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What a twit. Still blowing hot air over nothing.

I’m on record: Esther Dyson is a dumbass.

-Ian.

——– Original Message ——– Subject: Esther on .com alternatives in WSJ today Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 13:18:39 -0700 From: Rohit Khare To: FoRK [at] xent [dot] com, twist-oc [at] ics.uci [dot] edu

[see the last paragraph… RK]

Can Anyone Organize the Internet? Yes, Icann. By ESTHER DYSON

SANTIAGO, Chile-The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers wraps up its third board meeting here today. Icann is a private corporation set up to manage the Internet’s “plumbing”-domain names (the .coms and .orgs and, for international addresses, .uk, .de and so forth), IP addresses (like 212.44.158.41, and the protocols that make the whole thing work. These tasks once were handled by private contractors working for the U.S. government, but Washington called on the Internet community to create a private body to take these responsibilities.

At its current meeting, Icann is making its first decisions that will affect the outside world (as opposed to its own structure and bylaws). The decisions concern policies for the allocation of domain names in the .com, .net and .org “top level” domains- for now, the most popular ones.

Our challenge is to find some consensus on where to draw the line between “abusive” registrations, in which someone is stealing the value created by someone else’s trademark- and cases where someone in good faith has registered a name that may be someone else’s trademark.

It’s bad faith when someone with no rights to a name tries to sell it to someone with rights, or attempts to steal some other site’s identity by passing itself off as the original. Good faith would cover a political site-say, Icannsucks.com-whose use of the trademark is free speech rather than a commercial misappropriation. Uniform policies and procedures for defining good-faith and bad-faith uses and resolving disputes will make the whole system more predictable and more fair, with clear rules.

Those with trademarks and those without will know what to expect.

Naturally it’s hard to find consensus on these issues. Some people say there’s no need for Icann; simply let the market take care of it, or let it “self-organize” as it always has. The Internet grew organically, with its own rules. But there are some compelling reasons we can’t simply continue this way.

First, the old system is no longer working so smoothly. Like it or not, govern- ments around the world want to see someone “in charge.” If it can’t be a government- and which government would it be?-then they want to see a neutral body with the accountability of a government but limited powers. Icann has no governmental powers. Its decisions have to be based on the consensus of the Internet community, and we can enforce them only through contracts with domain name registries, address registries and the like.

The second reason is that the U.S. government some years ago assigned responsibility for registering .com, .net and .org to a commercial company, Network Solutions.

That contract, which had become extremely lucrative, expired last year. It was renewed, but at the same time the U.S. government decided to turn what had been a monopoly into a competitive market, and Icann is overseeing that process.

Moving from monopoly to an open market is a complicated process, as experience in the telephone market has taught. In the long run, the market will work, but making the transition requires oversight.

Icann is trying to figure out the consensus of the Internet community on a variety of other issues. Most visible of these is the question of new generic top-level domains:

In addition to .com, .net and .org, do we want .store, .air for airlines or .fin for financial institutions? That would provide some competition for .com, and competition is the best market regulator. But who would manage these domains? Should there simply be as many as people care to create? That still leaves the question of who gets to run any particular new domain, some of which may be very popular. We’re still looking for opinions.

At the same time, the current obsession with the domain name system in general and with .com in particular is probably a passing fancy. Within a few years, systems like RealNames (a technology that uses plain-language keywords to find Web sites) and a variety of directory services will supersede or at least be competing with the domain name system. Icann’s challenge is to help that happen smoothly-and not to get so wedded to fixing the current system that it can’t recognize the value of something better.

Ms. Dyson is president of EDventure Holdings and interim chairman of Icann.

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