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IIR: Internet Impact Report

What does an expansion project for the San Francisco Airport have to do with ICANN?

Such a project, extruding into the San Francisco Bay, must wade through presentations by many stakeholders (e.g., Save the Bay, Sierra Club, Bay Planning Coalition, South Bay homeowners, etc.) and pass muster from a number of agencies and commissions (e.g., Regional Water Quality Control Board, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a bunch of acronyms I won't list here).

The airport expansion proposal will require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which examines issues related to hydrology, geology, habitat, water quality, air quality, etc. This process suggests a model that might be applied to the difficult Internet names and numbering issues ahead. Why not require an IIR, Internet Impact Report, for ICANN'S most contentious policies?

One of the most worrisome features of ICANN's byzantine structure is that the "consensus policies" do not represent consensus so much as the perspective of a handful of individuals and organizations who are plying preferred interests under the guise of shared responsibility.

Wouldn't the Internet community be better served by a process for technical management that fully investigates the issues and formalizes a requirement for a credible alternative analysis before adoption.

Any policy that potentially affects the technical coordination of more than 20% of the Internet stakeholders should require an Internet Impact Report. The first step would be a scoping session, which flushes out whatever issues surround the proposal. This would assure that policies are not driven by well-funded stakeholders but are developed in a manner that analyzes the technical, economic, legal, architectural and logistical impacts. The IIR should also provide a baseline for comparison and adaptive set of principles, plus assess the cumulative impacts of the proposal.

Maybe that sounds too much like bureaucracy, but I feel the existing fast-track, quick-to-adopt, slow-to-adapt approach needs to be re-examined. Difficult, contentious issues are informally discussed in small working groups which submit recommendations that are considered at the SO level with no baseline, adoptive or adaptive underlying principles. Certainly a deep and broad exploration of the hard issues, which an IIR could provide, should be built into the process

The Internet is an evolving system, and decisions made today will reverberate worldwide and affect future generations of users. If we don't have enough time to do all this right, we certainly don't have enough time to do it all over.

In my humble opinion.

by Ellen Rony
November 16, 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

Reverse Domain Name Denigration

The Devil is in the Details

An Alternative to ICANN?

Comments on the WIPO Interim Report RFC-3



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