ICANN-320I support the IANA transition but the proponents also stretch the truth. Nothing important will change no matter how this resolves, because ICANN has little real power. ICANN, a once obscure agency, maintains the Directory Name Service, DNS. If Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump takes over ICANN, they couldn't effectively use it to censor. The Internet is a network of networks. The "infrastructure of the Internet" is actually controlled by AT&T, France Telecom/Orange, MTN South Africa, Russia's Sistema and the other carriers and backhaul systems. The DNS is just one possible way for those networks to communicate. If ICANN becomes a problem, those companies can and would move to another system.

Andrew Sullivan, Chairman of the Internet Architecture Board, notes, "Other name systems have been invented and deployed, and they don't depend on a root zone. Also, even if we keep using DNS, nobody can force you to use the same root zone. ... If the IANA system ceases to be useful (or starts to be too politically controversial), then people will choose something else. And there is no central point where people could be forced to use the IANA system because there is no center in a network of networks. That is also the reason why nobody -- not China, not Russia and not the bogeyman in the basement -- can 'take over' the internet." 

Ted Cruz is a bleeping idiot thinking ICANN could be dominated by the Russians or Chinese. ICANN's Chair is Steve Crocker, who has worked alongside Vint and others to build the Internet since earliest days. Also on the board are George Sadowsky, who had a distinguished career with the U.S. government; Marcus Kummer, who served the Swiss government and then was ISOC's policy lead; Thomas Schneider, currently of the Swiss government; Ron de Silva, of Time Warner Cable in the U.S.; Jonne Soininen of Nokia; and a half dozen others with generally concurring views.

These folks will maintain the current system with very few changes. In addition, they will choose their successors, almost certainly like-minded. The ICANN rules make it very hard to impose change from outside. The U.S. + Europe has an effective veto over any government initiated changes. The "IANA transition" moves control from nominal U.S. government supervision to a board that holds the same values as the U.S. government. Larry Strickling has been working brilliantly for seven years to pretend the U.S. is giving up control while making sure nothing really changes. 

ICANN can affect how much you pay for domain registration and who gets the money, but little else. It has never done anything important that censors the net, which Cruz thinks will be the problem. Cruz writes Obama's Internet Handover Endangers Free Speech Online. Some know nothing convinced him ICANN has the power "to oversee the infrastructure of the Internet." (below, in full.) Pure ignorance.

To my dismay, those who agree with me that ICANN should be privatized also make false claims. Tim Berners-Lee and Danny Weitzner wrote an oped, Ted Cruz is wrong about how free speech is censored on the Internet. They are correct, "control over ICANN does nothing to advance free speech because ICANN, in fact, has no power whatsoever over individual speech online. ICANN — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — supervises domain names on the Internet. The actual flow of traffic, and therefore speech, is up to individual network and platform operators." But Danny, now an MIT colleague of Timbl, knows ICANN not represent, "the global consensus that has enabled the Internet to function and flourish over the last 25 years." 

One third of the Internet has been systematically excluded from the ICANN board. (China) Another third is barely represented, almost exclusively by people in concurrence with the Americans and Europeans. Danny knows this well. With Larry Strickling and Terry Kramer, he led the multi-million dollar effort in 2012 to keep the present system. He was in government then.

My source that the U.S. prevented China is definitive: ICANN Chair Fadi Chehadé. "The Chinese of course expect 'One Internet, one world' means they have a seat at the table. That seat at the table was impossible so long as ICANN is, still today or will continue to be, under contract to the U.S. government."





Here's Cruz's statement from his own website. I think Cruz is saying what he believes true, which is unfortunate. A symptom of Beltway Blindness, the Washington disease, is belief in obvious falsehoods. Also known as cognitive distortion, it afflicts both right and left.  

Sen. Cruz: Obama's Internet Handover Endangers Free Speech Online


September 14, 2016



 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, today convened a hearingtitled ‘Protecting Internet Freedom: Implications of Ending U.S. Oversight of the Internet,’ in which he raised numerous concerns regarding the Obama administration’s plan to relinquish American guardianship of the Internet and give it to an international body known as ICANN. Sen. Cruz specifically cited the risk of losing free speech online as a primary concern. 

“Because of the First Amendment to our Constitution, which affords more protection for speech than anywhere else in the world, the United States Government—as long as it has authority to oversee the infrastructure of the Internet—has a duty to ensure that no website is denied Internet access on account of the ideas it espouses,” Sen. Cruz said in his opening statement. “…Once the government is out of the picture, First Amendment protections go away. The First Amendment by its term binds the government, it doesn’t bind private individuals. That means that when ICANN escapes from government authority, ICANN escapes from having to worry about the First Amendment, having to worry about protecting your rights or my rights.”

Sen. Cruz’s opening statement may be viewed in its entirety here and read below:

“The Internet is one of the most revolutionary forces ever unleashed on the world.

“This transformational technology has changed how we learn, how we communicate, how we do commerce, how we live our lives. People even meet and get married through the Internet. 

“And of course, the Internet didn’t invent itself. It wasn’t invented by any politicians. It was invented by the incredible ingenuity of the American people with the financial support of American taxpayers. In the spirit of freedom and generosity that is the essence of our great nation, the American people did not try to keep the Internet just for themselves, but made it available for the benefit of all humanity. 

“Since the Internet’s inception, the United States Government has stood guard over critical Internet functions. In almost any other country, that power could have been used to deny Internet access to websites that were deemed politically undesirable or unpopular or threatening or simply disfavored by the powers that be.

“But not here. Not in the United States. Because of the First Amendment to our Constitution, which affords more protection for speech than anywhere else in the world, the United States Government—as long as it has authority to oversee the infrastructure of the Internet—has a duty to ensure that no website is denied Internet access on account of the ideas it espouses. Under the guardianship of the United States and the First Amendment, the Internet has truly become an oasis of freedom. 

“But that could soon change. In 16 days, without seeking the consent of the American people, without seeking the consent of Congress, the Obama administration has stated that it intends to relinquish the Government’s historic guardianship and give it instead to an international body known as ICANN. 

“Now, what is ICANN?  It is not a democratic body. It is a corporation with a Byzantine governing structure designed to blur lines of accountability that is run by global bureaucrats who are supposedly accountable to the technocrats, to multinational corporations, to governments, including some of the most oppressive regimes in the world like China, Iran, and Russia.

“Sadly, ICANN officials have already begun showing extraordinary affinity for China, the world’s worst abuser of Internet freedom according to Freedom House in 2015. Numerous ICANN gatherings have featured Chinese officials responsible for Chinese government censorship and propaganda.

“ICANN’s recently departed President and CEO, Fadi Chehadé, who shepherded the transition plan through the Obama administration, made China a central focus within ICANN and the future of that organization. Mr. Chehadé is on record saying that, ‘from ICANN’s standpoint, engagement with China is not an option. If we do not engage with China at every level of our community, we, frankly, lose a part of our global legitimacy.’ 

“It is striking that an organization we are being told we should trust with control of the Internet believes that legitimacy depends upon engaging in a regime that is the world’s leading censor on the Internet, silencing speech on the Internet, and that imprisons democracy and human rights advocate and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

“Not surprisingly, Mr. Chehadé left ICANN after the transition plan was approved to lead a high-level working group for, wait for it, China’s World Internet Conference—a conference that was rightly criticized for refusing to let New York Times and Washington Post reporters cover it. As a result, Reporters Without Borders demanded a boycott, calling China an ‘enemy of the Internet.’

“And yet, we are being asked to trust an organization, without having our government have the authority to protect free speech, to trust an organization whose former leader who shepherded this plan has gone to associate himself with and stand with those who are, in the words of Reporters Without Borders, the ‘enemy of the Internet.’

“Once the government is out of the picture, First Amendment protections go away. The First Amendment by its term binds the government, it doesn’t bind private individuals. That means that when ICANN escapes from government authority, ICANN escapes from having to worry about the First Amendment, having to worry about protecting your rights or my rights.

“Imagine an Internet run like one of our large, private universities today, with speech codes and safe zones – an Internet that determines some terms are too scary, microaggressions are too troubling, we will not allow them to be spoken on the Internet. 

“Imagine an Internet run like far too many European countries that punish so-called ‘hate speech’—a notoriously malleable concept that has often been used to suppress views disfavored by those in power.

“Or imagine an Internet run like many Middle Eastern countries that punish what they deem to be blasphemy.

“Or imagine an Internet run like China or Russia that punish and incarcerate those who engage in political dissent.

“Now, some will say none of that parade of horribles will happen, there’s nothing to fear here in handing control of the Internet to this international group of stakeholders, this mini U.N. Well, that’s what this hearing is here to determine. Is there something to fear? 

“And I will point out a question I think a lot of Americans are asking is: why risk it? The Internet right now works. It’s not broken. What is the problem that is trying to be solved here? That’s what this hearing is about as well.” 


The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein


Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim