‘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
- 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.