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July 03, 2002

Return ICANN to the Commerce Dept.

As I casually call for returning ICANN as a government agency, Martin Wisse asks the obvious question, "which government? US? Yeah, right. UN? More clueless then ICANN on internet matters..."
...And my obvious answer is the US Commerce Department which issues ICANN its contract. No big fan of US government imperialism over the Net necessarily, but subcontracted imperialism is worse-- corporate dominance without the democratic controls.
...And a bit more blatantly obvious US governance will force the international discussion on ICANN issues to be more serious.
...I think there should be a transition to a more internationally-based democratic organization, but I'd rather have the negotiations happen under the glare of public procedures required for a government department like Commerce.
...Too many of the Internet advocates think there is some magic "civil society" alternative to government control; see the Internet Democracy Project and even more so the Civil Society Internet Forum. But I agree with Andy Oram, an editor at O'Reilly, that with a system so broke, the best thing to do is roll back the process to where it started, at the Commerce Department, and start from there.
...The whole issue of domain names is enmeshed in government rules, from copyright to trademark to privacy laws, to delude ourselves that we can bootstrap our way to some magic alternative to government. Worse, the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Process used by ICANN has given trademark holders more rights than under regular law.
...So we wouldn't do worse with the Commerce Department having to at least follow the law and if it suffers the flack of international abuse, all the better. Maybe we'll actually get somewhere, rather than spinning the wheels of the unaccountable ICANN club.
...For more anti-ICANN information, also check out ICANNWatch

Posted by Nathan at July 3, 2002 08:38 AM

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