BBC (September 30, 2009)
"...The US government has relaxed its control over how the internet is run.
"It has signed a four-page "affirmation of commitments" with the net regulator Icann, giving the body autonomy for the first time.
"Previous agreements gave the US close oversight of Icann - drawing criticism from other countries and groups.
"The new agreement comes into effect on 1 October, exactly 40 years since the first two computers were connected on the prototype of the net...."
It's a milestone in the history of the Internet.
And I hope this goes more smoothly than the breakup of Bell Telephone/AT&T.
A Digression: The Breakup of Big, Bad, BellThe official story of that breakup is that the American government forced big, bad Bell to split up in 1984. I've heard it speculated that AT&T had wanted, very much, to get out from under the income cap and other restrictions: and start making use of the century of R&D that they'd been pouring 'excess' profits into.
I remember the years after big, bad Bell was broken up.
Instead of dealing with one telephone system when you tried to make a call out of your town, you were dealing with - if you were lucky - a branch or partner of the one that ran your phone, that had figured out how to make connections between the two systems.
Directory assistance? Not so helpful afterward.
Making an emergency call? Generally speaking, that worked - although once I had to negotiate with someone in another state, who had an extremely vague idea of where things were in the wilds of darkest Minnesota.1
But that's another topic.
Back to the Freeing of the Internet from those AmericansAs a rule, I think that economic systems work better when there isn't one 800-pound gorilla, or even a triumvirate of 800-pound gorillas, controlling nearly all the bananas. Call me a radical; but I think competition is, in general, a good idea.
On the other hand, I think it's a good idea that most of the North American power grid is tightly controlled by essentially one entity - I've gotten used to 24/7/365 power. And, I'm a Catholic: which, again, is a whole different topic.
The point is, I don't mind dealing with huge, globe-spanning organizations. When it's appropriate.
The way the Internet has become a global entity, I can see the sense in today's change: which will take effect tomorrow.
On the other hand, I've been around long enough to be just a tiny bit concerned about some of what I read. Like this:
"...'Under the JPA, Icann staff would conduct reviews and hand them over to the US government,' explained [Icann head] Mr [Rod] Beckstrom.
" 'Now we submit those reviews to the world and post them publically for all to comment.'
"In addition, independent review panels - including representatives of foreign governments - would specifically oversee Icann's work in three specific areas: security, transparency and competition...."
Right. A few years from now, let's say someone thinks something ICANN2 is doing isn't quite what the press releases say it is.
It looks like someone could ask ICANN to have someone working for ICANN review ICANN's procedures and policies, and then have somebody on the ICANN payroll write a report, get it approved by someone else in the ICANN organization chart, and finally have the report of, by and about ICANN issued: showing what ICANN found out about ICANN - and was interested in putting in the report.
I have no reason to believe that ICANN is run by anything other than well-intentioned, comparatively honest people.
But, hypothetically, let's say that a few of them aren't. Or won't be. I sincerely hope that the documents setting up the new arrangement define sufficient checks and balances to help everybody in ICANN on the ball.
I'm glad to see that there's a set of international panels to keep an eye on some areas of critical concern, like:
This blog has some pretty suspicious content in it. Those singing vegetables I've micro-reviewed have what some people see as a downright dangerous message - according to soul-mates of a University of Minnesota, Morris, associate professor. 'Everybody' knows what those religious people are like: in some American subcultures.
Other blogs of mine are even more suspicious, divisive, and generally not true to the ideals of political correctness, Islam as interpreted by Al Qaeda, or preferred realities of the various committees in People's Republic of China. Or, for that matter, the Daughters of the American Revolution or Ron Paul supporters.
I hope that the loose standards for content and comparative freedom of expression I've enjoyed to date will continue. And, I hope that you remain free to express yourself, too.
Just as I think it would be good for the American auto industry to have a lot of small automakers, rather than three huge dinosaurs, I think it's a good idea to let people express themselves in the marketplace of ideas.
Sure, there will be your occasional crackpots. But I think the best way to expose a crackpot is to let the person put the damaged crockery on a pedestal.
Which is yet another topic.
1 We worked out a plan for me getting in touch with someone nearby - less than a hundred miles away - and my hat's off to the person I negotiated with. I don't expect someone living in the more civilized parts of the United States to recognize that places like Bemidji, Rochester, and Duluth aren't a short drive away from each other - or that Minnesota covers a trifle more ground than, say, Massachusetts.
2 ICANN: "Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers" I speak American English, and write the same way. BBC, naturally, uses British English. I left the ICANN acronym, and some words, as-is in the quotations, instead of rendering them according to American conventions.
When I'm using my own words, I use American spelling conventions, for the most part.