Lenard Testifies before Capitol Hill on ICANN, Competition
WASHINGTON D.C. - If the Internet is to continue to flourish and grow, it must not be "bogged down by bureaucratic and politicized decision making," Dr. Thomas Lenard said today at a Capitol Hill hearing. Lenard, senior fellow and senior vice president for research with The Progress & Freedom Foundation, was a witness at a panel titled "ICANN Internet Governance: Is it Working?" hosted by two House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. Lenard's testimony is available on the PFF web site.
While not chartered with overall Internet governance, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) does administer the Domain Name System, an integral part of the Internet that is organized as a hierarchy starting with top-level domains (TLDs). Lenard outlined four views on ICANN's performance:
- ICANN has shown improvement, and despite some problems with the organization the Internet has flourished, in part due to lack of major harm stemming from ICANN's actions.
- Moving ICANN's governance functions to a multilateral organization would be extremely risky to the Internet's health, as that organization likely would be far more intrusive and regulatory.
- ICANN must resist the drift toward becoming an economic regulatory agency and move away from its regulatory approach. There is sufficient competition in the markets to do so.
- To ensure that the market for registry services is as competitive as possible, ICANN should free up entry and let the market determine the number of TLDs.
"The current Internet governance arrangement should not be set in stone, because we are dealing with a fast-changing technological environment," Lenard told the two House subcommittees. But he saw no need at this time for a major change. "Despite its defects, the Internet has flourished under the current ICANN Internet governance arrangement," he said, adding "I would not have that same confidence with respect to a multilateral governance arrangement." That said, Lenard argued that "ICANN can be even more light-handed and procompetitive in its approach to overseeing the DNS and that should be its goal."
Lenard's testimony is available on the PFF web site. For more information, contact Amy Smorodin at 202-289-8928 or email@example.com.
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.