[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ga] Re: [IFWP] Report from Geneva, 25 July 1998 (was: Internet stability

I recently noticed this article by Ronda Hauben and reposted on Friday,
6th of Aug 1999 by Kerry Miller on the ifwp.org list.

Does anyone have comments - pro or con on this?

Jeff Mason

Planet Communication & Computing Facility           pccf@bigbird.earth-net.net
Public Access Internet Research Publisher           1 (212) 894-3704 ext. 1033

> ========
> http://www.nettime.org/nettime.w3archive/199808/msg00026.html
>                    Report from the Front
>            Meeting in Geneva Rushes to Privatize
>           the Internet DNS and Root Server Systems
>                      by Ronda Hauben
>      There is a battle being waged today, one that is of great
> importance to the future of society, but most people have no idea
> it is taking place.
>      I just returned from Geneva, Switzerland where a meeting was
> held Friday July 25 and Saturday July 26 to create the
> organization that Ira Magaziner, advisor to the U.S. President,
> has called for. It is an organization to privatize key aspects of
> the Internet, the Domain Name System (DNS) and the control of the
> root server of the Internet. The meeting was the second in a
> series that are part of the International Forum on the White
> Paper (IFWP) (1).
>      The U.S. government, without discussion by the U.S.
> Congress, the press or the public, and contrary to the direction
> of the U.S. court (in the case ACLU vrs. Reno) is throwing a bone
> to the private sector and offering them the possibility of making
> their millions off of the Internet. And while in Geneva, I saw
> folks from several different countries grabbing at the bone, in
> hopes of getting themselves some of the same kind of exorbitant
> profits from selling gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) that the
> National Science Foundation (NSF) bestowed on Network Services
> Inc (NSI) several years ago by giving them the contract enabling
> them to charge for domain name registration.
> There is money to be made, or so these folks seem to think, and 
> so any concern for the well being of the Internet or its continued 
> development as "a new medium of international communication" 
> (ACLU vrs Reno) has been thrown to the wind by Mr. Magaziner, 
> IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) under the direction of 
> Mr. Postel, which has the U.S. government contract to administer 
> the Internet Addresses and Names and to administer the root 
> server, and the others who, without any ethical considerations or 
> social obligations are rushing through this process and squelching 
> discussion and dissent.  
>      It is called "consensus" we are told. I went to the session
> setting up the Names Registry Council provisions for the bylaws
> of what we are told is to be the new private organization
> controlling these key aspects of the Internet. At the beginning
> of the meeting, I made the mistake of objecting when all were
> asked to register their consensus with the provision for a Names
> Council. I wanted to hear some discussion so I would know what I
> was voting on. I was scolded by one participant for asking for a
> discussion. He claimed that they were *not* here for people who
> had not read the bylaws proposal that appeared online only a few
> days before. I had read the bylaws proposal but was naive enough
> to think that one would hear discussion and clarification before
> being asked to declare one's adherence. In that way I thought one
> would know what one was agreeing to. Instead, however, I soon
> learned that that was *not* how business (or really religion) was
> being developed in the session I attended.
>      After harassing me for asking for clarification and
> discussion, the meeting continued. The Chairman asked people to
> brainstorm and list the functions for the council. When I asked
> that the activities of the council be reported online and that
> there be online discussion with anyone interested being allowed
> to comment on all issues concerning the council, the scribe
> miswrote what I had proposed. When I asked it be corrected, I was
> told by the Chair that there was no "wordsmithing" allowed, i.e.
> that it would not be corrected.  After a number of people had
> listed functions for the council, it was announced that the
> meeting would vote on the functions to determine if there was
> "consensus". Then a vote was rammed through on the items.
> However, instead of counting the numbers for or against each
> function, there was a declaration of "consensus" if, we were
> told, it seemed as if there were 60% of those voting who had
> voted for the listed function. For the first few functions those
> opposed were allowed to voice their objection. The meeting was
> being tape recorded, we were told, and there would be a record
> kept of it. But that soon ended as someone in the room objected
> to hearing any objections. The Chair said that this was how this
> was done at the telecom meetings he knew of, as there the players
> were large corporations with large bank accounts that could
> afford big law suits. Here, however, it seemed those in control
> of the meeting judged this was not the case. A short break was
> called. After the break it was announced that those with
> objections could no longer voice them on the record during the
> meeting but were told to come up after the meeting was over.
>      So the vote continued on, consensus continued to be declared
> for most of the items voted on, despite the fact there were those
> indicating their opposition to all of these items. But the record
> would no longer contain any note of the objections. The Chair and
> others marvelled at the roll they were on. Even though it was
> time for the meeting to end, one of the Chairs of the plenary
> meeting allowed this meeting to continue as it was on such a
> roll.
>      Then to the Plenary meeting. Here there was joy and praise
> for this democratic process from the Chair and spokespeople from
> the different sessions. When I tried to go to the microphone and
> say that the consensus in the session I had been in to determine
> functions for the Names Council represented "no discussion
> allowed and no noting of those who objected," the Chair of the
> Plenary Meeting told me I was not allowed to speak there.
>      This all followed the invitation that had been extended in
> the press lunch on Tuesday, July 21 at INET, where all members of
> the press were invited to come to the Friday and Saturday
> sessions of the IFWP and were invited to participate. However, by
> Friday and Saturday the invitation clearly had changed,
> especially if one had a question or objection to raise about what
> was happening.
> And this is how the supposed new private organization that is to 
> administer and make policy for the Domain Names System that is 
> the nerve system of the Internet and the Root Server System, is 
> being created. No one with any but a private commercial interest 
> (in normal language, a conflict of interest) is to be allowed to 
> participate in the process, no discussion to clarify what people are 
> being asked to vote on is allowed to take place, and no objections 
> could be voiced in the session creating the Names Council, which 
> is one of the crucial aspects of the organizational form, as it is 
> groups with a commercial interest in the sale of gTLDs who have 
> decreed to themselves the right to set policy and recommend 
> actions regarding the gTLDs.  
>      What is the significance of this process as a way to create
> an organization to take over control and administration of the
> nerve center of the Global Internet?
>      The Internet was developed and has grown and flourished
> through the opposite procedures, through democratic processes
> where all are welcomed to speak, where those who disagree are
> invited to participate, and to voice their concerns along with
> those who agree, where those who can make a single contribution
> are as welcome as those with the time to continually contribute.
> (See Poster "Lessons from the early MsgGroup Mailing List as a
> Foundation for Identifying the Principles for Future Internet
> Governance" by Ronda Hauben, INET '98.)(2) Also historically, the
> processes for discussion on key issues regarding the development
> of the Net are carried out online, as a medium of online
> communication is what is being built.
>      This is all the opposite of what is happening with the
> privatizing of the DNS and throwing it to the corporate interests
> who are the so called "market forces". Here only those who can
> afford thousands of dollars for plane fare can go to the
> meetings, and once at the meetings, one is only allowed to
> participate in a way that registers agreement. At the sessions I
> attended there was no discussion permitted so no one knows if
> what they think they are voting on is indeed what it appears to
> be and there is no opportunity to clarify one's views on an issue
> as there is no chance to discuss the pros and cons. And for those
> for whom English is not the first language, or for someone who
> disagrees with what is happening, there is mockery and the
> attempt to make them feel unwelcome.
>      This is *not* the way to create a new and pioneering
> organization to administer and control the nerve center of an
> international public communications infrastructure that has been
> built with the tax money and effort of people around the world.
> When those who have questions or think what is happening is a
> problem are not allowed to speak, it means that there is no way
> to know what the problems are to be solved, or what can be
> proposed that can offer any solution.
>      The U.S. government has initiated and is directing this
> process with no regard for the concerns and interests of the
> people online or not yet online. Instead only those with profit
> making blinders over their eyes are able to stand the glare this
> rotten process is reflecting.
> During his speech at the opening session of the IFWP in Geneva, 
> Mr. Ira Magaziner said that the U.S. government no longer has any 
> obligation to the well being of the people in the U.S. and he left the 
> room, claiming that the U.S. government would not be involved in 
> the process to create the new organization. But the bylaws of the 
> new organization, made available only a few days before the 
> meeting, and thus not long enough for those traveling to the 
> meeting to have had a chance to study or discuss them, were 
> presented by IANA and its lawyer. IANA is the U.S. government 
> contractor proposing the structure of this new "private" 
> organization. Thus the U.S. government is deeply involved in this 
> process but not in any way that fulfills its obligation to provide for 
> the well being of the American people. Meanwhile there is a lawsuit 
> against the NSF brought by a company which sees itself as the 
> MCI of the Internet. The lawsuit claims that anyone who wishes 
> should be able to go into business creating gTLDs. The fact that 
> the DNS is a hierarchical architecture to keep the number of root 
> level lookups for the Internet at a minimum is irrelevant to those 
> bringing the lawsuit and to the U.S. government who is offering out 
> to private sector corporations competition in selling root level 
> gTLDs. And the primary functions rammed through at the Saturday 
> meeting was that the Names Council is being created to make 
> policy and recommendations for how to increase the number of 
> gTLDs, despite the fact that those proposing this structure had a 
> commercial self interest in the issues and thus a conflict of interest 
> in being involved in proposing or setting public policy regarding the 
> future of the Internet.  
> This is the degeneration that the U.S. government's pro commercial 
> policy on the future development of the Internet has led to. There is 
> no concern by Magaziner for the fact that millions of dollars of U.S. 
> taxpayer money (and taxpayer money of people around the world) 
> and effort has gone to create and develop the Internet. The policy of 
> the U.S. government is to try to stop the use of the Internet as a 
> medium of international communication for ordinary people and to 
> deny its technical needs and processes. This is contrary to the 
> directive of the U.S. court that the U.S. government "should also 
> protect the autonomy that such a medium confers to ordinary 
> people as well as media magnates." (ACLU vrs. Reno)  
> The next meeting of the IFWP is set for Singapore in August 1998. 
> Magaziner has given this ad hoc self appointed group a deadline to 
> have an interim organization in place by September 30. So the 
> Internet is to be auctioned off as officials in the U.S. government 
> oversee the grabfest.  
> But there are people who care about the Net and its continued 
> growth and development as a medium of international 
> communication. And it is in the hands of these Netizens that any 
> future health of this crucial communications infrastructure that 
> makes possible an unprecedented level and degree of international 
> communication must rest. The public needs to know what is going 
> on and it is important that Netizens find a way to both intervene in 
> this give away of public property and let the rest of the world know 
> what is happening. 
>  ------------  
> Notes
> (1) The White paper was issued by the U.S. government. It begins:
> "On July 1, 1997, as part of the Clinton Administration's
> "Framework for Global Electronic Commerce" the President 
> directed
> the Secretary of Commerce to privatize the domain name system
> (DNS) in a manner that increases competition...."
> (2) Write to ronda@panix.com for copy of Poster. Also see
> "Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet",
> http://www.columbia.edu/~hauben/netbook/ or in print edition ISBN
> 0-8186-7706-6.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
>  The above report is appearing as an appendix in the Amateur 
> Computerist, July 1998 Supplement "Controversy Over the Internet" 
> available at: http://www.ais.org/~jrh/acn/dns-supplement or via 
> email from jrh@ais.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------