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The Vint Cerf Interview: A Dozen Questions


General Issues

1. Technical coordination?

from tbyfield:

ICANN describes itself as a "technical coordination body"; it has now been operating for close to two and a half years. In that time, what has ICANN accomplished that is actually technical? And -- out of the total human-hours ICANN's staff, officers, and board of directors have expended thus far -- please give a rough guesstimate of the percentage occupied by enacting those technical accomplishments.

2. Consensus?

from DavidP:

I would very much like to know what 'consensus' means in ICANN's terminology. Is ICANN seriously attempting to 'govern by consensus'? There's lots of talk to that effect, but really -- is ICANN trying to develop consensus about, say, the Verisign deal? How can that possibly happen in the 10 days or so before the ICANN meeting in Melbourne? In general, do you think that ICANN gives anywhere near enough time for consensus to be devoloped on important policy questions, and, if not, shouldn't we conclude that it is not serious about the consensus model?

3. Role of Supporting Organizations?

from lextext:

What are the proper roles for the Supporting Organizations in creating policy, the Board in recognizing consensus policies, and the Staff in implementing those policies? At what point does an implementation detail become a policy issue that itself should be referred back to the relevant Supporting Organization for review or approval?

4. Overhaul DNS?

from singe:

I may be painfully stupid, but it seems to me that DNS itself needs an overhaul. hostname.domain.TLD is just not human enough for the needs of the general populace. Why not invest all this time, effort and money in coming up with a truly novel "proof of concept," i.e. natural language addressing on the Internet. There have been some feeble stabs at it by various search engines and directories, but for it to really work would take the kind of orchestrated research effort that a body like ICANN could sponsor and help along. Wouldn't the Internet be a lot better off without the squabbling over gTLDs and trademarks and the like, and with the ability for the user to type "The Wall Street Journal" or "Grameen Bank" or "Yahoo!" into their browser and get a web page in return?

VeriSign Contract

5. Amendments?

from Jon_Weinberg:

ICANN staff have repeatedly indicated that no amendments to the proposed Verisign contracts are possible. In fact, though, when the last set of contracts between ICANN and NSI were adopted, in November 1999, they were changed in response to public comment. Why are the new contracts inviolate?

Along the same lines, you have stated that it would be impossible to negotiate an extension to the current May 2001 divestiture deadline to allow the Internet community to comment on these contracts on a reasonable timeframe. Is that because Verisign would not agree to such an extension? Verisign states (in Stratton Sclavos's 2/28/01 letter) that you have committed, if the Board does not accept the proposed contracts, to "seek formal Board approval for an appropriate extension of the [divestiture deadline] under the existing agreement." If Verisign will be seeking an extension of the deadline if the proposal is rejected, why should ICANN not seek an extension of the deadline so as to decide?

New TLDs

6. What Concept is Being Proved?

from tbyfield :

If the introduction of new TLDs is a "proof of concept," what concept is being proven?

7. Contractual Control?

from lextext:

The proposed "unsponsored TLD agreements" recently posted by ICANN staff bind the new TLD registries in detail, on matters including the UDRP; a "sunrise" preference for trademark holders (with a detailed dispute resolution process of its own); fees levied by ICANN; fees paid by registrants; the registry-registrar relationship; functional and performance specifications for registry services; bulk access to zone files; whois (with ICANN control over availability, data elements, response format, query types, etc.); extensive reporting requirements; and much, much more. This regulatory regime is quite different from anything historically imposed by IANA. (Indeed, it's quite different from anything in the ICANN-ccTLD relationship today; a majority of the ccTLDs don't even run whois.) Is this sort of centralized control consistent with your vision of ICANN as a body restricted to "technical coordination"?

8. Pioneer Registries?

from Anonymous:

What about the pioneer registries? Is it possible to find a formula that will bring these non-ICANN TLDs into the ICANN framework?

9. ORSC Root?

from Anonymous:

Have you used the ORSC DNS settings, and experienced the rest of the internet?


10. Why question at-large?

from alexander:

Dear Vint Cerf,

before the At Large elections, (not only) the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) has been working on recommendations to the Board about the concept of At Large membership. E.g. in the MAC Singapore Report it stated MAC consensus on the purpose of the at-large membership: "To ensure representation on the ICANN board of directors of those individual and organizational users that are not already represented by the Supporting Organizations."

Now, there is a post-election study questioning the whole At Large structure. (By the way, the anonymized election data has not yet been released by ICANN. There are obviously ways of anonymizing the election data without restricting it to simple aggregates or pre-election data.)

Why do you (or do you at all) see the need to study this part of the ICANN structure -- and not others? E.g. the DNSO review is taking place because there is a widespread perception, even within the DNSO, that the structure is not working too well. What do you think is wrong or broken when it comes to Internet user participation on the ICANN Board?

Best regards, - Alexander

11. Personal support?

from Anonymous:

You have stated repeatedly that "The net is for everyone". That is an admirable concept. But, as we all know, the devil is in the details. Suppose that the "clean sheet" study committee recommends the elimination of direct elections for the At Large seats, or even the elimination of some or all of the At Large seats. 1. Would you personally be willing to support the elimination of direct elections? 2. Would you personally be willing to support the elimination of some or all of the At Large seats on the Board? 3. If democratic elections were to be eliminated, how do you propose to involve the users of the Internet in ICANN's decision making process?

And finally....

12. ICANN's errors?

from tbyfield:

What are the three biggest mistakes ICANN has made to date? Why and how were they mistakes?