ICANN is short for the "Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers". It is non-profit making corporation set up by the US government in 1998 to regulate and control certain parts of the internet. Read the Wikipedia article for the full details.
Just recently there was a debate about whether internet control should be given over to an inter-govermental organisation. This would have meant that ICANN would be replaced by a international organisation - perhaps even run by the United Nations - rather than the US.
Naturally the US got all upset and said no. Slashdot has posted the letter that Condoleeza Rice sent to the EU representatives that presented the proposal. The content of Rice's letter can be summed up as "From my cold, dead hands".
I was reading a similar thread on Slashdot a few months ago about the same subject. Naturally there was a division in slashdotting opinion between those who supported a US-controlled internet and those who supported a more international body. Unsurprisingly, the pro-US control pundits were all American, while the internationalist pundits were mainly non-American.
Here I am, sitting in Australia, typing away at blogger. The internet is an international phenomenon and is changing the way the world runs. Surely I and all my other non-American internet users should have an equal say on how the internet is run? But we can't. We don't live in America. We don't have political parties or politicians we can contact in Washington because we are not in America. Our votes do not count because, well, we can't vote.
Some guy in South Carolina can't vote for a political party in Australia - just in the same way that I can't vote for some politician to represent me in Washington. They are two separate entities. But the internet is different - I use it and the guy in SC uses it too. But why is it that the politicians Mr SC votes for are able to have some measure of control over the internet, while the politicians I vote for have no control at all?
Essentially it is unfair. By continuing US control over the internet via ICANN, the US has chosen to disenfranchise the entire world so that it can control something for its own ends. It is rude, it is racist and, to put it bluntly, it is so typically American.
From the Department of Getting Annoyed
© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.