FC: House Commerce committee wants Bush admin to "keep tabs" on ICANN

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 14 2002 - 10:22:28 PST

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    See also this article I wrote yesterday:
        2:00 a.m. March 14, 2002 PST
        WASHINGTON -- Official Washington's post-Sept. 11 preoccupation with
        heightened security measures has finally extended to the underlying
        structure of the Internet.
        The U.S. Congress is planning oversight hearings to investigate the
        Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the
        troubled nonprofit organization tasked by the Clinton administration
        with overseeing domain names and Internet addresses.
    "ICANN has voted to eliminate public elections --Karl Auerbach"
    Energy and Commerce Committee to Sec. Evans:
    Keep Tabs on ICANN's Reform Efforts
    WASHINGTON (March 14) - Following recent reports of proposed structural 
    changes to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), 
    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA), along 
    with Ranking Member John Dingell (D-MI), Subcommittee on Telecommunications 
    and the Internet Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Ed Markey 
    (D-MA) and Committee Member John Shimkus (R-IL), have urged the Department 
    of Commerce to pay close attention to ICANN's reform efforts.
    (Attached below is a copy of the letter sent to Commerce Secretary Donald 
    Evans on ICANN's reforms.)
    March 13, 2002
    The Honorable Donald L. Evans
    Department of Commerce
    1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20230
    Dear Secretary Evans:
    We are writing with respect to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names 
    and Numbers (ICANN), with which the Department of Commerce ("the 
    Department") has a contract for performing certain limited technical 
    functions with respect to the Internet.  We are deeply concerned about 
    proposals for structural changes to that organization.
    The systems that the Department permits ICANN to manage are global in scope 
    and implication.  The original policy goal the United States sought to 
    create with ICANN was to produce a non-governmental entity that could 
    coordinate core Internet functions and manage the technical aspects of its 
    naming and address allocation systems.  According to the Memorandum of 
    Understanding between ICANN and the Department for implementing a 
    transition for ICANN's technical management of Internet names and 
    addresses, ICANN was to be founded upon the principles of "stability, 
    competition, bottom-up coordination, and representation."
      Since its inception, however, ICANN has increasingly departed from that 
    limited role.  Its unchecked growth into general Internet policymaking and 
    regulation of commercial rights and interests is very disturbing.  As you 
    know, this Committee has repeatedly joined the chorus of critics from every 
    part of the Internet community in objecting to ICANN's lack of 
    transparency, due process, and accountability.  It has been slow to create 
    new competition in the generic top-level domain (gTLD) marketplace and has 
    developed needlessly detailed, highly regulatory contracts for the number 
    of new top-level domains announced last year.
      Recently, ICANN's president admitted that "ICANN in its current form has 
    not become the effective steward of the global Internet's naming and 
    address allocation systems" and that its current structure is 
    "impractical."  We agree.  The remedies that ICANN management is proposing 
    to address these fundamental problems, however, will only make matters 
    worse.  ICANN management is proposing to eliminate direct representation of 
    Internet users on ICANN's board, place five representatives of national 
    governments on the board in their stead, and increase its own budget with 
    funding to be sought from governments and network operators.
      It is our belief that such proposals will make ICANN even less 
    democratic, open, and accountable than it is today.  The Department should 
    not allow ICANN management to retreat on any future prospects for open, 
    democratic, private sector-led management of certain limited technical 
    Internet functions.  We fully support a "reform" of ICANN; however, we 
    believe ICANN reform should address and remedy, at minimum, the following 
               Create a Representative Board - The Department should ensure 
    that ICANN's Board of Directors is fully representative of all 
    stakeholders, including corporate stakeholders and members of the general 
    Internet community;
             Increased Accountability - The ICANN Board has been criticized by 
    both the Internet community and from within the board itself for the lack 
    of transparency in its decision-making processes;
             Adhere to ICANN's Original Mandate - ICANN should limit its 
    activities to its initial scope of jurisdiction, i.e., coordinating core 
    Internet functions and the technical aspects of naming and address 
    allocation issues; and
             Due Process Protections - There should be clear, written 
    procedures for approving new gTLDs, as well as any future technical issues, 
    including an impartial appeals process for those who have process or 
    substantive complaints.
    Finally, we want to strongly reiterate our support for continued Department 
    of Commerce control over the so-called "A-root" server.  We believe that 
    any assumption of control over that asset by any outside entity would be 
    contrary to the economic and national security interests of the United 
    States.  We hope you concur with our desire to see the Internet policy of 
    the United States further promote the democratization of access to the 
    processes and tools of Internet commerce and communications.  Decisions 
    made in the next few weeks must not put these important policy objectives 
    at risk.
    We look forward to hearing your views on these matters and thank you in 
    advance for your time and attention in reviewing this important issue.
    W. J. "Billy" Tauzin
    John D. Dingell
    Ranking Member
    Chairman, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the 
    Edward J. Markey
    Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
    John Shimkus
    Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
    # # #
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