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Username: Thomas Lowenhaupt
Date/Time: Fri, December 22, 2000 at 9:05 AM GMT
Browser: Netscape Communicator V4.74 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: Hoist those clean sheets and turn them into sails


               Comments on "Clean Sheet" At Large Study

The ICANN Board's Yokohama resolution called for the At Large study to "be structured so as to allow and encourage the participation of organizations worldwide…"  By acknowledging the importance of the Internet users, the staff report seems to have expanded that view a bit, but not nearly enough. My comments address the appropriate participants and scope of Internet governance.

First, the idea that the net exists outside of the "real" world is hogwash. There's nothing virtual about the bumpy streets and dirty air that result from the telcos and cable companies regularly tearing up my street to bring the Internet's signal to my computer. And the 10,000-hummingbird-strong din broadcast from the "Internet Hotel" down the street is not virtual birdsong. Nor the blood virtual that could be spilt in a war for the oil needed to feed the webs voracious appetite for electric power. And the pollution from high tech production processes and the disposal nightmare of obsolete hardware are by no means virtual. Nor are the steel bars virtual that jail our newly criminalized youth hackers who brush up against the house of cards that is the net. These issues alone make the Internet a cause for civil concern.

Next, turn one's eyes to the various economic and social divides that are being caused or exasperated by the net. Here in my country (USA) we call it the digital divide and are committing billions of dollars into an effort to narrow it. And the G8 recently created a global Digital Opportunities Task Force to seek solutions for the economic divide between north and south, developed and underdeveloped that the Internet fosters. Here we have national and global governments making huge investments to meliorate the Internet's impact.

Finally, think of the Tuvalese (.TV) and Laotians (.LA) whose nations are being transformed by an unforeseen use of the Internet's domain name system. Who or what is next?

As we enter the 21st century, it's increasingly apparent that the quaint idea of some stakeholders governing the Internet is not a viable long term solution. There's only one world. And there's only one Internet. The Internet's impact is on all the people of that world. The people must govern it, not be governed by it.

I suggest we make this a real clean sheet study. Let's hoist those sheets, fill them with air and transform them into the sails that carry us on a path to a just and equitable Internet governance structure; a structure that recognizes that the people, working through their governments, are the Internet's proper governors.

Thomas Lowenhaupt
Vice Chair, Community Board 3, New York City



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