The following is a proposal presented by Ralph Nader to Governing the Commons: The Future of Global Internet Administration, a conference organized by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, September 24-25, 1999, in Alexandria, Virginia.

A framework for ICANN and DNS Management

Initial Proposals
(comments welcome)

version 1.02

September 25, 1999

  1. ICANN's authority should be based upon a multilateral government charter. That Charter should define and limit ICANN's authority.

  2. The charter should be based upon a limited purpose sui generis agreement among countries that express interest in working together, and that agree that ICANN's role should be limited to tasks essential to maintaining an efficient and reliable DNS management, and that ICANN will not be used as an instrument to promote policies relating to conduct or content on the Internet. (Additional multilateral institutions may be desired to address electronic commerce issues, but ICANN itself should not become the foundation for a vast Internet governance institution. See

  3. ICANN should not use its power over domain registration policy to exclude persons from the use of a domain on issues that are not germane to managing the DNS system of mapping IP addresses into domain names. The right to have a domain on the Internet should be considered the same as the right to have a street address, a telephone number or a person's name.

  4. ICANN should identify a membership and elect its board of directors from its membership before it makes additional policy decisions (in those areas appropriate for action by ICANN).

  5. Membership should be open to anyone who uses the Internet. There should be no fee associated with membership or voting rights.

  6. The records of ICANN should be open to the public. The public should have rights to documents as, similiar to rights provided in the US Freedom of Information Act.

  7. The meetings of ICANN should be open to the public.

  8. The public should be given an annual opportunity to review and comment on the ICANN budget.

  9. The Budget of ICANN should be subject to review by the countries that provide the ICANN charter. Fees associated with domain registration should only be spent on activities essential to the management of the DNS system.

  10. National governments should be permitted to exercise discretion over policies relating to the use of country top level domains (.fr, .uk, .us, etc).

  11. For generic top level domains (.com, .org, .net, and new gTLDs), the domain space should be declared a public resource. The registrar or registries perform services on behalf of the users of the domains, and will not own the domain space. It should be possible to replace firms engaged in registration services and DNS management, without risking the stability of the Internet.

  12. On matters of public interest (in the narrow areas where ICANN will operate), such as policies regarding the use of trademarks or the privacy of domain registration information, ICANN should make recommendations to the sui generis multinational body created to manage ICANN, and the multinational body should accept, reject or modify the recommendations, after giving the public a fully adequate opportunity to review and comment on the proposals.

  13. On the issue of trademarks, the Charter should explicitly protect the public's rights to parody, criticism and free speech. For example, domain names like, which would not be confused with, should be permitted.

Comments to Ralph Nader, or James Love,,

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