back to article ICANN running the global internet? It's gonna be OK, it's gonna be OK, US Congress told

US Congress was soothed Wednesday morning over the fundamental shift of the IANA contract, which oversees the running of the global internet, from the US government to non-profit domain overlord ICANN, but significant questions remain. In a hearing called by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, ICANN's smooth-talking CEO …

  1. Edward Clarke

    So... what enforcement powers do they have?

    What is to keep the general internet from simply ignoring ICANN? What actual enforcement powers do they have or think that they have? Do they actually pay for the running of the root domain name servers or are these paid for by the local governing bodies?

    In other words, why not show two fingers up to ICANN and not in the good way.

    1. Tom Samplonius

      Re: So... what enforcement powers do they have?

      "...why not show two fingers up to ICANN and not in the good way."

      But why? What has ICANN done wrong? They basically function as an Internet Quartermaster.

      The only criticism I see, is of the new top level domains. But those don't hurt anyone. If you don't a .gay domain, you don't need to get one. Though theregister.gay is probably a good idea.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        "What has ICANN done wrong?"

        That isn't quite the point. The point is *if* ICANN does wrong in the future, who will reprimand them? Today, the answer is "the US government". Things need to be set up so that tomorrow, the answer is "the users of ICANN services". And it needs to be clear legally that, if ICANN doesn't correct its errors, the users can indeed walk away with their fingers in the air. That is already clearly the case for the protocol paremeters community (the IETF) and for the IP address community (the Regional Internet Registries) but not so clear for the DNS community. Hence the delayed schedule for the transition.

        "...the new top level domains. But those don't hurt anyone." Are you sure about that? Since the new domains allow their registrars to extract money that was not previously extracted from content providers, those providers are hurt. Just look at the .london con trick; utterly pointless, but it extracts ££ from the marks.

  2. Martin Summers Silver badge

    There's no reason for the US to give this up and to try and make out its because of the Snowden stuff is rubbish as they've got their fingers in pretty much every pie they need to already. I would have it stay in US control because to be honest they've done a pretty good job of keeping it running all these decades and they have the influence to make sure it stays that way. We don't need an uncertain future for the Internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      tmm;fm

      Too motormouth for me.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: tmm;fm

        "Too motormouth for me."

        Erm... Good for you Mr Coward... Happy for you.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Based on the last two issues.. enforcing of contracts and accountability, I'd say they based their business model on the US Government. Especially since they, in essence, were a part of it for so long. Maybe a culture or a re-think needs to be done by both Congress and ICANN on this and changing the way they act.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ICANN Email Verify

    An email will be sent to every single internet user. Anyone who doesn't click the link to verify said email address within 24 hours will be disconnected from "the internet".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ICANN Email Verify

      This:

      > "Please verify the e-mail of your admin account"

      > Email got lost somewhere in the labyrinth of the organization.

      > No reminders, nothing.

      > Suddenly domain disappears from 2nd level domain nameservers.

      > The fuck?

      > Call around.

      > Someone, somewhere in the general direction of ICANN graciously re-sends the lost e-mail, expiry date way in the past. No explanation, nothing.

      > Click on "verify link".

      > Domain reappears.

      This is not the way to do business, except when you have a state monopoly.

  5. KA0293

    ICANN has make itself accountable to no one.

    I was the first (and only) person ever to be elected by the public to ICANN's Board of Directors.

    Because I tried to exercise even the most basic of oversight - in particular to examine the financial ledgers of ICANN - ICANN erased even the concept of public elections.

    The question of accountability always involves the question of "accountable to whom".

    The standard answer for corporate forms, such as ICANN, is "first the board of directors and then to those who chose who will be members of that board."

    ICANN's board has historically acted as a toothless body of worthies who do not control ICANN but, instead, hand all real authority to a President/CEO, who like many CEOs is more concerned with empire building and poo-bahing around than in actually focusing on the quite small job that ICANN is supposed to do. (More on that in a moment.)

    ICANN has created a system of selecting board members that is self perpetuating and allows only conformists to be considered. The public, for whose benefit ICANN obtains its legal existence, has essentially no role in that process.

    Thus the question of "to whom is ICANN accountable" may be best answered with the single word: "nobody".

    As for ICANN's proper role: ICANN's job is to assure that the top tier of the internet domain name system quickly and accurately turns DNS name query packets into DNS response packets without prejudice against any query or person making a query. That's a pretty tiny role. It is certainly a role that can be done with fewer than ICANN's hundreds of employees and world spanning array of offices and an organizational structure that would make a Byzantine emperor blush.

    ICANN chose California as its home. Nobody forced ICANN to make that choice. And California, like many other states and countries has very rational and well tested method of holding public-benefit corporations such as ICANN accountable: ICANN can recognize internet users as members. Under the law, if there were such members, those members would have many rights to take ICANN to the wood shed should they feel it was running off the rails.

    But ICANN has edged around the edges of the law. California automatically creates a membership structure if there are elections for board seats. I competed for my board seat in what looked and smelled exactly like an election. But in order to evade the law, ICANN called it a "selection".

    ICANN has not really improved since then. Rather it is simply become more expert at building walls between it and those affected by its decisions and at ramifying its organization so that it is nearly impossible for anyone except the deepest of insiders to comprehend what ICANN is doing or has done.

    By-the-way, in case things this is a tempest in a teapot - ICANN's cumulative footprint on internet users amounts to a tax that is somewhere between $1,000,000,000 to $2,000,000,000 per yer that is levied on a non-consenting community of internet users.

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