August 1, 2005

Responding to Steven Forrest's entry "The Tug of War Goes On"

This is in response to Steven Forrest's entry "The Tug of War Goes On"

He writes: "ICANN has its flaws, but it has never shown a desire to censor and control online content."

I disagree (not about the flaws but rather about ICANN's attempts to shape online content.)

ICANN has, if nothing else, been the handmaiden of the trademark and copyright industries.  ICANN has stretched trademark law into an anti-innovative, anti-creative regime far beyond that of any law passed by any elected legislature of any country and imposed a quasi-judicial system to enforce that regime that is most deservedly worthy of the name "kangaroo court".  And ICANN's glacial and peculiar approach to new top level domains has been a boon for certain industrial segments and a death sentence to others.

ICANN's shaping of the means to name internet content has been exercised in a way that is as anti-democratic as any government that has been cited in these discussions.  ICANN obliterated its promise to have public elections.  And in the place of that once promised public role ICANN's "ALAC" is as much of a farce on democracy as were the local soviets in the old USSR.

It is true that ICANN does not directly attempt to shape online content.  However, ICANN's processes and rules act indirectly to give extraordinary powers to those who wish to use the rubric of trademark and copyright to their own ends no matter the impact on creativity and innovation.

In addition, ICANN's wanton disregard of the concept of personal privacy has begun to shape an internet in which those who wish to espouse unpopular views are chilled and driven underground.

So if we are to argue against a UN or ITU derived body having a role in internet governance, we should be equally willing to recognize that some of the faults of the worst of the world's anti-democratic and anti-speech governments are to be found in ICANN as well - lack of open participation in decision-making, lack of transparency in the process of making decisions, and lack of accountability to the community people who are affected by those decisions.

Posted by karl at August 1, 2005 12:29 PM