Intervista di Vint Cerf - integrale

Claudio Allocchio Claudio.Allocchio a GARR.IT
Gio 22 Mar 2001 15:58:57 CET

> Se qualcuno li diffonde, non prendertela con noi... :-)

nessun problema ormai. La versione intera e' pubblicabile adesso.

Eccola qui sotto. Chi vuole "riprenderla", faccia pure!



Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 15:38:18 -0500
From: vint cerf <vcerf a MCI.NET>
To: Claudio Allocchio <Claudio.Allocchio a>
Cc: debbie.caplan a, ilona.tzudnowski a
Subject: Re: questions

see responses


>Q: Currently, many people read daily about the Internet, its new services
>   and its potential problems (computer crime, pedophyly, illegal actvities...)
>   However it seems that the image of the Internet given to the public by
>   the media does not always correspond to its reality: How would you
>   explain "The Net" and its scope to the public?

As the Internet penetrates more completely into each country, the profile
of users begins to mirror the general population and all of its diverse
interests. In the end, it is a medium for interaction of all kinds (one to one,
one to many and many to many). The media tend to focus on the negative sides
because that seems to sell more - people are almost always more interested
in threats and disasters than they are in good news. The Internet is capable
of supporting virtually all the earlier forms of communication (radio,
television, telephone, print media) as well as creating from them an amalgam
that would not be possible without the Internet's unique technology. The
quality of the Internet's versions of these older media varies a great deal,
and the Net will not so much replace them as augment them and provide them
with yet another outlet.

>Q: and how would you explain it to a "special" set of public, i.e. the
>   politicians and the governments?

Perhaps it is best to think of Internet as a communication medium that
is growing more and more global. It serves an estimated 400 million people
around the world - a modest fraction of the number of radio listeners,
telephone and television users - but the rate of growth is fairly high.
The number of users has grown at about 80% per year, compounded annually
since 1988. While it cannot sustain that rate, I believe that 3 billion
users will be online by 2010. The Internet is a tool, a new medium, that
supports all kinds of computer-enabled interaction. The most useful tools
appear to be electronic mail, World Wide Web information services and,
increasingly, transaction processing (supporting business-to-business
and business-to-consumer interactions). Some services allow consumers
to interact directly, as in Ebay. Internet is also becoming an important
tool for communication between the government and citizens and may also
play a role in electronic voting. Already, the Internet is in use to
support proxy voting for annual meetings of publicly held companies.
Ultimately, the Internet will support telephony, radio, television,
unlimited online information and combinations of these, all made easily
accessible through speech understanding computers.

>Q: Internet Governance is something where of course the governments
>   feel they should somehow play a role. Which role do you think they
>   should play?

Governments can help to set frameworks for electronic commerce; they
need to establish international agreements to support dispute resolution,
possibly through various forms of arbitration as an alternative to
litigation. Governments can cooperate with ICANN and with ccTLD operators
to protect Internet users and promote the stability of the Internet.
Governments can also help to sponsor research and standards-making efforts
aimed at continued evolution of the Internet. Governments may need to
work together to cope with privacy and intellectual property protection
in a global, digital, networked setting.

>Q: and which relationship should exist between the
>   current "bottom-up orientied" Internet Governance bodies (both
>   technical, like IETF, and regulatory, like ICANN and the national
>   equivalent bodies) and the Governments?

I would like to think that most Governments would find it worthwhile
to cooperate with and support these grass-roots efforts. The so-called
"triangular relationship" among ICANN, the ccTLD operator and the
associated Government can act to stabilize all three axes to everyone's
benefit, for example.

>Q: in some cases we already have some agreements: the Australian case is
>   an example. Should it be "the way to go"?

The Australian and Canadian examples are helpful case studies in cooperation
among the various interested constituencies and could act as models for

>Q: Do you think that ICANN mission is known enough amoung the public and
>   the Governement?

I think it is misunderstood to have far more scope than it does - ICANN
is NOT the global governing body of the Internet, except for its very
narrow responsibility for managing IP address space allocation and the
oversight of the Domain Name System. ICANN is not responsible for abusive
practices of Internet companies, nor for fraud or other illegal uses of
the Internet. ICANN is not responsible for enforcing laws associated with
Internet operation and use; it has no policing power. It does try to
facilitate agreements among various key constituents, as befits its
concensus building mandate in the technical areas for which it
has responsibility.

>Q: How would you describe it to them?

see above

>Q: Recently, a member of the Italian Governement, answering the question
>   "why do you propose to centralise under the government strict control
>   the whole Internet national regulatory bodies, replacing the self
>   regulatory ones?" answered as:
>   "It already happens like this in every country. Also in the United States:
>   ICANN, for example, a no-profit organization, is subject to full control
>   of the US Government, which dictates very strict rules".
>   In his view ICANN seems an example of Central Government
>   Control of the Internet. How do you comment this declaration?

This is a serious misunderstanding of the actual situation. The US Department
of Commerce has retained only one specific authority - to approve the incorporation
of new TLD identifiers into the root database. All other areas have fallen to
private sector institutions including ICANN. ICANN is working hard to relieve
the US Government of this last burden.

>Q: Still, some Government condier the self regulatory current bodies is a
>   very strange light. Again another recent declaration was:
>   "(the current self regulatory bodies - note the "it" Registry Policy Board)
>   are a body which cannot respond to such important tasks. It is composed
>   by about 300 people which accept each other into the body, like in a
>   students assembly. They do not have the authority to resolve problems
>   in a fast way (note: it has the ICANN and WIPO MAPs in place), and in it
>   there are so many companies (note: the registrars) which register domain
>   names".
>   Why self regulatory bodies and style seems so "strange" to the
>   Governements?

some governments are not accustomed to placing trust and authority for
communications services into the hands of the private sector, but that
is precisely what privatization and liberalization are all about.

>Q: but at least the self regulatory bodies built the Internet, and still make
>   it work well... is it?

It is working very well considering the phenomenal rate of growth and the
expansion of applications that seem to be announced daily.

>Q: Many Governements sometimes approach the Internet from a very restricted
>   perspective. For example they see as an enormous problem the "names
>   cybersquatting". Is it really such a big problem?
>   Would you call the number of cases something like "a relevant topic"?

yes because they tend to establish precedents for future cases. Quantity
may be less important than the existence of these various cases.

>Q: what would you say to a parliament which consider the idea of regulating
>   "the whole net", with a law starting with "Prohibited domain name
>   registration", where the definition of a domain names is:
>   "domain name" or simply "domain" are the set of letters,
>   numbers, or other symbols, internationally admitted to the
>   domain name system (DNS) which ... identifies the holder of
>   internet access rights;
>   We always believed that a domain names identifies an address or a
>   resource on the network,... not an "holder os Internet Access Right".
>   What would you suggest to make the internet concepts known to them?

I would point out that national government has, at most, a kind of
jurisdiction over the ccTLD and that this oversight role does not
extend to other ccTLDs or general TLDs. Most of us think of domain
names, not as property, but as a registration of a public resource.
Within a particular ccTLD, there is some latitude for setting policy
for allowed registrations.

>Q: "Internet is For Everyone": what about if before registering a domain name
>   one should perform an international trademaks, WIPO, well known personal
>   names, etc. full enquire, in order to avoid a 30,000 $ immediate administra-
>   tive fine in case of an "error"?

Because of the somewhat fluid state of debate on who has the rights to register
particular names, it is generally a wise idea to determine what interests others
may have in any particular names. With few exceptions, the technology of the
Internet doesn't especially limit the names that can be registered (leaving
aside for a moment the continued efforts to support expansion of the character
sets used to make up domain name identifiers beyond a limited form of ASCII).
Governments need to be conscious of the fact that limitations in one country
may only push the problem outside that country's jurisdiction.

>Q: The Internet is, by nature, International. Which effotrs should be done
>   by all the involved parties, governement included, to solve problems at
>   international level?

I think ICANN has established a good beginning with the Government Advisory
Committee but for legal frameworks in support of e-commerce, serious treaty
efforts seem likely to be necessary.

/s/ Vint Cerf
Chairman, ICANN

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