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Name.Space.Info: Ralph Nader takes ICANN to task (CNET News)

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Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 15:25:38 -0400
From: "Name.Space.Info" <>
Subject: Ralph Nader takes ICANN to task (CNET News)

Ralph Nader takes ICANN to task
By Beth Lipton
Staff Writer, CNET
June 11, 1999, 4:55 p.m. PT

Consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader has joined the contentious fight over
the policies and practices of the nonprofit corporation charged with
managing the Internet's addressing system. 

Nader, along with James Love, director of the Consumer Project on
Technology, today sent a letter to Esther Dyson, interim chair of the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), asking a
number of questions about the group's authority and methods. 

"Could you tell us the scope of Internet governance issues that the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers aspires to address?"
Nader and Love ask in the letter. "And will ICANN use its control over
root name servers to block access to any IP address or domain name for any

"If so, could you give us an idea of what those reasons might be, and how
those decisions will be made, and what legal recourse persons would have
regarding ICANN decisions?" 

Dyson and ICANN representatives could not immediately be reached for

ICANN was established last year in an effort to phase out the United
States' governance of the domain name system and has been charged with
ending Network Solutions' monopoly over registration of Internet names
ending in ".com," ".org," and ".net." 

But from the beginning, many in the domain name space have leveled
criticism at the organization, for everything from how its board members
were chosen to how it will answer the public's concerns about its

For Nader's part, he is largely concerned about what he sees as ICANN's
lack of checks and balances. 

"Nobody's paying attention to this emerging private governance," he told
CNET today. "Those questions [in the letter to Dyson] need to be

He also pointed out that ICANN is "not accountable to the government," a
point that has been raised by many in the domain space. 

"Is ICANN's interim board making substantive policy decisions, before a
membership is in place? If so, can you explain how this start-up procedure
is justified given the terms of your agreement with the United States
government?" the letter asks. 

In addition, the letter raises questions about ICANN's plans for what to
do if a trademark dispute arises among seekers of a given domain. 

"Also, does ICANN seek the authority to levy fees on the use of domain
names?" the letter says. "If so, what are the legally binding limits on
the use of funds from those fees by ICANN? Under any circumstances will
the ICANN be permitted to use these funds to promote public policy
objectives on broader Internet governance issues?" 

Nader said he had not yet heard back from Dyson but noted he had only sent
the letter a few hours ago. Nader and Love ask for "specific replies" to
the questions raised in the letter. 

           Cut out Network Solutions and you have