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Send a Message to NTIA

The Internet Governance Project is is urging Internet users everywhere, but especially those outside the United States, to respond to the NTIA Notice of Inquiry with the following statement:

“The Internet’s value is created by the participation and cooperation of people all over the world. The Internet is global, not national. Therefore no single Government should have a pre-eminent role in Internet governance. As the US reviews its contract with ICANN, it should work cooperatively with all stakeholders to complete the transition to a Domain Name System independent of US governmental control.”

You can send this message directly to the NTIA by clicking here. You can only submit comments via this page once.

Yes, of course the problem of who or what should oversee or supervise ICANN is complicated, and this statement does not answer questions about that. But it will make it clear to the USG that its current insistence on unilateral governmental control is not where things should remain. It is particularly important to make the point that the US government’s global authority over Internet governance is not matched by any global accountability mechanisms. So we look forward to the expressions of this opinion by non-US citizens, who have no voting power in the U.S. but who’s use of the Internet is nevertheless greatly affected by the NTIA proceeding.

By Milton Mueller, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy

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Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 15, 2006 1:53 AM

Any reason why you need to get people to astroturf the NTIA when there are enough people to submit regular, quite valid comments? 

And any expectation that having people astroturf NTIA with the very same boilerplate is going to produce any usable results at all?

Martin Hannigan  –  Jun 15, 2006 6:34 AM

Hi Suresh:

I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Muellers immediate desires for internet governance, but I do agree that there needs to be as much participation as possible and I think this is a reasonable way to stimulate that. We’re all smart enough to evaluate the responses on content—and so is my Congressional office. ;-)


Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 15, 2006 6:45 AM

Just my point.  Encourage people to respond to NTIA by all means.  Don’t feed them boilerplate, encourage them to click a link and paste that boilerplate in.

You want responses from thinking people, not ignorant sheep, if you need these to be of any value.

Leave astroturfing to moveon.org and the EFF.

Milton Mueller  –  Jun 16, 2006 10:17 AM

If you want to debate the real issue, i.e., if you want to defend U.S. unilateral control over the root of the Internet, let’s have an honest debate about that. Don’t try to discredit our campaign by calling it names.

Encouraging many people to voice a unified message they agree on is called democracy, not astroturfing. As Stuart Lawley points out, US government has already indicated that it responds to such messaging.

What we have proposed here is exactly the opposite of “astroturfing,” in fact. “Astroturfing refers to lobbying groups formed by business interests to make it appear as if they have “grass roots” support. IGP is not supported by industry—on the contrary, it is not very popular with the big business stakeholders in the U.S. who want things to remain the same. We are not pretending to be anything. We are giving the public a chance to voice their opinion on the issue.

So, Suresh, stop ducking the question: Do you support the message or not? If you don’t, explain why, with logical reasoning, why one government should control the Internet’s root.

Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Jun 17, 2006 4:14 AM

I’m all for sending reasoned feedback in to NTIA.  Only thing I’m not for is to run a campaign to have people copy and paste boilerplate comments for the NTIA.

1. You aren’t going to generate nearly enough critical mass for that - professional astroturfers will generate lots more volume, all of it fake

2. I’ve never been a fan of that kind of campaign - I’ve called the EFF / Dearaol.com on it before, multiple times.

You need valid, reasoned comments from people - and asking people to send in such comments is just fine by me.  Trying to have people act like a herd of sheep and copy and paste boilerplate is just not on.

Milton Mueller  –  Jun 17, 2006 7:19 AM

You avoided my question. Do you agree with the statement or not?

None of the comments are “fake,” the names are all up on the NTIA comment site and if you can prove that one of them is fake, please do so or stop making unfounded assumptions.

It is perfectly legitimate for people to agree on a common statement and to express that common view to the NTIA.

Most people don’t have time to write detailed comments in a U.S. governmental proceeding, and besides, why should they? The whole process lacks legitimacy for people who are not part of the U.S. because the U.S. has no accountability to them and they are not considered important in a politically driven process.

I wonder, do you consider _voting_ to be an act of “sheep?”

Paul Holmes  –  Jun 20, 2006 6:40 PM

Mr. Lawley has drawn the comparison with the Family Research Council’s opposition to .XXX, presumably tongue-in-cheek.

However, it raises another interesting challenge to Mr. Milton’s original encouragement to non-U.S. citizens.  Namely, if the NTIA is motivated by politics, then these non-U.S. submissions would be substantially less valuable than U.S. voters submitting their support for international governance.

Compared to .XXX, however, 99.9% of American citizens probably don’t care.  Of the remainder, I’m sure many would buy into a simple ‘anti-terrorism’ argument to support the status quo, or be scared off by a business case drawing a comparison to the ITU.

Frankly, standard loathing of ICANN aside, I’m somewhat more skeptical of the United Nations ability to govern the Internet than the U.S. Government.  A new organization, perhaps, but I’d like to see them formed and active in some capacity before handing over governance to them.

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