[bestbits] Civil Society Letter on IANA Transition

bzs at theworld.com bzs at theworld.com
Wed May 25 15:55:37 EDT 2016

On May 25, 2016 at 09:13 george.sadowsky at gmail.com (George Sadowsky) wrote:
 > This problem bleeds over into discussions of what is "the global public
 > interest," and more to the point, who defines it.  In particular, who defines
 > the global public interest with respect to ICANN's mission?  That's a larger
 > discussion that I'm attempting to launch here, but it's a very important
 > question for at least a part of Internet governance.

The USA, for one, managed to develop over almost 250 years a
democratic republic whose roots are in the general enfranchisement of
over 300M people -- about 220M eligible to vote, fewer do vote but
that's irrelevant.

It's a very expensive system. More than $2B is spent on the US
presidential election (post-primaries) alone. The US Federal Election
Commission has a $65M budget and that's a small part of what states
and localities also spend on voting regulation. The UN budget is about
$2.5B p.a. and that excludes various functions funded outside their
mainstream budget (e.g., UNICEF.)

My point is that people can dream up more equitable systems but at the
end of the day there is only so much money in the entire ICANN
function (total budget about $100M) w/ or w/o IANA, and much of their
budget is committed to performing their underlying functions such as
contract compliance and GDD, not running global political machinery.

I read Sen Rubio's or Sen Cruz' (and Heritage Foundation, et al)
criticisms of the transition plan and what keeps occurring to me is
why not put your (the USG's) money where your mouth is? At least in
some general terms as part of these alternative visions forward.

Although some of the criticisms are well-founded concerns most
basically amount to high-minded posturing. For example, China may gain
more influence and "we" don't like China.

Well, China has influence like it or not, huge amounts of influence
and none of these imaginings are likely to change that fact. I'd
prefer they were at the table rather than pronounced pariah.

And I don't see where these high-minded ideas might produce the sort
of revenue it would take to implement and operate these visions. Or
even an estimate or road map of what they might be.

In the case of the Senators and those with similar conceptions of ways
forward, basically leaves power, force of law (via the NTIA contract),
and let the chips fall where they may.

It has been very politic to describe NTIA's involvement thus far
(since 1998) as displaying a gentle touch. This largely means they did
little other than manage the specific requirements of the contract,
mere renewal being a major activity, because they were budgeted very
little and mostly never developed any structure to be more involved.

Which all basically says that (mere) talk is cheap.

        -Barry Shein

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