Ronda Hauben on Tue, 25 May 1999 19:56:47 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Conflicting paradigms, Internet history and ICANN

Following is a post that appeared on the IFWP list about ICANN
and the history of the Internet. I felt this is an important
issue that folks on Nettime would be interested in as well.


"A.M. Rutkowski" <> wrote:

> Craig  McTaggart wrote:

>>For ICANN to work, it needs to acquire the kind of legitimacy which ANSI and
>>ISO enjoy.  That is, recognition by all (okay, almost all) parties involved,
>>based on widespread confidence that it can impartially carry out its work in
>>the public interest.
>>There is more than one kind of 'private organization'.  It is worthwhile
>>going a little further and explaining what one means by 'private' because, a
>>s Tony says, "it does make a difference."  Some kinds of private
>>organizations are more appropriate than others when the global public
>>interest in the governance of the Internet is involved.

>Thanks for the great discussion and proffered language.

>It's worth noting, however, that as to your own preference of
>organizational constructs, the bodies you reference have
>stridently opposed the Internet's development over many years -
>attempting instead through de jure methods to impose their
>global public "internet" models and standards on the world.
>Indeed, their arrangements still exist in parallel to the
>Internet.  ANSI, for example, is the official registry-registrar
>for the US domain under the ITU-T F.401 root.

>The Internet developed as it did - in the face of those bodies -
>through private sector, business initiatives and bottom-up,
>collaborative, de facto standards and arrangements.  It was
>the Ciscos, Suns, Microsofts, and countless other companies and
>entrepreneurial developers who made the Internet happen, not
>those global public interest bodies.
>The two paradigms are worth reflecting on in going forward.


This is very interesting Tony as you are completely falsifying
the history and development of the Internet.

The Internet has been built via 35 years of battle against 
the kind of private entrepreneurial development you claim as
its heritage.

First of all, the companies you cite, Sun and Cisco were created 
*not* via private sector, business initiatives, but in fact via
DARPA. So these companies are not the result of some
beneficient private sector creation process but the result
of research done at public expense and then companies being
created at public expense.

This is a kind of government creation and support of 
corporate entities who then claim no obligation or interest
in any public purpose.

And Microsoft got its beginnings from the hobbyists who 
created the personal computer revolution and from  John 
Kemeny and those who created BASIC, and then it is to be 
certain has had a hefty dose of support from defense 
contractor funding.

And the original impetus for what has come to be known
as the Internet grew out of the funding of interactive
computing research to create something very different
from the vision of the computer industry, i.e. IBM
in the 1960s projected as what computers should look like.

And the Internet is the product of the time-sharing research,
packet switching research, and internetting research
that was funded by the U.S. public as part of the basic 
research in computer science done by ARPA.

The private sector couldn't and didn't develop any Internet.

The U.S. government continues to provide all kinds
of support for the so called private entities that are now
trying to divert the constructive direction of Internet 
development that is the product of the computer science
research that gave it its birth, and instead to try to
divert it into a direction to mimic the old rather than
to continue to create new computer communication developments
for the people of the world.

Why are you falsifying the history of the Internet?

What are you trying to do with your championing of ICANN
as a means of taking control of the Internet from the
processes and entities that have been responsible for 
an important new development?

Also while there was pubilc funding of those attending
the IETF meetings, the issue of what would serve the
long term interests of the Internet could be the direction
of concern, and hopefully that still is the direction of 
concern of enough of the participants. However,
more recently those who are serving the interests of big
corporate entities are in the position where their corporate
interest is their concern and the long term interest of 
the whole Internet is less something they are in a position
to care for.

However to place the IETF under ICANN which is being created
via some secret process to represent only big and powerful
players is to set in motion a very vicious attack on the 

The cooperative standards process is the crucial aspect of 
the Internet that makes it something that can welcome those 
with varying networks. This is essential to the  conception
of tcp/ip as a glue for the communiication across diverse
networks, for an internetworking of diverse packet switching

Obviously that seems to be a conception you have trouble with.

Otherwise you would try to accurately examine what has made
the Internet possible, and what has made the IETF possible.

ARPA and the Internet were possible because a government 
institution had been crafted to make it possible for scientists
to function within the U.S. Dept of Defense.

ARPA was formed through an important process that meant
that it was created in a way to protect against the 
competition that was going on in the different branches
of the Services at the time. 

And that competition also had to do with the 
corporate contractors who were pressuring the Services
to give them contracts or to maintain their contracts.

The challenge when creating ARPA was to find a way to 
protect it from that competition and this continues
to be a challenge.

You are trying to set up ICANN as the essence of the 
competition, rather than looking to find any way to 
protect the IANA functions and the IETF functions
from the compettition of the most vicious form.

And it seems that the clue to the problem that your
proposals represent is that you are so hostile to 
the public origins and purpose of the Internet and 
only champion some narrow private sector interests
and try to gain for them whatever advantage you can
at the expense of the Internet and the public around the 
world who are dependent on it, or who should have the 
ability to have access to it.
What handouts are you trying to gain and for whom?


P.S. I have been working on a paper about the origins
of the Internet via goverment and the computer science
community and will be glad to make a draft available 
when it is done to those who might be interested in
exchange for comments.

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