Dept. of Commerce Accused of Catering to Special Interests

The International Congress of
Independent Internet Users
(ICIIU) this week sent a letter to top goverment officials, accusing the U.S.
Department of Commerce and its National Telecommunications and Information
Administration of being engaged in an illicit process to turn over
regulatory control of the Internet to special interests.

The letter was sent to Janet Reno and Joel
Klein at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Inspector General, the
U.S. General Services Administration and the G.A.O, and the House and
Senate Appropriations, Ethics, and Commerce Committees. The group believes
that the Commerce Dept. to be in violation of the NTIA’s White Paper on the Internet, and of
federal antitrust, administrative, and contracting laws.

ICIIU’s letter states, “they are using incorrectly
granted government contracts
to escape debate, accountability, and
Congressional oversight.” The group contends that the use of the U.S.
government’s contracting authority is illegal, since the regulation of
communications is “not a service or good within the meaning of the laws
that define the federal government’s purchasing power,” and cites Purchase
Order No. 40S8NT067D20 (NTIA/ICANN). This purchase order is for the
delegation of Internet address allocation authority, and ICIIU believes it
is in violation of Federal Acquisition Regulations (48 CFR Chapter 1 ), for
these reasons:

  1. no competitors were allowed to bid for the contract
  2. the offer was not publicly made
  3. it was not put out for bids
  4. ICIIU believes that the service being contracted is not a service, but
    rather a regulatory function that falls under the Commerce Clause of the
    U.S. Constitution, which means that it cannot be contracted without
    Congressional legislation, and is not within the charter of the NTIA
  5. the contractor’s (NTIA’s) representative, Beckwith Burr, played a large
    part in the formation of ICANN, the recipient of the contract
  6. Burr is personally acquainted with the companies and individuals
    financing the recipient, ICANN, and helped its acquisition of the contract
  7. Burr has not made sure that the recipient, ICANN, conformed to the
    contract requirements of the NTIA
  8. Burr sits on an advisory committee of ICANN (the Governmental Advisory
    Committee [GAC]), which is a “per se organizational conflict”
  9. the CEO of ICANN, president Michael Roberts, is the representative of
    an organization (EDUCAUSE), whose contracting services with ICANN fall
    within those subject to Purchase Order No. 40S8NT067D20, and he is
    therefore in conflict of interests with the award
  10. members of ICANN’s Board of Directors are representatives of special
    interests, including IBM, that will have an unfair competitive advantage in
    controlling the contracted Internet services

For additional information on ICIIU’s protest, visit ICIIU’s homepage.

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