December 30, 2005

A Question On Claims of Executive Power

Our president has made expansive claims to executive powers.  I, personally, don't think that those claims are valid.  However, let me assume for the moment that I am wrong and that the president does, in fact have those powers.

The question is this: To what degree are those powers vested solely in the biological person who occupies the office of the president and thus may not be delegated?

We know, for example, that the president can not delegate his/her power to sign or veto legislation, just as a member of Congress can not delegate his/her power to vote.

Thus, perhaps it may be that, in the absence of enabling legislation from Congress, that the powers claimed by the president exist only in the person of the president, and that perhaps the president might personally be able to go abroad and abduct suspects, personally transport them, and personally abuse and interrogate them.  But through what means is that power, assuming that it exists, delegated to people who do not hold the Constitutional office of the President?

Posted by karl at 11:49 PM

December 29, 2005

.VanNuys - Fast Times at Internet High

I saw in today's news that US National Film Preservation Board has selected Fast Times at Ridgemont High to be included in the National Film Registry.

That deserves a top level domain (TLD) - .VanNuys.

Huh?

Well, in case you didn't know, the school used in the film is Van Nuys High School (in the San Fernando Valley part of Los Angeles.)  And if there is any high school that can claim the title of the home of the internet, it is Van Nuys High.

VNH can claim as graduates Vint Cerf, Jon Postel, Steve Crocker, and, of course, myself.

And yes, it was exactly like the movie.

Posted by karl at 3:03 PM

An Analogy: Europe is to the US controlled GPS as Europe is to the US controlled DNS root?

An Analogy: Europe is to the US controlled GPS as Europe is to the US controlled DNS root?

That's not a very good title is it?  But it does express the point I want to make.

This week the European Union launched the first satellite of its own global positioning system, Galileo.

One has to wonder why the Europeans feel they need to do this.  Isn't the GPS system run by the United States a perfectly good system?  Perhaps the European's have reason to fear that the US might use it's control over GPS in ways that promote the US interest but which ignore the needs of Europeans users?  Or might the Europeans simply have a better technology or feel that they can partake of the revenue to be generated by selling position services?

It does not take any particular leap of imagination to see the European position with respect to GPS as a foreshadow of its position with respect to the internet's domain name system.

Why should we continue to think that Europe (or China or any other large bloc) is going to adhere to the US controlled DNS root?

Europeans, and others, have good reason to look on the US role over DNS with suspicion, particularly after the US tantrum over .xxx and the arm twisting by the US at the recent UN WSIS meeting in Tunisia.

The shadow of uncertainty over the continuous, unbiased, and accurate provision of GPS services also falls over the DNS root.  To the degree that there is concern that the US might manipulate, or even partially disable GPS, there is equal reason to be concerned that the US might manipulate, or even disable parts of the domain name root, or make it less function (or give distorted results) to some users who are ill favored in the eyes of the US government.

Equally, the opportunity to innovate and to derive revenue from a European GPS also exists with regard to the provision of DNS root services, the licensing (for a fee) of top level domains, the generation and sale of marketing (or intelligence) data from the query stream, and the sale of preferential response rates.

Posted by karl at 1:27 AM

December 16, 2005

Revisiting the idea (the very stupid idea) of sponsored top level domains

ICANN loves "sponsored" top level domains.  It has given us TLDs for co-ops, Catalonian speakers, "professionals" (except for the world's oldest profession), travel businesses, etc.

That world of "sponsored" TLDs is so exciting and vibrant!  And so useful too!

So in a moment of unrestrained excitement over sponsored TLDs, I have come up with some ideas for new sponsored TLDs.

I'll begin with ".family".  And by this I don't mean some neutered and sterile Disneyesque kind of family.  Appropriate residents under my .family would present content describing how families are created, including biological details, and methods for keeping control of family size (which would, of course, include those providing abortion services.)

And then I'd add ".christian" (and other TLDs for other major religions.)  As sponsor I'd be able to say who is worthy to have a name under .christian and who is not.  For starters, I'd make sure that the list of excluded names includes "Robertson", "Dobson", "Falwell" - they would be vectored over to the .ElmerGantry TLD.

And then there's ".fruitcake".  This TLD would give free names to those who claim to have been kidnapped by space aliens,  practice feline phrenology, or believe that "intelligent design" should be taught in schools.

What is ICANN's policy about "sponsored" TLDs doing to the internet?  The best way to answer is to draw a parallel:  What ICANN is doing to the internet is similar to what would have happened had some 16th century ICANN forced Gutenburg to use his new printing press to print nothing but Sharper Image catalogues and Wal Mart flyers.

Posted by karl at 1:20 AM

December 7, 2005

Bret's Sensible Approach

Bret Fausett made, as he usually does, a very sensible suggestion to ICANN.

It is in rough alignment with a paper entitled Governing the Internet, A Functional Approach that I presented at the ITU's Workshop on Internet Governance in the winter of 2004.

Bret suggests that ICANN unbundle issues that it has unnecessarily linked together.  I went further and described a reconstruction of ICANN into several distinct institutions of internet governance, each focused upon, and limited to, one single tightly focused issue.

Posted by karl at 11:47 PM

December 5, 2005

ICANN Forgets WSIS In Record Time

I noticed today that the "real-time captioning" shown on ICANN's website at http://www.icann.org/meetings/vancouver/ is missing the session on WSIS and what happens after WSIS.

That session was transcribed.  It ought to be online, but it seems to be absent.  Is it there and I'm not seeing it?

Posted by karl at 2:38 PM

December 3, 2005

Public Comments/Questions - Finally

Public Comments have finally begun - there's only 45 minutes for this, a very sad state of affairs.  The line of people waiting to speak reaches way back - at least 15 people so far.

The proponents of .XXX are at the microphone - it strikes me that they are being royally scrod.  I wonder about ICANN's transparency - will ICANN reveal which board members agreed to change the agenda.  It is certainly a failure of proper corporate process if a single board member has the ability to usurp and change the agenda.

I'm reminded that Paul Twomey the other day mentioned during a session that the 7% solution found in the proposed ICANN-Verisign contract was derived during conversations with the US government.  One has to wonder at the assertion that this contract was not a product of government intervention.

Becky Burr is asking some hard questions about GAC processes and what happens to .XXX should the GAC dally.

The GAC, the GAC, the GAC - I'm reminded that it is possible to argue that because of the GAC ICANN falls under the definition of a "subversive organization" as defined by sections 35002 and 35003 of the California Corporations Code. (notice that the definition only requires either part (a) or part (b), not both.  It is not at all clear to me that section 35004 provides an exemption for ICANN.  Needless to say, this statute is a silly hangover from the McCarthy era, and I hope it is nothing more than an amusing sidenode.

Edward Haasbrook is complaining (actually its a continuation of many months of complaints) about the closed process through which ICANN approved .travel.  He's asking, actually demanding, that his request for independent review be honored, and he is willing to pay the costs that ICANN demands.  It does seem that ICANN is trying to skulk around and hide.  Vint said that ICANN's general council will follow up - tomorrow - one wonders whether this will actually happen, and one wonders why it took this kind of forceful complaint to instigate any response on the part of ICANN.  I think Ed deserves his review.

Now someone is asking for a .BERLIN TLD.  (It's actually part of a broader statement asking for a more liberal policy on new TLDs.)

Rick Wesson is at the microphone - He's emphasizing ICANN's need for established processes and trust in those processes.  I'm not sure whether he's referring to .XXX, new TLDs, the ICANN-Verisign agreement - but he's making a good point that ICANN is risking losing what remaining credibility it might have.  Applause from the audience.

Ten minutes left - 8 people still in line.

Milton Mueller - Is pointing out that ICANN is jumping to the tune called by US gov't and GAC, thus adding uncertainty and discriminatory elements to processes that ought to be neutral and objective rather than biased and subjective.  1. Wants .xxx to be voted on tommorrow despite US gov't and GAC (I strongly agree).  2. Open up GAC meetings - no more closed meetings. (I agree!)  Much applause.  Vint responds - says "Governments are part of ICANN process" and that their request for additional time is "not unreasonable".  (My response to Vint: why when GAC asks for things it is "not unreasonable" but when internet users ask, it is dismissed out of hand?

4 minutes left - 10 people in line

GAC person is saying that GAC has website and forum.  Says that GAC "strives for" open meetings but then backs up and says they need private time.

Now - complaints about quality of ICANN translations into other languages.

Followed by Q on when we can expect new TLDs: Vint replies (paraphrase) that it will wait until TLD "process" is established.  Sigh. I guess that is code for "never".

Vittorio: Agreeing with Milton that ICANN is "changing rules in the middle of the game".  Is asking that ICANN begin "proper" reform process.  (I'd certainly agree that the Stuart Lynn "reform" was highly prejudiced and contrived.)  Vint is saying that board doesn't always know when a reply is expected, asks that comments contain statement that the favour of a reply is desired.

We are now into overtime - 8 people in line.

Elliot (Tucows): About governments' role in ICANN: Emphasizing need for many new GTLDs to solve many problems. (I agree) Asks that rather than GAC dealing with .XXX that it deal with general process of new TLDs.  (I personally feel that ICANN/GAC/IP industry has created a process that looks too deeply into irrelevant factors to the degree that the result is stagnation.)

Comment from Internet NZ - about meetings and cost of hosting.  (Did I mention that the meeting committee report seemed to indicate that ICANN has no present intention of ever again meeting in its home jurisdiction?  That seems very bad.  Did I misread that or miss something?)

Some local guy - is saying that his business (writing code?) depends on ICANN.  (I kinda wonder how in the world his business depends on an entity (ICANN) that protects internet stability in about the same way that FEMA protected New Orleans.)

Comment from ALAC person - noting that TLD process is so slow and keeps getting slower to the degree that it is impeding innovation.

Izumi: Asks are ICANN meetings for attendees to talk to attendees or attendees to talk to ICANN.  He also looks at it slightly differently: Is ICANN structure OK and the people are not working, or is the ICANN structure wrong.  Reraised my point about whether it's time to pull the plug on ALAC.  Noted that ICANN revealed to hotel who was attending via ICANN, and that that is somewhat of a privacy violation.

Mike Nelson, IBM: (A voice from ICANN's early days): Agreeing that ICANN meetings are too long, so long that many people simply do not come.  Commenting on Verisign contract - asks whether fee could be percentage rather than fixed amount. (My question, percentage of what? If it's percentage of profit margin on top of cost, then I'm agreeable.)  Is he talking about ICANN component of fee and not Verisign part?  Palage - calls it "licensing fee or licensing surcharge", says that this may depend on TLD business model.  (I'm not hearing a lot of concrete discussion here, I'd like to hear more.)

Plzak - wants (jokingly) to sing "Good Night Irene" (which if I remember right has some bawdy elements).

Becky Burr again (last in line): Saying .xxx is different and rule changes are appropriate, but that the .xxx folks have been working above board for years to discuss and establish the rules.

More people in line - 30 minutes into overtime.

Twomey - talking about scalability of processes.  Strikes me as odd to talk about scalability when ICANN has derailed TLD approval on single digit numbers.  Paul seems to be assuming that all future TLD applications will require the silly and intensive (and improperly intrusive) degree of inspection that ICANN is applying today.

Chuck Gomes (Verisign) - Asks that GAC improve its processes so that it can respond in timely manner.

David Johnson - On scalability of process point raised by Paul T. - asks that contract terms be subject to "sunset" provisions, so that we don't keep building ever more complex mechanisms but that we should strive to simplify rather than accrete.

My final comment - I wish people would learn to not operate their wireless computers in "ad hoc" mode.  GRRRR.  It's time for me to head to the airport.

Posted by karl at 1:36 PM

IANA Report

I'm listening to the IANA report right now. (By-the-way, the public have still not yet had an opportunity during this "Public Forum" to raise issues or ask questions.)

I'm reminded of the difference between the IANA of today and the IANA of yesteryear.

Several years ago - rather more than 10 years ago - a rather active member of the internet community got married.

I thought it would be nice to give as a wedding present a set of his and her's protocol numbers.  A couple of friends, one of whom was on the IAB, decided to join-in.

So we contacted IANA (actually we contacted the person who is IANA - things were much more personal then) and asked.  And we received.  We obtained a pair of rather obscure protocol numbers - the value of which was based on the wedding date.

Somehow I suspect that that kind of gift would be hard to obtain these days.

Posted by karl at 12:10 PM

New TLDs - What About the Existing Applications from Year 2000?

There is a lot of noise here at the ICANN meeting about new TLDs, particularly .xxx.

ICANN tends to forget that there are roughly 40 other applications on the table.

In year 2000 ICANN took application fees - $2,400,000 - from 47 applicants.  ICANN granted 7.  The remaining applications were designated as still pending.

And they are still pending.

When is ICANN going to give these people their answer?  They paid $2,000,000 for their applications.  ICANN's delay has cost the applicants an unreasonable amount of money; many applicants have simply faded away.

ICANN has made a mockery of process; ICANN has turned TLD applications into an exercise like that described by Dickens in Bleak House - a process that may last lifetimes.

Posted by karl at 11:46 AM

ICANN Security Committee to Comment on Competing Roots

It was mentioned today, almost in passing, that ICANN's so-called Security and Stability committee will be making an inquiry into competing roots.

Do you expect this to be a fair and impartial inquiry?

Given that ICANN is in competition with competing root systems, might this report be rather more like General Motors issuing a report on the safety (or lack of) of automobiles from Ford?

Posted by karl at 11:39 AM

ICANN Swag

Here at the ICANN meeting, there are vendors and interest groups - you can get "O" caps from overstock.com, water bottles, and the like.  Although swag is given away it is paid for, it is not free of cost

Vendors and advocates absorb that cost.

But there are others who are inappropriately putting that cost onto the community of internet users: ICANN's Ombudsman is giving out ICANN luggage tags!  Wow, I can only wonder at the mentality that felt that ICANN's money should be wasted this way.  In this same room only a short time ago we heard ICANN's financial report in which the point was made once again that ICANN's financial needs always exceed its revenues.

I'm sitting here listening to ICANN's ombudsman who is self-justifying his nearly absolute disengagement from deeply entrenched and long-lived ICANN's procedural failures.  I was amused to hear him recite, without attribution, something I had previously said to him in an email.

ICANN sold us the ombudsman as a partial compensation for ICANN's evisceration of the public voice within ICANN.  It is very sad that ICANN's ombudsman has cast his role in the small, so small that it can be represented by a throw-away luggage tag.  It is sadder still that ICANN's board goes along yet another broken promise.

Update: It's not luggage tags, it's keychain fobs.

Posted by karl at 11:23 AM

Wasting Time

Yesterday was the first half of ICANN's "Public Comment Forum" - it ran out of time, people who wanted to speak had to limit their comments, and some people who wanted to speak did not get a chance.

At least an hour of that meeting was taken up by "reports" - such as travellogs about cities where future meetings will be held.

Today's meeting is also a "Public Comment Forum" - and we are now nearly 90 minutes into yet more "reports".

What I would like to know is this:  Shouldn't Public Comment Forums be used for public comment and not be filled with "reports" (many of which are rather vacuous)?

Posted by karl at 10:20 AM

ASO Report at ICANN Vancouver - Looking Back to 1990

I'm sitting here listening to the ASO report - That's the IP address part of ICANN, a part that ICANN has abandoned into the hands of the regional IP address registries (RIRs).

In 1990 the IETF held its 18th meeting here in Vancouver.

And it was here in Vancouver at that 1990 meeting where we did the very first calculations of the rate of consumption of IPv4 address space. (There was no IPv6 at the time.)  It is a story that is not well known - it isn't politically correct.

The IETF is known for its "working groups".  And one very unofficial working group was the "TWG" - the Trollop Working Group.  It's first "meeting" was at the 1990 Vancouver IETF.  Meetings were held at several subsequent IETFs.

The TWG consisted of an evening spent touring the host city's strip joints and usually involved the consumption of pizza and beer.

Well, one's attention tends to drift - after a while all of those brass poles begin to look the same.  So a couple of us somehow started to discuss the IP address space in general and the rate of consumption of addresses in particular.

Imagine the following scene: a dark smokey bar surrounding a central stage lit by colored lights and populated by brass poles and "performers".  Most of the customers' eyes are focused on the performers.  But at one table a couple of geeky looking guys are scribbling numbers, equations, and diagrams on napkins.

Thus was born the internet's first qualitative and quantitative projections of the consumption and ultimate exhaustion of IP address space.

Posted by karl at 10:10 AM

December 1, 2005

A View From Vancouver

This is the strangest of ICANN meetings.  Several registrars sit in the lobby making deals; other registrars are very angry about the Verisign-ICANN "settlement"; there are domain name owners who are equally ticked off about the same thing; there are the .xxx people wearing scowls, GAC people wearing deep blue, and often shiny, suits; there are trade booths (wo-)manned with folks who could be easily mistaken for trade show bunnies; a small number of board members pass through the public areas in as short of time as they can; a larger number of board members are unseen; and ICANN "staff" is largely invisible.

Barely anybody talks about WSIS. But there is a lot of talk about lawsuits filed or contemplated.

There is a lot of quiet talk about how .xxx was suddenly removed from the agenda and how a redacted Freedom Of Information (FOIA) inquiry indicates that the Bush Administration, in the person of Karl Rove and at the behest of religious fundamentalist James Dobson, caused the US Department of Commerce to secretly instruct ICANN to deny .xxx and thus triggering a dance of the proxies as ICANN and/or the US government attempted to create a screen of deniability by getting other countries to do the dirty work.

Nobody here seems to support the ICANN-Verisign "settlement", although nobody seems to really think that ICANN will listen to the nearly universal complaints beyond making a few cosmetic adjustments.

Those who actually use domain names, the community of internet users, are nearly completely absent; the ALAC meetings were so under-attended that they could be squeezed into a small room at the end of a nearly hidden corridor.  Even as UN is demonized for its incorrectly characterized attempt to "take over the internet", at least the formative UN Internet Governance Forum will probably allow individuals to obtain credentials while ICANN relegates us to a powerless limbo.

There is talk of the splitting of the internet, not as something to come but rather as something that has already happened.  And that impossible as it is to trivalize the situation when the split involves China and other Asian nations ICANN has managed to pretend as if nothing of significance has happened.

And in a bit of stunning Orwellian NewSpeak the United States Federal Trade commission said that to protect privacy it has to kill it.

Matters of IP address policy are not discussed.

Questions about the fate of the 40 TLD applications left over from year 2000, for which ICANN collected $2,000,000, remain unanswered while a very glitzy and expensively printed, but otherwise vacuous and self-congratulatory, booklet from ICANN's ombudsman occupies space on the information tables.

Posted by karl at 5:29 PM