November 26, 2005


Recently ICANN's Chairman was thus quoted:

Q: Critics say the U.S. government basically controls the Internet.

A: That's bulls**t. I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to say that to reporters, but that's just a very bad misunderstanding. Ninety-nine percent of the Internet is in private hands. If you've got a computer at home, and a cable box or DSL line, you own a piece of the Internet. Most of the Internet is owned by the private sector, by businesses, by ISPs, by individuals, by governments - well, that's not [the] private sector, but it's not ICANN either and it's not the United States.


The Internet is like the sea - the vast bulk is not subject to any particular authority.

However like the seas, the Internet has its Panama and its Suez; the internet has its Molucca Straits.

ICANN stands astride the naming systems of the internet just as Panama, Egypt, and Indonesia stand over the oceans' most critical shipping lanes.

ICANN sprung from the loins of United States Department of Commerce.  The DoC frequently denies its role as parent, but it has most overtly and forcefully confirmed ICANN's dependency on, and subservience to, the United States.

Nothing happens at the top layer of the internet's naming system without ICANN approval.  And nothing happens in ICANN that is not subject to the advice and consent of the United States Department of Commerce.

The Department of Commerce/ICANN system has suppressed competition, has cost consumers of domain names billions of dollars, and has obstructed innovation across the entire internet.  ICANN has destroyed the internet end-to-end principle by forcing decisions about top level domains to flow through ICANN's expensive and arbitrary procedures.

So for ICANN's chairman to imply that the US government is not using ICANN to control a critical part of the internet is an exercise in misdirection and is, ultimately, untrue.

And to add insult to injury, ICANN has adopted rules, most notably the privacy-busting WHOIS and the trademark-uber-alles UDRP that reach out and impose a supra national law on all of those end-user "personal" computers that ICANN's chairman claims are not the property of the US or under the control of ICANN.  If the US or ICANN do not have internet-wide powers, then why are we users of the internet forced to list our names, addresses, and other information in the WHOIS database and why are we forced to submit to ICANN's UDRP?

Posted by karl at November 26, 2005 12:17 PM