t byfield on 26 Jul 2000 05:20:53 -0000

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<nettime> roving_reporter Tue Jul 25 00:54:25 EDT 2000


   > roving_reporter t byfield

   Tue Jul 25 00:54:25 EDT 2000
   Three new gTLDs

   The roving_reporter "predicts" that ICANN will promote the following
   three new gTLDs:

   .eu -- This proposal for a regional TLD began surfacing in late 1999,
   and its fast-track status (avoiding the normal "bottom-up" procedural
   sideshow of ICANN's Domain Name Supporting Organization [DNSO] or
   Working Group C) suggests it's a winner. ICANN will approve it in an
   attempt to curry favor with Eurocrats and with the European contingent
   in the Governmental Advisory Committee. It will also help to undermine
   the country-code registrars' criticism of ICANN as a U.S. organization
   -- a necessity if ICANN is ever to extract 35 percent of its annual
   budget from them.

   .banc -- When NSI proposed this gTLD, it met with widespread
   perplexity; since then, though, one piece of the puzzle has fallen
   into place. On July 19, the Treasury Department's Office of the
   Comptroller of the Currency issued an alert warning banks of instances
   in which customers had transmitted sensitive information to lookalike
   domains. A "chartered" TLD for retail financial institutions would
   please a major segment of the financial sector and make for good
   press: ICANN, could present itself as taking measures to protect the
   little guy from con artists. It'll be interesting to see which agency
   ends up controlling the TLD, to say nothing of the rules it adopts for
   vetting institutions: banking is a competitive business, of course,
   and the power to delegate administration of the .banc gTLD is no joke.

   .enum -- "Enum"? Yes, enum: for mapping telephone numbers onto DNS.
   The fact that, like "banc" with a "c", it's Franco-friendly, is just
   the icing: one layer of the cake is who benefits, namely, the ITU and
   its main constituents, telcos and PTTs. For an embattled organization
   like ICANN, these will be very useful friends indeed. The other layer
   is who loses, namely, the country-code registrars. At Yokohama, there
   were rumblings of indeterminate source that ICANN might "check" with
   national governments to see whether those pesky ccTLD registrars who
   aren't paying tribute have their delegation papers in order. .enum
   will assuage telcos wordlwide, and provide them with a clear entree
   into the registration business. But the ITU had better be doing a
   masterful job of drawing up the .enum technical specs; if they foobar
   it, voice over IP could be dealt a stunning blow and could take a lot
   of "convergence" down with it.

   I think these three TLDs are done deeds, and that ICANN's much-touted
   nonrefundable $50,000 TLD applications are, more than anything else, a
   fund-raising ploy. And with friends in high places like the Eurocracy,
   banks, the ITU, and telcos, why would ICANN want a bunch of lusers on
   the Board? The answer is clear: they don't. That's why, at Yokohama,
   they all but announced that the second phase of the Membership At
   Large elections won't take place, and that they might even cut short
   the terms of the first-phase MAL board members.

   Mon Jul 24 09:42:09 EDT 2000

   Those business-hating domain-name fanatics are attacking ICANN again.
   This time it's the famously hot-headed founders of PFIR, People For
   Internet Responsibility, Peter S. Neumann (see below) and Lauren
   Weinstein, moderator of the PRIVACY Forum -- a couple of loose cannons
   if ever there were some. Among the radical suggestions they make are
   the possibility of an alternative root (which, saints preserve us,
   would require "system administrators and users [to] edit a few files
   on their systems") and "a completely new, more formally structured,
   not-for-profit, internationally-based organization" to replace ICANN.s
   Keep a sharp eye on Dave Farber's IP list, the official vehicle for
   unofficial responses from the ICANN potentates. [Note: Keith Dawson
   rightly pointed out that ICANN officers are much less inclined to
   publicly respond to criticisms now than they were, say, a year ago.]

   PFIR's magisterial statement echoes criticisms made at ICANN's recent
   Yokohama meeting -- quite sternly by Chris Wilkinson, the EU's lead
   representative to ICANN and member of ICANN's Governmental Advisory
   Committee (GAC), and more amiably but no less ominously by Paul
   Twomey, GAC's head and until recently the CEO of Australia's National
   Office for the Information Economy.

   Wilkinson singed a few eyebrows when he condemned what, after nine
   changes to the by-laws in less than two years, has clearly become
   ICANN's M.O. for wriggling out of accountability:
     I think it is a great mistake to initiate the debate [about whether
     or how users should be represented on the board through Membership
     At Large Board seats] on the basis of by-law changes; the Board is
     increasingly giving the impression of being extremely cavalier in
     changes to the by-laws. (RealFnord, at 8:06:42)
   In the same session, Twomey drove the point home:
     There can be two paths that this organization could end up going
     down. One path is a path where...in six months' time...the
     organization has essentially become an international industry
     association where the definition of the internet community is
     actually the supply-side....and ICANN becomes an international
     organization that provides services to those people [ccTLD
     administrators, TLD administrators, content providers, trademark
     holders, and network and registry controllers]. The alternative is
     that it becomes an organization firmly focused upon the needs of
     the users, and [unclear] definition of the internet community which
     is around the user base and [defining] stability [in terms of] the
     user base.... The organization runs the risk of potentially
     becoming a de facto industry association. If it were to do so, it
     would need to recognize, I think, that governments [and]
     competition and consumer protection organizations would may much
     more attention to the activities of ICANN and would begin to apply
     tests to ICANN around consumer protection issues and around
     monopoly problems.... (RealFnord, at 03:39:00)
   We shall see if anything comes of the PFIR statement. Regardless, it's
   clear that ICANN's hijinks are convincing a growing number of people
   that it is an irredeemable organization.


   Sat Jul 22 12:08:59 EDT 2000 
   Two approaches to DNS

   The Internet Architecture Board's (IAB) RFC2826 reads a bit like a
   medieval confession of faith:
     To remain a global network, the Internet requires the existence of
     a globally unique public name space. The DNS name space is a
     hierarchical name space derived from a single, globally unique
     root. This is a technical constraint inherent in the design of the
     DNS. Therefore it is not technically feasible for there to be more
     than one root in the public DNS. That one root must be supported by
     a set of coordinated root servers administered by a unique naming
   In hunting down this RFC, I made a happy discovery: x42.com uses RFC +
   number as a hostname for serving up an RFC -- for example, RFC2826 is
   available at http://rfc2826.x42.com. Hostnames are, of course, a
   component of DNS, but x42 is using them to obviate the file structure
   component of a URL. This is more than just excellent design: it's an
   excellent example of why we should allow the DNS system to develop
   fluidly rather than freezing it to serve parochial interests.

   Mon Jul 17 14:13:45 EDT 2000
   RISKS and NewsScan

   Over the last several months, Peter G. Neumann has been relying more
   and more heavily on NewsScan for news summaries in the venerable email
   digest RISKS he moderates. This is really bad news, IMO. NewsScan is
   fine for what it is, i.e., a newsblurb service. But RISKS isn't a
   syndicator of newsblurbs, or at least it wasn't during the many years
   over which its built up its formidable reputation. NewsScan gets stuff
   seriously wrong sometimes. Today's example:
     ICANN, the global Internet name regulator, has approved a plan to
     expand beyond the seven top level Internet domain names, with the
     new addresses possibly appearing as early as next year. The new
     names could include .shop, bank, .travel, .museum and .sex, but no
     decisions on exactly which names would be added have been reached.
     Meanwhile, critics of the decision include groups that had lobbied
     for non-western-alphabet names and current owners of com names who
     now must worry about protecting their trademarks by registering new
     names. (Financial Times 17 Jul 2000) http://www.ft.com/
   The need for brevity is no excuse for flogging the kind of rubbish to
   be found in this last sentence. Hopefully, PGN's reliance on NewsScan
   is a temporary condition; if not, RISKS may slowly devolve from an
   excellent source of informed analysis of new problems into a useful
   archive from a past period.


   Tue Jul 11 00:37:28 EDT 2000

   After eighteen months, ICANN's application for 501(c)(3) -- that is, a
   federal classification as tax-exempt not-for-profit -- status still
   hasn't been approved by the IRS. Considering the fact that ICANN is a
   "just-in-time" corporation created to the specifications of the US
   Department of Commerce, and considering as well that the strongmen on
   its board and its legal representatives are extremely well-connected,
   this seems awfully curious. If the IRS denies ICANN's application,
   that would definitely spark a "legitimation crisis": ICANN would be
   reduced to the status of a dotcom. But given ICANN's propensity for
   shaking down everyone in sight for money, if the IRS approved the
   application it would run the risk of kissing off some serious
   revenues. Hence, I suspect, the IRS's wait-and-see stance.
   [thing_d.gif] Tue Jul 11 00:41:33 EDT 2000

   The above material is Copyright  1999 by t. byfield.
   The r_r began as a semi-collaborative nym on the <nettime> list, where
   it worked well; but the pseudonym precluded comments, and there was
   more to report than was good for the list, so now it -- or a mutation
   of it -- has resurfaced on TBTF. 

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