Who Should Oversee The Web ?
PBS covered the topic of just who should oversee ICANN and what part government should have in that role. Host Judy Woodruff sat down with Vint Cerf from Google and Randolph May of the Free State Foundation.
There is a full transcript on the site if you do not wish to watch the video.
Cerf and May discuss their concerns with how the process may turn out, I think May summed up what a lot of people are concerned about.
RANDOLPH MAY: I do have some concerns.
And my concerns relate to what will happen at the end of the process. Vint talks about a process almost as an end in itself, but ultimately there has to be — the U.S. is proposing at the end of the day that there be some new entity or some — you can call it what you will, but there has to be some organization that’s managing the Internet, this assignment of domain names.
And my concern is, we don’t know now, at the beginning of the process, what that entity will look like. But we do know, based on proposals that have been made by several countries in the past, Russia, China, Iran, that their vision of who should control the Internet includes some form of government control and government supervision.
So you have to be concerned about, at the end of the day, whether there can be an organization, entity, whatever, that is doing what ICANN does today, the entity that now controls the Internet, and whether there will be insulation from government control and how that will work.
There are certainly contrasting ideologies on the free flow of information, there are countries vastly opposed to the definition the majority of the world holds.
Cerf touches upon the fact that certain requirements need to be met before there is a transition.
VINT CERF: Yes, well, the question is can they get the upper hand or not.
And I want to point out very clearly, first of all, that NTIA’s announcement on the 14th of March specifically said they wouldn’t accept a solution to…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, this is this federal…
VINT CERF: That was only governmental.
That’s important, because they don’t have to accept anything. At the end of this current contract period, in September, they can continue the contract if they decide that they don’t like the proposed outcomes.
Can I make one other point? It’s a technical point. It’s not possible for any government to force any other government to use anything other than the ICANN-produced root zone, which points to all the places in the Internet. There is no way to force that because of the technology.