Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Government Politics

Lessig on Internet Governance 281

tcd004 writes "Should the United Nations control the Internet? That's the subject of a heated debate slated to take place at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis later this month. The European Union is pressing for a U.N. role in governing the Internet, which is currently in the hands of a U.S. nonprofit. Lawrence Lessig breaks down the debate and offers his views. An interesting point: in order to participate in Summit-related events Lessig had to promise not to talk about intellectual property." From the article: "What people are afraid of is that there will be a split within the single hierarchical system which would result in two different populations of the dot-com domain name system existing out there. Then there would be a real conflict. My view is that if in fact there is a separation like that, there are a lot of incentives for these two separate roots to figure out a way to coexist. There would be lots of anger [when] you realize that you're not getting the IBM.com you expected. But there's no reason why you couldn't have multiple root systems."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lessig on Internet Governance

Comments Filter:
  • by 9mm Censor ( 705379 ) * on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:06PM (#13980910) Homepage
    I think UN control of anything technological will fail. They take far too long to make up their minds, so any technological standards that need to be implemented will be agreed upon when they are obsolete.
    • Aye, but that might be a good thing in this context.

      What we're talking about is control of the TLD's, correct? Well, the US government has already intervened with ICANN's operation of that by vetoing the addition of a .xxx TLD. In theory, there's nothing to stop them exerting greater pressure on other matters, which could result in overseas sites or tld's that the US administration doesn't like simply dissapearing.

      Sure, the UN might not get anything done - but that works both ways. They may not advance
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think UN control of anything technological will fail.

      Yeah. If you want an example, if it weren't for the ITU [itu.int] then the phone system would have been quite succesful instead of the total failure it has been.
      • The ITU was founded in the 1880s, over half a century before the UN was created. They already had their procedures, traditions, and policies cemented in place before they became associated with the UN. ICANN is less than 10 years old, and dealing with rapidly evolving technologies. Expecting them to experience as seamless a transition to UN control as the ITU did is a little naive.
      • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:44PM (#13981295)
        Except that telephony is an easily controlled and tracked technology that all central governments aprove of.

        Part of the problem that most governments have with the Internet, is that people who connect are anonymous, there is no central way to block access, there is no simple way to carry out spying and survailence. Most countries openly admit that they want to make it easier to block sites, track users, charge taxes etc. They want to make the Internet a carefully government controlled technology LIKE the telephone, television, radio.

        U.N. control of the Internet will work effectivly if you want the Internet to be a highly controlled system like telephone... but it will not work if you want the Internet to continue in it's present state of Anarchy.

        How you feel about U.N. control of the Internet usually falls in how you feel about government control of the Internet: Thos who want more censorship and control tend to favor U.N. control... those who want less censorship and control tend to be sceptical about the U.N.
    • Exactly. Having things the way they are keeps a lot of the international politics out of the picture. Granted, there are those throughout the world who do not like that the non-profit company happens to be in the U.S., but standards would degrade and become ridiculous if left to an organization who would politicize every aspect of the Internet control. Besides, getting U.N. members even to so much as agree as to the time of day is a challenge in and of itself :-P
      • Besides, getting U.N. members even to so much as agree as to the time of day is a challenge

        Well, see, there's this system called "time zones," and with the delegates being from different countries and all, I suppose that makes sense.
      • "Exactly. Having things the way they are keeps a lot of the international politics out of the picture."

        Boy does it ever. The Bush adminstration just nixed the last tld that was supposed to go intot the legacy root.

        So instead we get US federal politics. Whoo hoo!

    • by Pinkoir ( 666130 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:57PM (#13981449)
      I think UN control of anything technological will fail. They take far too long to make up their minds, so any technological standards that need to be implemented will be agreed upon when they are obsolete

      This isn't true. Take the example of high-tech automobile headlamps. The UN body responsible for global headlamp regulations (GRE) [unece.org] is very close to finishing rules that will allow for LED headlamps. NHTSA [dot.gov], which does the same thing in the US has completely given up on making _any_ LED regulations for the forseable future because it's so hard to get safety related stuff through congress. In this case the UN is far ahead of the US in technical rule-making and you can see evidence of this in the relative technology contents of a typical American vehicle and a typical European vehicle.

      -Pinkoir
      • Apples and Oranges (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jeff Molby ( 906283 )
        There's no doubt that the US Congress is no speed demon, but as far as I know, there are very few, if any, issues before ICANN that require congressional approval. They're fairly autonomous, so there decision-making process is most certainly faster than any political body. The only valid question is whether or not ICANN truly acts in the best interest of the entire world. I personally don't know enough about the situation to have an opinion on that.
        • There are also very few, if any, issues before the new UN led "ICANN" that will require approval of the full UN assembly where all the world states meet. So what is your point?
  • by skyshock21 ( 764958 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:06PM (#13980917)
    DON'T FRIGGIN' FIX IT!

    • Well - it is broke.

      How would the US feel if China or the EU could turn off www.whitehouse.gov by passing a law ?

      Like it or hate it - the internet is now a critical bit of planetary infrastructure.

      It needs fixing - but NOT through UN involvement.
      • If the U.S. shut out Chinese websites, all China would have to do is set up their own internal DNS server to server their government sites (I suspect this is what they probably do already for government sites), and there is no way the U.S. could restrict access.

        And China and EU CAN shut off www.whitehouse.gov, at least to their own citizens, by passing a law. They would just have to reconfigure their DNS servers. I suspect that they do this already, although not with www.whitehouse.gov.

      • "Well - it is broke.

        How would the US feel if China or the EU could turn off www.whitehouse.gov by passing a law ?"

        What does that have to do with the internet? That's a broken government thing, not a broken internet thing.

        And if you think that fixing the internet by involving MORE governments is a good idea, especially when those governments will keep the internet "broken" and be able to "shut off www.whatevertheywant.com" in EXACTLY THE SAME MANNER AS THE US CAN NOW, then I can't really see how it's been f
        • by zogger ( 617870 )
          Correct on censorship and don't forget taxes. The UN REALLY wants the ability to start imposing global taxes on this or that. Give them control of a major part of the net, you'll see taxes and even more corruption, and this time with a body that has NO directly elected members by any "global citizen".

          Bad idea. Normally, I think the US fed gov is sort of out to lunch in most matters, but *not* in this instance. The UN can go do something else with their spare time. The address system is working perfectly fin
    • Stop issuing .com! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khasim ( 1285 )
      Those TLD's were great back at the beginning.

      But now, all new sites should be *.*.cc (slashdot.org.us).

      The ONLY issue here is the .com, .org, .net (.edu, .mil, .gov) addresses.

      Who cares? If the other countries don't want the US to control the .com addresses, they don't have to use them. They can setup their own root servers and manage them. Their ISP's can point to those servers and everyone in that country can bitch at their local government if they don't like it.

      Country codes are far more scalable than .c
      • Country codes are far more scalable than .com, anyway.

        Not really. International companies, for example. I already get annoyed at there being an entire domain for every friggin' movie that comes out (hey, what's wrong with http://entertainment.company.com/movie???? [company.com]). With country codes, a company would have to register a domain for every country they have a presence in. Stupid.

      • The Internet is supposed to transcend location. Making TLDs dependent on country of origin sort of negates that nice aspect of the network.
    • by rs79 ( 71822 ) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:47PM (#13981323) Homepage
      It's broken.

      It was stolen by intellectual property attornies working for primarily three letter multinationals, mostly US based. They outspent everybody and captured the root zone via the DoC. You have no idea of tens if not hundred by now of millions or dolars they spent to do this.

      Just out of curiosity why the gag order on Lessig about IP rights? Cough.

      If you primary the root zone for yourself, this governance quesiton is not an issue.
    • ... it's broken. Why else do you think the EU wants to fix it?
  • Internet Success (Score:5, Interesting)

    by augustz ( 18082 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:06PM (#13980919) Homepage
    The internet succeeded because of the lack of regulation. This was a tradeoff. The incredible value of not having to sign contracts to do everything, be able to innovate much more freely etc. The downside, piracy, websites that spew hate and all the rest.

    I'm just curious if some group on the UN level asserts much stronger control over the net, it is such an obvious place to control things, could see a ton of impacts. Connect with WTO as a natural partner in the fight and voila.
    • Regulation? I'm not sure what you are hinting at. There is a LOT of regulations for the Internet, it's just that you don't think about them as long a you can browse to your favorite pr0n site.

      But this is NOT about regulations, it's about who is controlling the TLD's. At the moment USA is more or less doing it, but I can't see anything written anywhere that states this is the one and only true solution and I'm sure that all Americans would have screamed loud and very clear if the situation was reversed.

      P
    • "The downside, piracy, websites that spew hate and all the rest. I'm just curious if some group on the UN level asserts much stronger control over the net, it is such an obvious place to control things, could see a ton of impacts."

      This is probably flame bait, but, considering how little control the UN has over its member nations and operatives, I suspect that the Internet under UN control would have more piracy, websites that spew hate and all the rest, not less.

      • ICANN really only cares about one thing, which is trademark enforcement of domain names. They've got a bit of control over cybersquatting kinds of issues, and that might be run differently under a UN bureaucracy, and they insist that every registrar collect lots of detail about domain name registrants and publish it in whois, which makes trademark enforcement lawsuits easier but might violate many European privacy laws, and UN control could try and enforce that on more ccTLDs than ICANN has been able to, b
  • remain in the hands of its creator, Al Gore.

    • ..avoid making tired, old, jokes, that turn them into mindless lackeys of political hacks.

      This is over and done with. Can we please read this [slashdot.org] before making these jokes? Or maybe not make them at all? Or mod them down whenever they occur?
    • I've been playing Civ4 as I am sure a lot of geeks have been of late and I noticed the icon of "The Internet" world wonder was a picture of Al Gore. I guess Sid Meiers is not without a sense of humor
    • Yes, I think the EU agrees on that one; it should have been in the hands of Al Gore and not the incompetent Bush who won by telling that lame joke in every stump speech in 2000 (and of course because of daddy's Supreme court).
  • by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <.mister.sketch. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:10PM (#13980954)
    Remove .com, .net, .org, all TLDs

    Yep, that's right. Just get rid of the whole TLD structure and make people go to .NN where NN is the country code. Let each country control their own country code. There would be .com.NN for the old .com, .org.NN for old .org, .net.NN for old .net, etc.

    Just let each country control their .NN country code and have all the additional .whatever.NN they want. So if some countries want a .xxx.NN they can have it and if they don't want it, fine.
    • Hey man, you're stealing my thunder... [slashdot.org] :-)
      • Sorry about that. I guess great minds think alike :). It just seems the most obvious compromise. The fact that the internet has existed for so long without forcing country codes is kind of amazing considering it's rapid globalization.

        Forcing country codes just seems like the next logical step.
        • Forcing country codes just seems like the next logical step.

          That's fine, as long as I can have another code for space (.nil?) where specific countries' laws don't apply, and I can put a satellite there and host my datahaven in the .nil TLD. :) Maybe I don't want to be forced to choose a country.
          • That's fine, as long as I can have another code for space (.nil?) where specific countries' laws don't apply, and I can put a satellite there and host my datahaven in the .nil TLD. :) Maybe I don't want to be forced to choose a country.

            And who would maintain such a country code? Which countries would recognize such a country code? Who would regulate such a country code? It has to be done by someone and by definition that someone must exist in a country and as such must be governed by their laws.
    • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:24PM (#13981117) Homepage
      Yep, that's right. Just get rid of the whole TLD structure and make people go to .NN where NN is the country code. Let each country control their own country code. There would be .com.NN for the old .com, .org.NN for old .org, .net.NN for old .net, etc.

      That's not really getting rid of the TLD structure -- it's just that your new TLDs are country codes.

      However there are a number of problems with this obvious idea. Say, I want to go to the main Perl site. Which address should I type into my browser? Is it perl.org.us? Why? Am I supposed to know who Larry Wall is and that he is an American?

      This idea tends to come from registrars who would be overjoyed to have to register every trademarked company name in every .cc domain...
      • Say, I want to go to the main Perl site. Which address should I type into my browser?

        You're supposed to type in the correct one, of course. Why are you just guessing? Typing www.somebrandname.com is a convenience that marketers have jumped on, to be sure, but it's not how things were designed to work.

        Is it perl.org.us? Why? Am I supposed to know who Larry Wall is and that he is an American?

        It's whatever he chooses to register. All you're "supposed to know" is how to find the information you're looki

      • However there are a number of problems with this obvious idea. Say, I want to go to the main Perl site. Which address should I type into my browser? Is it perl.org.us? Why? Am I supposed to know who Larry Wall is and that he is an American?

        If I'm at home, and I want to get to my main server, I type:

        ssh aslan

        No need to type:

        ssh aslan.ernest.isa-geek.org

        You shouldn't have to type perl.com, or larrywall.com. Just perl or larrywall. Individual cc domains would only insure that you got the page in your own lan
    • So if we all do it your way it will work?

      If we all do it my way it'll work as well.

      The goal here is to all agree which way to do it. Resricting it to country code was summarily rejected in the mid 90's. It's still a dumb idea; it's good for making up a name for a statue in a park but it's not good at naming things that move. Like people.
  • I doubt having a bunch of arguing governments would be any better than having one incompetent government in charge.

    In my opinion what is needed is three corporate based committees (US, EU, JP/Asia for example) each 'in control' of a portion of the internet roots.

    Any disputes could then be resolved via a 3 way 'vote'.

    Two things need to be avoided at all costs.
    1. US government control (either direct or inferred)
    2. A root split

    • From the beginning, people have talked about building an Internet that wouldn't depend upon the TLD hierarchy. It doesn't mean there would be two or three Internets, but that you would have a domain name system that wouldn't depend upon hierarchical naming. As long as there's coordination across hierarchies about ownership of domain names, you wouldn't necessarily produce any destructive results. One could query a hierarchy for the answer to the question "Who owns Lessig.com?" and then ask another hierarchy
  • Why does it make a difference when a lot of websites are localised anyway? I
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:19PM (#13981059)
      Why does it make a difference when a lot of websites are localised anyway?

      It's not about where the web sites themselves are (or are hosted). It's about what IP address you're pointed to when you type in "www.ibm.com" or any other address that depends on DNS to get you where you're going. Let's say that the Chinese government suddenly decides that they don't like how often Google comes up with information about human rights (well, they already have said that - but work with me here). If they controlled how .COM domains were resolved, they could point traffic to some other Google-looking destination totally under their control. Or worse, they could do that with messaging, banking, or other traffic. In a situation where something like the UN security council plays a role in these things, you might end up not getting your new .COM domain name registered until someone at the UN decides it's OK for you to have that domain name. And if, as they have now, China or another large presence doesn't like some aspect of new domain registrations, they might act to block them.

      That's why.
  • Is that Europeans don't trust the US, and see a place to take a stand. To paraphrase, in '98 they didn't trust ICANN, but didn't distrust the US. Now, they don't trust ICANN or the US.

    Lessig also points out that this is likely a direct result of American foreign policy over the past 5 years.

    It's beginning to make sense to me... taking a stand against the US on an issue without severe economic impact. Testing the waters before taking a stand on issues with greater impact, like trade or fishing rights.
    • It's beginning to make sense to me... taking a stand against the US on an issue without severe economic impact. Testing the waters before taking a stand on issues with greater impact, like trade or fishing rights.

      I think the reason is because the internet does have greater economic impact. It was fine for the US to run things as long as the EU had little to lose, but now as Europe has become more dependent on the internet, the stakes are higher and the fear from the EU is that the US has unilateral autho
    • So basically the European argument is:
      1) We hate George Bush
      2) We hate the Iraq war
      => France and China should control the Internet.

      That above argument seems fairly crazy to me.
      I think you can dislike George Bush without wanting the Chinese government to read your e-mail.
  • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:14PM (#13981000)
    I can't agree that the the 'net's naming/numbering system is currently in the hands of a US non-profit. While ostensibly true, Verisign seems to have de-facto control, as illustrated by the recent "we promise to stop suing your ass into penury if you extend our .com monopoly until 2012" ( http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/10/25/19 19243&tid=95&tid=123 [slashdot.org] ) fiasco.

    Pointing to a non-profit with broad representation (oh, wait, less broad than it used to be, isn't it?) on the board looks like a PR whitewash once we realize how easily the organization gets bullied around by financial stakeholders - it doesn't have a war chest or a strong organization behind it. Since the US government supports the status quo, I'm left with little option than to believe that Uncle Sam likes the way Verisign is currently running things. I'm not comforted.

    • "I'm left with little option than to believe that Uncle Sam likes the way Verisign is currently running things. I'm not comforted."

      Especially since the US Dept of Commerce has stated miltiple times that it reserves the right to veto any action by ICANN. Regardless of how many times they have or haven't exerted that power, as long as ICANN is in control, the US Govt is in control.
  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:14PM (#13981001) Homepage
    From what I read into his comments, he seems to say that the EU has a minor problem with ICANN but a major problem with the fact that ICANN is controlled by a US administration that it does not trust.

    Trust is a hard thing to maintain, it took years for the US to get the world to trust it, and now it's all going away. I don't expect much to happen w/r/t this issue today, but the future might hold something much more diverse/complex than today's internet... because the "borderless" nature of the internet wasn't compatible with the differing views on intellectual property of the nations of the world.

  • enough already. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CDPatten ( 907182 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:17PM (#13981035) Homepage
    How many times are we going to discuss this topic? I mean I get posting it again IF there were some new/significant developments, but there aren't. Enough already.

    Yet we see nothing about Riots in France, International Lawsuits against Apple over the IPod, Sony announcing no X-Box live-style servers, Meryl Lynch's analysis on how MUCH the PS3 is going to cost Sony, and the list goes on and on and on. There is some NEW news, its just we are getting it on Slashdot.

    Does anyone else feel this way? About seeing this post again, and not getting to see other news that is worthy of discussion?

    • Basically all the time. Furthermore, if you subscribe to the MAKE blog [makezine.com] and WIRED news [wired.com] you'll find 90% of the interesting techie stuff is covered there before slashdot anyway.
    • "Does anyone else feel this way? About seeing this post again, and not getting to see other news that is worthy of discussion?"

      Yes. Except Lessig provides additional insight (maybe) in this article. And, of course, there has been a meta-article about your concern:

      Why we should discuss internet governance. [slashdot.org]

      Also, it's been a little while since it's been discussed, and today's post counts are a little low. Guaranteed to get some lengthy threads going here....
  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:17PM (#13981040) Journal
    Any Internet governance system that gives up the current free and open nature of the internet (courtesy USA) in favor of a body that may contemplate censorship for any reason is unacceptable. In the case of the UN, the behavior of numerous member states with regard to regulating internet use has been unacceptable (including but not limited to France, Germany, and especially China), and therefore the UN cannot be trusted with this duty either.

    If the UN ever adopts a satisfactory doctrine of human rights (including freedom of speech) AND enforces it amongst its member states on pain of expulsion, then I might reconsider. But as is realpolitik [wikipedia.org], not principles (never mind humanist ones), rules the day at the UN.
    • by kevinbr ( 689680 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:55PM (#13981421)
      This is not about Internet Governance. It is about how the DNS root file and TLD's are managed. ICANN is not free and open. CAn you elect a member to the role of director? No.

      When ICANN has SOME elected directors why did one of those elected directors have to sue to see finacial information regarding ICANN.?

      Why was the TLD .xxx refused? By what OPEN process?

      Why would you or I have to pay ICANN 50K to only APPLY to run a Top Level Domain.

      Why has ICANN released so few TLD's over the years since 1998 when before 1998 IANA was poised to allow hundreds of new TLD's.

      Why do you think the UN is a monlitic organization, where in fact UN organization such as the ITU have functioned as PART of the UN and the international phone system and standards?

      Has China via the ITU ever caused problems with phone numbers of political organization in the US?

      Are you aware that it would be doubtful that CHina or any country would have veto over the ussuing of a TLD, even though today the US has de facto vetoed a new TLD (.xxx).

      What has enforcement of human rights got to do with an open process to manage the TLD root file?

      Have you any clue how ICANN actually works?
    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:59PM (#13981464) Homepage Journal
      Like the U.S. governance has been free and open? The right wing zealots don't want a .xxx because "Oh horror, everyone would know where to find porn." (Despite the fact that this would make it far easier to avoid accidental exposure to kids.)

      Or how about the abusive enforcement of trademarks against people on the 'net who are not even doing COMMERCE, much less doing so in a confusing way? For example, randomhouse.org, various lawsuits over [company name]sucks.com, etc. I'm sure you can think of many domains whose freedom of speech has been squashed under the current internet governance.

      The U.S. hasn't been great on human rights, either---internment camps during WWII, Guantanamo Bay, prisoner abuse in Iraq, frequent reports of secret American torture locations in eastern Europe, etc. And the U.S. maintains strong relations with other countries who have repeatedly violated basic human rights, including China, several countries in the Persian Gulf, Singapore, and so on. The U.S. government may be better than some countries in terms of its human rights record, but it is by no means the paragon of virtue that you make it out to be.

      The reality of the matter is, as long as it is possible or practical for government to interfere in the freedom grantedd to us by the Internet, they will try to do so. The U.S. government is no different, and anybody who says otherwise has been living under a rock for at least the last five years.

      We need to design a replacement for the domain name system based on a combination of DNS service discovery and in-browser filters. You give your site a name, and if there are multiple sites with the same name, you see a browser-generated disambiguation page that allows you to filter the request further. Is that Ace [acehardware.com] (hardware) or Ace [mystery-games.com] (playing cards)?

      The notion of static DNS is so last century.

      • The .xxx issue isn't over yet, for precisely the reasons you mentioned. For the record, I've never agreed with top-level domain system because difference between them was so murky that most people would just register all of them (which used to be .com, .net, and .org but now includes more) to prevent confusion, with the specific and enforced exceptions of .edu, .mil, .gov, and the country codes. The ethics of [company name]sucks.com situations were murky to begin with, because they DO use trademarked names
    • Like lots of other people discussing control of the internet, you're confusing the UN with its member states. Just because China or North Korea are able to submit any kind of censorship resolution they want doesn't mean it automatically becomes binding for the whole world. With a majority vote needed to pass most resolutions, and a two-thirds majority needed to pass issues that the General Assembly considers "important", do you really think any such resolution would pass?

      The UN gaining control of the int
      • With a majority vote needed to pass most resolutions, and a two-thirds majority needed to pass issues that the General Assembly considers "important", do you really think any such resolution would pass?

        Can you prove that it won't? I have a lot more confidence that the the 1st amendment will remain intact than I do that the UN members will support free speech with a majority for every issue that comes up for a vote.
    • "And I wonder if we didn't discuss it enough ?"

      Indeed. Too much talk, not enough action.

      Primary the root for yourself. Take it away from the US and the UN and put your self in the drivers seat you lazy sod.
  • IPV6... Again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RradRegor ( 913123 ) <(ten.aihpleda) (ta) (1rradr)> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:23PM (#13981105) Journal
    Many have made the suggestion of using the country codes, and letting each country assign its own addresses to its own names within those codes. But there's an underlying limitation to that strategy, which is a shortage of 4-byte IP addresses to go with those names. Who decides how many of these addresses each country gets?

    The technical answer, I think, is we need more addresses, so each enitity of control can have its own reserved range. IPV6 could solve the problem nicely, but we need a strategy for making the transition smoothly. Getting everyone to agree on that strategy is a problem.

  • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:26PM (#13981130)

    FP: The EU and several countries say that their "nuclear option" would be to set up a rival ICANN, resulting in two standards for the Internet.

    Homer^W Dubya: "Nuke-u-ler. It's pronounced nuke-u-ler."

  • FP: The EU and several countries say that their "nuclear option" would be to set up a rival ICANN, resulting in two standards for the Internet. Do you think that's a realistic scenario?

    Is anyone else bothered by the use of the term "nuclear option"? The threat from nuclear weapons is extremely serious, and throwing this term around only legitimizes the real "nuclear option"
    • It's a political term for "trump card" or "Ace". It's the last stand if you will that either makes it or breaks the deal.
      • Re:From TFA (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hatta ( 162192 )
        It's a political term for "trump card" or "Ace". It's the last stand if you will that either makes it or breaks the deal.

        Yes, I understand that. And that use applies that it's acceptable to use the nuclear option. "trump card" would be great. But this just dilutes the shock that people should feel when we talk about the real "nuclear option"
  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:30PM (#13981168) Homepage
    But there's no reason why you couldn't have multiple root systems.

    And there's no reason (except for the confusion it would cause) why we can't ALL be called Larry Lessig.
    -larry

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:32PM (#13981187)
    But there's no reason why you couldn't have multiple root systems.

    Of course yes when it comes right down to it, there's no one pointing a gun at my head or writing laws forcing me to point to DNS servers that point to DNS servers that all ending up someway or other pointing back to the root DNS servers stored in.... gods know where.

    I can, and am free if I so choose, to point to DNS servers that are not connected to the root servers. Of course then slashdot.org could take me off on a whirlwind tour of a shady snuff movie site, but this is what I signed up to when I left the (somewhat effeciently) managed root DNS servers.

    Now if a law gets past in the EU telling me I have to point my DNS to this "new" root server, then, given the extreme dependance of just about every net based program on my computer, the percentage of which increases daily, I can expect, for some time, extreme annoyance as essentially, nothing net based works. I can expect this irritation to continue until everyone in the EU sorts themselves out and things start working again. At least in the EU "subinternet".

    Now you may say, "That why the DNS servers should stay under current (US) managment". However, consider this.

    Let's say I live in a EU country. Let's pick one at random. Saayy... France. Let's say that France, for whatever reason, becomes involved in quite a nasty dispute with the US for whatever reason. Wine sales, say. Or France bans Holloywood movies.

    Further assume that as a result of this, some smart alec in the DoC or on Capitol Hill, takes a patriotic stance and disconnects the French, and quite possibly EU DNS servers from the root servers. It's a fairly simple operation. Now, unless the French cave in, there will be no correct DNS for messers in France, and they'll be stuck with whatever demands the US would seek to impose before they can browse happily again.

    Now I'm not French, or in France, so this doesn't bother me as such. But I will put you a middle case.

    Supposing there was a website called, say, saddamhadnoweapons.org, or something. Suppose again, that the current US administration, takes exception to this sites content in some way. Now legally, it's unlikely that the administartion can force the DoC to take the address off the DNS servers for americans. But here's the thing? Could they force the site to not resolve for DNS servers not in the US? Mightn't this be legal?

    Come to think of it, wouldn't they be doing this already for "sensitive" sites like military ones at some address?
  • In the world of politics, the assumption that there is nothing stopping the world from having two sets of root DNS servers is DEAD WRONG. There *IS* something that stops that. If there were two sets, then the politicians who are struggling to get more power would have achieved nothing. The mere fact that they argue they want more security or control of the destiny of their Internet based economies is not supportive of their actions. What they desire is control, and the power that it brings. If they wanted t
    • What they desire is control, and the power that it brings. If they wanted to secure the operation of 'their' Internets, they could have done so long ago. The fact that they want a single set of root servers *AND* want control of them is nothing less than proof that they are greedy power-mongering asshats!

      You're an idiot. The value of the DNS system is that it is accepted by nearly everyone. Without that it is worth little to the US or anyone else. As for the "UN" wanting power over the internet, you're

  • All the debate in the world won't change the single most important underlying fact, the US in the form of ICANN currently controls a tremendously valuable resource that they do not want to give up.

    If they plan to debate, it should be on what kind of compensation they plan to offer in exchange for a piece.

  • Create a .un TLD and allow the United Nations to manage that. Problem solved.
  • by Dotnaught ( 223657 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:43PM (#13981282) Homepage
    I interviewed [lot49.com] Dr. Vint Cerf and Karl Auerbach about Internet goverance and alternate roots recently. Not surprisingly, Cerf wasn't a fan of alternate roots. Auerbach, however, has some provocative things to say on the subject.
  • I see nothing to be gained from this proposal and much to be lost. For all its problems, ICANN has worked reasonably well, and I see handing the reins of the Internet over to the UN to be fraught with danger.

    The US (compared with other countries) has a history of a hands off approach to regulation. Even though ICANN operates at some level under US law, the US government has kept its hands off and let industry and academia do its thing. Other governments simply don't have this approach. Other govenrmen

    • To be honest, I'm slightly worried even about the other Western democracies. France banned the sale of Nazi material on Yahoo. People have brought llibel lawsuits in Australia against United States newspapers because of material published on web servers in America. I'm MUCH less worried about them to be sure... but they still don't have the US 1st amendment.

      The USA blocks free speech as much as any other western democracy. Your 1st amandment is nothing special amongst western democracies and embedded into

  • by Mentorix ( 620009 ) <slashdot@benben.com> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @04:04PM (#13981524)
    The question isn't "Should the United Nations control the Internet?" but "Should the USA control the Internet?".

    It should come as no surprise that nobody wants the USA to control the internet except for some groups in the USA itself. By phrasing the question in a way where you can start summing up all the negatives about the UN trying to control it you are forgetting that there's a whole bunch of other negatives involved by keeping the root name servers under control of some (non-profit) corpation in the USA.

    How can anyone expect the rest of the world to keep the USA in control of something as essential for 1st world economies as the internet. With a press of the button the USA could disable a large part of the economy in every first world country they choose, nobody is going to take that chance. The discussion is pointless in my opinion. To the international community there's no convincing reason whatsoever to keep control in one country. The only solution is to put in under control of an international body, the UN is a possibility, maybe a seperate organization is better.

    If the USA does not relinquish it's grip on the root nameservers OR another satisfactory solution is found, it's a very very very high probability that alternate roots will come up. In the end it is a national security issue for anyone taking the time to research the ramifications.
    • With a press of the button the USA could disable a large part of the economy in every first world country they choose, nobody is going to take that chance.

      And because in this global economy, everything is so interrelated, they would disable theirs as well.

  • by Wolfbone ( 668810 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @04:12PM (#13981614)
    "in order to participate in Summit-related events Lessig had to promise not to talk about intellectual property."

    Dear Doctor Jones,

    The committee of the WHO invites you to open the World Summit on Global Health Policy with a brief speech. Please don't talk about Malaria, AIDS or other minor diseases.

    Dear Senator Bloggs,

    The Board is pleased to offer you the opportunity to open the World Summit on National and International Security. We request that you do not bring up irrelevant matters such as war and terrorism.

    Dear Professor Smith,

    The organisers are pleased to offer you the opportunity to present the opening address at the World Summit on Climate Change. We ask only that you avoid subjects not directly relevant - such as greenhouse gases, temperatures and sea levels.
  • by blibbler ( 15793 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @05:10PM (#13982275)
    This isn't a case of moving control of the TLDs from a completely independent body to China, North Korea or Iran. It is a matter of moving control from a US controlled organization to a truely independent organization. As said in a previous discussion, it would be ludicrous to suggest that UNICEF is controlled by china to deny food to children.

    ICANN has done a pretty good job, but the recent .xxx controversy shows that it is not independent from US influence. It is not too much of a stretch to foresee there is a great potential conflict with US foreign policy. Consider the situation where Chinese seat at the UN was held by Taiwan (ROC) until 1971 despite the PRC taking over the entire mainland in 1949. In 1971 the PRC was acknowledged as being the rightful holder of the Chinese seat on the UN over the objections of the US. It is not unreasonable to imaging that if control of the .cn TLD was in dispute, the US might pressure ICANN to refuse to transfer control to the PRC. Even now, although most of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban, the .af country code is assigned to the US supported government.
    It is certainly true that ROC is a lot nicer than the PRC, but that is besides the point. It is also true that the official UN view of geo-politics is not always completely accurate, but it is closer to the global understanding than the US's.

Every successful person has had failures but repeated failure is no guarantee of eventual success.

Working...