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Daniel Scott Schecter, Esq.
Re: New.net and ICANN
Dear Mr. Schecter:
I represent ICANN, which has received your July 16, 2001, letter written as legal counsel on behalf of New.net.
As the consensus-based entity formed by the Internet community to coordinate the operation of the Internet's authoritative Domain Name System (DNS) in the public interest, ICANN seeks to encourage everyone, including New.net, to contribute their views on how the Internet can best serve the community. Your client, in particular, has been welcomed into the debate, with its marketing director and other representatives giving several presentations at ICANN's quarterly meeting in June. Shortly before the meeting, New.net published a "position paper" with the stated purpose of "stimulat[ing] discussion regarding the name space and help[ing to] bring all points of view to the table," and New.net's president expressed desire for an open dialog with ICANN on the topic. At the June meeting, there was extensive and open-minded discussion by members of the Internet community on the "position paper" and New.net's presentations about it. There also was extensive public discussion with respect to the draft paper (then a discussion draft) entitled "A Unique, Authoritative Root for the DNS."
As you may have learned from your client, the view it advocatesthat the Internet's longstanding consensus-based system of coordination should be replaced with a system under which the community would be required to embrace proprietary naming services launched by private, for-profit companies with no accountabilitywas rejected by most participants in the discussion. You may also have heard from your client about the broad support for the proposition, confirmed just last year by the Internet Architecture Board, that "it is not technically feasible for there to be more than one root in the public DNS." Participants in the discussion also expressed grave concerns that consumers are being misled by suggestions that New.net's "domain name extensions" should be viewed as equivalent to ".com, .net, and other existing top-level domains." Indeed, the concept of multiple roots clearly leads to the potential for conflicting top level domains and consequent Internet instability, which is directly contrary to one of ICANN's stated objectives of promoting Internet stability.
It is unfortunate that New.net, after presenting its views to the community and inviting comment upon them, now responds to the lack of acceptance of those views by calling in its lawyers to write letters demanding that the ensuing debate be stifled. The expressions of opinion about which you complain are truthful, accurate, and honestly held. Despite its different viewpoint, New.net should accept that broadly held views in the Internet community support a universally resolvable public DNS based on open non-proprietary standards, and that proprietary naming schemes such as that promoted by New.net threaten to harm the Internet as a truly global means of communication.
ICANN's commitment is to promote robust public discussions on how the DNS should be coordinated. My client encourages New.net to continue participating in the public debate rather than attempting to thwart open discussion by sending threatening letters to non-profit policy coordination entities such as ICANN. Your letter, and the implicit threat of legal action contained in it, appears to be an attempt to accomplish by coercion that which New.net apparently is not confident it can accomplish by public persuasion. Lawyers' demands are not likely to be appealing to the Internet community, which prides itself on free and open debate on issues of significant public importance.
Because ICANN believes in full public discussion of important issues, we will post your letter, and this response, on ICANN's website.
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