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European Union Asks US To Free ICANN 503

Posted by Soulskill
from the icann-see-why dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Viviane Reding, Information Society Commissioner of the European Union, is calling for the United States to hand over control of ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers). She said that the organization running ICANN needs be free of control by a single nation, and rather controlled by a private entity and governed by multiple nations. ICANN, headquartered in Marina Del Rey, California, was created in 1998 to oversee a number of Internet related tasks. Reding said, 'In the long run, it is not defendable that the government department of only one country has oversight of an internet function which is used by hundreds of millions of people in countries all over the world.'"
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European Union Asks US To Free ICANN

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  • Uh, no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:41AM (#27844791) Homepage Journal

    We can see how well the UN has worked out, so no thanks.

    • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Funny)

      by rarity (165626) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:48AM (#27844845)

      We can see how well the UN has worked out, so no thanks.

      You're kidding, right? They un-nazied the world! For ever!

      • uummm... I hope your attempting to be "+1 Funny", because the UN was formed AFTER WWII.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Mattern (191822)

          Depends on your definition of "United Nations". The current structure of the UN was created after the war, true. But the Allies frequently called themselves "the United Nations" during the war, and the post-war UN was built upon the wartime alliance (there's a reason that the five permanent members of the Security Council were the five major Allied powers).

      • If the dictator Joseph Stalin had not have killed a few million German soldiers and destroyed I think at least 20,000 tanks during the course of the Russio-German war, D-Day would have been awful tough for the United States and Great Britain. What sort of shape would the German army have been in without having endured the winter offensive on Moscow, the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and then Operation Bagration.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          If the dictator Joseph Stalin had not have killed a few million German soldiers and destroyed I think at least 20,000 tanks during the course of the Russio-German war, D-Day would have been awful tough for the United States and Great Britain. What sort of shape would the German army have been in without having endured the winter offensive on Moscow, the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and then Operation Bagration.

          For the record, 2/3 of all German casualties in WW2 were on the Eastern front. That is manpower, for artillery and tanks it's up to 4/5. Note also that Germans started racking massive casualties in the West only from 1943 onwards, when they've already had their ass kicked in the East for the most part.

          At the same time, you know, Stalin didn't do that. Soviet soldiers did that, and Stalin, in fact, made a lot of blunders, esp. right before and early in the war, that made the Soviet casualties much higher tha

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by tjstork (137384)

            For the record, 2/3 of all German casualties in WW2 were on the Eastern front. That is manpower, for artillery and tanks it's up to 4/5

            Very true... I think it is only really in aircraft that German sustained more losses on the west...

            Soviet soldiers did that, and Stalin, in fact, made a lot of blunders,

            Tis true that the troops win the war, but the troops cannot win the war unless they are capably equipped, deployed and led. The Germans bungled in all three as the war the progressed whereas the Russians imp

      • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Funny)

        by gparent (1242548) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:11AM (#27846091)
        ICANN HAS ICANN??!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      That's not a troll, guys.

      The head of the UN "human rights commission" has been Colonel Gadaffi, for the love of Jebus. The UN does a decent job of preventing major armed conflicts between major world powers, and the food relief missions seem pretty successful - but it is not the forum for all things international in scope.

      Even the EU has more limits on speech than the US, and I fear that giving them more control over the internet will result in censorship. I agree that having the US in charge is not ideal,

      • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:16AM (#27845241) Homepage Journal

        The head of the UN "human rights commission" has been Colonel Gadaffi, for the love of Jebus.

        That's nothing, the head of the Department of Justice in the USA approved of illegal wiretaps, and the President of the country personally approved of torture, for the love of Jebus.

        • Re:Uh, no (Score:4, Funny)

          by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:32AM (#27845469) Journal

          But that doesn't count.

          You see, those things were done to protect America from the terrorists, and as everyone knows our constitution specifically says the executive branch is free to do whatever it likes - legal or otherwise - without fear of repercussions if it calls any policy it chooses to implement part of a war. (see "drugs, war on" for more details)

      • by ganjadude (952775) <pmalloy4391.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:38AM (#27845545) Homepage
        Let the folks at The Pirate Bay take over ICANN No more worries!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Narpak (961733)
        I was under the impression that this was primarily about the assignment of IP addresses and assignment of domain names. Not about what can or can't be posted on those adresses or domains.

        That being said I hope USA take total and restrictive control over ICANN; simply because I want, and hope, that it will force Europe (and basically all the other nations of the world that want to use a type of internet like service) to think outside the box and find ways to adapt and marginalise ICANN and the current way
    • by rcasha2 (1157863) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:38AM (#27845547)
      The UN is not just the Security Council. It is also the WHO, UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO and many other entities which are part of the UN and *generally* work well enough that they blend into the background.
    • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Comatose51 (687974) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:26AM (#27846367) Homepage

      You mean like the time when they kicked North Korea's ass out of South Korea? Yeah that was an UN action (Resolution 84). Or how it served as a forum for the US and USSR to work out the Cuban Missile Crisis instead of fighting it out? How about the first Persian Gulf war, the one that's approved by the UN and not based on bullshit? Don't we wish we listened to the UN instead of Bush and Fox News the second time around?

      The UN is huge and has many organs. Most of them are successful enough that you never hear about them and the work that they do. Of course there are failures but a world without the UN would be a far worse place.

      Stop sucking on Fox News' teats.

      • Re:Uh, no (Score:4, Insightful)

        by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:28PM (#27855273) Journal

        "You mean like the time when they kicked North Korea's ass out of South Korea? Yeah that was an UN action (Resolution 84)."
        That's that war that's STILL GOING ON, right....50 years later?
        The one where total US forces were about 480,000, and the total of all the "allied forces of the mighty UN in action" equaled about 135,000?
        The one where the ONLY reason that "NK's ass was kicked" was the landing by MacArthur (American general) at Inchon with American forces?
        And perhaps we should be candid: it was the only significant action of the UN *only* because the Soviet Security Council Ambassador had left the council in a fit of pique?

        "Or how it served as a forum for the US and USSR to work out the Cuban Missile Crisis instead of fighting it out?"
        Load of crap; the resolution to the CMC was the result of classic direct diplomacy. What did the UN have to do with ANYTHING aside from a forum for (non-constructive, and in fact inflammatory) public posturing?

        "How about the first Persian Gulf war, the one that's approved by the UN and not based on bullshit? Don't we wish we listened to the UN instead of Bush and Fox News the second time around?"
        Not going there because I'm pretty certain that no matter what I say it's not changing your mind anyway, so why bother?

        "The UN is huge and has many organs. Most of them are successful enough that you never hear about them and the work that they do. Of course there are failures but a world without the UN would be a far worse place."
        The list of crises where the UN failed to do anything constructive? Probably a list too big for the whole of the internets to handle. How about last week where UN "peacekeepers" let Palestinians launch rockets from adjacent positions, and then complained angrily about Israeli return fire? Or the UN-soldier juvenile prostitute rings in West Africa? Or the stunning and decisive UN response to Darfur...the Balkans....Rwanda....?
        You're right that SOME of the bureaucracies of the UN are effective and useful. The general council? Pretty much a whinging forum for countries that aren't worth listening to.

        "Stop sucking on Fox News' teats"
        You need help, with this weird Freudian idee fixe about Fox News and breasts. It *could* be that someone merely disagrees with you, or in your worldview does that make them automatically an idiot?

  • by Animaether (411575) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:44AM (#27844805) Journal

    full bit:
    "She said that the organization running ICANN needs be one free of control by one single nation but controlled by a private entity and governed by multiple nations."

    That's quite a different story than implied by the summary's "hand over control [implied: to the EU]".

    I still think it's a bad idea to let 'multiple nations' govern the thing - there's too many nations that would seriously curb what can and cannot be done. I don't think the U.S. having sole control is all that great either, but out of the various options - I'd sooner 'trust' the U.S. with it (given existing records, although I disagree with the whole .xxx domain getting nixed - especially since ICANN has/had plans to offer .anythingyouwant anyway) than, say, the U.N. or a grouping of e.g. U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China to pick a semi-random grouping there.

    • by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:55AM (#27844939)

      Obviously Canada should govern it. After all it's in the name.

      Yes ICANNada!

    • Why? So we can have another war when a couple of those countries disagree? No thanks.
    • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:24AM (#27845333)

      Here is the cool part.

      The US can't abuse ICANN. Well, it CAN, but when it does, it will lose all control over it as the EU/China/Russia/Australia... every other nation works to set up it's own segregated service. The other nations could force the US to release control if the US gave them a reason to. So as long as the US remains a relatively benign aspect of ICANN, it can remain in control.

      And that's a good thing, it means that through the Mutually Assured Destruction that would occur in the event of an abuse of ICANN, it generally remains true to what it is supposed to do without becoming more than what it was intended to do.

      I kind of view the US' control over ICANN as the Royalty in the UK. Sure, they technically have a lot of power, but the instant they tried to use that power it would evaporate away in an instant.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)

        exactly, ICANN has given control of local domains to local countries... it's just that the "big" names still reside in the US.

        Each individual country has control over assigning it's own domain names. The only reason the EU wants ICANN out from under the US government is that it can then be sued within an inch of it's life in every single nation that wants more restrictions. People in the EU don't really understand that all ICANN gives out are names, I believe another group grants IP ranges, so ICANN has no

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:45AM (#27844811)

    Reding claims that it is indefensible that one country control the internet as if it were prima facie true that this were the case.

    However she prefaced that statement with the best defense:
    "Reding believes "The US, so far, has done this in a reasonable manner", referring to the oversight that the US government has given ICANN."

    So the US is providing oversight in a reasonable manner according to the people who wish to strip that oversight from the US. Then they claim that such "reasonable oversight" is indefensible.

    I think Ms. Reding would be surprised how a great many things she doesn't believe in have reasonable and sometimes convincing defenses. I also think she'd be surprised to see how many of the things she holds so dear are actually undefended biases.

    • by denttford (579202) *
      Wow, I think you ended the need for comments in seven minutes.

      Hat tip!
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:10AM (#27845147) Homepage Journal

      I think Ms. Reding would be surprised how a great many things she doesn't believe in have reasonable and sometimes convincing defenses.

      I think you're starry-eyed, and living in a fantasy world. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but usually people don't get to where she is [europa.eu] by believing their own bullshit [europa.eu].

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:23AM (#27845321)
      The "reasonable oversight" isn't what's considered indefensible. The tacit permission for the US to control most of the world's data infrastructure is the problem. Even though the US hasn't done anything bad with its power over the infrastructure, it could, and that potential makes some people nervous. It's entirely possible for a happy status quo to rest upon dangerous possibilities.

      As an analogy, consider the Anti-Social Behavior Order. It's a kind of order that a judge can issue to a UK that bans you from doing something. Anything. Right now it's generally used to stop people being douchebags to each other, but there's nothing to stop a judge issuing one banning you from writing anti-authority newsletters, or protesting somewhere, if those are considered "anti-social". That makes people nervous.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by NormalVisual (565491)
        In this context, the US "controls most of the world's data infrastructure" only to the extent that everyone voluntarily points their DNS boxes to the ICANN-controlled root servers. If they're not happy about the way things are with ICANN, they're free to point their DNS someplace else at *any* time if they so choose. It just so happens that it's not in their best interests financially to do so, but there's no law that says they have to use those root servers.
    • by oldhack (1037484)
      Fine and dandy, but where is the twisted analogy, analogy guy?
  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:45AM (#27844823) Homepage

    Oh no. Here comes the sternly worded letter if we don't comply.

    On a serious note, they have a point.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:16AM (#27846201)
      Why do they have a point? I would like this explained to me.

      The Internet, and the protocols it uses, were invented in the United States. Until recently, the vast majority of users were still in the United States. If others wanted to follow suit and join in... fine. The United States formed an organization to oversee the network. But it isn't "theirs". They have no "rights" to it. If they don't like it, they can always just form their own damned network.

      Imagine that I invented a cool new kind of telephone network. I build up a network in my own neighborhood, complete with switching station. Then, other nearby towns get wind of the network, and want in. So, out of the goodness of my heart, I let them hook up to my network, and I even update my switching station to handle the traffic.

      Then, after they have used it for a while, and decide they like it, those neighboring towns start demanding that I turn my switching station over to them. The one that I built, with my own time and research and money.

      Huh? By what right do they presume to demand such a thing?
  • Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:51AM (#27844887)

    "ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internetâ(TM)s unique identifiers."

    So it's already private and even countries that US companies cannot legally trade with still manage to get Internet access (North Korea). So there seems to be a solution without a problem.

    • by Nutria (679911)

      So there seems to be a solution without a problem.

      Power-grabbing bureaucrats trying to fix what's (imperfect but) not broken? I'm shocked!!!!

  • Complaints? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:55AM (#27844937) Homepage

    I understand the unease that the rest of the world has with a single nation controlling ICANN. However, much as I often ask with engineering requests that seem spurious; what is the ROI to justify the change?

    What is going wrong, which could reasonably be expected to go better, if we make the change? I'm not saying our stewardship of ICANN has necessarily been perfect, nor that we have a divine right just because we built the Internet. I do believe that the Internet is now a global resource, and that everyone has a very strong vested interest in it. And I am, generally speaking, a globalist -- I'd like to see us all spending more time on bettering all of us.

    However, if there are not specific complaints, with a clear and significant path to improvement, it seems difficult to justify transferring control. Making the rest of the world feel good about Internet stewardship is not a good enough reason to risk the gridlock, posturing, saber rattling, and horse trading that could result from U.N. control.

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      Like ICANN has done such a wonderful job in its stewardship of domain names to begin with! Let's start off with such useful TLDs like .museum, .aero, .biz (a spammer's haven), and .info (another spammer's haven)! Does anybody even use these anymore? And they never really could figure out what to do with .xxx, either. And let's not forget that their proposal to let people buy TLDs is motivated primarily by greed.

      Still, I'm not sure that more international oversight would solve this. We'll probably just see

    • by Kamokazi (1080091)

      nor that we have a divine right just because we built the Internet

      You're absolutely right. We don't have the divine right just because we built it. We have the divine right because we built it AND because we can blow anyone who tries to take it away into tiny pieces.

    • Or better yet why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:36AM (#27845521) Homepage Journal

      No it isn't divine right but the right of doing it first. The US did build the Internet and most of the tech that it runs on. "Thanks CERN for that http thing BTW".

      So now the EU wants the US give up control. Okay what are you going to give us in return? Respect? I doubt that. Less scorn? Sure....
      I have to say that I see no good reason for the US to give up control of ICANN any more than I see a good reason for France to give up control of the FAI.
      I doubt that it will improve any service on the internet, increase cost, and potently aid censor ship. There are a lot of countries in the UN that do not value free speech at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by derGoldstein (1494129)

        On the one hand, I'm itching to go over who invented/developed what, invested what, and using who's resources. I'd like to see what this "US-only" internet would look like if it really *were* limited to US residents.

        And yet, pragmatism forces me to acknowledge that nothing globally beneficial would come of this. It's not in ICANN's interest to *do* anything that would in any way stifle or harm the network as it is now. This is just some form of territory marking on the EU's part. It's what they're "expected

  • by rlp (11898) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:56AM (#27844963)

    I have no problem with allowing ICANN to be controlled by a group of nations which all have a constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.

    • I have no problem with allowing ICANN to be controlled by a group of nations which all have a constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.

      Heh! And how many of them are there?

    • by Nutria (679911) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:14AM (#27845207)

      group of nations which all have a constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.

      Like France, Germany and England, all of which have speech restrictions which I find disturbing?

    • by lachlan76 (770870)

      Good luck with that. Not every nation puts that sort of thing in their constitution; Australia certainly doesn't, the UK (as I understand) doesn't have a written constitution. You might have better luck in the civil law states, but the only one that I can say for sure does so is China. No state allows unrestricted free speech, and requiring that they claim this fiction provides no gain whatsoever.

      But that aside, why? Why should some states have no say regarding shared infrastructure? Ought the ITU be re

  • Seriously does anybody expect this to happen? No? Yeah I didn't think so.
  • by Glass Goldfish (1492293) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @09:57AM (#27844979)

    I'm not an American, but I'm glad that ICANN is run by Americans. For the most part, the United States has a great deal of respect for different view points and allows for free thought. I can certainly imagine Europeans banning Internet websites for fear that they will anger Muslims, gays, atheists, Christians, animal rights activists, etc.. You can imagine European bureaucrats coming up with a handbook of acceptable thought and using that as a guide for website banning.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:22AM (#27845301)
    Let's consider an analogy. I come into your country, build an entire series of roads at my own expense with technology and equipment I developed and let you drive on these roads for free - as a gift. The only catch is that I control the traffic laws, parking and traffic lights and road signs. Because the road signs in your free system, gifted to you by others, are in English, you ask for control of the systems traffic, construction, signs and laws. I think we've just redefined "Chutzpah."
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Yea it would be like if you became part of the world air way system and build airports and all your pilots and ATC people had to speak English!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by janrinok (846318)
      But, if I've understood your analogy correctly, you're claiming that the US has paid for all of the internet infrastructure? That is incorrect. Many nations around the world have invested in their own internet infrastructure, and more than just the US has been instrumental in providing technical innovation and progress to the network that began with ARPANet. To claim that it is an entirely US funded and developed resource is simply wrong. It began with an idea that originated in America, but it has grow
    • by Bazar (778572) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:06PM (#27846907)

      Lets consider a better analogy.

      We build at OUR EXPENSE an entire series of roads, spanning both countries and continents, and we tie the traffic system into YOUR control system.

      We REIMBURSE you for your troubles, paying you a small fee for each traffic light you operate (DNS Registration), resulting in cheaper operational costs for everyone.

      We however have grown concerned over your ability to operate our traffic as a neutral controller, as some of your states believe they can hijack and disable our traffic lights, if it bothers their locals. They have not been entirely successful yet, but they have caused disruptions that should never of been possible in the first place.

      http://blog.cdt.org/2009/01/24/kentucky-court-rules-that-domain-names-arent-craps-tables/ [cdt.org]

      The options we have available to us to minimize US laws/regulations on both our local and international traffic, we have the following options:

      1. We leave the system in your hands (and whim), and hope for the best.
      2. You hand over the control to an multinational committee
      3. We sever our dependence on your system, and create our own. This however will more then likely cause international traffic crashes.

      Anyone who thinks that its America's right to retain control over the entire INTERNATIONAL internet will suffer when countries develop their own control system in disgust.

      Anyone who thinks America is more reliable then a committee might have a point, but 'because were better then you', is never going to be an accepted reason.

  • why ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I don't understand the need to split the control of a private company (even if it's controlled by a government). So, we should ask the US to force Microsoft to split the control of the company between the countries using Windows OS and servers ? Same thing for Oracle, Apple, etc. ? Come on. It's not because a country is dependent to a technology created by a private company or another country that it should have the ability to control some parts of the decisions over this technology. Create your own "inte
  • when you pry it from my cold dead hands!
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @10:54AM (#27845811)
    FreeCANN, or freakann?

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