Net Needs a More Effective ICANN
Opinion: To fulfill its charter, ICANN needs to become a well-funded, swift-acting, authoritative technical and procedural authority for the Net.Who runs the Internet? Theres no simple answer to that question. The Web is a collective enterprise, but several players have key roles. One of those players is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which is responsible for IP address space allocation and other important technical ground rules by which the Nets participants must abide. While fortunes are being won and lost in the playground for which ICANN serves as monitor, ICANN is seen by some as an irrelevant and meddling bystander. Consequently, the organization is the target of multiple lawsuits and must spend scarce resources defending its actions in court. Thats unfortunate because anything that is as significant in our lives as the Net cries out for a rule-making body that enjoys the wholehearted support of the majority of Net constituents.
Foremost among the current legal actions is that filed by VeriSign earlier this year after ICANN directed it to cease its SiteFinder Service. Launched last year, SiteFinder was an ad-bearing, partner-referring site to which users were redirected after entering mistyped or unregistered domain names. VeriSign, however, provides the Domain Name System technology thats basic to Web addresses, and twisting the technology to direct users to a site it runs for commercial gain is not the kind of impartial stewardship the Net needs. ICANN found as much, and we agree. Although VeriSign complied with ICANNs directive that SiteFinder cease operating, VeriSign is challenging ICANNs authority in the courts.