Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Got a Better Idea?

Koppell, Jonathan. "You Got a Better Idea?". Slate, November 28, 2012.

There’s an old saw about the weather: “Everyone complains about it, but no one ever does anything about it.” The same might be said about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

The U.S. government created ICANN in 1998 to oversee the coordination and management of the Domain Name System, which basically means that it coordinates the unique identifiers of every Web-connected device on the planet. Today, ICANN is most well-known for its rulemaking around website names. For the past 14 years, it has weathered volley after volley of criticisms (not to mention lawsuits) by an eclectic group of individuals, nation states, NGOs, companies, and global governance bodies for a laundry list of perceived ills, shortcomings, and outright failures. It has been criticized for imposing U.S. values, lacking foresight, and being the catspaw of special interest groups. At the same time, it has been criticized in the halls of the U.S.Congress, its ostensible master, for pursuing paths that were at odds with American interests. It has been taken to task by its own directors, critical of the changing rules by which the organization runs and a lack of transparency in its activities.