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CONTACT: David Fish
July 16, 2004
(202) 289-8928
Internet Body Oversteps Bounds, Expert Says
Study Finds Need to Check Regulatory Proclivities

WASHINGTON D.C. - On the eve of international meetings to chart the course of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, an American expert is issuing a study warning the organization is overstepping its bounds and must be reigned in by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the courts and private legal action. He argues that "reliance on competitive forces in the domain name system (DNS) service markets promote consumer welfare and innovation better than regulation by ICANN."

In "New Domain Name Services: Should ICANN or Competition Govern?" Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Policy Counsel William F. Adkinson, Jr. focuses on ICANN's deficiencies as a regulator and its power to stifle innovation. He argues it must "narrow its focus" to "core DNS missions" where it has a "clear mandate and the ability to improve the functioning of the DNS system." Adkinson says those missions include governance of technical issues and fostering the transition to competition.

"ICANN should avoid taking on the role of regulating new product and service offerings, and restrict itself to the limited technical functions the Department of Commerce set down in 1998 in the White Paper and Memorandum of Understanding," Adkinson writes. "Regulating the introduction of new services inhibits innovation and denies consumers the benefit of new products." ICANN "lacks the authority to impose such regulation," he says, as well as staff, resources and adequate standards to govern its decisions and procedures.

ICANN regulation is "unnecessary and counterproductive - inhibiting the introduction of innovative and valuable services," according to Adkinson. "Greater reliance on competitive forces in the in DNS service markets, as contemplated from ICANN's beginning, will promote consumer welfare and innovation better than regulation by ICANN." In particular, Adkinson points out that "increased competition among registries, due to expansion of the ccTLD's and addition of new gTLDs provides a salutary force... strengthened by the increased reliance on search engines for navigating the Internet." These arguments expand on previous work by Adkinson contained in "Domain Name Services: Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule."

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation