It’s like WSIS redux. The issue of US government oversight of the Net has popped up yet again, this time in the form of the NTIA asking for comments on ICANN in general in time for the renewal of the MoU contract in September.
And following a long series of requests all making the same point – that the US government should transition its role to a collection of world government – the FUD and propaganda masquerading as journalism has started re-appearing.
Emailbattles.com – who I must confess I have never heard of – has run this thoughtful headline: “Anti-ICANN Groups Spam The US Department of Commerce“. The article states that in response to the NTIA request “anti-ICANN forces seized the day. The Internet Governance Project (IGP) whipped up a boilerplate message that allows the angry-and-impotent to lash out at the press of a button.”
Anti-ICANN? Paul Twomey himself hinted yesterday in a press conference that if people felt that it would be better for the stability and security of the Net for ICANN to finally be allowed autonomy from the US government, or to be overseen my a collection of governments rather than just one “now would be the time to do it”.
And spam? Spam is unsolicited emails. The emails sent to the NTIA were actively solicited and each person sending the email has put their name and position on it. Yes, Milton Mueller’s intention is to provide a large number of requests but this is not exactly the first time this tactic has been used to get ICANN and the US government’s attention.
Witness the very long series of letters over the dotnet contract to ICANN n support of both VeriSign and Denic – the vast majority of which said exactly the same thing. And let’s not forget the most successful email campaign – the flood of emails from right-wing US Christian groups in the US over .xxx. An email campaign that caused DoC officials to pro-actively monitor the number and which ultimately led to the highest levels of the US government getting involved with the result that .xxx was ditched.
A fundamental difference between that campaign and the one Mueller is attempting to foster however is that 99 percent of the .xxx emails came from people that didn’t have the slightest idea what they were talking about. Mr Mueller on the other hand is on of the world’s leading experts on Internet governance.
The Fox News-style reporting has begun though, with the Emailbattles article being commented and linked to by OSviews.com (who I also have never heard of or ever seen at an ICANN meeting) which goes a step further. “Groups who despise the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have organized an email campaign to let the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) know what they think of its continuing effort to privatize coordination and management of Internet Domain Names and DNS.”
Despise? What is going on here? I’m just waiting for someone to accuse the Internet Governance Project to be a Commie organisation determined to hand over control of the Internet to the Russians, or Chinese or whoever it is that we hate today. I know all about it – it used to be called McCarthyism.