October 24, 2005
Who Really Installs New Top Level Domains?
This morning Bret Fausett wrote a note that concerned the question whether there is US Government involvement in the choice to deploy .xxx. Bret's points are well taken but I believe they reflect the surface and not the substance.
It may be true that the decisions are independent, but what about the actions that transform those decisions into actual changes in the root zone file? Is that sequence of actions performed independent of the USG?
To put it another way, the question is whether the USG is in a position to approve, reject, or modify ICANN's decisions?
We have seen evidence that the USG is completely willing and able to bypass ICANN: A couple of years ago the United States Government ignored ICANN when the USG had the root zone file modified to reflect the USG's redelegation of the .us ccTLD.
Thus we have smoke - is there fire? It seems that we need to dig deeper to find the answer.
In the list of principles I wrote about the other day I listed this principle: 'The first step towards governance is a clear understanding of what it is that needs to be governed and what the goals of that governance are.'
So lets ask, what is really the ultimate step of adding a TLD?
More properly we should ask: whose fingers are they that will enter the letters 'xxx' into the file or database that constitutes the root zone file?
That report describes the then existing mechanism through which TLDs are added to the root zone file. It is a process in which the USG is directly involved. And the body that ultimately makes the changes to the file is Verisign. Here's is how the CRADA describes this process:
In the current implementation, root-zone change requests from top-level domain (TLD) operators are received by ICANN, which is responsible for reviewing the appropriateness of these requests as part of its performance of the IANA function. Once their appropriateness is verified, ICANN sends these requests to the United States Department of Commerce for approval; these approvals are then transmitted to VeriSign, which makes the changes as requested by ICANN and approved by the Commerce Department.
That's what it was in 2003. I am not aware that the change suggested in the CRADA (to shift Verisign's role to ICANN [or IANA]) has ever actually been implemented.
But even if the CRADA change were to be implemented, the only thing that shifts is the responsibility for making the final 'edits' from Verisign to ICANN. Here is the important part: the loop in which the USG must approve (which implies the power to reject) TLD changes remains with the USG.
It appears to me, backed by the language of ICANN and the US Government, that the USG retains a significant authority the addition, removal, and alteration (and thus redelegation) of Top Level Domains. To my mind the only open question is whether the the USG is willing and able to act in this process independently of a change request from ICANN (and the .us situation suggests that the USG is willing and able.)"
(Via CaveBear Blog.)
October 19, 2005
Time for Euthanasia
ICANN once had a vibrant public sector. But that period ended several years ago when meaningful public participation in ICANN was eliminated during a process that ICANN, in its best NewSpeak, called 'reform.'
Today ICANN's palace eunuch, the 'interim' ALAC, sent forth it latest missive. It is a pathetic document devoid of content yet filled with phrases of submission and dependency.
ICANN's purpose is to serve the public, the community of internet users. Yet ICANN's ALAC, and much less ICANN itself, remembers ICANN's purpose and ICANN's promises.
ICANN's ALAC was crippled at at its conception. We of the community of internet users have patiently stood aside hoping that perhaps we would be proved wrong and that the ALAC might actually grow into something of value. During this time ICANN plied the ALAC with money and staff support. Attempts were made to froth-up up membership; but few signed on.
The ALAC was given a fair chance to succeed. But it has not done so.
It is time to write off ICANN's ALAC as the failure it is."
(Via CaveBear Blog.)
April 10, 2005
ICANN's Directors Once Again Shirk Their Responsbilities
Among these resolutions was one in which ICANN's Board unanimously adopted an 'IPv4 Global Allocation Policy'.
IP address allocation policy is the most crucial matter ever to come before ICANN's board. IP addresses are the fuel on which the internet runs. Without an IP address a person or computer is simply not part of the internet. A policy that says who can get addresses and under what terms has a breathtaking impact on the shape of future internet growth. Such a policy will have a significant impact on what enterprises survive and what enterprises fail. The economic and social ramifications of IP address policy vastly overshadow the effects of ICANN's domain name policies.
Any policy regarding IP address allocation, therefore, ought to be made only with the greatest degree of lucidity and with the greatest attention to its technical, economic, and social effects.
Unfortunately, once again, ICANN fiddled and danced - and made jokes - and avoided the difficult, but necessary, work of actually engaging with the issues of this extremely important matter.
The resolution adopting this policy asserts the following 'facts':
'the Board has considered the public comments that were submitted to the forum'
[the Board] 'determined that existing procedures adequately address the issues that were raised
[N]o objection was raised by the Security and Stability Advisory Committee or other ICANN advisory bodies
There were four comments made on this policy during its comment period. All of these comments cited substantial concrete concerns about fundamental aspects of the policy.
ICANN has never responded to any of these comments. There is no reason to believe that ICANN's Board or any board member is even aware of those comments.
I challenge ICANN to demonstrate that any board member ever read these comments, much less considered them when making his or her decision on the IPv4 address policy.
As for the board's assertion that 'existing procedures adequately address the issues that were raised'. Hogwash. There is no indication that the board or any of its members actually reached this conclusion except by being led to it by the nose by 'staff'. And the assertion is also factually incorrect. Not one of the concerns raised is covered by any existing procedures.
And finally - as for objections by the so-called 'Security and Stability Advisory Committee': Because that committee operates in total secrecy how can anyone tell what that committee says or does?
Once more we have the members of ICANN's board acting as nothing more than mindless monkeys who respond with affirmative noises to whatever is put in front of them.
There is no indication that any ICANN Board member actually performed his or her duty to make an independent and informed judgment on what is, in truth the most critical, and in fact the only truly technical, matter ever to come before ICANN: IP address allocation policy.
ICANN has many flaws, but perhaps its greatest flaw is that the members of its Board of Directors again and again and again insult the internet community and violate their duties by refusing to take the time to try to comprehend and understand the issues put before them and refusing to make their own independent decisions.
ICANN's Board, both as a body and as individuals, has demonstrated once again that even when compared to the extremely lax standards of the past board's of Enron, Tyco, and MCI/Worldcom, ICANN's board and its members comes out gravely wanting.
ICANN's directors should be ashamed of themselves. Not even one director has indicated that he or she is treating his or her role with the kind of attention and respect that the community of internet users deserves and which the law requires."
(Via CaveBear Blog.)
April 07, 2005
Internet Governance Project Proposes ICANN Reforms
Internet Governance Project Proposes ICANN Reforms: "An academic group studying Internet governance has released a report calling for structural changes in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The paper calls for clear limitations on ICANN's role, putting ICANN under the purview of an international body instead of the U.S. government, and restoring elections for seats on ICANN's board. CDT believes continued reform of ICANN is necessary, but remains seriously concerned about greater intergovernmental or UN control of Internet naming and numbering."
April 05, 2005
ICANN ".travel" Scandal (Ernest Miller)
Many have forgotten about the procedural and regulatory abomination that is ICANN. But the folks at ICANN Watch have not, and they report yet another scandal regarding domain names. In this case, the bogus procedures that have allowed the international airline cartel (IATA) to take over the '.travel' domain by proxy (ICANN reveals '.travel' sponsor is a front).
Read the whole thing and wonder why ICANN is still in charge of the domain name system."
Posted by mikki at 02:33 PM
April 04, 2005
ICANN Versus the College of Cardinals - Which Is More Opaque and Closed?
A few years ago I suggested that we know more about how the college of cardinals selects a new pope than we know about how ICANN makes its decisions. (My suggestion was picked up and repeated by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts.)
It is sad when anyone passes. And the loss of a major world figure, particularly one with a strong sense of ethics and morality (even if we individually may differ on certain specific issues) is not a matter to be taken lightly.
Nevertheless, such things do happen. We now have an opportunity to put my claim to the test.
ICANN is meeting in Argentina this week. If anything ICANN has become even more opaque and closed than it was back in year 2000 when I first made the comparison between the selection of a new pope and ICANN's opaque and closed processes.
Perhaps ICANN can demonstrate that it can leap over the exceedingly low hurdle of being more open and transparent than the college of cardinals.
But the outlook is poor.
There is already reason to believe that ICANN won't be successful in that effort. Already it has been reported that a major amount of time was spent, or rather wasted, trying to seal a meeting that is supposed to be open to public inspection, if not to public participation.
The internet is not governed by a Pope and ICANN is not a College of Cardinals. We the community of internet users deserve better than the secrecy and unaccountability that ICANN has been feeding us ever since it was formed."
(Via CaveBear Blog.)
Posted by mikki at 09:23 AM
January 30, 2005
Wow, I Must Be Scary (From Karl Auerbach)
I notice how much energy the US Government is expending in order to endorse and support relatively open and public elections in Iraq despite the potential that people who oppose the status quo government might be elected.
By comparison I note how little energy the US Government (via the US Department of Commerce and its sub-agency NTIA) have expended to endorse and support the restoration of relatively open and public elections in NTIA's foster child, ICANN.
There are a lot of really scary people - people who might have more than a passing relationship with the kind of nasty folks who shoot guns, fire RPG's, and launch mortar rounds into their opponents or innocents - who could win in Iraq. Yet the US and Iraq are moving forward. (We all might want to pause for a moment this weekend and launch into the luminiferous ether a thought of peace and good will with a hope for a stable outcome to the election.)
ICANN, with the backing of the US Government, dropped public elections. The unstated reason was that they were afraid that more people like myself or Andy Mueller-Maguhn might be elected. (There is little doubt in my mind that I would have been re-elected had ICANN permitted an election.)
I guess that in the world of ICANN and the US Department of Commerce, the chance that Andy Mueller-Maguhn or I might be re-elected to ICANN is more to be feared than the chance that some unsavory folks might be elected in Iraq.
It is pretty obvious that ICANN's "reformed" board selection process has resulted in exactly what it was intended to do: fill the Board of Directors with quiet timid creatures who are afraid to ask questions, afraid to demand accountability, afraid to focus ICANN, afraid to impose onto ICANN a clear job description, and afraid hold ICANN to that description. The individual directors of ICANN have made themselves so insignificant that it is hard to remember who they are.
ICANN is in at least as much need of publicly elected board members as Iraq is in need of a publicly elected government.[CaveBear Blog]
January 06, 2005
ICANN Wants An Internet Tax - Again
From Declan McCullugh's list
ICANN partying like it's 1999
December 20, 2004, 4:00 AM PT
By Declan McCullagh
It's been five years since Internet users had to worry about paying an extra $1 or so annual fee--akin to a tax--for each .com, .net or .org domain name they own.
Now the international organization that oversees domain names has rediscovered the idea. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) believes it needs a fatter budget funded by domain name fees--and plans to start charging domain name owners in a process that will begin next year.
Starting sometime in 2005, owners of .net domain names will have to pay a 75-cent additional annual fee to ICANN. There's nothing stopping ICANN from upping the levy in the future, and its executives have indicated that other top-level domains will be targeted as well.
Before deciding to play tax collector, though, ICANN should consider what happened back in 1999 that caused it to concoct and then abandon the idea.
Politech mailing list
Archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (http://www.mccullagh.org/)
December 27, 2004
Response to Susan Crawford's Note "Why Internet Governance Is (or Isn't) Like Climate Change"
From Karl Auerbach
Recently Susan Crawford in her blog wrote a note entitled "Why Internet Governance Is (or Isn't) Like Climate Change".
That note indirectly suggests the question - "What exactly about the internet is in need of governance?" (Or, to put it the other way around, "What parts of the internet are those that can't be handled by private enterprise left to operate in a competitive system under the typical legal constraints applicable to businesses in general?")
There is no doubt that ICANN represents an extension of governmental types of powers on a far more broad scope than is justified - ICANN is a poster child of the kind of excessively intrusive, overly expensive, and innovation crushing bureaucracy that has evolved in the half century since the end of WW-II.
And there is justifiable fear that the current WGIG efforts under the auspices of the UN will expand and replicate than kind of regulatory system rather than restrain it.
So Susan's question is well posed.
And I believe the answer to her question is this: Yes, there are aspects of the internet that require and are amenable to limited forms of governance.
In a note, "Governing the Internet, A Functional Approach", that I submitted to a meeting at the ITU in early 2004 I advocated the idea of finding specific, concrete, and well defined aspects of the internet that are in need of oversight.
In that paper I discussed the following areas as those that are in need of governance: (For more detail please see the original paper.)
1. A system of IP address allocation that meshes well with the IP packet routing systems. (Note: in this paper, I am referring only to unicast IP addresses. There are other forms of IP addresses, such as multicast IP addresses, that are outside the scope of this paper.)
2. A system of inter-carrier/inter-ISP traffic exchange in which end users can obtain usable assurances that designated traffic flows will achieve specified levels of service. (Note that I am using the word "assurance". I use this word to mean something less than a hard "guarantee.")
3. A system of allocation of protocol numbers and other similar identifiers.
4. The responsible and accountable oversight of a suite of Domain Name System (DNS) root servers.
5. The management of the DNS root zone file, including the clerical task of preparing the root zone file for distribution to the root servers and the task of developing and applying policies to determine which new top-level domains will be allowed entry into the root zone.
Areas 1, 2, and 4 are not are being actively overseen by ICANN. Item 3 is largely an administrative task performed by ICANN on behalf of the IETF. And it is debatable whether ICANN is adequately dealing with area 5.
For quite some time it has been my opinion that the way we should approach internet governance is to build small and limited bodies of governance. Each body would have one, and only one, area of responsibility. And each would have authority and responsibilities that are shrink-wrapped to precisely what is needed to do the needed task and no more. In addition, each such body would have a finite lifespan of only a few years; each body would cease to exist unless the community of internet users or community of nations found that body to be useful and appropriate to its designated purpose.
This is an approach that is nearly the opposite of ICANN's ever changing amoeba-like structures and its amorphous and rapidly ramifying scope of power and authority. What I am suggesting are several surgically shaped bodies, of fixed scope and authority, subject to taught reins of accountability, that are each imbued with a the minimum degree of discretionary powers needed to accomplish a specific task.
I first published my list of topics that ought to be the initial areas of internet oversight in June of 2002. Except for the addition of matters concerning the ability of users to obtain cross-ISP service's that list has not grown. This fact gives me confidence that my list is an appropriate and viable answer to Susan Crawford's question.[CaveBear Blog]
December 22, 2004
Response to Ross Rader on "Om misses the boat"
From Karl Auerbach
Ross Rader in his blog wrote an item "Om misses the boat"
I agree with much of it - it is true that ICANN is responding to some proposals for top level domains, that is, if "some" is measured as 9 out of about 55 applications - about 16%.
I disagree when Ross says "Sometimes these proposals are solid enough to get ICANN's blessing."
Why should ICANN care about the business solidity of a proposal? Why should ICANN care whether a TLD offering will survive as a business or fail and its assets fall into receivership?
It is improper for ICANN to impose business qualifications on those who wish to try their hand at running a domain name business. For ICANN to make such conditions is to restrain trade.
ICANN can not articulate any rational technical basis for those business conditions it imposes. That is because there is none.
In other words, ICANN is engaged in nothing more than naked and unjustified economic, business, and social engineering.
Is this legal? I am not enough of an expert to know whether it is legal or not within the US. If it is then US law is flawed. As for the question of legality in other countries, that is a question for those in those other countries to ask.
ICANN's restraint of trade has resulted in a moribund and effectively closed marketplace of DNS registry/Top-Level-Domain providers. As in the case of all such monopolies the result has been a a failure of innovation of products and a system that protects inflated prices. In both cases the community of internet users are the losers.
ICANN should ask at most two questions of those who wish to run new TLDs:
1. Will the applicant adhere to internet standards?
2. Will the applicant refrain from using its position to mount an attack on the infrastructure or users of the net?
Perhaps ICANN could insist that an applicant obtain a letter from an independent business auditor indicating that the applicant has appropriate and adequate business asset protection practices so that should the applicant's business fail there will be enough pieces left around for the customers or a receiver to resurrect the operation and keep the portfolio of names in play.[CaveBear Blog]
At Least One Person Got It Right
So what's ICANN doing with our money? From Bret Fausett
Approved Board Resolutions for 20 December 2004: "The Board approved these resolutions by a vote of 8-1, with an abstention by Mouhamet Diop."
This is where my 75 cents is going? What other charitable contributions does ICANN plan to make? Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least a half dozen similarly worthy causes. This really strikes me as wrong.
My take is that ICANN is making a voluntary, chartitable contribution to a quasi-government agency discussing things outside ICANN's core mission. If ICANN has $100,000 to drop on this, then it can fund At Large election of directors or lower the fees charged to registries and registrars (and hence domain name registrants). This is a bad development and even worse as precedent.[Lextext]
December 17, 2004
Reaction to New Top Level Domains
From Circle ID
ICANN's latest announcement of preliminary approval for two new top level domains (.mobi and .jobs) and it's recently ended meetings in Cape Town, South Africa, have sparked off renewed discussions for the introduction of new TLDs -- more specifically, the expansion of sponsored and generic top level domains (TLDs). The following is a collection of recent commentaries made by both technical and non-technical members of the community with regards to the expansion of the domain name space. To... [CircleID]
Would NTIA or ICANN Know Internet Instability If It Smacked 'em Upside the Head And Introduced Itself?
From Karl Auerbach
Remember how I've been harping on the reckless actions of the US Department of Commerce's NTIA and ICANN in allowing the removal of 15% of IPv4 information and its replacement by IPv6 information?
(If you missed it you can read it in my postings: Driving Blind, Something's Happening But We Don't Know What It Is, Do We Mr. Jones?, Follow-up on my note: An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA, and An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA.
Remember how NTIA and ICANN assured me that they would never allow a change that risks the stability of the net.
Well, despite the absence of any technical evaluation of the risks, such a change was made by NTIA and ICANN. And now reports of instability have begun to surface.
What has happened is this: With the introduction of IPv6 based name servers, some resolvers running on hosts that have IPv6 enabled (which includes the default settings on many recent releases of Linux) but which don't have actual IPv6 connectivity, seem to be trying to talk to those IPv6 based servers. It takes time for these never-to-be-answered queries to time out and for the resolver to move on to a usable IPv4 address. Users perceive delays (four seconds) for names to resolve.
Yesterday I spent about 20 minutes to set up a test to try to reproduce the problem. I used a spare computer with a single interface. I used Fedora Core 3 (with up-to-date patches) with IPv4 connectivity and its default IPv6 configuration but no IPv6 connectivity on, or out of, the subnet to which it was attached. I used bind-9.2.4-2 with its default configuration. I ran a half dozen informal tests in which I monitored all the packets coming in and out while I started bind afresh and performed queries via the machines' resolver. I did not observe any attempts to use IPv6 packets - in other words I did not observe the reported misbehavior. However I did notice that some queries (e.g. dig @localhost www.no-such-name.fr) generated as many as 46 IPv4-based query and response packets (including queries for AAAA and A6 records.)
For the moment let's assume that the Nanog and comp.protocols.dns.bind reports are accurate and that my inability to reproduce the problem was due to some flaw in my setup or in my methodology.
Now you might say: "Four seconds? Big deal." Would you say that if you were using a VOIP phone trying to call for help because your house is burning or your child has stopped breathing? OK, perhaps that's an extreme case - but it certainly is a foreseeable one. But at internet speeds, even a few seconds are important - Would you be happy if you lost a bid on e-Bay or lost out on a stock deal because you got stalled by a cascade of these delays? At the least such delay can be very frustrating.
NTIA conceived and backed ICANN for the specific purpose of protecting the technical stability of the internet. Both bodies emit large numbers of words asserting that this is what ICANN is for and what ICANN does. Yet if we look to their actions rather than their words there is no evidence that NTIA and ICANN actually care about assuming actual responsibility and exercising actual oversight to ensure that the internet's DNS actually runs efficiently, reliably, and accurately 24x7x365.
Is NTIA or ICANN even aware of these issues? Yes they are, but only because I actually called NTIA and, after several days of attempts, spoke to people there. And I have had e-mail correspondence about this matter with ICANN (which, by the way is not visible on ICANN's correspondence web page.)
Has NTIA or ICANN initiated a study or tried to reproduce the problem? There is no indication that they have - or that they intend to do so.
We have a dangerous situation. We have an oversight gap. There is an absence of management. Nobody is making sure that the various parts of the Domain Name System are all flying at all, much less that they are safely flying in the same direction. The Challenger and Columbia disasters showed us what can happen when there are oversight gaps and negligent managers. NTIA and ICANN have created an undefended vulnerability through which a catastrophic failure, or successful attack, of DNS, and thus of the entire internet, is possible.
It's pretty clear that ICANN's goal is to be the jealous overlord of domain name business practices and products.
And its also pretty clear that the goal of NTIA is to make political brownie points and award itself a gold star for privatization.
It is also quite clear that NTIA and ICANN are reducing the stability of the internet by distracting attention from the absence of coherent supervision over those things that actually affect the reliability, efficiency, and accuracy of the upper layers of the Domain Name System.
We can let NTIA and ICANN live in their fantasy worlds. NTIA can have its little gold star. And ICANN can try to defend itself against an increasing number of claims made under an increasing number of national laws that it has become merely a combination of industrial actors who are collaborating among themselves to restrain and restrict the participants in the DNS marketplace and to establish prices and product specifications and devoid of any technical basis for doing so.
In the meantime we do need to establish a responsible authority to ensure that the DNS and IP address allocation systems are being managed and operated safely. This is a vacuum that must be filled.[CaveBear Blog]
December 06, 2004
Elliot you are attending the right ICANN meeting
From Karl Auerbach
I have no idea who wrote that wonderful piece, Time for Reformation of the Internet, posted by Susan Crawford. (It wasn't me - I never use the word "netizen".)
Elliot Noss of Tucows wrote a partial rebuttal, I must be attending the wrong ICANN meetings.
Elliot's company, Tucows, has been a leader in registrar innovation and competition. And Tucows has constantly been among the most imaginative, progressive, responsible, and socially engaged companies engaged in these debates.
Elliot focuses on the registrar/registry distinction. I agree with Elliot that there does exist real competition and innovation among domain name registrars.
But the points made by Time for Reformation of the Internet go far beyond registries and registrars.
ICANN has significantly shaped and restricted the scope of that competition and innovation by imposing requirement after requirement on the kinds of products that registries can offer to registrars and that registrars can offer to the public. Many of those requirements, such as the requirement that registration business data (whois) be made public, are made at the expense of the community of internet users and for the benefit of the intellectual property industry. Other ICANN requirements are simply arbitrary. For example ICANN has never once justified the requirement that domain names be registered for one to ten years in increments of one full year. That arbitrary ICANN requirement has destroyed the potential for product innovation and competition by registrars at the short-term and long-term ends of the spectrum.
Elliot mentions the claim made by ICANN that consumers are saving money as the result of there being an ICANN. While it is true that prices for domain names have dropped since ICANN came into being it is far from true that prices are anywhere near as low as they could be. As Elliot correctly points out there is a significant difference between legacy registries, such as Verisign with .com, and the registrars that sell the those registries products. What is not mentioned is the degree to which ICANN has created a price support system for those legacy registries that forces domain name consumers to pay as much as $300,000,000 per year in windfall profits to those legacy registries.
When the current Verisign contract came before ICANN - the contract that gave Verisign .com in perpetuity - I voted against it in part because it had no mechanism to drive down the $6 fiat price that ICANN gifted unto Verisign.
There is a distinction between those legacy registries and those that have not yet been created. Legacy registries, such as those for .com and .net, have captive customers. These captives are people who have had no real choice of contract terms - they have been forced to build their brands and network names on Top Level Domains that are largely indistinguishable when measured in terms of contractual provisions and terms. It is necessary that these captive customers be protected against registry abuse. However, for future registries, if there were many choices and real competition, new customers could pick and chose among the offerings and obtain long term commitments to protect themselves from predatory practices by the registry. ICANN, unfortunately, has given no sign that it will ever allow such a system to be conceived much less that it be born and grow into a mature industry.
Real competition and innovation of product offerings by registries has been suffocated by ICANN's refusal to allow any except a very few rigidly limited new TLDs. So registrars are forced to resell at retail a product that at wholesale is largely undifferentiated. Consumers, who are at the end of the distribution chain, are still forced to chose among domain name products in which the principal differences are a few dollars in price and the means of maintaining name servers and contact information. This lack of deep differences between retail product offerings is a hallmark of a marketplace that has little more than a thin skin of competition over a highly non-competitive skeleton.
It is very sad that the United States Department of Commerce has created a system that causes this kind of market distortion. It is worse the the United States Department of Commerce has not only allowed, but actually supported, this kind of restraint of trade of the products related to the internet's domain name system. And it is downright detestable to consider how the United States Department of Commerce has fostered the false belief that ICANN is actually protecting the public against technical failures of the internet's domain name system or IP address allocation systems.
Time for Reformation of the Internet said many things concerning ICANN's regime of dogmatic absolutism rather than principled balancing of interests. I found much truth and merit in what was said.
Time for Reform only weakly addressed ICANN's failure to concern itself with the actual technical stability of the internet and ICANN's attempt to become the willing courtesan of the intellectual property industry.
Item #20 in Time for Reformation of the Internet was this:
20. The internet would improve if ICANN were simply to disappear
I have a great deal of sympathy for that assertion. But I also have concern about the transition that would follow. I wrote about exactly that point in my testimony to the US Senate in June 2002. Below is what I said in 2002. I believe that, except for the sale of the Network Solutions registrar by Verisign, that not much has changed in the intervening 2 1/2 years.
What Would Happen To The Internet If ICANN Were To Vanish?
Much of the debate over ICANN is colored by the fear of what might occur were there to be no ICANN.
ICANN does not have its hands on any of the technical knobs or levers that control the Internet. Those are firmly in the hands of ISPs, Network Solutions/Verisign, and those who operate the root DNS servers.
Were ICANN to vanish the Internet would continue to run. Few would notice the absence.
Were there no ICANN the DNS registration businesses would continue to accept money and register names. With the passage of time the already low standards of this business might erode further.
The UDRP (Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy) system runs largely by itself. The Federal ACPA (Anti Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act) would remain in place.
ICANN has already established a glacial pace for the introduction of new top-level domains. ICANN's absence will not cause perceptible additional delay in the creation of new top-level domains.
ICANN has already abrogated the making of IP address allocation policy to the regional IP address registries; those registries will continue to do what they have always done with or without ICANN.
ICANN has no agreements with the root server operators; the root servers will continue to be operated as an ad hoc confederation, as has been the case for many years.
The only function that would be immediately affected would be the IANA function. IANA is an important clerical job, particularly with regard to the country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs.) IANA is not a big job, nor does it have real-time impact on the Internet. (In fact there is a credible body of evidence to suggest that ICANN delays certain clerical tasks on behalf of ccTLDs for months on end in an effort to coerce ccTLDs to sign contracts with ICANN.)
There are those who will try to divert outside reforms of ICANN by asserting that touching ICANN will cause the Internet to collapse or otherwise be damaged. The truth is quite the reverse. ICANN's ties to the technical and operational stability of the Internet are tenuous at best. A full inquiry into ICANN, a full reform of ICANN, or a complete rebid of the agreements under which ICANN operates would not damage the Internet.
November 29, 2004
Time for Global Online Elections?
From Bret Fausett. Gee, ya think maybe ICANN will listen? Hell no.
Is it time to bring back the election of At-Large Directors? I think so. I've been reading the ICANN Strategic Plan. It's a nice document. These are all fine goals. But when you step back from it and think about the totality of what ICANN is trying to do, you realize that ICANN hasn't made any hard choices about priorities. The new budget allows it to fund everything. So let's get back to the At Large. Remember, one of the reasons we abandoned the concept of global, online elections was because it wasn't "affordable" (see 'Whereas' Clause #14). The new ICANN, however, can afford it. So when can we start? [Lextext]
November 20, 2004
Further follow-up on ICANN's so-called Strategic Plan
By Karl Auerbach
Like ICANN's former CRADA Report this "Strategic Plan" is buzzword-full but content-empty.
If we look into section 1 we find the following:
Section 1a.i: We see that ICANN is doing nothing more than planning to adopt better paper-pushing procedures to better serve the IETF when the IETF needs a number allocated.
Section 1a.ii: It is good that ICANN is thinking about cooperating in the construction of a DNS test bed. Some of us have been doing this kind of testing for years on our own dime and have been suggesting to ICANN that this would be a good thing to have. It is only this week that on the NANOG mailing list there has been a discussion of measurements being made privately about the question of routing jitter with regard to anycast roots. Unfortunately ICANN intends merely to "cooperate" - ICANN is not actually stating an intention to do anything more. ICANN is not committing to provide staffing, space, or funding for this. As usual, ICANN is making a promise to do nothing.
Also in Section 1a.ii we see that ICANN is planning on moving the L root server - again. The first move was described in the CRADA report nearly two years ago and, from my conversations with ICANN, was an expensive move that was fully intended to resolve all the issues that are apparently going to be re-solved. The term "Brownian motion" - motion for motion's sake - seems appropriate.
In Section 1a.iii ICANN promises to do more reporting. Given that ICANN has virtually no existing history of doing reporting - Where, for example, is the report on this summer's outage of .org? - any reporting would be an improvement over the status quo. However, the reporting that is enumerated by this section is nothing more than reports about business related activities rather than the kind of operational information that we need to evaluate how well the internet DNS and IP address systems allocation systems are running and how well ICANN is protecting us against technical instability in those systems.
In section 1a.iv ICANN promises to work harder to maintain the root zone file. That's nice. That file has a rate of change on the order of one item changed per day, and that is mainly changes in the NS records for ccTLD name servers. Verisign has been doing this job for years with only a few (and now quite ancient) problems - ICANN is making a big deal about an issue that has already been solved.
Section 1a.v contains a bold bit of claim jumping. In that section ICANN asserts that the L root server was "entrusted to ICANN". That is not true. The internet community has never "entrusted ICANN" with the operation of the L root server. The truth is that the L root server was entrusted to IANA, not to ICANN. ICANN operates the L root server only through ICANN's undertaking of the IANA function under a purchase order from the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration. Should ICANN relinquish or lose the IANA function (for example if the IETF transfers that function as part of the IETF's presently ongoing re-organization, then ICANN would have to say "bye bye" to the L root server.
Section 1a.v makes no service level commitments - so just like every other root server operator, ICANN (channeling for IANA) is unwilling to make any concrete service level promises to the internet community. The most that ICANN-as-IANA promises is to build what amounts to a routinely hardened facility and to chat it up with people in ICANN sponsored committees. ICANN needs to give enforceable, specific, and verifiable promises about server availability, responsively, and accuracy. In addition, ICANN/IANA needs to demonstrate a viable, and practiced, suite of disaster contingency plans and demonstrate that it has the human and fiscal resources to draw upon should the need arise.
Section 1b, beginning on page 32, is similarly full of sound and fury that, in the end, signifies nothing.
Section 1b.i is a laugh. ICANN has from the beginning promised to do these things yet it has never done so except twice. The first was with regard to internationalized domain names. The second was in response to Versign's "Sitefinder". In every other instance, ICANN has passively watched as other actors make decisions. For example, ICANN allowed the removal of IPv4 information from the root zone, an action that weakens the resilience of DNS during times of stress, without as much as a chirp of concern or even the ability to articulate reasons for its non-concern.
Section 1b.ii is simply a claim to a more expansive role for ICANN. We have plenty of groups already working on internet security. Even if ICANN could be a contender in this area it would be simply one more Johhny Come Lately. But ICANN has demonstrated an amazing incompetence in this area. For example ICANN has long known that data escrow would help DNS registrars recover from disasters. Yet ICANN has never bothered to require that registrars engage in good information protection practices. Given ICANN's general technical incapacities it would not be wise to allow ICANN to expand into yet another realm. In addition, one has to ask where is the community concensus that drove ICANN to put this idea into its "Strategic Plan"?
Section 1b.iii is a subtle misrepresentation - ICANN counts even vacuous "understandings" to be counted as firm "agreements". If one actually examines ICANN's existing or proposed "understandings" with root server operators and address registries one sees that they are documents that contain no binding obligations on either side. These understandings are more akin to papers describing a divorce than ones describing a partnership. The community of internet users is looking to ICANN for protection against network instability; yet ICANN has, through these understandings, abandoned any role of oversight.
Section 1b.iii also overstates the rate in which even these empty understandings are being entered into. One would think from the language of ICANN's plan that ccTLDs are anxiously queuing up in long lines to sign ICANN's "pay and obey" ccTLD agreements. In truth they are not - the rate of ccTLD agreements has been very slow and there is no sign that ICANN has done more than sign up the easy ccTLD pickings. Not even ICANN's home country, and the country of its founding governmental agency, has bothered to sign ICANN's ccTLD agreement.
As for the Strategic Plan's section 2 - "Competition and Choice" - all I can say is this: Why should ICANN even be engaged in what amounts to legislative activities that regulate business practices, determine property rights, impose judicial mechanisms, and select who among competitors can enter a marketplace?
There are two kinds of words - there are words that simply consume ink and occupy space. And there are words that communicate concrete ideas, intentions, and promises. With regard to ICANN's principal role as protector of internet stability ICANN has filled its so-called "Strategic Plan" with the first kind of words. There is nothing in this plan that says anything that goes beyond vague promises and platitudes. And to make it more unappetizing, the words that are used are the same tired words and empty phrases that ICANN has been pawning off ever since its inception.
There is one thing that can be said on a positive note: ICANN certainly put a lot of work into creating a pretty document.[CaveBear Blog]
November 17, 2004
First thoughts on ICANN's so-called "Plan"
ICANN at long last finally issued its so-called "Strategic Plan".
It's not a very good plan, at least not when viewed from the perspective of the users of the internet or from the perspective of a business that uses DNS or wants to enter the DNS business.
ICANN's plan does nothing to protect the technical stability of the net. ICANN is supposed to be our fire department to make sure that the net doesn't burn down. But ICANN seems rather more interested in trying to be the king of some other hill leaving the community of internet users unprotected and the internet vulnerable.
Below is the initial comment on this plan that I sent to ICANN's "comment" address:
There is nothing in this plan that deals with ICANN's primary mision: the technical stability of the internet's domain name and IP addressing systems.
To be more specific, there is nothing in this plan that indicates that ICANN will have any role or duty whatsoever regarding the ability of the upper layers of the domain name system (DNS) to operate reliabily, efficiently, promptly, and accurately.
There is nothing in this plan that deals with the proper preparation of the root zone file and its dissemination to root servers.
There is nothing in this plan that deals with responsible operation of the root servers in normal times or in times of stress.
There is nothing in this plan that deals with sensible and balanced allocation of IP addresses.
Instead this plan is completely about business and economic regulation and, by implication, about the prohibition of innovation that is not in accord with ICANN's business and economic rules.
That is not only *not* a narrow mission but it is also a completely inappropriate mission for ICANN. The mission that ICANN describes for itself is that of a national legislature or heavy regulatory agency.
The community of internet users require from ICANN a guarantee that the internet's core infrastructures including the upper tiers of DNS and IP address allocation operate reliably.
The internet community does not require a body that imposes economic, business, and social policy on the internet.
Yet it is that former requirement that this plan ignores and it is that latter non-requirement that this plan proposes.
Santa Cruz, California, USA
Former elected ICANN Director for North America
November 14, 2004
ICANN, VeriSign, and the Swamp
ICANN has initiated arbitration (before the ICC's International Court of Arbitration) against VeriSign under the .net Registry Agreement, seeking declaratory judgments that many things VeriSign has done or attempted to do over the years (Sitefinder, ConsoliDate, IDN, WLS, and stemming the abusive actions of shell registrars when they destructively query the registry for secondary market purposes) violate that agreement. [CircleID]
November 09, 2004
Trademark Law Gone Bad
Sometimes it takes a non-lawyer to show us just how far overboard the law has gone. In this case, it's trademark law and Cory's wonderful description of how TM lost its way.
Spurred by James Surowiecki's Wired piece on the decline of brand power, Cory looks back at how far we've come from the days when "consumer confusion" was the law's paramount concern.
Wendy: The Blog]
Says Cory: This is a timely piece because the rhetoric of branding has been used to make unprecedented incursions against privacy, competition and speech.
It used to be that trademarks were intended to protect "consumers" (that's us) from being tricked into buying goods under false pretenses. If it said "Coca-Cola" on the can, there had better be Coke inside, and not Pepsi or Crazy-Bob's-Discount-House-of-Soda brand. When a competitor of Coke's shipped a bottle of stuff that was misleadingly packaged or labelled, Coke's authority to sue its competition derived from its need to protect us, not its bottom line. It didn't get to sue because it owned Coca-Cola, but because it was acting as a proxy for its customers, who were being decieved by con-artists who mislabelled their goods.
But as time went by, trademarks stopped being about us and started being the embodiment of brands (which, as Surowiecki points out, are on the wane and were probably never as important as we thought to begin with).
This meant that trademarks weren't just things that helped the public know what they were buying -- they are a kind of pseudo-property. Pseudo-property that could be defended on the basis that it "belongs" to a company, who need to be protected from having the value of their marks "diluted" or "tarnished."
October 11, 2004
An Open Letter to NTIA, ICANN, and IANA
DNRC's Karl Auerbach has an excellent point about the "stability of the Internet" that is not being addressed by ICANN or others.
I am writing this note in order to express my concern about an impending change in the root of the Domain Name System (DNS) and two of the largest Top Level Domains (TLDs). I am concerned that there is a risk of disruption to the net that has not been adequately evaluated and I am concerned that this change is being deployed without adequate monitoring or safeguards. [CircleID]
September 30, 2004
Surprising Things in Today's Hearing
The ICANN Congressional hearings -- like most all Congressional hearings -- are typically dull. The testimony is scripted and well rehearsed, and little new information comes out. Today's hearing was no different. The interesting moments, all of which were unscripted in response to questions, came when:
- John Kneuer, NTIA, testified that ICANN staff and DOC/NTIA staff confer weekly, often daily, about ICANN's work and progress on the MOU. He also said that he and his staff meet regularly with ICANN stakeholders about ICANN's work.
- Mr. Kneuer and Paul Twomey suggested that the reason ICANN's strategic plan hadn't been released to the public yet (almost a year after the first draft circulated privately) might have something to do with confidentiality and trade secrets.
- Bill Manning, ISI, noted that the greatest threats to the stability of the Internet were the users.
September 25, 2004
Going Off the Rails
From DNRC Board Member Bret Fausett
Graeme Wearden, reporting in ZDNet UK: "Individual Internet users are being frozen out of a key debate on the future governance of the Internet, Web visionary Esther Dyson warned on Friday.... 'I feel the process is going off the rails,' Dyson told the audience at the debate organised by the Oxford Internet Institute and the Internet Society UK....According to Dyson, WGIG is not the right way to address the problems facing the Internet. 'When you concentrate power, whether it's the low-rent, measly power ICANN had, or full-blown global governmental power, that focus of power attracts the wrong people,' Dyson said. 'People who are self-appointed to represent other people are there, governments are there, the private sector is there, but the world at large isn't.'"
Yeah. What she said.[Lextext]
September 06, 2004
A Little Tale - From Karl Auerbach
Netburg is a nice place to live. It barely existed a decade ago. Today it is home to millions of people and corporations worldwide are moving their headquarters.
Netburg is built of wood, nice dry wood; the kind that catches fire easily.
Netburg has a problem. There are people and groups around the world who send incendiary devices into Netburg 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So far only small parts of Netburg have burned. But everyone knows that a big fire could happen at any time.
Netburg does not have a fire department. It has thirteen self-appointed fireman who have invested their own money in trucks and equipment. But those fireman aren't obligated to put out fires or to be impartial about choosing whose fires to put out and whose buildings it will let burn. To date these fireman have had the self motivation, the resources, and good will to do the job.
Six years ago, back in 1998, Netburg's traffic department empanelled a board of fire commissioners and instructed them to professionalize Netburg's fire prevention and firefighting systems. Nobody has ever explained why it was the traffic department rather than the city counsel or mayor rather that set up the fire commission . And nobody is sure whether the traffic department's actions are within its scope of authority or not. But that is another tale for another day.
To help get things started, the traffic department gave Netburg not only the right to decide who can build a home or business on each street in Netburg but also to charge a fee for making that decision. The traffic department told the fire commissioners that they could also levy a yearly charge on every home and business in Netburg. Few complained at the time: the traffic department had formerly been charging a $35 yearly fee and the fire commissioners lowered it to about $15 and practically nobody noticed that that $15 amount was an arbitrary figure and much higher than could be justified.
The traffic commission, the fire commissioners, and the firemen have worked to create a public belief that no other firemen ought to be allowed into Netburg. And the commissions have ceaselessly encouraged the public to believe that the commission is protecting Netburg against fires and that everything is safe and under control.
Unfortunately, Netburg's fire commissioners want to be real estate commissioners.
As a consequence the fire commission has done nothing to protect against fires. Netburg's fire commission has no fire station, no fire trucks, no hoses, no ladder. Netburg is about as well protected against burning down as Chicago was protected from Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
In the meantime, the fire commission has proven itself rather poor at the real-estate game. They have allowed only seven new houses to be constructed in Netburg during the last six years. And those houses are mostly small, shabby affairs. Some are so ill conceived that they are barely able to stand without being propped up.
Netburg is suffering from a dual curse: it is unprotected against fire and its real-estate industry is an over-regulated shambles with business practices that would embarrass even a used-car salesman.
I hope the reader recognizes Netburg as the internet and the fire commission as ICANN.
What's the point of this tale? It is this: ICANN has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to protect the internet from disaster.
instead, ICANN has squandered its entire existence pretending to be the Pooh-Bah of domain-name trademark rules and the Grand High Commissioner of domain name business practices.
ICANN has not suffered from its digression - ICANN's budget now wants to be $15,000,000(US) a year. ICANN's directors and staff flit around the world (and most do not fly coach class!) to be wined and dined and flattered and partied. And how the law firm that created ICANN is raking in the legal fees!
The internet, on the other hand, has been left unprotected and vulnerable.
ICANN has not done anything to improve the technical stability of the internet or to make the upper layer of DNS less vulnerable to attack or failure. The only protection has come from the efforts of an amazing cadre of independent actors who, perceiving the vacuum, have stepped in and assumed the job that ICANN promised that it would do.
These actors, however, are mortal or are institutions that have goals and budgets that may not always coincide with the level of effort required to continue in this role.
ICANN, by pretending that it is protecting the net, has created a grave danger.
The community of internet users has been misled by ICANN to believe that the net is being guarded. Yet ICANN, because it is engaged in other matters, has left the internet at risk, protected only by a few volunteers who are free to walk away at any time.
Netburg, the community of internet users, deserves better.
ICANN seems to be neither willing nor able to do what it was supposed to do in the first place, which is to ensure that the upper layer of the domain name system runs reliably, accurately, and efficiently 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
A city that has a fire department that doesn't care about putting out fires ought to replace its fire department.
ICANN has had six years to get its act together; there is no sign that it is improving. The internet community is paying for an ICANN that ensures the stable technical operation of DNS. We are not getting what we are paying for. How much longer are we willing to tolerate a status quo in which the entire internet is put at risk?[CaveBear Blog]
September 05, 2004
ICANN UDRP and Contract Disputes
When domain name conflicts between manufacturers and distributors rest on contractual disputes over the use of the trademark owners' marks, ICANN UDRP panels have frequently denied relief. See generally the cases cited and discussed in Western Holdings, LLC v. JPC Enterprise, LLC d/b/a Cutting Edge Fitness and d/b/a Strivectin SD Sales & Distribution, D2004-0426 (WIPO August 5, 2004) by Mark Partridge as sole panelist. The decision summarizes other ICANN UDRP decisions involving... [CircleID]
January 09, 2004
Is ICANN Blowing It Again?
VeriSign Naming and Directory Services will
change the serial number format and "minimum" value in the .com
and .net zones' SOA records on or shortly after 9 February 2004.
The current serial number format is
YYYYMMDDNN. (The zones are generated twice per day, so NN is usually either 00 or 01.) The new format will be the UTC time at the moment of zone generation encoded as the number of seconds since the UNIX epoch. (00:00:00 GMT, 1 January 1970.) For example, a zone published on 9 February 2004 might have serial number "1076370400". The .com and .net zones will still be generated twice per day, but this serial number format change is in preparation for potentially more frequent updates to these zones.
There should be no end-user impact resulting from these changes (though it's conceivable that some people have processes that rely on the semantics of the .com/.net serial number.) But because these zones are widely used and closely watched, we want to let the Internet community know about the changes in advance.
There is no reason to believe that ICANN was forewarned of this change.
This announcement generated more than 50 comments on NANOG's mailing list. At the end of of the day the consensus seemed to be that if properly contained within Versign's own TLD slave servers, that this change would not have a negative impact on the net.
There are a couple of assumptions in that consensus conclusion - the most important being the assumption that the only servers that use the zone created by Verisign are Versign's own servers for .com and .net.
There is good reason to question that assumption - I know that I have heard unsubstantiated rumors over the years that several large organizations run their own copies of the .com and .net zones in their own servers. It has been pointed out to the IETF that one of the major components of web-surfing delays is DNS resolution time. Two large ISPs, AOL and Earthlink, have been actively advertising about the fast response of their services. It would make a great deal of business sense for AOL or Earthlink to run such mirrors so that they could ensure that their users receive fast DNS responses.
What might happen if that assumption does not hold true? Let's posit the hypothetical that AOL or Earthlink mirrors the .com and .net zones on its own servers for use by its own users. This mirroring has, in fact, been part of those rumors I mentioned. Now, if my hypothetical were true, Verisign's change could cause AOL or Earthlink to become unsynchronized from the correct contents of .com or .net. That would be "instability" in spades for a lot of internet users.
Sure, I am positing a hypothetical example. But fiction, particularly when driven by strong business incentives, often becomes reality. Did anyone bother to verify beforehand whether Versign's unilateral change was really, truly, and sincerely confined exclusively to Versign's own herd of slave servers?
In addition, there is usually a right way and a wrong way to do things.
The "right way" (or in IETF terms, the "Best Current Practice") to make a zone file "serial number" go backwards has been set forth by the IETF - in section 7 of RFC2182.
Now, who or what is the body that is tasked with the job of ensuring the stability of DNS? In an acronym: ICANN.
We can't fault ICANN that it was not informed in advance.
But we can fault ICANN if it does not immediately respond, as it did in the case of Verisign's "Sitefinder" with a stop demand, a formal technical inquiry, and a formal written report.
Now, it is obvious to many of us that Verisign, which does have many very capable technical people on its staff, is capable of making this change without harm. But to come to that conclusion we have to accept, on nothing more substantial than blind faith, the assumption that the only existing slave servers are Versign's. And we have to make the further assumption that Versign's smart and capable people will actually make the change in the right way and not take shortcuts. We've seen examples of what bad things can happen when skilled people take shortcuts.
But just because something is obvious to a few skilled techies does not mean that there ought not to be a prior review and issuance of an opinion by ICANN, the body that has been established for the specific purpose of ensuring the stable operation of DNS.And ICANN should be concerned about another aspect - If ICANN lets this change by Versign pass without inquiry ICANN will greatly weaken its ability to confront a revival of Verisign's Sitefinder. Unless ICANN subjects this new change to the same scrutiny and process that it gave to Sitefinder, Versign is in a good position to assert that ICANN is operating either with an intent to harm Verisign or is simply bumbling along making arbitrary and capricious decisions.
Postscript: Verisign's new method, because it uses a 32-bit time
measured in terms of seconds since January 1, 1970 GMT, reminds us that an
event more formidable than Y2K, 19-Jan-2038, 03:14:07 AM GMT, is only 34 years away. Given the rapid ossification of the Internet, is 34 years really beyond the event horizon?) [CaveBear Blog]
January 07, 2004
Harvard Law School's distinguished Berkman Center for Internet & Society has published a preliminary study, "Public Participation In ICANN." ...The problem with the preliminary study is that it fundamentally misunderstands the role of ICANN in Internet governance. Specifically, ICANN's duty is not and should not be to simply carry out the will of the "Internet user community." Instead, ICANN's duty is to carry out the responsibilities the organization agreed to in... [CircleID]
December 13, 2003
ICC and the U.N. Takeover
An organization which purports to be "the voice of world business" is proposing a de facto U.N. takeover of ICANN. The proposal by a senior official of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) would place ICANN under the U.N. umbrella and give a strong role to U.N. agencies and to various national governments, including those that suppress free speech and free enterprise. In a move of breathtaking arrogance, the ICC refused to even invite ICANN or U.S. government representatives... [CircleID]
December 09, 2003
ICC Seeks U.N. Takeover While Excluding ICANN, U.S. Government from Meeting
This could be a completely interesting showdown. Something that absolutely must be watched.
An organization which purports to be "the voice of world business" is proposing a de facto U.N. takeover of ICANN. The proposal by a senior official of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) would place ICANN under the U.N. umbrella and give a strong role to U.N. agencies and to various national governments, including those that suppress free speech and free enterprise. In a move of breathtaking arrogance, the ICC refused to even invite ICANN or U.S. government representatives... [CircleID]
December 02, 2003
Why it's time to rein in ICANN
Sonia Arrison, director of technology studies at Pacific Research Institute, says it's time to rethink the concept of an Internet gatekeeper.
[...]To be sure, ICANN has a board of distinguished experts, including Internet legend Vint Cerf. But while the organization is key in helping to establish complex technical standards, it often finds itself steeped in controversy over what many see as its overzealous urge for policymaking.
Part of ICANN's stated purpose is to develop policy through "private-sector, bottom-up, consensus-based means," but as most people know, consensus is often impossible and issues must be settled in other ways. [...]
November 14, 2003
Court rules in favor of ICANN
In a move that will likely encourage further discrimination against any company that doesn't happen to be named 'Verisign,' ICANN has been given the green light to continue
A federal judge denies a preliminary injunction filed against the organization that oversees the Internet's domain name hierarchy and address space. [CNET News.com]
October 30, 2003
Top Level Domain Follies
From DNRC Board Member Karl Auerbach
Bret Fausett quite reasonably argues that ICANN's TLD (Top Level Domain) "test bed" is dead.I don't think that there ever was much life in that test bed.
I was trained in the hard sciences - mainly chemistry and physics. And I spent some of my undergraduate years doing research on high input-power chemical lasers. I also spent time in the soft sciences where I did research on patterns of urban mobility. In all of this work we used a technique called "the scientific method" - it involves observation, formulation of hypothesis, predictions based on the hypothesis, and experiments to test those predictions (and indirectly the hypothesis.)
ICANN never really followed any process, much less one as structured those used in the hard sciences, to focus its observations of the behavior of new TLDs. ICANN's information gathering was never better than ad hoc. And there were neither hypotheses, predictions, nor experiments. ICANN's TLD test bed process was not scientific; quite the opposite: it was chaotic and arbitrary.
Nor was ICANN's test bed process particularly useful for the creation of a body of data that might be useful for an unscientific after-the-fact inquiry. ICANN's data gathering, even when it was performed, was mainly of business information that has no apparent relationship to the stability of the internet's domain name system. No records were made of actual DNS activity and behavior as the new TLDs were being deployed. No measures were made of the accessibility or usability of those new TLDs.
(It wasn't that there was not interest - Louis Touton and I wanted to quantitatively monitor the cross-fade of queries away from the old .org servers and onto the new ones as part of the Verisign-to-PIR transition of .org. However, that effort was too low on ICANN's list of priorities and thus a golden opportunity to observe DNS behavior in the wild was lost. Such data would have been invaluable when trying to comprehend the impact of a future planned or unplanned operational transition of a large DNS zone.)
ICANN's TLD "test bed" has little value except as a body of anecdotal data.
I agree with Bret that we should abandon the pretense that there is a "test" in progress or that there ever really was a "test".
It is high time for ICANN to move forward on new Top Level Domains - and not merely of the kind that, even in the absence of real tests, have shown little, if any, evidence of cognizable benefit to the community of internet users.[CaveBear Blog]
October 24, 2003
A wonderful piece by DNRC Board Member Karl Auerbach
The people who want ICANN to create .travel are saying that ICANN's delay is "insufferable".
I have discussed the hubris of the .travel proponents in the past.
It is indeed insufferable that ICANN is delaying new TLDs - ICANN has demonstrated no reason why top level domains should not be created at a rapid rate. It is time for ICANN to adopt an combination auction/lottery system as has been proposed by several observers. See http://dcc.syr.edu/miscarticles/NewTLDs-MM-LM.pdf
The .travel people seem to believe, however, that they have some divine right to their own top level domain. They are incorrect.
Certainly they have a right derived from the continued existence of their application of year 2000. But each of the 39 other applicants who were not selected that year have that same right. There is no reason for any of us to believe that .travel will benefit the community of internet users. Rather .travel will be of value merely to one particular industry segment. If we are to allocate top level domains to industry segments, then there are certainly more deserving industries - farming, teaching, labor, and public health and safety all come to mind as being more socially valuable than the travel business.
Yes, ICANN's TLD policy is a disaster. But the damaged victim of that policy is not .travel. No. The real damage has been to the public who have been deprived of a meaningful and useful expansion of the internet name space.[CaveBear Blog]
Posted by mikki at 09:19 AM
September 26, 2003
GNSO Wimps out
More from Karl Auerbach
I see that ICANN's GNSO issued a resolution regarding the Verisign Registry Site Finder "service".
Verisign's action is very serious. Verisign's act repudiates the end-to-end principle, the foundation upon which the Internet is constructed. Verisign's act implies the end of coherent governance of the Internet and the abandonment of the net to monopolistic manipulation.
In contrast to the seriousness of Verisign's action, the GNSO's resolution is weak, equivocal, and timid.
In an article today, Verisign's CEO asserted that what Verisign has done is benign and that only a noisy few are concerned.
With timid and euphemistic resolutions such as the one passed by the GNSO, no one ought to be surprised if people begin to believe Verisign's words and "Site Finder" becomes the established status quo.[CaveBear Blog]
September 02, 2003
Bankrupt .MD Operator Protests ICANN Action on...
Once again, in a blinding display of openness and transparency, ICANN decides to overrun users and possibly even national interests (we don't know because they haven't told us....) in a secret plan to redelegate dot MD.
Read more from ICANNWatch.
Bankrupt .MD Operator Protests ICANN Action on .MD Redelegation [ICANNWatch]
September 01, 2003
ICANN Can't Take Care of Everything
Bruce Young tells a story of an Internet user who gets into trouble because "his" domain name was registered in the name of a web hosting provider that went bankrupt later on...As far as registrars are concerned, ICANN is currently doing its homework on domain name portability. As far as web hosting companies are concerned, though, these suggestions only look appealing at first sight. Upon... [CircleID]
August 26, 2003
House Committee to Hold Whois Hearings, Kowtow...
House Committee to Hold Whois Hearings, Kowtow to IP Interests [ICANNWatch]
August 19, 2003
ICANN: A Concrete "Thin Contract" Proposal
It looks as if ICANN is going to require applicants for new TLDs to agree (in advance) not to negotiate a changed contract with ICANN. We agree that streamlining the process is in everyone's interest. Along those lines, we are proposing a substantially thinner contract that ICANN and new registries could use. Existing registries should also be allowed to sign up to this contract, if they wish. [CircleID]
August 01, 2003
Quick links on the Senate ICANN hearing
July 31, 2003
On the upcoming hearings on ICANN by the US Senate
The Communications subcommittee of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding a hearing on ICANN today, July 31, 2003. at 2:30pm EDT. You can listen in via http://www.capitolhearings.org/ (scan down for the appropriate item for Room SR-253). I'm not sure where the written materials will be posted - I'll post the URL when I find out. I was a witness at the two prior hearing, one in 2001 and another in 2002 - it's quite an experience. My submission to this year's hearing is online at http://www.cavebear.com/rw/senate-july-31-2003.htm What's going to be said by the witnesses? I don't know. But I have some guesses: ICANN will once again try to make us believe that it is responsive to the public. NTIA will once again threaten to pull the contractual plug on ICANN. CDT will present its usual - an extremely competent and extremely reasonable position, wrapped in... [CaveBear Blog]
July 30, 2003
CDT Calls for Continued Oversight of ICANN
CDT Associate Director Alan Davidson will testify July 31 at a Senate hearing on domain name management and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN.) CDT supports ICANN's coordination of key Internet naming and numbering systems, but believes it demands greater public accountability and continued government oversight. CDT is also issuing a new report on July 31 suggesting how to measure ICANN's performance over time. July 30, 2003 [Center for Democracy and Technology]