Reining in ICANN

by Henry Farrell on June 30, 2005

A _very_ interesting development for Internet policy geeks. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, runs key aspects of the Internet domain name system, mixing together the highly technical with the highly political. It has many opponents, running the gamut from Internet activists through commercial operators like Verisign, to the International Telecommunications Union, which has been ginning up a series of UN conferences to try to grab authority away from ICANN (the ITU is seeing its policy domain disappear from beneath its feet as telcos move _en masse_ to the Internet). One of the key uncertainties surrounding ICANN has been its relationship with the US government. Formally, ICANN runs the Domain Name System under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of Commerce. While ICANN was supposed in theory to be more-or-less self regulatory, its exact relationship with the US government was both unclear and controversial, leading the US government to suggest that it would renounce control over ICANN when the Memorandum lapses “next year”: . Now the US government seems to have backtracked on that commitment.
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Making markets again

by Henry Farrell on June 30, 2005

My “post”: last week about Rick Perlstein’s pamphlet got some “interesting”: “reactions”: (and some “wrongheaded”: ones too). I was particularly taken with Matt Yglesias‘s reworking of Perlstein’s argument and suggestions for how it might be applied. This said, I think Matt is wrong when he claims that the argument over market-making versus market-taking isn’t really an argument between the left and the center of the Democratic party. While there’s no reason _in principle_ that the one set of disagreements should map onto the other, there’s an enormous degree of overlap _in practice_. In internecine battles over policy, New Democrat/DLC types have made hay with the claim that leftwing policies simply don’t sell in the marketplace of American politics. As a result, they tend to exaggerate the extent to which these market rules are a given, and to discount the possibility that they might be changed. A case in point, which I’ve just come across, is this “review”: by Ed Kilgore of Perlstein’s “book on Barry Goldwater”: . Kilgore criticizes non-centrists for defying

bq. the commonsense view, based on extensive political experience, that Democrats can best meet the contemporary rightwing challenge by occupying the abandoned political center and peeling off moderate, independent, and even Republican voters.

Kilgore argues that Reagan and his allies won through fortuitous circumstance rather than ideological zeal, and contends that those who believe otherwise are afflicted with a variety of religious messianism

bq. Indeed, the left’s new fascination with the conservative movement, and with politicians like Goldwater and Reagan, can best be understood as reflecting a powerful desire to believe that ultimate success does not require, and may actually prohibit, ideological flexibility, submission to public opinion, or the responsibility to achieve actual results. A period of losing may well precede the day of victory, in this view, and the left’s current leaders may, like Goldwater, never enter the promised land themselves. But someday, if their people remain faithful and refuse compromise with impurity, an Aaron will arise, and redemption will be at hand.

Now, like all caricatures, there’s a little truth to this, but only a little. The “net-roots” whom Kilgore disparages as zealots in fact showed an extraordinary degree of flexibility in embracing a candidate last year whose views they didn’t share, but whom they thought might win. But the problem in Kilgore’s article goes deeper than this. By recasting the debate as one between unrealistic ideological purists (bad) and those who are willing to make political compromises and move towards the center (good), he completely fails to address Perlstein’s underlying argument. Perlstein’s real claim, if I understand it rightly, is that long term political success doesn’t come from adapting your party to a political marketplace in which the enemy has set the rules of competition. It comes from a concerted effort over time to remake those rules yourself. This doesn’t have to be pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. Nor does it have to be something which is antithetical to ND/DLC types’ policy goals. Matt’s suggestion for a new kind of family and childcare politics is a good example of an initiative that could help remake the rules of debate, and that both leftists and centrists could get behind. But it _does_ require people like Ed Kilgore to stop using the current rules of the political marketplace as a stick to beat the heads of leftists, and to start thinking creatively about how those rules might be changed. So far, I’m not seeing much evidence that they want to do this.

A new (to me) scam

by John Q on June 30, 2005

I just got a letter on impressive looking letterhead, from Domain Registry of America, offering to renew my domain name “” at fairly exorbitant rates. I don’t actually own this domain: out of a frivolous desire to be a dotcommer, I chose “”, rather than the more appropriate “” or “” when I got my own domain from Dotster.

This looked like an Internet version of the old subscription invoice scam, and sure enough, it was. I was happy to find that one practitioner of this scam has been nailed in Canada

These guys give what looks like a physical address at 189 Queen St., Suite 209, Melbourne, so I’ve written to Consumer Affairs in Victoria, suggesting a visit.

Minor update The Daniel Klemann referred to in the Canadian story mentioned above is, apparently the one behind my solicitation. If any Canadian readers would like to get in touch with the relevant authorities, and point that this guy is still active, despite his commitments, I’d be happy to send along a copy of the notice he sent me. I’ll try myself via email.