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An Alternative to ICANN?

Recently I was asked, what alternative to ICANN will stand up to global scrutiny?

An interesting and worthwhile question. For starters, the Internet contracts, agreements and standards oversight should be moved under the sphere of the Federal Communications Commission, not the Department of Commerce where it remains today. The DOC has commerce, not communication, as its priority. But the purest, most inclusive activity on the Internet is communication. Do you trust the DOC to look out for the interests of those on the Internet who do not fuel economic growth?

Or perhaps the US role in the Internet should be moved under a new governmental agency, FIA (Federal Internet Administration). I don't know how the airline industry works, but some of the difficult issues facing Internet administration seem to have parallels with that industry--global and borderless standards and cooperation-- to make it all work. The airlines are privatized while the Federal Aviation Administration coordinates U.S. standards. Isn't that a better model than putting unaccountable power in the hands of a private, non-profit corporation led (until September 2000) by 10 people who hold their positions through a secret, not representative process.

ICANN has made some egregious errors. We don't know whether the mistakes can be attributed to newness, cluelessness, ineptness, malice or power-mongering. Nonetheless, recalling the optimism that greeted the first IFWP meeting last July in Reston, at what point can we declare this experiment in privatization a failed effort and begin to join in the exploration of an alternative way to handle the technical coordination of the Internet?

ICANN has given us a Rubik's cube structure set in a briar patch. Even the people on the DNS subscriber lists have trouble keeping up with all the changing bylaws, weekly son-of-emailbox-spawns, resolutions and international ICANN road show. The whole process seems remarkably convoluted. Wouldn't an FIA be an improvement?

by Ellen Rony
September 24, 1999

Other articles, editorials and domain-related comments by this author:

At Large Membership: ICANN's Ultimate Tarbaby

Whither .ORG?

The ICANN-VeriSign Agreement: A Sweetheart Deal

The Divine Right of Names: New TLDs Prep for Start-up

The Envelope, Please: New Top Level Domains on the Horizon

Procter & Gamble Bids Adieu to SINUS, THIRST and FLU

Words First!

Sunrise+20: The Numbers Tell the Story

Famous Marks

Clicks or Mortar: Are Domain Names Property?

Res Ipsa Loquitur

RDND: Reverse Domain Name Denigration

IIR: Internet Impact Report

The Devil is in the Details

Comments on the WIPO Interim Report RFC-3


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