From: George Sadowsky <george.sadowsky@attglobal.net>
To: <DNSTransition@ntia.doc.gov>
Date: Fri, Jul 7, 2006 2:25 PM
Subject: Comments on DNS Transition, Docket No. 060519136-6136-01

Control of the Internet has become a hot topic internationally.
Perhaps not by accident, it has been the power of the Internet to
improve the lives of people, both in developed and developing
countries, that has excited the developing countries to raise more
sharply the issue of "Internet Governance" and to state the need for
representation in such a regime.

Much of the focus of Internet Governance has been upon ICANN, perhaps
the only organization that can be identified by many as central to
the functioning of the Internet. In reality, however, ICANN
principally focuses upon the technical coordination of the Internet's
naming and numbering schemes, and while this has turned out to be a
more complex undertaking than may have been originally conceived,
ICANN has very little to do with the day to day functioning of the
net.

With regard to the governance of the Internet, there are many other
organizations involved including national governments, which in
effect have much more of an impact on their inhabitants' ability to
be empowered by the Internet that any collection of other involved
organizations. This is conveniently ignored in many discussions on
the subject.

The DNS has been through a number of transitions, not all of them
helpful. The privatization of gTLDs by the National Science
Foundation to Network Solutions in 1993-4 was a blunder of historic
proportions, and we are all still suffering mightily from this
well-intentioned but quite horrible decision. The creation of ICANN
in 1998 was in part an attempt to recover from the unintended
consequences, unforeseen by NSF, of this action.

During its 8 years of existence, ICANN has managed to introduce
substantial competition into the DNS arena and has cautiously
expanded the name space. It has had to walk through legal mine
fields to do so. Its community has actively involved itself into
discussion and debate on a variety of subjects, the members giving
voluntarily of their time and energy to do so. ICANN has also
restructured itself twice, each time after realizing that its own
governance model needed reform. In general, this has been an open
process, open to participation to anyone who wanted to participate.

ICANN has not been without problems. I disagree substantially with
some of the things that it has done in the past, as well as some of
the things that it is doing today. It is not perfectly transparent,
but i would argue that total transparency may be an ideal that is
neither attainable nor always desirable.

There is no doubt in my mind that ultimately the Internet will have
to evolve to some kind of status that has a greater degree of
international control than it does now. However, given the current
state of ignorance with respect to the Internet in international
circles, I am convinced that internationalizing its control,
especially through the UN System, would be a very big mistake and
would substantially blunt both innovation and empowerment of users in
the future -- in fact, those very users, in developing countries
for whom the Internet represents a way to break down the digital
divide, would be hurt most. Perhaps in 10-20 years the international
community will be ready to be a steward to this unique and valuable
resource, but it is not ready now.

I would recommend that the U.S. Government adopt the following posture:

1. Renew the Memorandum of Understanding with ICANN for a medium term period.

2. Support the possibility of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee
evolving into a stronger role within the organization.

3. Both directly and through industry associations and NGOs, strongly
support educational efforts to inform the international community
about the Internet and how it works, especially at the governmental
level where it is most needed.

4. Take strong measures to assure governments that the U.S. is
committed to a free and open Internet, and that it will never
disconnect a government from the network (as if it could do so,
anyway!)

5. Begin discussions to determine if there is any form of
organization that exists of could be created that would provide an
acceptable transition to greater international control in the future,
and not necessarily the near future.

While I do not know how much of the opposition to the MoU is
generated by uncertainty regarding possible U.S. Government actions,
I believe that it is important to recognize this as one significant
source of discontent, and to send as many signals of reassurance as
possible to counter it. To make the point, Assistant Secretary
Gallagher's statement of last summer assumed an unnecessarily
provocative tone that did nothing to reduce any such anxiety; it
could and should have been worded differently and it would have made
the same point.

This debate will continue; it is guaranteed to continue with the
establishment of the Internet Governance Forum and its expected life
of 5 years. The U.S. needs to be involved in this discussion; it's
an opportunity both to educate and to move toward shared positions as
mush as is possible.

Involvement is such discussions also a way in which U.S. foreign
policy can support the benevolent use of the net to help developing
countries achieve economic and social progress and reduce ignorance
and poverty. That, after all, is immeasurably more important than
who "controls" the root. We should be reminding others of that
whenever discussions of the DNS and ICANNN assume an unwarranted
measure of self-importance.

George Sadowsky