Reply to post: Re: It ain't over until Congress and SCOTUS get their swings at it.

Transcripts: The crunch courtroom showdown to halt ICANN's internet power grab

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: It ain't over until Congress and SCOTUS get their swings at it.

"American" (that is US) technology also made the telephone possible, but that didn't mean that the global POTS network should have been run by the US government -- and it never was. Indeed, one US company, AT&T, dominated the landscape for almost 100 years, but in the end what made, and still makes, it possible for a telephone call placed in Kansas City to reach Hong Kong is the cooperation of private and government owned operators who have agreed to adhere to strict global technical standards and subscribe to detailed tariffs negotiated between those operators.

The Internet is an inter-network of networks, owned and operated by a multitude of different organizations across the globe.What makes it work is the same kind of cooperation that made the POTS work: agreement on global technical standards and subscription to detailed rate schedules negotiated between operators. Individuals and businesses who are not themselves operators of the routers, switches and other infrastructure components that bind together the Internet, which is most of us, obtain access through providers under the terms of private contracts they have with those providers.

The US does not, could not, "own" or "run" the Internet. As big as its government is, it simply lacks the resources, or the political will, to control the Internet in any meaningful way. ICANN, like IANA, are technical services that should be, need to be, politically, and commercially (a subject for a different time), neutral.

But politicians in the US are famously braggarts and many simply can't abide anything that looks like a cooperative effort, especially if it compromises their access to pay-to-play money from constituents who believe those politicians can tip the scale in their favor. Go through and look at press reports from the Depression and World War Two periods and you'll find a sea of critics who at every turn decried cooperation and joint action against the poverty inflicted on my country and, later, the threat that both the Nazis and Imperial Japan posed to our existence (of course there were also a legion of parties who went with the flow and then sought, sometimes successfully, to profiteer off the misery of millions).

Given the decline of the US and the rise of others like the members of the BRIC, I would argue that there could be no better time to separate the technical management of the Internet from the control of nation-states. If the world were to follow the advice of those four US state attorneys general and their backers then we would be faced, in maybe a very few years, with the prospect of one or more of those BRIC countries, whose economies will by then be ascendant over the US, staking claim to "ownership" of the Internet and probably prevailing. Better to set the precedent now of establishing a neutral, non-governmental, arbiter of technical standards than to try, and probably fail, later.

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