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Paper Refutes ICANN 'New World Order'

'Of the people, for the people and by the people' will be a thing of the past if the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has his way, a white paper publicized Friday afternoon finds.

Executives at New.net compiled testimony and suggestions from some of the organization's most vocal critics to rebut M. Stuart Lynn's proposal last week that ICANN, and the Internet in general, is better off represented by world governments, and not the public.

New.net is an alternative domain name registry that does away with ICANN's ability to control all top-level domains (TLDs) on the U.S. root server. It's a highly-successful workaround that has many at ICANN steamed because it allows people to use any name or extension they desire, regardless of its "real" place in the U.S. root server.

David Hernand, New.net CEO, said the white paper his company put together was an attempt to be "brutally honest" about the problems at ICANN and what changes can be made to make it better.

He agrees with Lynn's assessment that ICANN is broken, but from there they take drastically different approaches.

"Lynn's proposal is one we characterize as a utopian vision of world government," Hernand said. "The idea you can have a quasi-private, quasi-public entity with only some national authority is unrealistic. To have a quasi-private organization enact regulatory limits on social and economic policies is offensive to the rights of countries around the world.

"(ICANN's) answer is to say, 'it didn't work before, but lets take out the representation entirely and solve that by putting in a few governmental representatives,'" he continued. "It's irrational and unrealistic to create this private, governmental body and not think it won't have a negative affect on the global economy. We don't think that's a prescription for success."

The report's contention is free markets, not government meddling, is the answer to fixing ICANN's current woes. By shifting the organization's emphasis away from regulation and towards the role a trade association plays it will be successful, the report asserts.

The white paper comes up with four other methods that will keep the balance of power out of ICANN's hands. They are:

  • Greater reliance on local vs. global regulation -- individual countries are much more adept at protecting its interests than a global hegemony
  • Continued control of the U.S. root server by the U.S. government -- .com, .net, .org and the other seven TLDs are managed by ICANN; outright control hasn't been given by the Department of Commerce, and the government's ownership of the root server ensures national interests are kept
  • Greater reliance on market forces over regulation -- "The market has a canny way of managing the products that come out, so if you have a product that comes out and is popular, it succeeds," Hernand said. The unpopular programs will quickly weed themselves out, he said
  • Autonomy for ccTLDS -- ICANN has spent the past two years trying to bring foreign countries into the fold, unsuccessfully.