nettime's packet packer on Mon, 18 Apr 2005 13:01:14 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Arun Mehta: Unpacking Internet Governance [2x]

Table of Contents:

    <nettime> Arun Mehta: Unpacking Internet Governance
      Ronda Hauben <>

    Re: <nettime> Arun Mehta: Unpacking Internet Governance - reply to Morlock Elloy
      Morlock Elloi <>


Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 02:02:23 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ronda Hauben <>
Subject: <nettime> Arun Mehta: Unpacking Internet Governance

It is good the issue of Internet governance is being raised here
as the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) has been having
meetings and there is what seems to be some challenge going on
to ICANN's usurpation and effort to privatize the management of
the Internet's infrastructure.

There seems very little knowledge outside of a small group of people that
there is discussion and activity going on at the UN over how to determine
the principles and structure for the Internet's infrastructure. This
subject would benefit from being part of a global public discussion.
Instead it is a question being limited to people who have the time and
resources to be able to travel to Geneva or other countries to take part
in the WSIS activities.

>Date: Sat, 16 Apr 2005 12:45:39 +0200 (CEST)
>Subject: <nettime> Arun Mehta: Unpacking Internet Governance

>A view from New Delhi. Original to the Asiasource mailing list. Fwded
>with the author's permission.

>my $0.02 on the subject of Internet governance, your contribution
>solicited at

>    Unpacking Internet Governance -- And Finding Red Herrings

>Arun Mehta,

>The Internet seemed to come out of nowhere. Governments didn't plan
>it, international institutions hadn't even discussed it, and industry
>largely also didn't expect it.

This may be what seems, but it is not the reality. The Internet's
development was inspired by the vision of J.C.R. Licklider who
proposed a world wide communications network which would be available
to all and where the online users would have a say in the development
of the Network.

The Internet was then developed by a set of pioneers and then netizens
who shared this vision.

There is a paper describing this history and development of the
Internet online at the WSIS. The paper is online at or

>Most remarkable in its growth, was the  seeming absence of governance of
>any kind.

There was management in the development and spread of the Internet.
This was good management (or governance).

It is important that the actual way that the Internet was created
and developed be public knowledge, not myth.

Another paper which documents some of this development is online
The Internet: On its International Origins and Collaborative Vision
                        (A Work In Progress)

>The US government certainly  wasn't in charge, except for some minor
>areas, like domain names.

An international scientific and technical community working as part of the
government or in universities were in charge. The Acceptible Use Policy
that was in place until 1995 was a set of standards that limited
commercial activity and provided a certain protection for public purpose
uses like education and research.

>That most people are completely stumped when asked this question,
>indicates, according to me, how well the Internet is run, and cheaply at

Actually there are real problems with how the Internet is run since
the privatization.

For example, some of the rules about domain names that were poorly
created under ICANN's reign resulted in the hi-jacking of one
of my service provider's domain name and created serious confusion
and loss of access to many users to their email and other functions
for a few days until it could all be sorted out.

The issue of how the Internet is to be administered and managed
is a serious issue, not one to be treated lightly.

>The governments and international bodies seeking to take charge of
>the Internet would do well to learn from the model of governance that
>the Internet practices, instead of seeking to enforce their obsolete
>models of centralized control and command. If it ain't broken, don't
>fix  it.

How will the public infrastructure of the Internet be administered and
managed? This is a serious question. In 1998 ICANN was created by the
US government to privatize the public infrastructure. The IP numbers,
domain names, and protocols are critical to the operation and
continued evoltution of the Internet. Who will have control over these?
Will it be a private company created under the charity laws of the
state of California? This is a serious mismatch. But whether the
discussion and activity going on at the UN under the ITU and WSIS
can fix this is another matter.

Should the ownership and control over the vital infrastructure of
the Internet be put into the hands of a private company like ICANN?
Those creating ICANN acknowledge that it was not built on any
model - that it is a new experiment.

This is some of what is at stake in the current controversy that
WSIS is considering.

Is there some way to open up the issues and spread knowledge that there
is contention over the present and future ownership and development
of the public infrastructure of the Internet? Should this infrastructure
be put into the hands of a private corporation which is not accountable
to anyone?

>Event info:

There are ways to unravel the controversy and to identify the
questions that need discussion and consideration.

But this requires that people understand what is at stake, and
recognize that the continued development of the Internet requires
attention to who will or should own and control its infrastructure


P.S. I have a number of articles related to this issue if anyone
is interested in the urls.


Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 00:54:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: Morlock Elloi <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Arun Mehta: Unpacking Internet Governance - reply to Morlock Elloy


> its reputation and leading position. If all of them turn ugly, we should
> fairly easily be able to make our own search engine, in a collaborative
> fashion using P2P networks, for example.


> when search engines were poor. These days, I rarely bother to type
> domain names into my browser, rather go straight to google, and click on
> "I'm feeling lucky".

If you lack faculties to (1) comprehend the simple dictionary analogy that I
used, (2) understand why distributed search engines cannot be (and have not
been) "fairly easily" willed into existence and (3) figure out mechanics of
corporate operations (or at least acquaint yourself with past Google Inc.'s
"disappearances" of various entities), then I suggest you stick to the more
receptive audiences over luncheons.

> is naive too. If you have any past publications that might help me
> understand your point of view, I would gladly read them.

While I understand that in paidspeakerworld the weight of the argument is
computed as (volume of publications) x (number of speeches), on nettime and
elsewhere closer to reality arguments stand for themselves.

Your business model doesn't appear to work outside conference environments.

- ---

While I dislike the ad hominem approach, it is essential that two sides use the
common protocol to communicate, otherwise there is no communication but just
white noise. So although I prefer higher level protocols, consider this use of
Ad Hominem 1.0 to be an act of good will towards legacy protocol stack.

(of original message)

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