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Group Blasts ICANN's Policies

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers is coming under new criticism from a group alleging the organization's structure has much to do with its failures.

The People For Internet Responsibility, a grassroots organization, criticized the group's policies. However, it was quick to point out that much of the blame was due to historical factors, not its founders or leadership.

Calling ICANN's solutions inadequate, PFIR placed the blame on structural and historical factors, saying it believed ICANN's directors were "genuinely attempting to do the best possible job that they could with highly complex, contentious, and thankless tasks."

PFIR's argument is essentially this: the group feels ICANN's chemistry is insufficient because of it's ad-hoc, "make the rules up as we go" style of regulation.

PFIR said that while this may have worked for ARPANET years ago, the rapid-fire evolution of the current Net in conjunction with the oodles of money swirling around in the new economy are making it impossible for an organization whose methods are prone to winging it.

The group also disapproves of what it considers to be ICANN's often too controlling nature when it comes to the administration of domain names. Moreover, it said it did not understand why ICANN chose to announce the impending arrival of new top-level domains, but did not specify any details.

PFIR also staunchly criticized ICANN's proposal to implement a $50,000 application fee payable by any entity that wishes to be the registrar for a new top-level domain. The organization said this would exclude many groups who are very capable of running a TLD, but do not have the cash onhand.

PFIR Co-Founder Peter G. Neumann stressed Monday that the summary was not a frontal attack on ICANN's directors.

"We're just at the beginning of a concept, which is saying that the current ICANN process is not working the way it was intended to," Neumann said. "They're trying. I think they're doing a good job as far as where they're going. They're much deeper issues. It's not just domain names. It's the whole issue of where is this thing going. Is this the future of the world, in some sense. At the moment there is no same, controlling force that is keeping it on a steady keel."

But, does PFIR offer a solution? The group said the Net and every business and individual user connected to it would be better served by an international organization with a balanced representation of interests, including governmental bodies and organizations, educational institutions, and other enterprises.

This new group would be much more formal in structure and would precisely-define delegations to represent a broad range of concerns and interests. Among a few tenets PFIR said it would like to see enacted would be that educational and non-profit research institutions and focused public service groups should have a say towards the Net's future as well as billion-dollar for-profit corporations.

"The wonderful thing about the Internet is that there is no controlling organization," Neumann said. "The problems from the Internet all arise from the fact that there is no controlling organization; it's a blessing and a curse."

An ICANN spokesman said the organization hadn't seen the report and could not comment.

Co-Founder Lauren Weinstein said Monday that PFIR was concerned that ARPANET's original ad-hoc ways of running things does not translate well for ICANN in the New Economy.

"The lack of structure makes it difficult when there is billions of dollars being spent in this industry," Weinstein said.

Weinstein also said he couldn't think of an equivalent in any sector that could be compared to the new organization he and Neumann have proposed.

"We are thinking in the broades