TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Showdown with USA Over Internet Control

Re: Showdown with USA Over Internet Control

Patrick Townson (
Sat, 12 Nov 2005 14:00:00 -0600

Andy Sullivan writing for Reuters, quoted Commerce Secretary Michael
Sullivan in TD V24_#515:

> "It would be akin to having more than 100 drivers of a single
> bus. Right now we have a driver, and the driver's been doing a good
> job," said Assistant Commerce Secretary Michael Gallagher, the
> U.S. official who oversees the domain-name system.

Unfortunatly no ... the bus driver has _not_ been doing a good job.
The bus driver _says_ he has been doing a good job, but that is
just his opinion. What bus driver would admit to doing a lousy job?

> "Materially there's nothing wrong with the current structure. But
> formally it is strange that something with such a global impact is
> being controlled by one nation, and there is a sharpened position
> against the United States' unilateral thinking," Dutch Minister of
> Economic Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst said in an interview.

The United States seems to be saying, we invented the bus, therefore
we will also appoint the driver.

> If unresolved, the clash could lead to a split in the domain-name
> system, and Internet users wouldn't necessarily reach the same Web
> site when they type an address like "" into their
> browsers.

And that would be bad news.

> The list only changes when a California nonprofit body called the
> Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, adds
> new top-level domains or redelegates the ones that exist. ICANN can't
> make any changes without the approval of the U.S. Department of
> Commerce.

> Some countries worry that the United States could use this system to
> effectively "unplug" a nation from the Internet by redirecting its
> country code. Experts say that would be difficult to pull off because
> it would require thousands of computer administrators across the globe
> to cooperate.

Then why is the USA so concerned about internet being 'controlled' (as
if it could be) by some other country? Would the same 'thousands of
computer administrators across the globe' handle things any
differently if ICANN was treated as a technical agency of the United
Nations (just as ITU is now) than if it remained the sole property of
the United States? Wouldn't the 'thousands of computer administrators'
continue doing their own thing?

> Gallagher says the United States has kept politics out of the root
> since it set up ICANN in 1998. But in August he asked ICANN to
> postpone work on a .xxx domain for sex sites after conservative groups
> urged the Commerce Department to block it.

But in this instance, ICANN and the conservative groups were in
agreement about .xxx although for different reasons. Although
conservative groups do not want to legitimitize sex for reasons of
their own, ICANN does not really like the idea of sex being
stigmatized, as they fear would happen with .xxx . It would be a lot
like asking ICANN to start a couple new top-level domains (let's call
them .spam and .scam and maybe .phish) to properly and accurately
reflect where things are at on the net these days. I honestly do not
think ICANN wants attention drawn to the overwhelming use of the net
these days for spam, scam or for that matter sex. Where spam and scam
are concerned, ICANN almost treats it as just an abberation, something
out of the blue which 'coincidentally' happens and that we users
should not be concerned; after all, the 'experts' will cure it for
us if they decide it needs curing, and we can always 'filter' our
email, and run virus scanners galore, isn't that sufficient? And they
do not want to make things _too easy_ to filter out; that might make
the internet useful for average, everyday citizens once again.

> Gallagher said he sent the letter to express concerns in as
> transparent a manner as possible and avoid charges of backroom
> manipulation.

> "(When) other countries have done it, it's not a foul. For some reason
> when the U.S. does it it's a foul," he said.

Because the United States _should_ know better. After all, we were a
major force in the creation of the United Nations were we not? And the
UN is headquarted here, is it not? Presumably there were good reasons
for that.

> Though the United States does not plan to give up control of the
> domain-name system,

So they have said at least a few times.

> the summit may lead to other changes.

Let's hope so.

> Participants may also agree to set up a forum to discuss cross-border
> issues like spam and cybercrime.

Considering the huge amount of spam and cybercrime on the internet
these days, I really have to wonder why the USA thinks it would be
so awful having an 'oppressive government' involved in running things.
Isn't the amount of spam and cybercrime we have now oppressive enough
in its own right? Could (for example) China or Iraq make things any
worse? In some ways they might make things _better_.

> Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.


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