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Date: Tue, 27 Oct 98 22:35:47 CST
From: rh120@columbia.edu (Ronda Hauben)
Subject: WSJ lies promote privatization of Internet essential functions
Organization: Columbia University
Article: 46340
Message-ID: <bulk.26738.19981028121649@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Wall Street Journal lies promote privatization of Internet essential functions

By ronda@panix.com
27 October 1998

This is from another posting on Usenet that I thought would be of interest to folks who read misc.activism.progressive In the name of supposed "internet governance", the U.S. government is giving away to a private corporation the public resources and power over the essential functions of the Internet and the press in the U.S. has been silent on the issues. Finally in the name of a eulogy for an Internet pioneer the WSJ published an article on the subject, but covering up all the issues and instead propagandizing for the giveaway.

Below I have added to the post that appeared on Usenet critiquing this WSJ article:

Mentifex (mentifex@scn.org) wrote:

Meanwhile, did everybody see the blatant exploitation of the death of Jonathan Postel (The Wall Street Journal editorial page A22) in the form of a 22.oct.1998 article by K. N. Cukier, a senior editor of Communications Week International? Well, George, or should you be called one of the "new Internet pipsqueaks" as Cukier calls us? Your Doublethink Duckspeak has lived beyond 1984 in the WSJ, where Mr. Cukier wrote how lucky Jonathan Postel is to have died and not have seen how "a handful of small-town Internet entrepreneurs snip- ing from their e-mail soapboxes have been calling on the U.S. government to exert control over the new IANA." The still warm body of Jonathan Postel is exploited: "His vision was of a communications network beyond the control of government." Please! Mr. 2X double-talk Cukier, the only avenue of control by ALL Netizens is demo-(that's Greek for PEOPLE, Mr. Cukier)cratic government. You end "The Internet Loses Its Head" by mouthing, "It's important to get the new institution up and running, and make sure governments stay out." Translated out of Doublespeak: Down with the people!

Good to see your account of this piece foul propaganda in the name of a eulogy for Jon Postel published in the WSJ on Thursday, October 22, 1998.

It was full of lots of other falsifications as well.

It was interesting that the WSJ hadn't carried any account of the DNS giveaway but suddenly puts on its editorial page this piece of clear propaganda.

For example:

WSJ article falsification:

"Indeed, the Internet was created by privately owned data networks that voluntarily agreed to interconnect for mutual benefit, and recognized the need for a central authority to make uncomfortable yet binding decisions."

Internet history:

The Internet was created as a result of government funded and directed computer science research and development by the U.S. government and other governments around the world who supported the linking up of the government or university developed networks in their countries.

In the process there were cooperative procedures like the Requests for Comment (RFC's) and the IETF and Usenet newsgroups and ARPANET and later Internet mailing lists that developed to make possible collaborative processes to help solve many of the problems that developed so people could work together and help each other to use and spread the Internet.

This cooperation was supported by an Acceptible Use Policy where the networks could be used reciprocally by different those in different nations around the world as long as certain rules were followed and the networks were open to the university or education community in the diverse countries.

This is what has made it possible to have an international network.

One of the first points of the Acceptible Use Policy (the AUP) that governed the early U.S. backbone to the Internet (the NSFNET) was:

"Communication with foreign reseachers and educators in connection with research or instruction, as long as any network that the foreign user employs for such communication provides reciprocal access to U.S. researchers and educators." (See chapter 12 in "Netizens")

WSJ article falsification:

"If governments get to plunge their flagpoles into cyberspace, his (Postel's) vision risks being destroyed. The Internet moves too fast for governments to control. And since it is a weave of private international networks, it's not clear what government institution has legitimacy to determine Internet policies such as adding new domain domain names--the `.com' or `org' suffixes of many of today's Internet addresses. Why not a `.med' for accredited medical institutions, for examle? Such questions are much better left for industry itself to decide."

Internet history:

Government have been a crucial part of creating the Internet, or as this WSJ propagandist calls it, cyberspace.

And Jon Postel worked for the U.S. government under a contract and so to use him as a way to attack governments being involved in the Internet is a gross misrepresentation.

The U.S. government and other governments played a *good* role, not a bad role, in the development of the Internet.

The role the U.S. government played, was *not* one of control, but of support for the networking community, and for cooperative and collaborative processes that made it possible to develop and maintain the Internet.

There are Internet processes and procedures for deciding what should happen such as the IETF and Usenet newsgroups and Internet mailing lists where problems of deciding whether or not to add new domain names can be discussed to figure out what it makes sense to do. However, instead of the U.S. government and other governments supporting the use of such procedures, they are being pressured by big corporate entities to turn over the ownership and control of decisions like these and of assets like IP numbers and domain names to private corporations under the guise of privatizing these functions.

Cukier and the WSJ are campaigning for this great giveaway of Internet assets and policy making power to "industry" by this article.

WSJ article falsification:

"Or so reasons-believe it or not- Ira Magaziner, the failed healthcare commissar reborn as cyberpunk. Mr. Magaziner spearheaded an international campaign to forge consensus among governments around the world to defer to the authority of a new, private-sector-based IANA. And when key parties in the process of building the new institution failed to come to terms, he persuaded them to continue discussions, knowing the consequences would otherwise be an open door for Congress or Geneva buraucrats to storm through."

Internet recent history:

Where and how this whole privatization process of essential Internet functions was conceived and begun needs to be unraveled, but advisors to the U.S. government with interests in big corporate entities are pressuring for this privatization similar to how they pressured for the privatization of the NSFNET backbone to the Internet.

Magaziner has been traveling around the world and encouraging other nations to go along with the privatization.

He has been offering other nations seats on the board, despite the fact that this is to be a supposed "private corporation."

Thus we are to have governments represented but under no obligations to be accountable for this representation.

This is a new model that is being crafted under the advice of some of the Internet guru's from the Internet society and other such institutions of how to give away Internet assets and policy making processes to the private sector.

Congress, according to the WSJ propaganda, should stay out.

But it is good to have Congress intervene and all sectors of the U.S. govt intervene. The Office of Inspector General of the NSF (who traditionally functioned under the authority of Congress) issued a report on this all saying that this would create a concentration of power that was very dangerous and probably contrary to U.S. law.

And the report said that government cannot transfer policy making power to private entities.

The U.S. people and people around the world need to know what is happening and to have some way to intervene.

There needs to be broad public discussion, *not* silence and propaganda press releases.

WSJ article falsification:

"All this reached a crescendo when Postel was hospitalized last week for heart problems. So close to realization, his vision may become the first casualty of the revolution he helped unleash: A form of Internet self governance founded on the authority of the Internet itself--the companies that invest in it and the individuals who benefit from it. It's imoprtant to get the new institution up and running, and make sure governments stay out."

Whose Vision of the future?

The Internet and Usenet have been created as a users networks, where the users have created the content and the software that has made them possible. (See testimony submitted to Congress http://www.columbia.edu/~rh120/other/testimony_107.txt)

And there has been a good role played by the U.S. government and governments around the world to support those who have worked to create and develop the Internet.

Also much taxpayer money of people in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world has helped to fund the networks that are now make the Internet a worldwide network of networks.

But this WSJ brand of supposed "Internet self governance" is to replace the users and the support by government for the cooperative processes and collaborative practices with the "companies that invest" (i.e. reap the windfall of the greatest giveaway in the history of the world), and where users are reduced to "individuals who benefit from" i.e. companies making profit off of them, is only the vision of a very narrow set of interests who have no understanding of nor concern for the Internet or the global communication that it makes possible.

When I spoke with Jon Postel in Geneva this past summer, explaining to him that I was a user, and that users were left out of this IFWP (International Forum on the White Paper) process that Magaziner had created, Postel didn't tell me anything about this so called vision that the WSJ is promoting. Instead he said to present what I was saying to the meetings that were to be held about the IANA privatization.

Thus to be promoting this giveaway in Postel's name, and even in what is pretended as a eulogy for him, is a demonstration of how little those promoting the privatization of the Internet care for the Internet and the people who have worked to make it possible.


Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet
also in print edition ISBN 0-8186-7706-6

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