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ACM-IGC Begins Work with ICANN.

Last spring, at the initiative of ACM President Barbara Simons, the ACM Internet Governance Committee (ACM-IGC) was established as part of the Association's ongoing activity in areas involving technology and intellectual property. ACM-IGC is comprised of 15 members who are legal and technical leaders from around the world.

The committee began working this summer with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a non-profit corporation formed early in 1999 to address the technical functionality of the Internet as it becomes increasingly international. ICANN assumes "responsibility for the Internet protocol address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions now performed under U.S. Government contract by IANA and other entities."

In an interview with MemberNet, ACM-IGC policy analyst Kathryn Kleiman explained that ACM became involved with ICANN because "there is a lot of public policy embedded in technical policy, and ACM is an expert in the overlap of these kinds of issues." As one of its first initiatives, ICANN recently adopted the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy to mandate and govern arbitration for certain types of trademark and domain name disputes, an area where technology and intellectual property clearly intersect. ACM-IGC was concerned that the policy unnecessarily expanded trademark law, was too strongly oriented toward the interests of large trademark owners, and would likely hurt smaller domain name owners, including individuals, noncommercial organizations and small businesses. Earlier this fall, the committee was extremely instrumental in making changes in the policy to ensure that the interests of individuals, small businesses, and noncommercial organizations will be better represented by the policy.

In addition to addressing functionality issues, ICANN is also in the process of defining its structure. One subgroup of the corporation is the Domain Name Supporting Organization, which has a set of 7 constituencies, including the Noncommercial Domain Name Holders Constituency (NCDNHC). Involved at the time the constituencies were being formed, members of the ACM-IGC were in a position to be influential in writing the charter of the NCDNHC, recruiting a wide range of international organizations to join, and working with this group to ensure that the NCDNHC will work to protect the rights of free speech and open communication for all noncommercial participants. Kleiman now serves on the executive committee of the Domain Name Supporting Organization, a group called the Names Council, on behalf of the NCDNHC.

When asked about ICANN's future impact on the Internet, Kleiman commented: "I think that every organization that cares about making the Internet freely available to personal and political speech should be concerned about the activities of ICANN. ICANN meets every three months and has established a very aggressive schedule to develop rules that will effectively regulate the Internet.

"Large corporations are participating very actively. In order for its voice and values to be heard, the noncommercial community needs to make a big commitment of people, time, and money, and soon. Otherwise, as a noncommercial community, we will not have the opportunity to monitor, review, and provide input and guidance to matters being proposed by ICANN."

ACM's Internet Governance Committee is chaired by Randy Bush, Vice President of IP Networking at Verio. Bush has been active in the computing industry for over thirty years and is presently a co-chair of the Operations and Management Area of the Internet Engineering Rask Force (IETF). Kathryn Kleiman is an Internet, telecommunications, and IP attorney. She has a private law practice, "Internet Matters," in Alexandria, VA.

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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event; ACM Internet Governance Committee; Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Publication:Communications of the ACM
Date:Dec 1, 1999
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