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Username: jzellis
Date/Time: Mon, July 15, 2002 at 10:15 AM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V6.0 using Windows NT 5.1
Score: 5
Subject: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


        Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Or, in English, who watches the watchmen?

It has already been well established that the ICANN is not particularly interested in the views of web users not affiliated with a major corporation or government body. But it is these users--beholden to no one, with no particular vested interest or axe to grind--who have the Web's best interest at heart. They are users, first and foremost. But to the corporations--and, apparently, to the ICANN--they are the rabble.

An agency beholden to no one but itself is a dangerous thing; especially when it has such power over an infrastructure used by a multinational collection of millions of individual users. When its methods and proceedings are as secretive as the ICANN's have been, it is even more dangerous. What is it, precisely, that the ICANN is hiding? Or is it simply that they feel that they are more intelligent than the rest of us, more equipped to make these decisions in what amounts to a dictatorial fashion?

I have met several members of the ICANN board upon occasion in my capabilities as a technology journalist, and they seem like bright, earnest people. On a personal level, none of them have displayed the kind of monstrous arrogance that the ICANN as a whole is displaying to the online world. Many of the rabble are just as smart as the ICANN board, if not smarter. Many of them have just as much vested interest as Vinton Cerf or Esther Dyson. And many of them are outraged by ICANN's recent behavior--myself included.

I would hope that the decision over the control of the .org registry is not already a fait accompli. If so, it smacks of the worst kind of back-room intrigue and good ol' boy networking...which is precisely, I had assumed, what we have worked so hard to avoid with the Internet community. One would assume that the Net is democratic, not totalitarian; and one would hope that the ICANN realizes this soon. They would do well to remember that their authority is not given by divine right, but rather by consensus; and that it would be a trifling technical matter for the users and administrators who actually run the Web to simply ignore their pronouncements wholesale, leaving them custodians of nothing and no one. One would hope that they realize this before they make their decision in regards to the .org registry question. If not, their decision may lead to more ill feeling and divisiveness...which is the last thing we need on the Web. Who watches the watchmen? We do. The Internet users. Each and every one of us.


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