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

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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