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Brooklyn Law School




This Article is about power - the ability to gain obedience whether by captivating followers, persuading skeptics or awarding and withdrawing economic benefits. The purpose of this Article is to analyze how the power of the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers ("ICANN") was created, augmented, strengthened and reined in. Many controversies surround ICANN, including the very foundation of its existence - the need for a single "root" in the Internet naming infrastructure - its organizational form and accountability, and the utterances, policies and actions of its management.

The purpose of this Article is not to argue and prescribe but to describe and explain. Description, however, is rarely, if ever, neutral. This Article is no exception. The author is biased in favor of the ICANN experiment. I hope it matures to become a model for a global organization - with a limited mission, grounded in a unique type of consensus, and operated in a special kind of balance of power environment. I hope that ICANN's processes and activities will reflect the spirit of the Internet that it influences. I hope that it will exercise its power only to address problems when they arise, and nurture innovation whenever possible. I hope that the Internet community and ICANN will follow the "rule of consensus" just as civil societies follow the rule of law. Events in the past month are perhaps bringing the issues to a head, but at this stage my crystal ball is dim and hope reigns supreme.

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