Ronda Hauben on Sun, 6 Jun 1999 19:34:36 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Open Letter on ICANN to Elliot Maxwell - U.S. DOC

>Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 20:11:36 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Ronda Hauben <>
>Subject: Open Letter to Elliot Maxwell of U.S. DOC about ICANN

An Open Letter to Elliot Maxwell, U.S. Dept of Commerce

My proposal to the NTIA in Fall '98 provided for an open process
and for computer scientists from the U.S. and other interested 
countries to contribute to making that open online process into a 
reality.  This was the first necessary step in determining what 
cooperative means were needed to porotect the essential name, 
number and protocol functions of the Internet. 

That proposal should have been funded by the U.S. government and 
any other country that cared to help create a cooperative process
for protecting these vital Internet functions. That is still
the challenge to all, but primarily to the U.S. government,
and to Elliot Maxwell, who supposedly replaced Ira Magaziner
as the person determining Internet policy in the U.S. but
who has been carefully hidden from view.

I am requesting that Elliot Maxwell join the IFWP list and the
Netizens Mailing List and begin to participate in the discussion
of what is happening and what should be happening with 
regard to creating appropriate institutional forms for these
crucial functions of the Internet.


Below is an important discussion with comments that occurred
on the IFWP list on May 25 while many were involved in the 
conference in Berlin and thus may have missed these comments
on the IFWP mailing list.

"A.M. Rutkowski" <> wrote on May 25, 1999:


AMR>It's obvious that you and a few others on this list
AMR>have alternative ideological constructs of the universe
AMR>surrounding Network Solutions.  Those of use who were
AMR>actually part of this activity and dealing with these
AMR>issues since 1992 have a different set of experiences
AMR>and knowledge base.

AMR>I think most of us can agree, however, that Network
AMR>Solutions is only one of many players, and the real
AMR>problems here surround those claiming to be king of
AMR>the mountain, and the activities in which they are
AMR>engaging.  The institutions, regulations, taxes,
AMR>licensing, and claims being advanced by ICANN and
AMR>its GAC are broad and far reaching.  They are what
AMR>threaten the Internet, not NSI.


>From the above comments I thought that perhaps Tony 
Rutkowski had acknowledged and recognized that ICANN 
is a serious problem that must be taken up to be 
challenge by anyone who is concerned about the present 
and the future of the Internet, but the more recent posts 
by Tony seem to say that this was a mistaken conclusion 
from his posts as he is once again claiming that ICANN is 
the only possible way forward for the Internet.

Also on May 25, 1999  "A.M. Rutkowski" <> wrote:

At 10:16 AM 5/25/99 , Karl Auerbach wrote:
KA>>I certainly find it hard to justify allowing NSI to retain its unfair
KA>>advantage on the basis that after a great deal of investment and work, a
KA>>big competitor may possibly, maybe arise.

AMR>Unfair?  It was NSI's risk, investment, and entrepreneurship
AMR>over the past six years that built their segment of the
AMR>business.  They've agreed and are proceeding rapidly to
AMR>open most of that segment up to 5, then 29, then other
AMR>companies to harvest the market segment that they built.
AMR>Frankly, I regard that as unfair - but they're actually
AMR>doing it anyhow in the belief that a rising tide raises all

AMR>When the various NSFNet cooperative agreements were terminated,
AMR>I didn't see MCI-IBM, Sprint, and the regionals (now largely
AMR>Verio), give up their networks, addresses, intellectual property
AMR>and customer bases in a spirit of largesse emanating from the
AMR>"unfairness" of their market segments.  They walked with billions
AMR>in assets and revenue streams.

AMR>Maybe we want to list all the several thousand companies and
AMR>institutions that received NSF awards and agreements, figure
AMR>out what that's worth, and ex post facto divvy up their assets
AMR>in a grand spirit of fairness.


And Dave Crocker responded:

>At 10:54 AM 5/25/99 -0400, A.M. Rutkowski wrote:
AMR>>Unfair?  It was NSI's risk, investment, and entrepreneurship
AMR>>over the past six years that built their segment of theM
AMR>>business.  They've agreed and are proceeding rapidly to

DC>NSI had no risk and made no entrepreneurial investment.

DC>By the time they finally decided to treat this as a real business, 
DC>they had a massive, government-protected revenue stream, with fees
DC>set to be 3-7 times too high.

DC>This extra money provided all the investment funds.

DC>NSI did not go out and create a business plan, acquire investment money and 
DC>then try to create a new business.  THAT is entrepreneurialism, Tony.  (You 
DC>should try it sometime; it's quite exciting and rewarding.)

DC>What NSI has done is to feed at the government trough.  And they did it 
DC>based on an existing service built by others. They can't even take the
DC>credit for creating the service they now profit from.


DC>Dave Crocker 

But all of this is a fight it seems over who will get which piece
of the carcass of the Internet. In Tony's first post that I cite
here, he acknowledged that there is a problem with ICANN.

However, it didn't seem that he acknowledged that ICANN taking
over ownership and control over controlling functions of the Internet
such as the root server system, the domain name system, the 
IP numbers and the protocols is a very big power play.

And as Elaine Kamarck, a former advisor to Gore, and a political
scientists at Harvard, acknowledged at the Berkman meeting in January
over the membership question for ICANN, there is no machinery to 
oversee or punish any abuse of power in a "non-profit" corporation
that is intended for other kinds of purposes, *not* for the 
purposes that ICANN is being created for. Elaine pointed out
that government was created and has mechanisms to deal with
the kind of conflict of interest economic power that is being
vested in ICANN, and a membership or non membership non-profit
organization where all one can do is throw out board member,
doesn't have such machinery.

Tony and Dave, do either of you have any idea of the importance
of the Internet to people around the world, both those who
are online and those who hope to one day get online?
And I have the same question to the others on the IFWP list
where this discussion is going on.

If so, I wonder how you can be quibbling over who gets which
piece of an Internet carcass that it seems those grabbing 
are trying to create, rather than considering what harm is 
being done by the current creation and development of ICANN.

Is there any way either of you can recognize that ICANN is
a fundamentally flawed model and should be dumped.

That it is supposed to be a "design and test" situation and the 
test has failed and thus the U.S. government should be 
acknowledging the failure and stopping the damage before
it gets any greater.

The U.S. government has *no* authority to give away the cooperative
and public assets and functions and policy making processes that
are being offered to ICANN.

There do need to be ways found to protect these essential functions
of the Internet from abuse and to administer them in a way
that provides for the well being of the Internet and its users
and the scaling of the Internet.

There is plenty of good experience to build on in the cooperative
processes of a number of nations and of computer scientists from
around the world in building the Internet.

Therefore isn't it time to get on with dumping this cherade that
is ICANN and beginning to explore what is needed by the 
Internet community and the public around the world in terms
of supporting the current and future development of the Internet?.


Proposal is at
See Cone of Silence: ICANN or Internet democracy is failing
by John Horvath
and Amateur Computerist issue 9-1

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