EFF attacks ‘US-centric’ domain name plan

Net librties group weighs in against 'undemocratic' proposals

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) yesterday attacked proposals for revamping the Internet domain naming system. The group said that Internet democracy would be undermined if the joint proposal by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and Network Solutions were accepted by the US government. EFF board member John Gilmore said that the proposal would result in "another US-centric, closed corporation that would be run by an elite group shielded from public scrutiny". At the end of September, the contract for NSI running the domain name system comes to an end. The 'New IANA' plan is about to be considered by Ira Magaziner, the US presidential advisor on the Internet, who wrote a white paper seeking proposals to disengage the US government from the control of domain naming. The EFF is a San Francisco-based civil liberties organisation concerned that the Internet may cease to be a vehicle for free speech. In its analysis of the New IANA plan, it points out that the public is prevented from participating in the DNS, and that freedom of expression is not specifically protected. The EFF sees the transition arrangements as being unsatisfactory, and says that the lack of public exposure of key contracts would perpetuate the existing monopoly. The EFF pointed out in an open letter to IANA, NSI and Magaziner that in two respects the proposal does not follow the white paper requirements. So far as governance is concerned, the proposed charter and bylaws do not protect against "capture by a self-interested faction". As for operational matters, the EFF argues that the procedures for fair, open and pro-competitive processes are inadequate, and do not protect against "capture by a narrow group of stakeholders". The EFF has produced proposed changes in the New IANA documents to meet its concerns. Magaziner said without referring specifically to the EFF, that he felt that progress was being made but "criticisms made by different groups have to be taken into consideration. It doesn't have sufficient consensus yet. It's the Internet, so you'll never get 100 percent consensus on anything". ® Click for more stories

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