[Comments-com-amendment-3-03jan20] .com increases harm small-time internet users

Linn Davis linndavis at gmail.com
Mon Feb 10 23:26:06 UTC 2020


Dear ICANN,

One of the great things about the internet is the ability for almost
anyone, with almost no money, to be able to buy a little dot-com and make
something of it. I cannot start an oil company or an electronics company,
but I can start an internet business for just a few dollars for hosting and
a few dollars for a domain. (Not to mention that many, many not-for-profit
organizations use dot-com domains, as well.)

Allowing Verisign to massively increase dot-com prices will have a
significant impact on the freedom of the internet. It appears,  from the
outside at least, that ICANN's decision-making is so separated from the
voices of everyday internet users that you may not realize this. There may
be tons of new TLDs, but do you think my mechanic is suddenly going to be
able to switch over to another TLD? No. No one in the real world has ever
heard of .biz, let alone .cars. These changes benefit one constituency: the
internet-industrial complex. Not the user or the small-time entrepreneur.

Dot-com is the internet, and will be for the foreseeable future.

What's more, the anti-democratic nature of ICANN's decision-making
processes run against the inherently democratic nature of the internet. To
see the long-term impact that this will have on ICANN's legitimacy, one
need look no further than the degradation of public trust in institutions
that has occurred in democratic countries the world over in recent decades.
You cannot make back-room deals and expect to remain relevant in the
long-term.

This is a really bad decision made in an even worse way.

By the way: If you're looking for a model to increase the legitimacy of
your decisions, might I suggest citizens' assemblies. You may have heard
about the national citizens' assemblies on climate policy in France and the
UK. These are tried and tested ways for a representative sample of everyday
people to be genuinely involved in complex policy-making. They harness the
wisdom of crowds in the most productive of ways -- the ideal of the
internet IRL. They're better than elected representatives and a hell of a
lot better than back-room deals.

Full disclosure: I work for a democracy-reform NGO. I'm very happy to point
you toward more resources if these are things you're thinking about
internally.

Best,
Linn Davis
Portland, Oregon, USA
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