[discuss] shifts in IANA/accountability discussion: your thoughts?

Shatan, Gregory S. GShatan at ReedSmith.com
Fri Jun 20 14:52:32 UTC 2014

A world in which a "free" internet is run by sovereign governments (and/or an intergovernmental organization like the ITU) and paid for by taxes or licenses on users seems like a huge step in the wrong direction, and one that many from all sectors have worked hard to avoid.

Would we then have to "nationalize" all the ISPs, registries and registrars?  Or would they be paid by the government as private contractors?

Or is the "Global North" suppose to subsidize the "Global South"? (Putting aside significant issues of poverty and access in the Global North.)

This sounds like a nightmare and completely unworkable, to boot.

Maybe more radical changes are needed -- are we going to eliminate money and nations and have companies build free infrastructure and provide free services for their unpaid workers who will go get free food from unpaid farmers (who get free feed and equipment, etc.)?  Communes may work well on a small, voluntary scale, but a global commune is the stuff of fantasy.

Greg Shatan

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at 1net.org [mailto:discuss-bounces at 1net.org] On Behalf Of Andrew Sullivan
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2014 1:36 AM
To: discuss at 1net.org
Subject: Re: [discuss] shifts in IANA/accountability discussion: your thoughts?

On Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 09:37:16AM -0700, David Conrad wrote:
> it most definitely is not free. Pretending otherwise is a waste of
> time.

I think David and I really agree, but because it's convenient to hang this on his message, I observe that it is not a waste of time,
exactly: it has worked well for many people.

For instance, to return to the original analogy, the "public roadways"
are paid for not only out of the public purse; but also in pollution, despoiled lands, suburban sprawl, long commute times, lost communities, and so on.  Economists call that sort of stuff "externalities", because the market-feedback model doesn't capture them (sometimes well, sometimes at all).  We all pay -- even those who aren't using the roadways directly, and indeed even those who have tried to structure their lives to avoid directly contributing to the trend of expanding road networks.

Now, it might well be that some technologies -- automobiles seem to be one of them, and so perhaps is the Internet -- are so pervasive that one nearly can't avoid them (at least indirectly -- how did you get your food?).  But pretending that all these costs are not there -- for instance, pretending that you get to have gmail without accepting the entire user-as-product model implicit in the market dynamics of Google
-- is an excellent way to make foolish policy.  Those who wish to claim that "the Internet" needs to be available without cost in money either need to come up with an accounting system for all these other costs that does not boil down to money (there's a raft of cranky sub-disciplines in economics just for this problem) or else need to face up to reducing the other costs to money.

If the (subsequent?) claim is that one ought to get these money costs paid for from the public purse, that seems to me to be, at the very least, in need of some argument stronger than saying, "Human right!
Human right!"  I'm not sure how much taller the Benthamite stilts could get and still be inside the atmosphere.

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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