The following is a proposal presented by Ralph
Governing the Commons: The Future of Global Internet
a conference organized by Computer Professionals for
September 24-25, 1999,
in Alexandria, Virginia.
A framework for ICANN and DNS Management
September 25, 1999
- ICANN's authority should be based upon a multilateral
government charter. That Charter should define and limit
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Membership should be open to anyone who uses the Internet.
There should be no fee associated with membership or voting
- 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.
- The meetings of ICANN should be open to the public.
- The public should be given an annual opportunity to review
and comment on the ICANN budget.
- 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.
- National governments should be permitted to exercise
discretion over policies relating to the use of country top
level domains (.fr, .uk, .us, etc).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 GM-sucks.com, which
would not be confused with GM.com, should be permitted.
Ralph Nader, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Love, email@example.com,
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