June 13, 2002
1:49 PM   Subscribe

Are national governments about to take over the Internet? Has ICANN done such a terrible job that they should be permitted to?
posted by rushmc (3 comments total)

There are a number of issues here. First, it seems straightforward that a given nation should have some control over its country domain and how it's organized. If they don't like the management, they should be able to turn him out. The .za case is extreme but not even unique -- after ignoring it for years, the USA took over the .us domain and as of April of this year the new, nationalized system was open for registration. (This after years of a dispersed structure assigning most regional registration duties to old-hand internet hobbyists, who sometimes enforced ludicrous and in any case highly variable policies.)

Second, having a nationalized management does not mean that non-commercial interests are excluded, which seems to be the primary objection to the nationalization in the first place.

Third, the phrasing is loaded. ICANN have never really fully controlled the country code domains, although they clearly would like to. (Viz. their plan, since abandoned after pushback, to fund operations through 'taxes' levied on CC TLD owners.) Nevertheless it's clear that they can play an important coordinating role, standardizing rules and policies over time. This doesn't have to be coercive; an excellent process would be the way that engineers, builders, and policymakers cooperate to create the model building code, which localities then gradually come to follow as a standard.

If anything I think a national government has much more claim to control its country code than ICANN -- ICANN's power, after all, is only such that national governments recognize in the first place.

And ICANN is a mess, but it's not clear that any other way of doing it wouldn't be even messier. There are problems, but for the most part I think they've made improvements, considering they were created after most of the things they manage were already up, running, and working after a fashion.
posted by dhartung at 4:02 PM on June 13, 2002

How do you view ICANN's recent statements about eliminating the representatives elected from the general population of internet users, dhartung?
posted by rushmc at 4:05 PM on June 13, 2002

In the South African case, what would happen if Mike Lawrie was in no position to unhide the key?
posted by rory at 5:20 AM on June 14, 2002

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