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[ NNSquad ] Direct From ICANN Paris Meeting: Surprise! The Money is What Matters!

From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
To: "ip" <ip@v2.listbox.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 10:31:17 -0700
Subject: [IP] Direct From ICANN Paris Meeting: Surprise! The Money is What

From: Lauren Weinstein [lauren@vortex.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:15 PM
To: David Farber
Cc: lauren@vortex.com
Subject: Direct From ICANN Paris Meeting: Surprise! The Money is What Matters!

     Direct From ICANN Paris Meeting: Surprise! The Money is What Matters!


Greetings.  Since my posting yesterday
( http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000393.html ) expressing strong
distaste for ICANN's plans to vastly expand the global top-level
domain (gTLD) naming system, I've received some interesting analysis
and reports from the current Paris ICANN meeting itself.  They boil
down to one inescapable and extremely unfortunate fact.

ICANN has seemingly become dangerously beholden to moneyed
interests, and pretty much everyone else now gets short shrift -- to
the detriment of the Internet and its users at large.  I don't even
really blame ICANN's people and participants for this per se --
structural problems with ICANN, some reaching back to its
essentially ad hoc creation in the first place (and arguably to the
death of Internet pioneer Jon Postel) have essentially guaranteed
this state of affairs.

While there do appear to be attendees at the Paris meeting who are
concerned broadly about DNS stability under the new ICANN plan, the
vast bulk of attendees see the upcoming gTLD gold rush as yet
another way to line their pockets with greenbacks and euros -- the
vast majority of attendees are apparently registrars and registries
(and their minions) -- they know which side their bread is buttered

Priorities at the meeting were reportedly set in the ICANN version
of the Twilight Zone.  While long-winded (and palpably boring)
monologues restating existing positions on squeezing money out of
new gTLDs took most of an afternoon, truly important issues like
IPv6 reportedly got barely five minutes.

One correspondent expressed to me his belief that the complicated
(and still incomplete in key respects) ICANN procedures would likely
keep us from being flooded with millions of new gTLDs overnight --
but implied (and I agree with this part completely) that voluminous
and expensive litigation by particularly aggressive and militant
applicants could result in literally any outcomes, however bizarre
and disruptive to the Internet and its users -- and the world at
large -- those outcomes may be.  I would add that this particular
correspondent took a much more upbeat stance in a public posting on
a major mailing list today -- leaving out most of the strong
misgivings and concerns that they expressed to me in private
e-mail.  I don't care to speculate on the reasons for this

I was also blamed indirectly for the problems.  Participants in Paris
who bemoaned the current state of affairs regarding ICANN apparently
expressed some exasperation that interested parties (such as
myself) -- who are concerned about genuinely important Internet issues --
haven't actively participated in the ICANN process, attended the
meetings, and otherwise tried to alter the existing ICANN trajectory
into a sensible course.

Outside of the fact that many persons -- including me -- don't have
the resources to fly around the world to frequently exotic ICANN
meeting locales (at this stage, paying for gas just to get around
L.A. is a concern), there is another key factor at work.

With truly the greatest of respect for ICANN's hard-working people,
I still would suggest that many observers of ICANN feel that its
structural processes are broken in ways that cannot be significantly
influenced by persons with contrarian views vs. ICANN's existing
modus operandi.

Many of us believe that a dramatic change in "Internet governance"
is long overdue, and that this cannot be accomplished within the
existing structure of ICANN, despite ICANN's best efforts.  Such a
belief does not engender an obvious enthusiasm for spinning wheels
and fighting battles whose outcomes are usually predetermined.

However, I do have a few ideas for useful new gTLDs.  How about:

dot -- oh, you get the idea.

When the most accurate way to predict the outcome of
controversial Internet technical issues is to employ the maxim
"Follow the Money!" -- well, to call it a sad state of affairs
is a supreme understatement.

- --Lauren--
Lauren Weinstein
lauren@vortex.com or lauren@pfir.org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, NNSquad
   - Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com

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