ICANN vs. the Federal Reserve

The Internet is about to go independent.

After years of support and supervision, the U.S. Government is about to irrevocably relinquish its control over the Internet by transferring its authority to an independent corporation named ICANN.

As part of this push, the current chairman of ICANN posted this article to the Wall Street Journal.

What’s truly amazing about this piece, is how well it’s done.

I found myself nodding in agreement with just about everything in it, especially the reasons why the U.S. Government should do the transfer, and the vision for the organization that takes over this role.

It was only after digesting this piece, that I remembered we are talking about ICANN here. You see, the Internet community has been deceived once before …

On July 2nd, 1997, the NTIA started the process to transfer its authority over the Internet via a Request for Comments. Then, after thousands of comments were submitted by a wide range of Internet stakeholders, they were compiled into a “Green Paper” which stated:

Principles for a New System. The Green Paper set out four principles to guide
the evolution of the domain name system: stability, competition, private bottom-
up coordination, and representation.

As the Green Paper devolved into the White Paper, and the White Paper devolved into ICANN, the “representation” principal was the one that was constantly at issue.

Initially, ICANN fought against any representation for Internet users.  But, in order to get the contract, ICANN begrudgingly allowed user representation on their board. For North America, that person was Karl Auerbach, one of the first elected representatives in cyberspace.

Unfortunately for everyone, this was a token gesture. Karl was excluded from all important decision making. Then when he complained and tried to change the system, he was removed from the ICANN board, along with all user representation.

Today, we don’t know how ICANN came about, we don’t know who is behind it, and we don’t know how decisions are made in ICANN.

What’s really going on here, is the powers that be are about to grant a perpetual franchise of control over who is who, and what is what, on the Internet.

It’s similar to the transfer of authority over the money supply by the U.S. Congress to the Federal Reserve. Except in ICANN’s case, once the transfer is done, there will be no way to undo it.

So while it may be true that many people and organizations support the transfer of authority from the U.S. government to an independent entity, many of the names mentioned in the article below have also expressed concerns with ICANN (in its present form) being that entity.

Today, ICANN continues to refuse all attempts to put in place some form of user representation, and continues to operate in secret with no transparency or sunshine.

If this transfer is allowed to go forward as is, I predict that, years from now, we will be watching with bated breath for decisions from ICANN, just like we watch for announcements from Janet Yellen today:

  • Will the Fed raise interest rates by 0.25%?
  • Will ICANN limit what transgender people can say in cyberspace?

Either way, we’ll watch these decisions from afar, and wonder how those people came to have so much power and control over our lives.

Jay Fenello

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