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[ NNSquad ] Saving the Internet by Ending ICANN

                    Saving the Internet by Ending ICANN


It was a bittersweet moment for those of us who have spent many, many
moons concerned about the increasingly erratic course of ICANN,
especially in recent years culminating in their atrocious,
extortionist, and exploitative get-rich-quick "domainer" scheme for
vast numbers of new top level domains.

Last week at one of their typically exotic meeting locales -- this
time in Costa Rica -- ICANN's outgoing CEO publicly blasted his own
organization's rampant conflicts of interest.

"How," asked Rod Beckstrom, "can [ICANN place commercial and financial
interests in their appropriate context] if all top leadership is from
the very domain-name industry it is supposed to coordinate


In all my past criticisms of ICANN, I've always concentrated on what I
believed to be the insurmountable structural problems with the
organization vis-a-vis the evolving Internet.  I have purposely
refrained from pointing fingers at the behaviors of any specific
individuals within ICANN itself.

But with his own words, Beckstrom invoked into full view the demons
that have poisoned a once fine organization irreparably to its very
core, beyond even the scope that I noted in my recent "Terrorism,
Money, the Internet, and ICANN" posting ( http://j.mp/xjhwTC [Lauren's Blog] ).

For as long as I can remember, those of us who have felt that the
ever-changing ICANN status quo was unsustainable, and leading toward
ever darker outcomes, have been faced with two main arguments in

We've been told repeatedly to wait, that "ICANN will be fixed." 

ICANN will not be fixed.  It cannot be fixed.  It is structurally
constituted in a manner that cannot reasonably serve the broad
interests of today's global Internet community and the world community
at large.

Year after year we've watched ICANN suddenly shift and sway like the
proverbial bull in the china shop, smashing past promises and
pronouncements in its wake.  And now, like an out of control starship
that has lurched beyond a black hole's event horizon, it is being
sucked inexorably toward a dark chaos of greed, a maelstrom of its own

We've also been told -- repeatedly -- that ICANN must be preserved
because "any alternative might be far worse" -- with the United
Nations and/or ITU often cited as the most feared possibilities.

An Internet takeover by the ITU or UN could indeed be catastrophic.
But assuming that continued blind support of ICANN would necessarily
hold off such forces has been foolhardy in the extreme.

The day of reckoning is already speeding toward us.

Around the world, countries fed up with ICANN are pushing for exactly
the scenario of ITU, UN management of the Net that has been
justifiably feared for so long.

And even here in the U.S., our own government's Commerce Department
NTIA has refused -- at least for now -- to renew ICANN's coronation
for one of its key Internet functions.

The upshot of all this -- the output of the ICANN equation -- now
seems glaringly obvious.

We have three choices, but we no longer have the luxury of generous
time in which to make our selection among them.

We can keep throwing "good money after bad," and despite all evidence
that ICANN has become unsalvageable, continue to hope for miracles, as
forces antithetical to the global Internet community continue to array
themselves around us, whispering in the darkness.

Or, we can sit back and perversely enjoy the spectacle of efforts to
turn the Internet into a nightmarish model of cloistered and
suffocating UN/ITU micromanagement, leading to a very different -- and
I would assert vastly inferior and potentially repressive -- Internet
than we know today.

Or ... we can chart a new route entirely.  Recriminations regarding
how we reached this stage are not particularly useful towards
productively moving forward.

Instead, we can start right now -- today -- toward the creation of a
new purpose-built international organization (or organizations)
specifically dedicated to the tasks of completely supplanting ICANN
over time -- for the benefit of the global community, not mainly the
well-heeled interests at the top of the current Internet DNS food

These new creations would not be weighed down with the political and
historical baggage of either ICANN nor other currently existing
organizations.  They would move us productively forward for the
Internet of the 21st century, without having to continually dissemble
the policies of the past.

This is not a simple task.  It will take much time to reach full
fruition and there is no guarantee of success.  The domainer and other
selfish entities benefiting from ICANN policies today -- and looking
forward to even vaster riches tomorrow -- will not see their amoroso
fade from the scene without a fight.

The decision time is now.  The longer we wait to start toward a new
way, a new alternative to ICANN, the more constrained our operational
options become, and the more likely that the Chimera awaits us.

Please let me know if you or your colleagues would like to help in
such an effort.

Thanks very much.  Take care, all.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Data Wisdom Explorers League: http://www.dwel.org
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren / Twitter: http://vortex.com/t-lauren 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com

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