www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> United Nations World Summit on ICANN + Root Domain Issues
Paul D. Miller on Tue, 15 Nov 2005 11:16:39 +0100 (CET)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> United Nations World Summit on ICANN + Root Domain Issues


As I get ready for my speech at the United
Nations World Summit on the Information Society,
one of the things that strikes me as kind of
eerie, is the weird paradox of how much the U.S.
still controls the internet's root domain. The
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers sets the tone for how countries,
corporations, and NGO's receive their status on
the internet. It reminds me of the way the
European powers carved up various nations
arbitrarily with the Treaty of Berlin or the
later Treaty of Versailles - geography and power
were basic colonial foundations of the world
order of the day, and what strikes me as really
resonant is how the European powers of that era
are now colonized by the U.S. information economy.

.uk (england)
.fr (france)
.de (germany)
.es (spain)
.cn (china)
.jp (japan)

etc.

you name it. The U.S. owns it. You get a lease on
your country's name, and that's about it. Anyway,
just a thought about historical parallels. 

I'll be discussing these issues at the UN World
Summit coming up in Tunisia Nov 15th through the
20th from the point of view of: essentially, how
does this affect creativity and artistic
production - after all, it's just a metaphor, eh?

  The URL for the Summit is
http://www.smsitunis2005.org/plateforme/index.php?lang=3Den

Paul


Tug of war  over Net at Tunis summit

By Victoria Shannon International Herald Tribune


http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/13/business/net.php
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2005

PARIS When Libya lost the use of its Internet
domain ".ly" for five days last year, it had no
choice but to plead for help from a California
agency that reports to the U.S. Commerce
Department.

Anyone looking to do business with a .ly Web site
or to e-mail a .ly address was likely to
encounter a "file not found" or "no such person"
message. For anyone on the Internet, Libya was
just not there.

In a time when Internet access is critical to
world commerce - let alone to casual
communication - even a five-day lapse is a
hardship. And when one government has to beg
another to let its citizens be visible again on
that net, it can be a damaging blow to its own
sovereignty, as well as perhaps a matter of
national security, even if the cause was a
glitch, as in the Libyan case.

What if, by historical chance, it was France or
Britain that controlled country domain names on
the Internet? Would the United States settle for
asking another government to fix its own
addresses?

That kind of power to hinder or foster freedom of
the Internet, centralized in a single government,
is the key issue for many of the 12,000 people
expected in Tunisia this week for the United
Nations summit on the information age.

Managing operators of country-level domain names
like .ly, .de and .co.uk is one way that the
United States, through the California-based
nonprofit agency Icann, controls the Internet.
This organization is a consequence of the
network's development from research in U.S.
universities, laboratories and government
agencies in the 1970s.

Icann, which is short for the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers,
serves as a central authority in what is an
essentially decentralized, neutral and ungoverned
global network of computer networks. So that one
computer can easily find another, Icann runs the
addressing system, giving out blocs of unique
identifiers to countries and private registries.

It was the Icann board, for instance, that
approved a new suffix of .xxx for Internet
addresses to indicate adult-rated content this
summer, but it postponed implementing the address
after objections from the Commerce Department.

=46our years of high-level talks on Internet
governance conclude with the Tunis summit, and on
its eve, a figurative ocean separates the U.S.
position - that the Internet works fine as it is
- from most of the rest of the world, including
the European Union, which says that the Internet
has become an international resource whose center
of gravity must move away from Washington.

Whether these final debates break the deadlock
and produce any agreement to give other
governments more sway over Internet policy was in
some doubt last week. Even a recent discussion of
Internet governance between President George W.
Bush and Jos=E9 Manuel Barroso, president of the
European Commission, had not brought the sides
any closer.

"Our strong preference is to have a document that
everyone can be proud of," said David Gross,
deputy assistant secretary of state, who is
leading the U.S. delegation, along with Michael
Gallagher, assistant secretary of commerce.

"We would be sorely disappointed not to have a
document at all, but that would be better than to
have a bad document," Gross said from Tunisia,
where the negotiations resumed Sunday before the
official start of the summit meeting Wednesday.

A delegate from the European Union insisted that
the EU's call for a new intergovernmental body to
set the principles for running the Internet still
stands and that the solitary U.S. relationship
with Icann "is not sustainable" in the long term.

The official, who did not wish to be named
because he was not authorized to speak for the
delegation, conceded that the EU statement, which
took earlier talks in September by surprise and
led to the current stalemate, said there was "a
need for clarification," which the EU delegation
was preparing over the weekend.

But he maintained that the 25-member European
contingent was unanimous in its stance, which he
called "a middle ground between two extremes,
those who are for a complete overhaul and those
who are for the status quo."

Gross and other Americans dismiss the EU view as
"top-down" control of the Internet, as opposed to
the private-sector-led, "bottom-up" approach of
Icann.

The debate is likely to bog down before the
summit meeting ends Friday, over the use and
meaning of words like "forum,"
"intergovernmental," "governance" and "policy,"
many participants say.

But however "multistakeholder" or other
diplomatic argot is interpreted in Tunis, the
essential problem is that "the United States
holds most of the cards, and if it isn't willing
to give any up, it can't be forced to," said
Milton Mueller, a partner in the nonprofit group
the Internet Project.

When the first part of the summit meeting took
place in Geneva two years ago, many participants
feared that the United Nations itself, through
the International Telecommunication Union, wanted
to govern Internet issues. "Today," Mueller said,
"the ITU is off the table."

But Mueller, a participant in the meeting and a
longtime Icann observer, said the Americans had
handled their position poorly in the face of
global opposition since then.

"Americans are so parochial when it comes to
these things," he said. "They have no idea how it
sounds to 200 other countries when they say, 'The
Internet really is nongovernmental - except for
us.' Why were they so surprised? In the U.S.,
that contradiction becomes invisible to you."

Although Mueller expects the U.S. delegation to
"make as few concessions as possible" this week,
he does see some longer-term movement on the
American position.

Two weeks ago, at a conference that Mueller
attended, a Commerce Department official said the
government was planning to put up for public
bidding contracts for managing the Internet
addressing system now held by Icann through its
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

If that happened, a group like the Brussels-based
Council of European National Top-Level Domain
Registries, called Centr, probably would be
interested in bidding for the contract, which has
no monetary value, as would other non-U.S.
interests.

In addition, the agreement by which Icann
operates under Commerce Department oversight
expires next September. Although the U.S.
government indicated in June that it would not
let its oversight of the master file that decodes
Internet addresses lapse despite that agreement,
Mueller says the summit fireworks might lead the
Bush administration to consider other options
that are not so unilateral.

Yet small, longer-term steps may not be soon
enough in coming for some developments. Two
separate trends are heralding a massive demand
for unique Internet addresses of the kind that
Icann manages, and global participants are eager
that the policy and political questions be
settled quickly.

One trend is the move by media businesses to make
their products available online. Each song, video
clip, book or other digital content requires its
own unique identifier to locate it on the
Internet, even if the file is not a Web site.

The other is the desire of manufacturers and
wholesalers to embed their physical products with
radio tags for inventory and other supply-chain
management. To be tracked over the Internet, each
tag needs its own Internet "address" as well,
leading to what the ITU is calling an "Internet
of things."




PARIS When Libya lost the use of its Internet
domain ".ly" for five days last year, it had no
choice but to plead for help from a California
agency that reports to the U.S. Commerce
Department.

Anyone looking to do business with a .ly Web site
or to e-mail a .ly address was likely to
encounter a "file not found" or "no such person"
message. For anyone on the Internet, Libya was
just not there.

In a time when Internet access is critical to
world commerce - let alone to casual
communication - even a five-day lapse is a
hardship. And when one government has to beg
another to let its citizens be visible again on
that net, it can be a damaging blow to its own
sovereignty, as well as perhaps a matter of
national security, even if the cause was a
glitch, as in the Libyan case.

What if, by historical chance, it was France or
Britain that controlled country domain names on
the Internet? Would the United States settle for
asking another government to fix its own
addresses?

That kind of power to hinder or foster freedom of
the Internet, centralized in a single government,
is the key issue for many of the 12,000 people
expected in Tunisia this week for the United
Nations summit on the information age.

Managing operators of country-level domain names
like .ly, .de and .co.uk is one way that the
United States, through the California-based
nonprofit agency Icann, controls the Internet.
This organization is a consequence of the
network's development from research in U.S.
universities, laboratories and government
agencies in the 1970s.

Icann, which is short for the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers,
serves as a central authority in what is an
essentially decentralized, neutral and ungoverned
global network of computer networks. So that one
computer can easily find another, Icann runs the
addressing system, giving out blocs of unique
identifiers to countries and private registries.

It was the Icann board, for instance, that
approved a new suffix of .xxx for Internet
addresses to indicate adult-rated content this
summer, but it postponed implementing the address
after objections from the Commerce Department.

=46our years of high-level talks on Internet
governance conclude with the Tunis summit, and on
its eve, a figurative ocean separates the U.S.
position - that the Internet works fine as it is
- from most of the rest of the world, including
the European Union, which says that the Internet
has become an international resource whose center
of gravity must move away from Washington.

Whether these final debates break the deadlock
and produce any agreement to give other
governments more sway over Internet policy was in
some doubt last week. Even a recent discussion of
Internet governance between President George W.
Bush and Jos=E9 Manuel Barroso, president of the
European Commission, had not brought the sides
any closer.

"Our strong preference is to have a document that
everyone can be proud of," said David Gross,
deputy assistant secretary of state, who is
leading the U.S. delegation, along with Michael
Gallagher, assistant secretary of commerce.

"We would be sorely disappointed not to have a
document at all, but that would be better than to
have a bad document," Gross said from Tunisia,
where the negotiations resumed Sunday before the
official start of the summit meeting Wednesday.

A delegate from the European Union insisted that
the EU's call for a new intergovernmental body to
set the principles for running the Internet still
stands and that the solitary U.S. relationship
with Icann "is not sustainable" in the long term.

The official, who did not wish to be named
because he was not authorized to speak for the
delegation, conceded that the EU statement, which
took earlier talks in September by surprise and
led to the current stalemate, said there was "a
need for clarification," which the EU delegation
was preparing over the weekend.

But he maintained that the 25-member European
contingent was unanimous in its stance, which he
called "a middle ground between two extremes,
those who are for a complete overhaul and those
who are for the status quo."

Gross and other Americans dismiss the EU view as
"top-down" control of the Internet, as opposed to
the private-sector-led, "bottom-up" approach of
Icann.

The debate is likely to bog down before the
summit meeting ends Friday, over the use and
meaning of words like "forum,"
"intergovernmental," "governance" and "policy,"
many participants say.

But however "multistakeholder" or other
diplomatic argot is interpreted in Tunis, the
essential problem is that "the United States
holds most of the cards, and if it isn't willing
to give any up, it can't be forced to," said
Milton Mueller, a partner in the nonprofit group
the Internet Project.

When the first part of the summit meeting took
place in Geneva two years ago, many participants
feared that the United Nations itself, through
the International Telecommunication Union, wanted
to govern Internet issues. "Today," Mueller said,
"the ITU is off the table."

But Mueller, a participant in the meeting and a
longtime Icann observer, said the Americans had
handled their position poorly in the face of
global opposition since then.

"Americans are so parochial when it comes to
these things," he said. "They have no idea how it
sounds to 200 other countries when they say, 'The
Internet really is nongovernmental - except for
us.' Why were they so surprised? In the U.S.,
that contradiction becomes invisible to you."

Although Mueller expects the U.S. delegation to
"make as few concessions as possible" this week,
he does see some longer-term movement on the
American position.

Two weeks ago, at a conference that Mueller
attended, a Commerce Department official said the
government was planning to put up for public
bidding contracts for managing the Internet
addressing system now held by Icann through its
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

If that happened, a group like the Brussels-based
Council of European National Top-Level Domain
Registries, called Centr, probably would be
interested in bidding for the contract, which has
no monetary value, as would other non-U.S.
interests.

In addition, the agreement by which Icann
operates under Commerce Department oversight
expires next September. Although the U.S.
government indicated in June that it would not
let its oversight of the master file that decodes
Internet addresses lapse despite that agreement,
Mueller says the summit fireworks might lead the
Bush administration to consider other options
that are not so unilateral.

Yet small, longer-term steps may not be soon
enough in coming for some developments. Two
separate trends are heralding a massive demand
for unique Internet addresses of the kind that
Icann manages, and global participants are eager
that the policy and political questions be
settled quickly.

One trend is the move by media businesses to make
their products available online. Each song, video
clip, book or other digital content requires its
own unique identifier to locate it on the
Internet, even if the file is not a Web site.

The other is the desire of manufacturers and
wholesalers to embed their physical products with
radio tags for inventory and other supply-chain
management. To be tracked over the Internet, each
tag needs its own Internet "address" as well,
leading to what the ITU is calling an "Internet
of things."


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net