Towards fair, open, technically sound global Internet policy.


 Mueller |
 Sexton |
 Fenello |
 Stef |
 Hurst |
 Steinberg |
 Misc |
 Rutkowski |
 Feld |
 Love |
 Berryhill |
 Frankel |
 Barry |



Actions Create Regulatory Body Designed To Make Internet Safe For Content Control, Legacy Technology and Fortune 500 E-Commerce,

Part One: The Challenge

The growth of the commercial Internet over the past eight years has shaken large power bases to their very core because it provides the fertile ground from which a fountain of innovations have sprung -- innovations have rendered digital technologies less than a decade old obsolete. TCP/IP is also poised to transform all telecommunications into packet switched data networks. In 1999, an upstart company like Level 3 can pay a million dollars to install infrastructure with a capability which would have cost AT&T; 100 million dollars in 1992 or 1993. Entrepreneurs such as Amazon can reshape the book selling industry. Niche publishers such as the COOK Report can be viable without advertising and can therefore be free to report what they see without the censorship of editors who protect the interests of their corporate sponsors. Elimination of middlemen has become rampant. If customers are talking directly to each other, larger control -oriented companies and control-oriented government bureaucracies face terrifying futures. Furthermore, the world's commerce is going on line. The Internet and its associated technologies are challenging globally entrenched forces of wealth and power. Economic empires are being overturned.

According to a study released on June 10 and cited in News Scan, the Internet was responsible for generating 1.2 million U.S. jobs and pumping $301.4 billion into the economy last year. "The Internet economy has in five years done what it took the auto industry 100 years to do," says Don Listwin, executive VP for Cisco Systems, which funded the study. Last year, the auto industry contributed $350 billion to the U.S. economy. Energy accounted for $223 billion, and telecommunications $270 billion. The number of Internet-related jobs means that one in five workers who are employed in the technology sector have Internet jobs.

Consequently, it 's no surprise that those who have first noticed this change and perceived it as a threat to their interests have launched an attempt to control it (in the name of "stability") before the general public realizes what is really up for grabs. So great are the economic stakes that I suggest that, had this been any other area than the Internet, ICANN would have become a powerful entrenched reality long ago. I have been on-line since June of 1980. During the last 20 years I have developed an as-yet-unproven belief that people using networks can defend themselves from the kind of attack that ICANN is mounting. For it is only the technology of the network that that allows the scattered atomized dissidents to come together and brainstorm for strategies to use against what the secretive and unholy alliance of big government and big business has up its sleeve.

Among the internet faithful, it is an article of faith that the Internet is so decentralized and so resilient that it can route around any threats. In its near decade long march to commercialization, the Internet has challenged many special interests and been successful because the philosophical foundation that supports it has been American pragmatism and a can do attitude. No one asks who will be offended should a new technology succeed. the technology is just built. If it works, the builders applaud as it cannibalizes yesterdays technology because they know that their innovations too will soon be devoured by something better. In Silicon Valley they simply go on to found new companies.

But the Internet community has created a monster of success. It Internet threatens to render most of the worlds installed telecommunications infrastructure obsolete. It threatens the ability of national governments to control their trans-border information flows and to determine the conditions under which their citizens will pay taxes. It affronts corporate elephants by enabling a new generation of self employed mice to do business globally at a fraction of the cost. It has leapt from success to success while daring the technology, government and commercial empires it threatens to do something about it. It has gone up to the old order, slapped it in the face and dared it to retaliate. And it is now in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. ICANN is the response of the old order legacy companies like IBM which realize that they must overturn the independent platforms of communication and business that the net has given to the rest of us or be swept away.

ICANN is also the response of the current generation of publishing companies. These conglomerates, through the agency of the World Intellectual Property Organization, are reacting to a new paradigm in which each author, artist and musician becomes his or her own publisher. It is also the response of the traditional telecommunications companies and governments touting "industrial policy" (which means government in alliance with large powerful industries and corporations) through the agency of the ITU to the current technological and economic developments brought on by the Internet.

In sum, the Internet has directly challenged the most powerful political and economic interests in the world. The entrenched powers have come up with ICANN to protect their own viability under both the ruse of "protecting the stability of the Internet" and a trumped up need to end the NSI monopoly. A charter to perform the old IANA technical coordination functions has served as the tool to give Vint Cerf, Mike Roberts and Esther Dyson carte blanche to use the worst tricks in the corporate law books to create an unaccountable body [ICANN] that, barred by its own by laws from making policy. ICANN is now creating a mechanism that ostensibly is a defense against government regulation, but in reality places the threatened corporate interests in control of their own regulatory regime -- a regime which lacks any of the procedural safe guards that we have come to expect from democratic and open governments.

Issues too Complex for Sound Byte Media to Fathom

The media doesn't have a clue what is at stake. Of course, even if they did, large media (NYT, Post, etc) are in the "traditional publishing interests" category and have a natural conflict of interest which puts them on the side of ICANN. They are not informing the public of the duplicitous actions of the junta that is being put in place to act against the interests of small entreprenuers, organizations, non profits, individuals and new technologies that are not under the control of the IBMs and AT&Ts; of the world. With the PR firm of Ogilvie polishing and disseminating for a fee ICANN's disinformation, we have already seen articles about the Berlin meeting that are nothing more than rewrites of ICANN's press release. This is the industrial age way, in which before the internet, entrenched power blocs have become skilled at manipulating governments to favor their interests over the public interest. The fact that Esther Dyson would lead the take-over effort at the same time that she writes in her recent book in such glowing terms about how the net empowers the little fellow, says that she either doesn't understand the net or is a hypocrite. Esther answered my criticism by saying that she believed she could do more for the little guy from inside ICANN than she could if she shunned the organization. This is but one of dozens of 'trust me' statements that she has floated over the last eight months. Taking her claims on faith as ICANN marches onward and shuts out more and more opponents is asking too much.

People who both know Esther Dyson well and understand how she is selling out the interests of small businesses and entreprenuers via her imposition of ICANN's regulatory, IBM big-business-friendly regime over the internet have wondered why she is doing this. He book and all her propaganda says that she's really for the little guy whom the internet empowers. While remarking that she craves attention, even her friends are puzzled as to why she has reached out for THIS kind of attention.

We now have our answer. Michael Nelson, John Patrick and Roger Cochetti, IBM's lobbyists for the Global Internet Project, have led in the passing of the tin cup in the support of ICANN. Now Esther begins to collect her reward from IBM in return for the flak that she puts up with. Not content to be the guru of industry insiders, she embarked tonight (June 10, 2020) on a broader path of publicity -- on a program of instant recognition for her personna courtesy of IBM. She's the star of an IBM e-commerce commercial. Esther as chess playing athlete brought to you by IBM e-commerce solutions. So there's the grand tie in as Esther draws the corporate nooses around our necks and is beamed into 50 million homes as part of the NBA playoffs. Thinking of E-commerce? Think IBM. Think Dyson. Since this must be a brainy subject, instead of leaping seven airport benches in a row like OJ in the Avis commercial, she plays chess in the TV spot. Hence the IBM/ICANN alliance, by her into making her a TV icon has boosted her desire for publicity to a new level where she is subliminally associated in the mind of couch potatoes as our Information Technology Queen.

It figures. An old friend saw it coming more quickly than I and wrote to me: "Aww, c'mon Gordon. Are you really surprised that Esther Dyson, a mainframe geek who was 10 years too late with her opinions on relational databases and 15 years too late on the Internet has only her corporate interests in mind? I mean, it is a surprise that anyone who knows anything about what is driving the modern economy pays any attention to her, at all! To my mind her opinions are about as valuable as Linus Pauling's opinions on vitamin C (and about as supportable). Still, I suppose that there will always be a few souls who are so like sheep as to be asking for the name of the Emperor's tailor."

Consequently, when faced with this unholy alliance, in addition to pursuing legal ends, the Internet community must also understand that an informed media may be the strongest outside ally in putting pressure on this alliance of government and big business. the community must begin to think about how to get credible noted mainstream journalists to ask the right questions and look m ore closely at what is taking place. If Democrat Gore is for the common man and republican Bush is for the corporate boardrooms, it seems that Gore is vulnerable to being forced to choose between ICANN and the rest of us.

The ICANN board has nothing but contempt for the average Internet user and small Internet entrepreneur. Board members consider them to be the sniveling rabble making harmless noise outside their castle windows. They think they can ignore them and carry on. I think they are wrong. But the verdict is still out. I suggest that the current struggle is the major test that will determine the future of the Internet and whether or not there will be any surviving locus of power outside the board rooms of the global corporations. What is worse is that the Clinton Administration in concert with the governments of the EU and Australia, has now become a hand maiden to these activities - unleashing, as a result, a very deadly combination. The next few weeks are critical what we are able to do by way of formulating and carrying out strategies of action in the real world will determine the fate of ICANN.

When ICANN was "born," it emerged from a paradigm alien to that of the Internet. It was built by a secretive clique which assumed that (1) it could shape the future of the Internet from behind closed doors and from the top down, instead of arriving at open consensus based on public debate, that (2) it could present the public with faits accompli dressed in the fraudulent robes of alleged consensus. This represents a sea change in the way the Internet has been run and it is why I have spent the last many months railing against these events. If we are to have trade and commerce we must have rules of the road that are interoperable across national boundaries. However, interoperability is desirable only in the context of a balance between public and private interests which is utterly lacking with ICANN. The tragedy is that when the Clinton Gore administration began more than two years ago to meddle in the Internet. It gave Ira Magaziner an impossible task: to take the government out of Internet governance because no one was looking after the question of addressing an appropriate balance between government, the market and individual rights.

Part Two: The Players - Motives and Tactics

Editor's Note: By April the only ICANN related list with any reasonable signal to noise level ration was a small private list where the high flamers were refused admission. List rules are no identifiable republication with out the persons explicit permission. Tony Rutkowski who wrote the lions share of what appears below gave us his permission as did Bret Bausett for a brief comment. The author of remarks about the GAC gave us explicit permission as anonymity was maintained.

(May 15) Mr. X: I've been reviewing the history and Cerf appears to me to have been centrally involved in attempting to centralize and consolidate control of Internet administration in the hands of the Internet Society since 1992. I don't know what his intentions are in advocating that, but he has been doing it. It wouldn't be at all surprising to me if, along the way, he had to make a few political compromises‹accepting things that he doesn't like (e.g., trademark influence over DNS) in order to advance what he sees as a larger and more important agenda (e.g., creating a stable basis for global administration of IP names and addresses under ISOC's control).

Tony Rutkowski: In general, Vint has been the advocate for "herding" as Mr. X puts it, since about 1986. That coincides with his moving to CNRI with Bob Kahn. Bob always let Vint do his thing (as he described it), while Bob concentrated on research. It was at that time that Vint began to encourage the familiar institutions with names. You can trace them back to RFCs about that time.

The Internet Society emerged from a series of emails in 1990 between Vint and me when I was in Geneva at the ITU. I was proposing an Internet industry organization to do many of the things that went on in the telco world in the way of standards development, promotion of the industry, etc. , and avoid the takeover by any kind of governmental organization or centralized body.

Vint liked the idea, and on a trip back to the States in early 1991, I did a presentation at CNRI on the formation of the organization. After I went back, Vint got together with Mike Roberts, then Larry Landweber, then Frode Greisen over succeeding weeks, where he also came over to Europe several times to RARE and ACM events.

At the INET 91 conference in Copenhagen - which had been the annual CSNET international university CS department gatherings run by Landweber - Vint announced the Internet Society as a new technical professional organization for the NREN - and CNRI, Educom, and RARE as founding members, with Mike Roberts as Executive Director, and a secretariat to be located at CNRI. This was sort of sprung on everyone - who were asked to join. Only Vint and Mike really knew what was going on. My concept for an open industry organization was deep-sixed.

Over the years, there were divergent views as to what the Internet Society was or should be. That still plays out today. Vint always thought it had a life if it could play some kind vague standards support or governance roles. Others saw it as some kind of populist organization.

It's here that the rub occurs. Vint has always been genuinely well meaning. However, like many in the that academic community which have spent most of their careers either in or closely associated with the educational and DARPA Internet world - they tend to have naive and sometimes bizarre views of "the outside world." They find it very uncomfortable to deal with governance, legal, and political issues - so much so, they don't like to even discuss these subjects. Most of their world proceeded very nicely under the aegis of loose associations of trusted friends, and they tend to view that as some kind of continuing ideal.

So what you often end up with are very strange constructs. The Internet Society itself is an example. If you look at its pieces, it's the worst possible example of anything that should govern anything. All power is vested in a board that is somewhat vicariously elected by bunches of individuals around the world who can bloc vote. Industry players (and the principal payers) have no powers at all. The most recent elections have borne that out yet again with the organization heading off in yet stranger directions. Similar things occurred with IAHC, and still now with ICANN. It tends to be oriented around notions of elected friends who collectively do good, combined with considerable distrust of businesses.

I'm not sure if this provides any insight, but these factors do continue to shape what's occurring behind the scenes. Of course, there are now lots of other players in the mix as well - each with their own agendas, views, and styles.

Brett Fausett: The history is helpful, as it partially explains the tension between the differing missions. I'd still like to meet those who believe that ISOC should be a populist organization. Where would I find them?

Tony Rutkowski (May 17): I'm not sure today. However, it's always been part of a schizophrenia manifested by many of the Board members. Bob Kahn was an early advocate, but by no means the only one. It's perhaps best explained by a strange compulsion of the Board to make the organization "succeed," without ever engaging in what is normally a threshold activity - what's the market and what does the organization offer that's marketable.

Instead Vint and friends created an organization just to have an organization, and then tried to figure out afterwards how to make it work. It also got imbued with certain constraining characteristics early on.

Business was asked to contribute but got no powers whatsoever, and the membership was announced and seeded at INET - a long-standing international gathering of university CS department people. Subsequently, anyone attending an INET meeting, got free ISOC membership.

Now that they had an organization, they went searching for something to do. That's where I come in. I was made a co-founder, member of the board, and VP with a mandate to publish a magazine about all the Internet developments occurring around the world and evangelize the Internet to the public, government officials, investors, etc.

At the same time, it became apparent that there were other well-established SIGs in IEEE, ACM, and other professional organizations around the world, that prevented ISOC from going after that function. They didn't become a trade organization or get into public policy issues. Then in 1992, they tried to take over the IETF functions via the IAB...only the IAB's pre-emptive decision on an ISO-like next Internet Protocol, caused the IETF to dump the IAB and ISOC with it. It was too early for a populist ISOC, and there was no "value add" to attract people. So basically, everything conspired to make the organization flounder, except for the stuff I was doing and the value of the workshops and proselytizing occurring through the INET meetings.

By 1995, some of the anti IAB/ISOC feelings had died down a bit, and a clever devise was effected to add IETF/IAB members as a rider to ISOC's liability insurance and serve as a front end for the standards to the ITU. At the same time, they floated these cute little "charters" with the IANA and the like. So it looked like there might really be a life with some kind of standards role - although Bob Kahn and Paul Mockapetris (who was IETF Chair at the time), opposed ISOC attempts to centralize everything.

In late 1995 with a combination of circumstances - Larry Landweber replacing Vint as Chair, my leaving and making noises about new organizations being needed, and NSF and NSI finally agreeing on charging for domain names - the resulting flames were fanned and used as means for assuming control of names and addresses, and earning a healthy revenue stream in the process. In addition, the single powerful moderating force, Bob Kahn, subsequently left. Don Heath was then hired to make it happen. No secrets here. This was all done publicly.

So at last, it appeared that the organization could be a "success." And then, the well known history goes on from there. You can understand ISOC best if you analyzed it as an organization where its promoters have been searching for a mode of some kind that can be called "success" within the context of its internal and external constraints. It was often said by some of the founders "who wants to be the founder of something that failed." Consistency, needs, policies, players, make no difference.

Success is now defined in playing a "governance role" with ICANN and ITU, with doing something for IETF, with somehow being a populist organization - because the PR firm they hired told them it was possible.

If this were a business, of course, it would be offering products and services for which customers pay money in a marketplace. If it doesn't sell, it folds. However, like most non-profits ISOC exists to serve the interests of some constituency who simply give it money. What it does is defined by available money and the predilections of those in control. Despite all the meanderings, ISOC has done some good in just promoting the Internet and hanging together a kind of offshore community. So it continues to meander, who cares - as long as it does no harm. What's scary as hell about ICANN, of course, is that they are being propped up by governments and can regulate and levy taxes.

Part Three: The GAC

May 18 Tony Rutkowski: The more I read through the GAC agenda and archives, frankly the more angry I become. One could argue that ICANN-DOC rather stupidly sold the Internet down the river in creating a new intergovernmental body without all the safeguards one would normally find with these kinds of creatures.

Look at the agenda. Many of the most important Internet governance policy issues. Who are these governmental representatives to be meeting in secret, developing papers and positions, making findings, and reaching agreement on "recommendations." Yes, look at the minutes of their first meeting where they defined for themselves their role and authority. Mysteriously some documents are missing.

Look at the minutes from their last meeting and you can see what's coming. The EU gets ICANN to agree to "respect the framework of international laws and agreements," then sets up the GAC to pronounce what constitutes abiding by international laws and agreements. They meet prior to the ICANN Board meeting, have all the important policy matters presented to them, then give their findings and recommendations.

There's no opportunity here for rebuttal, for comment, for the introduction of other views during the course of those meetings.

Is there anyone else who finds this appalling? Is this improper and unlawful governmental action? What gives an employee of the Dept of Commerce or the ITU the right to sit in an intergovernmental body of this nature, to represent the United States or the ITU and speak on "Applicability of specific business rules / regimes to ccTLD's which are classified as 'open' or 'restricted'?" Neither subject is even within the subject matter jurisdiction of either organization? Just what the hell in going on here? Anyone care to ask Becky what she is going to present as a report?

May 19 Rutkowski: When this GAC was being forced into the Bylaws by the EU, I strongly objected, but they rammed it in anyway...then proceeded to do the EU's bidding to make it even worse over the weeks the followed. Now it's being manifested as something that - as bad is ICANN is - makes the entire package much worse.

Their 8th agenda item reads: Discussion on changes in policy for registrations under a gTLD without consultation, in particular: Requirement for consultation with the GAC, where appropriate. The clear thrust here is that some policies pertaining to gTLD registrations must first be taken to the GAC. How does a private-sector Internet services business suddenly become the subject of required consideration by intergovernmental body meeting in secret?

On May 19 a list member wrote: Why do we have the consensus disease? It barely works in the very homogeneous IETF except in the imaginations of its proponents. The notion that consensus is a viable approach in contentious matters is, to my mind, an unworkable idea. Consensus is bad because it transfers vast amounts of power over to the person/entity that determines consensus.

Rutkowski: One is tempted to observe that certain ICANN folks also realize this...and thus the name of their game is to cram through as much policy and as many regimes as possible for as long as they can get away with it - at the same time setting up supporting organizations that can never achieve a consensus to anything...including reversing what's been put into place. [we need] a well articulated model for this business that is grounded on it simply being an identifier service that has no business being controlled and regulated. What we've had over the past couple years is a union of the control and power freaks with the government and intergovernmental types who are trying to find an Internet life, who together have painted DNS as something that must be globally regulated.

May 20 List member: What is the claim? And is the issue ownership, control or access? (which would present very differnt causes of action, I think) And why Commerce? Has the DOC publicly stated a claim to the root?

Rutkowski: Yes, in the magical government shell game, it is now DOC who makes the claim. I believe it's buried both on their site and in a letter to NSI. Becky stated this for the record at the CATO meeting.

List member: If the claim is over private versus public ownership/control, isn't NSI in the best position (both from a standing and financial point of view) to bring this claim? NSI, joined by other prospective registries, perhaps?

Rutkowski: At the moment, com, net and org are advertised in the root zone as going to NSI's com, net and org zone file server.

List member: If successful, isn't this all you need? If ICANN doesn't have control over the root, then its entire web of contracts falls away (and the GAC with it.)

You're touching on a key question going forward. What basis does DOC have for exercising authority of this nature? If they somehow hand it off to ICANN, what claim of authority does ICANN have? Neither the claiming emporess or the wannabe emporess have any clothes.

Even in the hypothetical, the DOC argument is based on an assertion that this is necessary to "protect the stability of the Internet." This claim simply will not withstand scrutiny?

May 22 Rutowski: My take is that Š all the substantive decisions have been made already and they're just orchestrating a show. There are two threads running here. One is ICANN out of control. It's the write and adopt everything in secret and get everything set in place while you hold off and create a DNSO so screwed up or IHAC dominated that it will never change anything ploy. What they're putting in place is control freak heaven, and a swank bureaucracy all paid for through the ICANN tax.

The second is the GAC game. It's the European Union favorite - create a self-governance org that's an extension of governments and intergovernmental organizations ploy. Both games are a big winner with the so-called intellectual property community because they get everything they want. The real action is occurring Tuesday at the GAC where they get to sell their plans to the GAC attendees. They get the GACites to "find" in favor of each of their planned decisions, and they figure things are all set. Then things get adopted zip, zip, zip on Thursday, leaked to the press to meet the Thursday night deadlines, with the formal press releases out on Friday morning.

And later on the 22nd: I haven't seen much evidence of "very different opinions." Indeed, there appears to be an amazing lack of any opinions at all. The evidence to date is that Board is a collective political figurehead that fronts for a staff plus assorted friends, counsel, and government officials doing everything behind the scenes. Becky said as much publicly at CATO. If there are differences, they are on the margins of things that don't count.

On May 23: It's worth noting on the issue of the admission of Turks and Caicos, [to the GAC meeting in Berlin] that the GAC and its chair appear to have bit of a conflict of interest. One of the agenda items from the GAC first meeting as an adopted work area is: Jurisdiction and territories (study to be progressed by France, Australia and the UK) See

What it appears is that certain countries are attempting to re-colonialize their former holdings via the GAC. One can appreciate that the government of Turks and Caicos would very much want to be involved in the GAC to argue for their own Internet freedom. Here, the same country chairing the GAC and engaging in the accreditation activity, is the same that is participating in the study on jurisdiction and territories - together with the former colonial power.

And on May 25 to a question from the list: Well, now we get to see whether ICANN is really independent or a Trojan horse for GAC.

Rutkowski: I understand from several firsthand accounts that it's now patent. They believe they have the authority to direct what goes in the root, and who get recognized as a country, the conditions under which domain name holders will have their domains. Several major countries intend to take over "their" Internet territories. This goes way beyond just WIPO recommendations.

Another list member: I think this is the kind of thing that our own congress would flip over. DOC takes (allegedly) U.S. assets, gives to Cal. non-profit to allow for private "self-regulation," and non-profit in turns allows "self-regulation" to be taken over by other national gov'ts. Is no one paying attention?

Rutkowski: I suspect there will be a rude awakening.

List member: Those of us on the Real Video feed saw two people who were delegated by their nations, one from Monrovia, and another from Turks and Caicos, who were kicked out (yes kicked out) of the GAC meeting. Now, through channels (attribution to Gordon :-)) I have been told that counsel from NZ was threatened with legal action, and "NZ would be responsible for the consequenses" if he didn't leave. This, of course, is seriously problematic.

Meantime, Paul Twoomey said outright in the GAC meeting that they used the ITU list to determine who was and was not a country. For those of us who may remember the gTLD-MOU, one of the BIG reasons that the USG didn't adopt it was ITU involvement. Now the ITU is in through the back door (as foretold by Tony).

Frankly, I thought that Tony was trying to scare us by invoking the boogeyman. I was wrong. It's even worse than that. The GAC is going to run ICANN and there is NO due process, NO openness, NO accountability, NO transparency, and NO safeguard whatsoever.

Combine the ITU list with the following missive from the GAC communique: Where the delegate of a ccTLD does not have the support of the relevant community, in the context of the ISO 3166 Code, and the relevant public authority or government, that, upon request, ICANN exercise its authority with the utmost promptness to reassign the delegation.

If you're not worried now, more evidence: Q. Does the communiqué mean to suggest that the GAC may be in the business of reassigning ccTLDs when it believes that the delegate of a ccTLD does not have the support of the relevant public authority or government? A. GAC wouldn't ask ICANN to act on a single letter, but given the proper evidence it might make what it felt was an appropriate action.

When asked why their meetings were secret, the record reflects that the answer was: A. Closedness is practical. Governments treat open meetings as "press days." Keeping the GAC meetings closed makes it easier to get past prior differences (wars, etc.). Being closed means discussions can be more substantive, direct, effective. Pragmatically, governments wouldn't be willing to have frank discussions in a public forum.

WHY does one need secret discussions if one is "merely advising?" Onto their banter regarding the GAC's support of WIPO, for a government official to say the following should scare the HELL out of everyone: A. WIPO report could be thought of as a call for harmonization of laws among nations.

As we feared, the WIPO report is meant to be a blueprint for a new International law that scuttles Free Speech on the Internet. I don't need to tell anyone how dangerous that will be. Well, Tony....I really hate to say it, but you are right...

Rutkowski: Becky Burr's creating her own jurisdiction over Internet governance by creating an intergovernmental body in which she speaks definitively on what constitutes domestic and international law and policy concerning the Internet. Lovely circular symmetry. Under existing law, she and Commerce have no jurisdiction at all.

List member: Who is the U.S. government representative to the GAC? Anyone? Becky Burr? Rutkowski: Yes. Becky Burr

List member: And the question of the days is: By what authority? (And I mean a clear chain of authority going all the way to "the top")

Rutkowski: There is none. She helped create the body, then nominated herself. The irony is that if this were a normal intergovernmental body, the State Dept would have to make the designation. Here the DOC has made an endrun and created their own little intergovernmental playpen and increased their own domestic jurisdiction at the same time. Clever, no?

On May 26 List member: 1) Is it appropriate for ICANN to use its control of the root for policy purposes? I believe it is not. No matter how noble the goal, asserting a right to use control of the root to require contract provisions is nothing short of leveraging control of an asset into a means of imposing the will of ICANN on the populace generally. If nothing else, opening this route to control makes capture of ICANN a prime objective of anyone who wants to "run" the Internet. As I am in a Lord of The Rings Mood at the moment

Rutkowski: This is a key point. It is also amazing to hear people (like Stubbs) assert that if you participate in the process, you are bound by the results. That is the antithesis of an industry voluntary standards development process. Obviously, controlling the root is envisioned as the means of enforcing the norms.

List member: Even were ICANN's policy wise and for the common good, even if no negative consequences would arise from it, even were it not a precurser of ever greater intrusion of policy "for the common good" into technical management STILL they would have no right to impose their vision of an ideal system on the rest of the world. We are past the age of Plato's Philospher Kings

Rutkowski: Exactly.

Another List member: Well, this is all idle speculation because it won't come to this, but in theory ICANN accredits others to make entries into .com, and we have a fractured root.

Rutkowski: They have to have a rather sizeable registry first. Given that 60 percent of the world's hosts are within zones under the NSI Registry COM, NET, and ORG zones, chances are that most of the world's million or so local DNS servers will point to those zones.

Fractured implies something being broken. The Internet has long had various degrees of "fracture." Any self-organizing network is going to have them.

Arguably, having a different DNS architecture is vastly preferable to ICANN and GAC regimes. It will probably provide some useful innovations. Even in religious regimes, the notion of a one true church has been largely discarded.

Another List member: The issue then is who the various DNS servers decide to point to. I could stand to know more about the number of intermediaries between me and the root. Any pointers?

Well..let's see. You use a host I suspect someone at probably runs a local DNS server that everyone there uses. It will just do a resolve directly against one of the root-servers when it attempts to resolve a host name. So there isn't much.

It's worth explain/noting that under the NSF cooperative agreement, all the directory services - including the vestiges of the old SRI contacts database - were given to AT&T.; AT&T; didn't want NSI to provide anything. As a result, there is just the most indirect, minimal reference to NSI's providing some kind of registration lookup capability.

This was part of AT&T;'s plan at the time to be the dominant provider of Internet directory services. Consonant with the times, it also coincided with AT&T;'s commitment to X.500 and expenditure of enormous monies in the ITU and other telco havens to make the OSI Directory Services business happen. This probably could have happened, but AT&T; just quietly changed their mind and walked away from all of this when their piece of the cooperative agreement ended.

The outrageous part of what is now unfolding is that NSI's customer database is now being served up as the world's must have public information service for everyone's favorite business pursuit or enforcement vehicle. The crown jewel of cluelessness/disigenuousness was the remark make by one person on the microphone in Berlin who asserted that "whois was necessary for Internet electronic transactions."

Part Four: ICANN's Iron Boot - You Will Submitt

At one hour fifteen minutes and fifty seven seconds in the real audio presentation from Network Solutions Counsel David Johnson: "ICANN is now claiming from some grant of authority of which I am unaware, that it has the power to demand as a condition of NSI or any other registry or registrar, to be in business, it must agree to a term or contract that has been promulgated unilaterally by the ICANN Board, that requires the payment of a fee and the grant of a revocable license"

One minute and thirty four seconds later: My answer to you is that if you don't sign up to be a registrar, then you won't be. George Conrades, ICANN Board Member

May 26 - List Member: Today our remote comments were largely ignored. Mike Roberts insulted us all yet again, and the whole meeting seemed to ram WIPO down everyone's throat. Although there were several great comments at the microphone in Berlin, it seemed clear that ICANN is going to do what it damn well pleases.

Issues of procedure were dismissed by Esther, and she instead asked for "substantive" commentary. Milton was singled out for an attack by Roberts because Milton didn't have a quick answer on how to "fix" the privacy concerns. He said something about "you've had years to come up with something. Why are the academics lagging so far behind business." Of course, the response "because academics have been busy contributing to the process and are looking out for the interests of ALL users, not just those who want to make a buck" wouldn't have been allowed because everyone's time was cut off at the knees.

So, the issue of who gets to decide and how was not discussed. All they looked for was praise for WIPO and various forms of CORE vs. NSI. Francis Gurry was allowed plenty of time to speak and rebutt, but people from the "other side" were not allowed to make presentations (much like IFWP did at one point).

May 27, Rutkowski: One of the more interesting legal developments is ICANN's adoption of the PSO proposal. This now enables the ITU as signatory to a PSO MoU, to exercise substantive governance authority in ICANN.

(1) What is the impact under California Law of such control over California Non-profit Public Benefit Corp? (2) Impact on IRS 501(c)(3) status? (3) Other Federal Statutes, such a acting as a foreign agent? (4) Contrary to provisions of the White Paper?

On the international level, the development appears essentially without precedent. It seems like bad policy and practice, but it's the legal aspects that are quite interesting - particularly the notion of a public international organization exercising substantive governance powers in a private corporation.

What the Board Did

May 27 - List Member: The board is going to ask Network Solutions Inc to only send one representative to the DNSO's names council, rather than the three to which it is entitled. Each of the seven constituencies has three representatives on the names council, which will act as the DNSO's steering committee. But as NSI is still the only company in charge of generic top-level domains (gTLDs), the gTLD constituency obviously comprises just NSI. Dyson warns that if NSI does not agree to do this, ICANN's board will change its bylaws to make it happen. The other two seats will not be filled until the gTLD registry market is opened up.

On the issue of geographic diversity, the board has decided to waive its requirement for the constituencies that asked for it, while on the other hand it still wants them and everybody else to know that it still feels the issue is vitally important. People trying to establish the gTLD, ccTLD and trademark and intellectual property interests asked for this provision. Dyson says the board has a difficult balance to strike between being flexible "without appearing to be arbitrary."

In other decisions made yesterday, the board basically accepted the proposal put forward to form the protocol supporting organization (PSO) that was presented by John Klensin of MCI Worldcom Inc and developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The address supporting organization (ASO), is slightly further behind, but Dyson says the board hopes to get that resolved buy the next ICANN meeting, scheduled for Santiago from August 24-26.

On the issue of membership, Dyson says the board is pleased with the recommendations it got from its membership advisory council (MAC), but now the ICANN staff will look at what it will actually mean, logistically and financially to implement a membership structure. While not insisting on there being some minimum number of members before they can actually vote, Dyson says the board is conscious that ICANN needs a "real membership." There was some talk of a 5,000 minimum being set, but nothing has been decided yet.

The board accepted much of the recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the management of the domain name system, but intends to leave the specifics of what to adopt and what not to adopt to the DNSO. Dyson says the WIPO recommendation for full contact information for domain name registrants and some other provisions are already in the ICANN bylaws but she notes in particular the importance of a dispute resolution mechanism that can be applied across all gTLDs, which is one of the key WIPO recommendations.

Finally the board approved the ICANN budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1999. It forecasts total revenues of $5.9m, made up of $5.0m in dues and fees from registries and registrars; $100,000 in accreditation fees and $700,000 in grants and contributions, with $100,000 coming from other unidentified sources. It expects expenditure for executive and staff compensation, professional and technical services, public meeting and travel expenses and administration coming to $4.2m. Equipment purchases of $100,000 and contingency, reserve and prior year loss makes it up to $5.9m.

May 28, Rutkowski: [ICANN] has taken concrete steps to place the hands of core Internet functions clearly and firmly into the hands of government and intergovernmental organizations with active involvement of a few narrow commercial and institutional interests.

It has taken concrete steps to put into place a regime where it purports to own all Internet identifiers, and to control their administration and use under extensive and intrusive regulations, taxation, and licensing. This would not be possible under any existing governmental governance scheme.

May 29 from New Internet Math in Old Bottles: ICANN = GAC + OSI or OSIfying the Internet By AM Rutkowski Enter the New Math (An excerpt from teledot com).

All the institutions and people who brought the world OSI have not gone away. Some have reinvented themselves and entered the Internet tools business. Others who for various reasons have not or can not change, have sought to reinvent OSI in the Internet for the past several years. The easiest way to do that is find some "low hanging fruit" - the most obvious of which is Internet names and numbers that have analogous concepts in the OSI world.

The result has been the emergence of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) wrapped around a core Government Advisory Committee (GAC) of old OSI players. For the most part, the same gang who for the past 20 years sought to kill the Internet and promote the OSI universe, have come together to "OSIfy" the Internet in the name of following international agreements, effecting stability, assuring competition, protecting consumers, and assuring the Internet is safe for ECommerce. It's the old OSI mantra.

They've also dug out the same old OSI tool kit. You try to assume control over Internet identifiers and declare "country" names to be sovereign domains of governments, and all other names to be subject to a rigidly controlled international regime. You confiscate the assets of existing identifier service providers and begin licensing operators under extensive regulatory regimes promulgated through never-ending meetings of countless committees in far off corners of the world in the spirit of globalism Then you pay for the whole scheme by instituting a new tax on users - at least the largest group of them - Americans!

Not surprisingly, most of the principles are the same as the old OSI world: the US Dept of Commerce, the European Union, the European PTT organization ETNO, the International Telecommunication Union, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the major telcos, and big industry players well practices in lobbying their governments for perceived strategic advantage through top-down control. Over the past six months, they have become energized with their ICANN+GAC mother lode. The recent Berlin meeting was a high water mark of OSI resurrection.

Part Five: What Now?

Although enormously wasteful and time-consuming, the OSI tools being promulgated via the ICANN-GAC, simply will not work in an Internet environment. It keeps a lot of people busy dealing with the mischief. However, it's also almost trivially simple for the Internet to collectively "route around.

June 4 Jay Fenello: So while Paul Twomey and others warn that the consequences of an ICANN failure is government intervention, I say *great*. At least we'll have the protection of law that keeps governments in check, and responsive to their citizens.

Rutkowski: The threat of government intervention has long been a canard for proceeding with schemes that could not for all practical purposes be effected by government. No government agency or intergovernmental organization could effect the far reaching Internet jurisdictional, regulatory and tax regime that ICANN has pursued. To even head in that direction, they would need to successfully surmount about 30 years of regulatory and trade policy. And they would be doing so in the face of an Internet service provisioning and user community that would be fighting them every step of the way.

Recall that these same folks tried to force these regimes into place de jure for the past 20 years and lost the battle at every turn of the road to the Internet. They should all retire to the OSI old age home in Geneva and live happily ever after communicating to each other with X.400 over CLMP using their F.401 domain names that they can acquire for $1000 apiece - complete with their WIPO approval.

June 5, Rutkowski: After listening to the GAC open meeting, it's more apparent than effort that the real power and action is taking place in the GAC - as it no doubt long has.

List member who gave explicit permission to publish his comments anonymously: You had to be there. I agree with Tony. The following message is what I wrote the night after the GAC open meeting.

May 25, 2020 the big, unpleasant surprise of the afternoon was the public meeting of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC). The GAC has attracted heavy-hitters in the governmental world (OECD, ITU, WIPO), as well as some very ambitious, mid-career bureaucrats such as Paul Twomey of Australia. Burr was there and nervously watched to see how her coup would unfold. As the solo spokesperson revealed the communique of the GAC, a stunned silence fell over the room. The GAC had addressed the most immediate and sensitive issues in the domain name arena, and had taken extremely strong positions that reflected with precision what many of us believed was already the hidden agenda of the ICANN board:

* ccTLD assignees that "did not meet the needs of their community" should be reassigned., and national governments should control the delegation of ccTLDs. * The WIPO recommendations should be adopted in full for gTLDs (i.e., applied only to NSI)

Earlier, the ccTLD registrar for Moldova had been ejected from the meeting because he was not a government official, and the counsel for the New Zealand government representative, none other than BWG’s Peter Dengate Thrush, was also forced to leave by the chair. In other words, the "advisory" committee took whatever steps were necessary to ensure that the committee was prevented from even hearing any viewpoints that did not conform to the agenda of expanding government power over the Internet. According to Izumi Aizu, the Japanese government representative had only been given materials for the meeting on Friday (this was Wednesday) and after expressing hesitation on some point was delayed by Twomey until time was short and Twomey manipulated the group into agreeing.

Reality sank in: the GAC was the real power here. It possessed governmental power but was able to work behind the scenes, asserting claims to TLD property with no legal basis and operating in hidden meetings and then announcing conclusions that were undoubtedly coordinated with Roberts and key figures on the Board. The Board has zero accountability to its members and no reason at all to attend to their wishes. It has many reasons to do what the governments and international organizations behind the GAC want it to do. By following GAC recommendations ICANN demonstrates its utility to the people with real power.

The future direction of GAC seemed clear, too. While today it chose to address some of the most immediate issues, the substantial research and policy analysis resources behind the governmental and international agencies involved (e.g., the OECD, ITU, WIPO, Australian Information Society Commission, etc.) could be and almost certainly will be extended to longer-term issues. For example, the subject of fees for IP addresses was raised. The capabilities of these policy development organs totally outmatch the thin, amateurish capabilities of ICANN’s barely-developed SO’s. ICANN's Board members are simply stage managers.

Twomey was a fairly articulate defender of government’s role in the Internet, but his ideological commitment to it made him say too much. If governments have such an important role to play in protecting consumers, et al, why bother with ICANN? Why not work directly with governments? But Twomey’s increasingly intense ramble got really interesting when he spoke of the Green Paper. "Governments put a lot of effort into assuring that ICANN happened," he claimed. Governments got the Green Paper changed, and they did so by talking "quietly." They had to work behind the scenes, by stealth, because if they had tried to exert influence openly the US would have resisted. A fascinating admission about the methods that really work. And a truly depressing statement about the manipulative cynicism of the public and private leaders who have been urging "the Internet community" to get involved in ICANN as an act of "self-governance."

The whole package‹Wipo, the composition of the ICANN Board, shared gTLDs, and the basic features of the accreditation contract‹were all worked out beforehand among the EU, US Commerce, and ISOC heavyweights. And then he tried the old scare tactics about what would be the alternative to this worst of both worlds monstrosity. He was able to utter only a single word: "Beijing."

On Thursday, the day of the closed Board meeting Becky Burr and Paul Twomey, with a tour guide. Were seen touring various historic sites.

  An issue I raised with Paul Twomey at the public session was never satisfactorily resolved. I also asked him what international law gives governments‹any governments‹the final say on who is delegated control of the ccTLD that stands for their country. He did not really understand the question, I think.

Let me clarify what I mean. The ISO-3166 list is a standard maintained by a governmental organization. The two letter codes "stand for" real countries or geopolitical territories, and it is the ISO's job to determine which geopolitical entities are "real" enough to make the list. So, inclusion in the list does carry some legal and political significance.

However, it is not clear to me that the *use* of that list, or its adoption as a naming convention by someone, has any implications at all about who gets to control what those two-letter codes are attached to. An obvious example: if I use the ISO-3166 code to categorize all the files on my personal web site, it does not give the government of China any special right to decide how the "CN" folder is administered. This is true even if the web site and its folders are globally visible on the Internet.

Now, how do we leap from the fact that a two-letter code *stands for* a country, to the notion that that country's *government* has a property right over the administration of the TLD? Where is the law that establishes this linkage?

Also, whatever linkage exists seems to be based on the obviously false assumption that TLDs, like national governments, are inherently monopolistic, or mutually exclusive within a territory. But it is obvious that this assumption is false in the case of TLDs. There could be a .usa as well as a .us. There could be a .china as well as a .cn. In a world in which semantic references to political and regional and cultural territories are quite abundant, how did we get to the notion that ccTLDs, like national governments, are exclusive monopolies?

The simple fact is that the linkage between ccTLDs and national sovereignty is purely semantical. There is, as far as I know, no basis for it in international law. The GAC is merely asserting these rights, and getting the support of Burr and eventually ICANN, it is able to succeed in this assertion.

The tragic thing about this is that the ccTLD people are intellectually disarmed by their own hidden assumptions about the supposed linkage between meaning and sovereignty. In Berlin I came upon a cluster of Becky Burr and Anthony van Couvering and Nigel somebody. I asked the questions above. Before Burr could improvise an answer, van Couvering and Nigel jumped all over me, saying, "you can't deny that national governments have authority in cyberspace!"


Part Six: Railroading the Names Council and The WIPO Resolutions - Get Ready for Webpage Licenses

June 4 IFWP list: The Initial Board noted that a uniform dispute settlement mechanism was a necessary element of a competitive registrar system. The Initial Board noted that the scope of this policy should be wider than the cases of abusive registration with which the WIPO report deals, and ultimately cover all commercial dispute issues linked to Domain Name registrations.

Bret Fausett: That last sentence is not in the Board's resolutions. What does it mean? Does it indeed represent a Board sentiment? Was that sentiment unanimous? Can someone who was in Berlin (or better yet, an ICANN Board member) shed some light on this?

June 7, Esther Dyson replied: Basically, the sense of the board is that this policy, whatever it eventually involves, should probably address all (nonpolitical) disputes over names, not just the "abusive" registrations that WIPO focuses on. ("all commercial disputes linked" to domain name registrations may be over broad, as opposed to commercial disputes over names themselves.)

On June 8, Michael Froomkin, professor university of Miami law school and member WIPO panel of Experts: One enormous danger of this expand-WIPO-arbitration strategy endorsed in the ICANN Press communique is that there will not be judicial review in the US (and a few other countries), while there will be in much of the rest of the world. The result will be to put US registrants (and others similarly affected) at a vast disadvantage to the rest of the world.

I explained this at some length in my critique of RFC 3. The problem still exists with the scaled-down final report, but I think it can be swallowed in the interest of compromise since the cases are presumably going to be about real abuse and the potential for injustice is thus much reduced. Go to cases where reasonable people can disagree, and it's unacceptably unfair to tell people they have to waive their right to go to court when others do not. I have yet to see WIPO, ICANN, or anyone else address this issue (and if you are thinking of making arbitration mandatory and binding, which solves the equity problem, try selling that to either the trademark people or the people who think freedom of expression should not be entrusted to arbitrators). To endorse the idea of wider arbitration, even in principle (if that is the term for doing it in a press release that undercuts the supposedly formal resolution), without addressing this fundamental issue is very troubling.

I'd also like help understanding how a generic policy on commercial disputes falls under the jurisdiction of a body that (I thought) was limited to technical issues regarding names and numbers. In addressing this issue, I'd especially like help in understanding how this "technical" jurisdiction will not then be extended to the content of web pages, e.g. copyright or offensive content, especially since in the usual dispute regarding a trademark and a domain name, the law makes the content of the web pages at that DN an essential part of the issue: non-cybersquatting trademark cases usually turn on whether the use of the term causes consumer confusion. This is not an attempt to use some Internet scare tactic. It is a sincere and honest question to which I do not currently see an answer.

As a lawyer I see all the signs of a slippery slope here. And please don't tell me that I should put my faith in the Board. I retain a great personal respect for the Board members I know personally. But this is not about faith in individuals, this is about creating an institution and its legal powers; we always have to assume the worst when doing any legal drafting, and that's doubly true when designing institutions that may last generations.

Critique of WIPO RFC 3:

Commentary on WIPO Final Report:

June 9, back on the private list- Rutkowski: In reviewing the materials, it's obvious that Twomey is adept at tailoring his speeches to the audience. In his speech to the WIPO Sydney meeting last November, he saw ICANN as a stock exchange like regulatory organization. In the letter he officially filed in the NTIA proceeding under the signature of his mentor, Sen. Alston, he explicitly he wants NTIA to:

"...explicitly recognize the continuation of the authority of national governments to manage or establish policy for their own ccTLDs. This right was explicitly recognized in the US White Paper released in June 1998. The Australian Government requests that such provision appear in the By-laws of the ICANN as eventually recognized by the US Administration." See

Thus, his subsequent statements in Berlin on this subject are rather disingenuous at best. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Twomey owes his current existence entirely to Alston - who is clearly on a campaign to introduce strong content controls on the Internet. Alston's personal home page even touts "content regulations" in his banner!>

June 11 Editor's Note. On June 11 ICANN held the first meeting of the unelected improperly constituted DNSO names council. Don Telage of NSI had tried to exercise his right granted by the ICANN by laws to appoint two members of the TLD constituency of the names council naming Canadian Richard Sexton and New Zealander Joop Ternstra. He was trying to force ICANN to carry outs its threat to change its by laws to prevent him from doing so. Richard Sexton was thrown off the phone call by Sola.

Private list - Rutkowski: "Operator, his name is not on the list, please disconnect him" - Javier Sola. Richard, Ah, you were the target of Generalissimo Sola. From what I know about what occurred, it is clear that the whole DNSO thing is a manipulated sham. Let me recount what I know. Sola said at the outset that it was a closed meeting. Sola also informed Telage that ICANN had directed him to admit Telage only as an observer. (An hour later, Telage got a note from Roberts refusing to accept his letter proposing the 3 representatives.)

When challenged by Telage, Sola called for an immediate vote to close the meeting, got 6 quick names spoken, then declared the meeting closed. At that point, he directed the operator to disconnect everyone not approved, including David Johnson as NSI's counsel. Thereafter, when anyone tried to connect, Sola simply told the operator not to connect them.

At the same time, Roberts and Sims were allowed to participate unchallenged - as were both of MCI's two representatives in clear violation of the Bylaws. This was carried out with a terseness and swiftness that made it clear this had been well rehearsed.

What occurred over the next 20 minutes was focused entirely on Group A - the WIPO Report. No other groups were formed, no other topics dealt with. On Group A, they also proceeded as if this was scripted. The Group was set up, four study questions proposed, chairs named (Cohen and Amadeau), people named to the Group, and meetings and deliverables established. They make it clear they were on a crash course to get a report competed on 7 July for delivery to ICANN. Nothing else seemed to matter but the WIPO report, plus the adoption of a schedule of next meetings as well as controls.

Sola and most non-Americans wanted the Names Council to be completely closed. After some discussion, the Americans present persuaded the group to make the Council nominally open, but with an agreement that non-Council members could only be present as observers, and were not disruptive in the view of the Chair. Furthermore, it was agreed that the Council will have secret closed meetings prior to their actual meetings to set their agendas.

In addition, when VanCouvering offered to publish a scribes report, he was told that these were private remarks and that he should only publish a summary. It was also decided that the Open DNSO Assembly would be for show purposes to allow for nominal general comments only, and that it would have no substantive functions or powers.

The remainder of the time was spent setting dates for their next meetings: at facilities provided by ISOC in San Jose later this month, and on 23-24 Aug in Santiago. (Santiago was allegedly chosen by ICANN to allow everyone to go skiiing.)

Comment: In 25 years in the telecom and info policy making field, this meeting - if you can call it that - ranks as the worst example of a closed charade. Nothing comes close. Ironically, if this were all taking place in an intergovernmental organization, things could not proceed in this fashion and would be more open.

Michael Sondow (privately and with permission): I got a good recording of me being disconnected by Javier Sola. He did the same to Richard Sexton, who surprised me pleasantly by being there, at least for a moment. The tape should play just fine in the acoustics of those nice curtained hearing rooms at the DOJ.

It's interesting that Mike Roberts and Joe Sims were on the call, isn't it? I don't remember seeing their names on the website. What constituency do they represent, do you think? I was rather irked by, as much as anything else, having been removed from the call on the word of Javier Sola, who wasn't the call leader. When I first called in, I was told by the operator that Theresa Swinehart was the leader. So how could they remove me (and Richard Sexton) on the say-so of Javier Sola?

Well, I called back to the conference call center and spoke with a supervisor. I protested strongly against the apparent lack of protocol. After all, if anyone at all could tell the operator to remove someone, then I could have told the operator to remove Javier Sola.

The supervisor told me that she had first checked with Theresa, and that Theresa had said "Yes". "Do you mean Theresa Swinehart"?, I asked. "That's right", said the obliging supervisor.

Now, Ms. Swinehart is a special character in this little tragi-comedy. She's the person who set up all the teleconferences for the CORE people when they were running the Barcelona and Monterrey swindles last year. She's their communications person.

Theresa Swinehart is also, as was pointed out to me, illegitimately on the NC herself, since both she and Susan Anthony are members of CORE (or is it ISOC? I get them mixed up), and the bylaws strictly forbid two NC members from the same organization. Even more outrageous, she and Javier Sola are two out of the three Business Constituency NC members, their buddy John Englund being the third. Just one big happy family.

For those who would like to see the whole picture:

1) The new DNSO website is being used for CORE propaganda: ten mentions of the gTLD-MoU and its associations on a page at the site called "acronyms", obviously just a pretext for giving CORE URLs (;

2) A page of "history" of the DNSO ( which portrays it as a continuation of the process from Barcelona and Monterrey, organized and controlled by CORE and defeated as the DNSO by the Paris draft coalition, the CENTR proposal, and the ICANN board itself;

3) Elizabeth Porteneuve is obviously not the "neutral" website host that she was made out to be at the DNSO meeting in Berlin, but a partisan and operative of CORE. As such, she should not be allowed to host (and manipulate) the DNSO website and mailing lists.

4) Almost none of the people participating in the teleconference were true representatives of real constituencies. How could they be, when only three of the constituencies have NC members (see, and even these are, by their own admission, provisional ones?

5) Michael Roberts and Joe Sims were on the call for the same reason that Esther Dyson was at the NCDNHC formation meeting in Berlin on May 25th: to oversee and steer the meeting back in the direction they want (to an ISOC/CORE/INTA controlled DNSO) in case it started to stray from the ISOC/CORE/INTA agenda.

Orders from Mike Roberts

Mr. Donald Telage Network Solutions, Inc. Dear Don, Your message of today, copied in part below, is not responsive to the May 27 resolution of the ICANN Board with respect to participation of the gTLD constituency in the provisional DNSO Names Council. In order to participate in the Names Council, Network Solutions must name a single representative as directed by the May 27th resolution.

The Board appreciates your concern for representation of a full range of interests in the work of the DNSO. The Board has considered and discussed this objective both at its Singapore and at its Berlin meetings and in the public fora associated with those meetings. It took particular note of the needs of individual domain name holders for representation in its At Large and Supporting Organization constituencies and indicated in its actions in Berlin that it will incorporate the views of these constituencies in its further actions in forming these constituencies and their representation structures.

However, it is not the role of the gTLD constituency, or of Network Solutions, to deal with these issues. There are appropriate public consensus mechanisms provided in the ICANN Bylaws and in our noticed actions in this area for accomplishing that objective.

I look forward to hearing from you at an early date that you have reconsidered your actions presented to us today and are prepared to participate in the provisional Names Council in the manner adopted by the Board. Sincerely, Mike

Is ICANN an Al Gore Mandated, United Nations World Government for the Internet?

As usual Dave Hughes writing in Telecom Reg on June 11, got it right. "VP Gore, Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket has always had a key role in Administration policy re the Internet (and as a Senator was far more influential in getting its earliest public incarnations funded than pundits admit). And it has always been rumored or reported and confirmed that the big corporations who wanted to cash in on the Internet have dropped in the back door, so to speak, of the White House to get Gore's help in controlling the Internet their way. The name of IBM has always led that list. So is it any surprise that Mike Nelson, who was Senator Gore's key net staffer back then, is now on the IBM payroll in its Internet policy making?

The myth has always been that the Democrats, and Gore (and Esther Dyson who was the President of the Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF and is now the leader of ICANN, who dissembles about 'being for the little guy' while appearing now in IBM Television commercials as the Information Queen) have been for the grass roots, open, freedom loving, uncontrolled, Internet. But it is a myth.

So who has the clout to say the Emperor has no clothes? Senator John McCain, Republican candidate for President and the head of the key Senate Telecommunications Committee, a quite independent-minded Senator who opposes lots of cozy Washington relationships with big corporations and their money, and one who does not seem to hearken to surrendering US sovereignty to international bodies - might find this murky, arcane, but stark Future-of-the-Internet maneuverings of ICANN - blessed and empowered by the Administration through its Department of Commerce, interesting, and something he could publicly call Gore to explain in detail in the midst of the Presidential race.

The danger of ICANN, of course, is an 'internationally' governed Internet - meaning the regulation of everything from IP names to 'permissible' content, who can be an ISP, who can put up Web Sites (be licensed, with fee), who can even POINT one web site to another (one foreign court just ruled it is illegal for a web site to even post a hyperlink pointing towards a web site owned by Scientology, a step far beyond citing them for publishing their content). i.e. we seem headed for an Internet which is government controlled, without freedom of electronic speech, and run to the satisfaction of the largest corporations for their benefit, not yours. Under such an Internet we will likely see the imposition of "standards" in a way to deliberately inhibit the introduction of new technologies in order to allow those with the vested interests to amortize their installed plant investments over the longest possible period at the expense of the newer technology companies and the general public.

ICANN aims at nothing less than becoming an Internet United Nations, a Treaty-bound organization, where the US government would be bound by 'its' rules, arrived at by votes of other countries, with taxing authority (ICANN wants every DNS domain name taxed $1 a year to pay its expenses). So can McCain help stop this train rushing down the track?"

Conclusion: Is the Fate of the Internet in the Hands of Jim Rutt?

As we face the ICANN train we had all better realize that we have a new CEO at Network Solutions. According to those who have spoken with him, Jim Rutt can be counted on to be both net savvy and to give direction to NSI. This is an NSI that was foolish enough last fall to let itself be coerced into signing an extension of the cooperative agreement by the Clinton/Gore administration's rogue operation established in the Department of Commerce. DoC inherited the mission when the NSF, to its ever lasting credit, refused to go along with the hatchet job being prepared by Becky Burr.

Rutt holds the fate of the Internet in his hands. That he has been online since 1981 when as administrator of the Source he brought Dave Hughes to Washington to explain to Source management the meaning of the technology they were selling is heartening. Rutt "grocks" the net. He must now find a way to defend it from the helm of a company that up to now has been influenced by some executives with a left-over-SAIC mind set that says you can reason with and trust the US government. These folk capitulated to Clinton administration and DoC's pressure in September and signed Amendment 11 to the cooperative agreement rather than walking away when the agreement expired as they were legally entitled to do. The consequences of that unfortunate action are now becoming clear.

In Berlin according to the real time scribe's notes Becky Burr said: Amendment 11 says that NSI clearly needs to be accredited following the testbed. Signing the accreditation agreement is the way to get accredited. This led to Board Member George Conrades blurting out: "If you don't believe in the legitimacy of ICANN, you are wasting a hell of a lot of our time." "If you don't sign up to be a registrar, then you won't be."

A look at Amendment 11 shows that it does not support Becky's assumption: " (3.) By March 31, 1999, NSI will establish a test bed supporting actual registrations in .com, .net and .org by 5 registrars accredited by NewCo (Accredited Registrars). (Phase 1) (4.) By June 1, 1999, the Shared Registration System will be deployed by NSI and available to support multiple licensed Accredited Registrars offering registration services within the gTLDs for which NSI now acts as a registry. (Phase 2) (5.) By October 1, 1999, NSI will have completed reengineering of NSI's registry/registrar interface and back end systems so as to assure that NSI, acting as registry, shall give all licensed Accredited Registrars (including NSI acting as registrar) equivalent access ("equal access") to registry services through the Shared Registration System. (Phase 3)"

The implication may be there, but nowhere is NSI called an "accredited registrar". The testbed ends June 25. At which point Becky needs to have NSI knuckle under. The June 11 teleconference run by Javier Sola with Sims and Roberts as observers is but one more sign of ICANN's hostility to NSI. The ICANNites have made it sufficiently clear what they will do to NSI should Jim Rutt decide to sign ICANN's one sided registration criteria. Jim will have a choice: sign and invite a stock holder suit for taking an action that would destroy stockholder equity or refuse to sign and by so doing strike a significant blow on behalf of an Internet that can remain free of the shackles of a DoC, ICANN, CORE, WIPO, ITU imposed world regulatory authority.

At the same time it is to be urgently hoped that there can emerge a face saving alternative composed of an independent confederation of DNS roots which could include the ICANN/IAHC/IPOC/CORE, NSI and other legacy roots, and offer domain name registrants their choice of TLDs and associated administrative baggage. Such developments would represent a true as opposed the bogus choice of ICANN.

If such a confederation emerged it could also attract enough support to derail the ICANN take over. These two actions together, it must be hoped, would either push ICANN over the brink or start Congressional hearings. Some on the House Commerce Committee would like to move forward now. Unfortunately reliable sources inform us that intellectual property lobbyist supporters of ICANN are opening their checkbooks to Bliley in order to prevent action by the Committee. Let there be no mistake. We are at war for the future of the Internet.

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