sense. It will not bring competition, it will bring confusion and anarchy. Advertise your site as - and include a DNS server that works with it? No thanks. It's complete nonsense.
          • Yeah but a lot of people do not have a choice.

            Huh? who doesn't have a choice?

            Benjamin Coates
            • Anybody not technologically savy enough. Plus I could well imagine that some isps/online services block 53 udp/tcp. They will especially do this once they can lock in their customer to "their" version of say They also might especially do this to lessen tech support issues. T-Online (biggest isp in Germany) provided a version of netscape wehre you could not change the mail settings to customers (I do not know if they still do). This wasn't out of deep evil intentions, but because people would change the settings and then get desperate because they wouldn't get their email.

              Now imagine this chaos with DNS.

    • Ahh. The FidoNet approach.

      You know, what the fuck, we might as well abandon DNS altogether and have people just trade their raw hosts files. We could have companies that sell subscriptions to premium hosts files and that charge you a fee to look up an IP address. Lots of entrepreneurial opportunities there, heck, who knows, this way the Internet might actually live up to its moneymaking potential.

      Yeah. I'm convinced. Scrap this system and make it more like the telephone system. The telephone people always fucked me over good and I miss that on this cold and lonely Internet thing. Word up brutha!

    • You propose your chaos solution like it's an alternative to the current situation. But what you described is the situation we're already in right now. It has always been that way. Want control your own root? You can do that right now.

      What the market decided, is that it is 99% "sheep", and it wants to follow someone instead of having to deal with all the details and headaches.

      • It has always been that way. Want control your own root? You can do that right now.

        You're right. I've been doing it for years. It's just a matter of knowing you can. Knowledge can be a powerful thing ... and dangerous to those who would try to control us. But consider why 99% are "sheep". Many don't even know you can (not that they'd ever get it right). Many are afraid to (it really does work). Many just don't know where to get the info (My zone file [] is from ORSC []).

    • You *are* free to do this now. There are several alternative roots, or you are free to build your own - just like the early days of the internet when there was no centralized control.

      If you run your own DNS server (even if just for your own use), give them a try.

    • This will not work. Windows IE will be set to point to MS controlled DNS servers and in a few month MS will control the domains. Its unfortunately the path of least resistance the 95% of Internet users will follow. Maybe AOL could have an altenative DNS system but I doubt it.
  • Let's face it, ICANN stinks like an outhouse in August. Does anyone know how to get in touch with Mr. Auerbach so I can offer my assistance?
    It's time to act.
  • I really don't get what these guys are supposed to be doing, or how it affects anyone when they do their job poorly. Their website [], between bits of quorn like "Statement Concerning Schedule and Process for Consideration of Restructuring Proposal (28 February 2002)" seems to indicate all they do is make sure IP addresses, DNS names, and port numbers (!) are unique.

    Is that really it? I thought IP addresses were done by IANA [], are they part of ICANN? and isn't DNS registration (mis)handled by network solutions or whoever owns them these days?

    So, i guess what i'm asking is, what would i miss if ICANN just went away and wasn't replaced by anything...?

    Benjamin Coates
  • Then you'll have access to many more TLD's. If enough people support AlterNIC [] and "enhanced DNS" it will make ICANN irrelevant.
  • Why is it that EVERY ICANN story goes under the header "Your Rights Online?" Is ICANN censoring me? Are ICANN operatives busting down my door and confiscating my computer? Is ICANN preventing me from sharing files? If ICANN were dissolved tomorrow, would my life be affected in ANY WAY?

    Yeah, ICANN is important to the future of the net, but "your rights online?"

    • It's if ICANN *isn't* dissolved tomorrow that it might affect your rights online. Remember, this is the same organization that proposed seizing all the absolute root servers, world-wide (all thirteen or so), because only it was qualified to run them....

      Next up is what? A law stating that you can only point your DNS to an ICANN-approved root server?

      • Who does or doesn't control DNS names doesn't really affect my life or "my rights online" in general. It's a trivial issue. The Net will continue to work. Life will go on. I would find it just as concerning if some government-sponsored organization claimed that only it was allowed to control brand names of cat food!

        I mean, sure, they shouldn't be allowed to do that, but LIFE GOES ON, people! Cat food will continue to be available on the shelves whether it's called "Whiskas" or "Meow Mix!"

        I'm not saying ICANN isn't bad, it's just that putting it under "Your Rights Online" along with issues that REALLY DO affect our rights online (DMCA, Privacy, Encryption, etc.) is going a bit overboard. Don't you think?

    • ICANN controls the name registrars. They control the name conflict policies. If you register a site protest site, like [] or [] and the people you are protesting objects, the name conflict resolution policy comes into play.

  • by smagruder ( 207953 ) <> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @02:56PM (#3189046) Homepage

    I heartily endorse the PFIR position that ICANN must be dissolved and its work placed into the hands of a capable temporary steward. What should happen beyond that is a big question. But there's no question that ICANN has lost any and all respect from netizens from around the world due to their ongoing abject stupidity.

    And despite my major disagreement with Auerbach over his anti-small business, pro confusion idea of unlimited gTLD's (really a matter of democratic contention), I also endorse his lawsuit to shine the light on ICANN's finances. He has a clear right under the law to inspect these records at any time in an unfettered manner. If ICANN is to increase its budget ten-fold, then obviously the board needs to completely understand how money was being spent previously. In addition, I heartily agree with Auerbach's vivid descriptions of ICANN's empire-building management and limp-wristed board (Auerbach an exception, of course).

    As is expected coming from the director of Democracy 2.0 [], I have to go well beyond Auerbach's strong concerns about Lynn's idea to remove any representative aspects of ICANN. Anything short of having a global direct democracy deciding Internet infrastructural policy is unacceptable. Obviously, how this deliberative/decisionmaking system would be set up is chock full of monster details that no one person or small group can handle.

    I propose an open process for developing a constitution/charter for the substitute organization. This could be an open source document that's developed with wide participation using a tool like D3E (Digital Document Discourse Environment) []. This charter would define how all the parties involved with the Internet would come together (both online and offline) to effectively develop Internet policies. To start off, I also propose that a committee of roundly acceptable participants (perhaps those of the PFIR) craft the rough draft of this charter and act as the primary author through its initial stages. Later (perhaps within a year or so), the charter would be opened to democratic alteration via processes that the charter itself outlines.

    Once the charter has been completed and democratically approved, the temporary steward would then hand over control to the managing organization that would be outlined in the charter. Then, all policy issues (perhaps except the overly technical ones) would be resolved via public discourse, deliberation and decision via democratic means.

    • I happen to think that ICANN would work best as a representative democracy, for much the same reason that the US is a representative democracy. The people, in general, haven't got a clue about how the Internet works. Allowing them to vote on how to run it would be insane. However, allowing them to vote for people that do (well, we would hope anyway) seems like a much better idea.

      Here's where we run into problems though. What happens if (when?) these elections become popular? Will we end up with something similar to the two-party farce we have in the States? Will the candidates with big corporate backing end up monopolizing AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and other major webites to promote their candidacy, reducing candidates like Auerbach to third-party obscurity? Would Auerbach have stood a chance if it weren't for the fact that most of the US At-Large members were pretty clued-in to what ICANN was and had outlets such as /. and other non-mainstream sites to find out about his views? Will an election system simply ensure that only mediocre, controllable individuals get elected?

      • "Allowing [people] to vote on how to run [ICANN] would be insane."

        I understand the incredulous reaction to direct democracy at first blush. But it's a superficial reaction (no offense intended). Considering that nobody who doesn't want to attempt to understand the Internet infrastructural issues wouldn't participate (for the most part) at any rate, and considering that there would have to be extensive discourse and deliberations before decisions are made, then there really shouldn't be any concern that in general this scheme wouldn't work. It's really a matter of how this scheme is designed that determines how well it will work.

        • Whoops... replace "nobody" with "anyone".
        • Depends on what you mean by "extensive discourse" I guess. We probably have extensive discourse about a lot of things the government does, but that doesn't mean that the average person has a clue what's going on or what the effects of the decision will be. We probably won't be dealing with things that are as voodoo as economics, but when you start talking about technical issues regarding the Internet, I think people will vote just like they do in American electinos. Whoever has the most money for advertising and the most popular candidate will win. It's a great way for people with agendas counter to the interests of most internet users to get their ideas put into practice. Just make some deals to get yourself the upfront cash to win the election, then pay back with favors. Just like American politics.

  • by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <slashdot@ d e f o r e s t .org> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @06:37PM (#3190517)
    OpenNIC is available now and is a strict superset of the ICANN namespace.
  • Too much power (Score:2, Interesting)

    PFIR's Declaration of Principles [] is FNW's proposed guiding framework for the replacement of ICANN. Most of them sound good to me (except for restrictions on anonymity). But do we really need and want an international organization which takes on all these areas? Regulation always sounds great if you think that all the decisions are going your way. But if this powerful body starts making decisions that you don't agree with, watch out. You've created a monster.

    Take a look at some of the areas covered by this Declaration: financial privacy; medical privacy; technological aid to the developing world; monitoring and tracking of internet access by governments or industry; content filtering; spam; electronic signatures; electronic voting; DOS attacks; penalties for computer crimes; restrictions on anonymity; program installation dialogs; framing of web pages; web linking; encryption; national jurisdiction; DMCA and copyright issues; patents.

    Now, by and large PFIR takes reasonable positions on these issues that most of us would support. But do we really want a body that includes all these topics in its area of responsibility? That would be an enormous concentration of power! And we all know what happens to regulatory agencies which have too much power. They get corrupted and influenced by the deep pockets businesses they are supposed to be regulating.

    Creating the super-powerful replacement for the ICANN that PFIR calls for would be a big mistake. We should stick to an agency which has a very limited mandate to deal with Internet infrastructure like DNS. I don't know enough to be able to come up with a plan to fix ICANN, but following PFIR's ideas would be terribly risky.

  • if you shut down ICANN, you need to create something in its place that represents all of the stakeholders. there are politically powerful folks who stand to make a lot of money from ICANN failing, and leaving unregulated monopolies to control TLDs. they will use all of their influence to oppose a replacement for ICANN being formed unless it favors them. it was difficult enough to form ICANN last time around; a replacement would be even more controversial.

    the folks who believe we can have stable DNS with an arbitrary number of self-appointed roots and TLDs are deluded. if that happens the most likely result is that different countries will have their own root servers that are mandated by their governments (in order to ensure name stability within each country), but there will be conflicts between countries about the meanings of some names.

  • I hate to piss on people's heads, but I have to say that I think ICANN has done a really crummy job thus far. So far all we've really seen is a whole lot of pomp and circumstance about how they're going to get things straightened out. Sadly, we no longer have John Postel with us to act as our benevolent dictator of the Internet TLDs.

    The trouble is that, as the Salon article says, certain people have let it go to their heads that they are at the top of an organizational tree that covers the Internet. The Internet is by, of and especially for the people, and ICANN needs to understand that they are our servants and representatives, and not the other way round.

    I know they're hard up for cash; who isn't these days? If they're hard up for cash, I would propose an anonymous "tip jar" donation scheme, where everyone from companies with money to burn (like, say, AOL Time Warner, AT&T or Microsoft) to your average Net citizen can drop a few bucks in the jar. I say "anonymous" because I think the submissions and their amounts should be kept private, so as to discourage people or companies from being able to exert pressure on ICANN that goes against the common good.

    Ultimately, ICANN should, if not must, answer to the Net itself. That includes everyone from big companies all the way down to the little guy. I think we all felt really good when Karl Auerbach got elected; we felt as though we, the people of the Internet, finally had some say in how our Internet would evolve.

    How ICANN can simply disregard the voices of the people is beyond me. The Net is, in many ways, a country unto itself, with its own rules and customs, and for the ICANN board to say that they want to focus on governments is an insult to us all. The US government may have commissioned the project that became the Internet, but we, the people built it into what it is today, and we continue to build it into a little better place every day.

    I say that if ICANN can't manage the Internet in a way that best serves its citizens, then we the people should bloody well find someone who can.

(null cookie; hope that's ok)