Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lessig on ICANN and TLD policy.

This is interesting. Larry Lessig surprises me. He argues first that splitting responsibility for TLDs among different DNS roots wouldn't cause any technical problems in address resolution, so taking exclusive jurisdiction away from ICANN wouldn't be a problem. He follows that with a second observation: That ICANN has developed a practice of exerting as little policy guidance as possible, concentrating instead on a narrow technical program to satisfy its mission. On that basis, he says, adding TLD servers would be a bad thing. If a new TLD administrator decided to lobby for legislation on content or transmission, it would really mess up the Internet.

Before reading it, I'd have taken the exact opposite position: Splitting address resolution among TLDs requires too much coordination, and ICANN's execution has created much too much concern among stakeholders about its intent. It may not make policy, but it has seemed so far willing to drop its administrative knitting and run off in search of policy battles to fight.

But Lessig makes a good argument. I'm not entirely persuaded -- I think his confidence in the technical administration of DNS roots is too high. If a new top-level administrator wasn't able to properly decide what names it owned and what it didn't, the rest of the Internet, wherever addresses got resolved, would suffer.

Nevertheless, it's a good article, with some interesting reasoning. Lessig has an insightful take on the political maneuvering behind the scenes, and the extent to which US foreign policy generally, and the confused mission of the UN, conspire to make fast, smart decisions impossible. I agree on one point strongly -- with authority split among WIIS, WIPO and others, the UN looks to have terrible execution problems in any real governance role.


Post a Comment

<< Home