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The next lecture in the NuDIMS seminar series

Detlef Aufderheide , "The Peculiar Law and Economics of ICANN"

Quinn School of Business, UCD, Belfield. Room Q233, 2006-09-28 16:00:00 - 2006-09-28 17:45:00

You are cordially invited to the next NuDIMS seminar. Dr Detlef Aufderheide from the Internet Economy and Hybridity research cluster at University of Muenster, will present on "The Peculiar Law and Economics of ICANN". by Detlef Aufderheide, Ulf Mueller, and Anselm Rodenhausen.

Against Information: Who governs the Internet? Some critics say it is the U.S. government de facto as ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has been contractually linked to the U.S. Department of Commerce. ICANN, a small non-profit organisation, administrates the global assignment of addresses (top-level domains) and fulfils technical tasks (so-called IANA functions). Both are essential to successful communication on the Internet. According to critics, the U.S. government is thereby enabled to exert political and military power through, e.g., the threat of temporarily disconnecting countries or regions from the Internet upon discretion. There are claims to privatize ICANN. A number of countries urge the U.S. to let ICANN terminate its contractual links to the U.S. Department of Commerce and to transfer its tasks to an international, UN-controlled agency. Upon closer inspection, however, the potential risk as described above turns out to be comparatively low. Why, then, is the current and future status of ICANN so controversial? In a public-choice approach, we suggest to analyse ICANN as a government-implemented monopoly that is enabled to create and institutionally control the effective scarcity of domain name space, thereby causing numerous rent-seeking activities of different kinds upstream as well as downstream. In a more speculative part, we assume that in case of partially successful entries of competitors like UnifiedRoot, ICANN might quickly change its policy, restrict e.g. access to its database und thereby exert market power of an upstream essential-facility owner. We discuss several policy options and their limitations.

For further information see the the NuDIMS homepage

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