Ronda Hauben on Fri, 30 Jul 1999 20:49:24 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Re: Censorship of the Press around ICANN's lack of legitimacy

A question was raised recently on the IFWP list about why there is so
little coverage in the U.S. of the frustration and problems with ICANN in
the media. 

I have some experience with why the story is *not* being covered.

1) When we did cover it at the ISOC meeting last year in Geneva in 1998
for the Amateur Computerist the reports I wrote were available online and
in the Amateur Computerist --nd met lots of interest. See Report from the
Front at but we were denied press
passes to attend the next INET meeting at INET '99. 

2) I was invited to write an op ed for one of the computer trade
magazines. I wrote something on "Is ICANN out of Control?" after a
Congressional hearing was announced. The editor in charge said the article
was accepted but he would wait till after the hearing before deciding in
what issue to print it. After the hearing he told me to totally rewrite it
in 2 hours answering very narrow questions he asked, despite the fact this
was my op ed and he had already said he was printing it. 

He then rejected the new version he had requested.

For an op ed one would expect that the views would be different from the
views regularly expressed in the newspaper or magazine, and that the
writer would be allowed to express his or her own views. I found that
wasn't the case. I was asked to totally rewrite my op ed after it had been
said to be accepted. 

Obviously there is pressure on publishers and reporters to tow the
administration line on the story. 

3) After a reporter wrote a helpful story about what happened at the
November ICANN meeting for the online version of the paper she wrote for,
an ISOC member criticized her story on Farber's I P list, and then Esther
Dyson criticized the story. The following Monday a different story was run
in the print version of the newspaper taking out some of the dissent that
the reporter had originally reported in her online story. 

4) After a story was printed in a German online journal critical of ICANN,
the writer got an email from an EU official asking who he was and what he
did and complaining about the article, with the complaint also sent to the
editor of the journal. 

5) It seems that stories critical of ICANN are to be moderate if allowed
to be printed at all and officials of ICANN or other official entities
take care to watch what is being printed and to complain to the reporters
and editors etc. 

6) I asked to put a statement into the record for the "Is ICANN out of
Control?" hearing at the Commerce Committee subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigation. I was told to go to my local Congressman because I would
have to have a committee member swear me in to submit testimony. I spent
two days trying to contact my Congressman and he contacted the committee
minority and they refused to let me submit anything as did the committee
majority staffer. 

7) The witnesses who were allowed to present testimony at the hearing in
Congress on July 22 were for the most part either in support of ICANN
claiming that what can one expect as ICANN is learning. Or the witnesses
represented a very narrow spectrum of the large spectrum of those who
recognize that ICANN is not a legitimate entity and can't be as it is
being given government functions to do and public property, and it is
neither an entity that has government oversight mechanisms nor an entity
that can protect or will protect public property. 

Thus the Congress needs to hear from the broad spectrum of those who
understand there is a serious problem with ICANN, but it seems the
political pressure from those who see their fortunes are to be made off of
the abuse of the Internet do all they can to keep that from happening. 

8) Government has mechanisms of saying that what is being done is illegal
and unconstitutional. These include the Office of Inspector General of the
NSF's report of Feb. 1997, the Government Corporate Control Act, and a
number of other internal government processes or checks and balances. A
Congressman at the hearing on July 22 said that they had suspended using
some of these to set up ICANN. ICANN will have none of the safeguards that
can provide the needed oversight to prevent the abuse of the Internet. The
U.S. government needs to utilize all of its procedures and checks and
balances to figure out what is the way to safeguard and protect the
Internet names, numbers, root server system, protocols, etc. 

These are the nerve center of the Internet and they are being treated like
extraneous baggage to be given away to the strongest bully. 
9) It seems that in the U.S., policy is made by some entity and then the
parties and political entities fall in behind it. That is a very dangerous
situation in general, and particularly when something as important as the
Internet and its scaling mechanisms are at stake. 

10) The lack of coverage of the story of what is happening with this
giveaway by the Executive Branch of the U.S.  government of essential
functions of the Internet to an institution that is totally inappropriate
is similar to how the newspapers and other means of mass media in the U.S.
deal with important stories where there is a lot of wealth and power
behind a particular desired outcome. Instead of the needed discussion and
debate, there is a public relations campaign on behalf of what the U.S.
Executive Branch or other powerful entity has chosen to do. 

The public discussion is needed to figure out what to do, but the
administration seem to use their power to keep that from happening. 

These aressome thoughts on what is happening. Other observations and
experiences welcome. 

Essentially this all flies in the face of how the Internet has been built
where the debate and discussion among those with differences was seen as
precious and welcomed. 

And so ICANN is clearly *not* any inheritor of the traditions of the


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