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The Letter That Won US Internet Control 576

Posted by samzenpus
from the send-an-angry-email dept.
K-boy writes "Pushing my own scoop, but I think it's a valuable piece of Net history, I have come into possession of the vital letter sent by Condoleezza Rice to the EU over Internet governance. And posted it on the Web. The letter is pretty stern but you should also read it bearing in mind that letters of this type are not only very rare but they are always written in very, very soft diplomatic language. This was not. The result of the letter was that the EU dropped its plan for an inter-governmental oversight body for the Internet and we have ended up with the status quo (ICANN, US government control). The letter was never meant for publication."
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The Letter That Won US Internet Control

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  • by Jan-Pascal (21029) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:54PM (#14178664) Homepage
    Yes, they can. The root zone ( "." ) contains the IP addresses of the .fr name servers. French ISPs usually will not have the .fr name servers hard coded, but will ask the root servers (which are hard coded, bind9 has them in the "root.db" file) where to find the .fr name servers. As long as ICANN controls the root zone file, they could remove the .fr DNS servers from it. Then, French surfers would not be able to resolve .fr domain names. Until the French ISPs would hard-code the .fr name servers, that is.

  • Re:How! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:56PM (#14178672)
    This is the United States, and we, unlike the British, have no law that prohibits journalists from reporting classified information. Government officials who illegally leak such information may be liable, but not the journalists that disseminate it.
  • Re:How! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:04PM (#14178706)
    Read the link: uk /2005/12/02/rice_eu_letter/
  • Re:How! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:05PM (#14178710)
    No. It is almost never illegal for a journalist to post truthful and lawfully obtained information.

    Bull. It varies dramatically by country. Printing classified information is almost always illegal.

    And many countries of the world throw journalists in jail if they annoy the government.

    The government of Tunisia (host of the WSIS conference) does this all the time.

    Robert Mugabe, dictator of Zimbabwe, said at the WSIS conference said that there is too much freedom of speech on the internet, and got huge applause.

    That's why you want to keep ICANN under US control. Could ICANN do a better job? Probably. But it would be far, far worse under UN control.
  • Re:How! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jon Chatow (25684) * <> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:14PM (#14178756) Homepage

    This is a common misunderstanding. The knowing disclosure parts of the Official Secrets Act applies to everyone - see section 5, sub-section 2:

    [...] the person into whose possession the information, document or article has come is guilty of an offence if he discloses it without lawful authority knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it is protected against disclosure by the foregoing provisions of this Act and that it has come into his possession as mentioned in subsection (1) above.

    Yes, some parts only apply to those who have "signed the Act" (that is, where it can be legally proven that they have been informed of the nature of the Act and its requirements), but it is not the case for the more interesting situations like this.

    As to information being ""damaging" w.r.t. the defence of the nation", well, given the current fad in No. 10 to use D-Notices like confetti (Ms. Blair, holiday plans, and other items come to mind).

  • Re:How! (Score:3, Informative)

    by chrylis (262281) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:41PM (#14178918)
    Or ^W for an entire word. Learn it and love it.
  • Re:FUCK THAT! (Score:5, Informative)

    by parcel (145162) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:46PM (#14178945)
    you guys say that, but i doubt you could point out a single incident where a citizen was restrained from protesting the government. []
  • Re:true or not? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mindjiver (71) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:50PM (#14178964) Homepage
    Why is is moderated as a flame bait?

    This is exactly what happend in sweden to latvian construction workers. See php []

    Also, it's almost impossible to find work in sweden with an arabic or african name even if you are educated at one of the state universitys. The are examples of people sending houndreds of applications and not even getting a letter back saying that they are being considered for the position. When these people emigrate i britian, canada, usa they find employement almost instantly.

    So stop moderating things as flamebait just because it doesn't fit your world view. I though the readers of slashdot liked freedom of expression, or does that only apply when it's the "correct" expression?
  • by InsaneGeek (175763) <> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:07PM (#14179388) Homepage
    Umm.... any DNS operator worth his salt will try to limit requests to the "." In the local hints file he should have most of all the tld's so his server shouldn't go asking who's authoritative for .fr By doing that not only do they reduce the load the other dns servers it also would limit affects from what you are suggesting. Where you seem to imply that hard coding is something not done, I'd say that it should be something that everybody already is doing. True at this time the central authority for the hints file everybody downloads comes from ICANN, but if ICANN decided to shove all .fr somewhere else; all you'd have to do is *not* change your local information.
  • Re:Kick ass, Condi! (Score:2, Informative)

    by operagost (62405) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:15PM (#14179435) Homepage Journal
    I believe you have confused Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General, with Carlos Guiterrez, Secretary of Commerce.
  • by Ifni (545998) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:22PM (#14179479) Homepage
    Mr. of Borg,

    a) It has been pretty firmly established here that "Condi" likely had minimal involvement in this.
    b) When the letter says "Internet structure", they are, like any well written position piece, sticking to the topic of the letter - in this case the DNS and TLD structure. VOIP is not a vital part of the Internet structure, and quite frankly, the VOIP issue (and P2P issue) you bring up is wildly different, involving enforecement of copyright and fair competition and consumer protection laws already in place. It is already accepted that the US (when involving companies on its soil) is the ultimate arbiter of law. They aren't overstepping their bounds in the VOIP, etc case.
    c) "Condi" was likely not instructed to do anything. She was probably asked to lend her name to the document to add weight, and at her own volition chose to do so, likely because she agreed with the contents. If she had chosen not to sign it, it probably would have been shopped around until someone else with some weight behind their name did. I won't comment on her motives, as I'm obviously not privvy to them, but there are rules of diplomacy that aren't all that dissimilar to the rules of Poker. If you tip your hand by expressing an interest in something, your opponent can use that item you are interested in as leverage. By the same token, you try not to give anything away. So the question is, did we tip our hand because we REALLY want to keep this power, or because we simply don't want to budge unless we absolutely have to? This is the equivalent of the US saying "I'll call your bet". We're not raising, and we're not folding.
    d) Doublespeak is not unique to the Bush admin. Note Clinton's waffling on the definition of "intercourse" and his "Slick Willy" nickname (used across party lines, even on rare occasions by his supporters). Doublespeak, non-commital phrases, misdirection, etc, are hallmarks of politics, diplomacy, and sales. Never commit until all the cards are in your favor (or forced to), manipulate your opposition to obtain what you need, share (resource and informationally) only what is needed for your ends to be met. Shades of Sun-Tsu - at one degree or another, these are the basics of most social interaction. The more you have to lose, the more rigorously you adhere to these tenets. This is one of the reasons that power and corruption tend to go hand in hand ("absolute power corrupts absolutely"). You don't amass and maintain power without mastering these skills ("a fool and his money are soon parted"). The Bush administration has arguably made the LEAST use of this, as they tend to speak to the press less frequently than other administrations and therefore have less need of watching their language. I won't exactly defend the Bush administration, but your comment here speaks more of your political leanings than it does any actual thought you put into the argument.

    Oh, and try resistance every once in a while. I think you'll find it quite effective, especially in electronics.
  • by Sinus0idal (546109) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:47PM (#14179583)
    The letter had nothing to do with the UK individually, except that the UK currently hold EU presidency, the country of which changes every 6 months.
  • Re:Honourable? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:59PM (#14179637)

    As others have noted, it's a formal title. In the UK, it applies to members of the Privy Council, which includes the Cabinet, and to various nobles with historic titles. Hence, as Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw is addressed formally in written correspondence as "The Right Honourable Jack Straw".

    You'll also hear members of parliament refer to "The honourable member for <place>" during debates, for those MPs who aren't Privy Counsellors, or to "The right honourable member for <place>" for those who are. I'm sure you can find more details somewhere like Wikipedia if you're interested.

  • by Flaming Foobar (597181) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:45PM (#14180264)
    By European standards, this letter might seem harsh. By American standards, it's pretty mild.

    I don't think it's harsh even by European standards. To me it reads like "we've always controlled the Internet, everything has worked fine, let's not try to fix something that isn't broken." It simply makes sense, and everyone agreed.

  • by NCraig (773500) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:40PM (#14180870)
    What language doesn't use a phrase similar to "How are you?"

    The French have Ca va [] (add the cedilla in your mind).

    The British also use how are you [].

    The Spanish language uses its own version [].

    The Germans have Wie geht's? [].

    Either you're just making stuff up or you hang out with a bunch of inconsiderate assholes. And, yes, that's what I really think.
  • by Bake (2609) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @08:36PM (#14181158) Homepage
    Eradication of smallpox.
    Preventing the US and USSR from destroying the world by means of a common assembly.
    Educating emerging developing nations to better sustain themselves through more efficient farming and fishing.
    Peacekeeping in the Balkans.
    Disaster relief, which I'll be the first to admit, could be a lot more effective.

    Just to name a few...


    This may not mean a lot to you, but to the countless number of people (not countless enough though) involved, it sure as hell means a lot.

    It should be noted though, that a bit of income redistribution to the poorest of countries is only bad if you want to see other nations oppressed by military dictators just so you can keep buying slave manufactured Nikes and cheap oil.


    Before you start talking about how the Human Rights Council is ineffective and how the Security Council is ineffective, you should really take a good look at WHY it is ineffective.

    The Security Council e.g. is really ineffective due to the permanent member nations having veto power. The US has been a really busy bee for the past 20 years throwing veto's left and right, using their veto power nearly 3 times as often as the rest of the permanent member combined. Don't agree with the vote? Then be the beacon of freedom that your president says you are by not doing the undemocratic thing and nullify the vote by saying "NO".

    I also find it hilarious at best when I come across people like you bitching about the Human Rights Council when the US forcefully entered a sovereign nation and took people from there with force and have detained them in Guantanamo Bay for nearly 4 years now without trying them for the crimes they are alleged to have committed. Hell, even a mock trial would be something. China, which by many accounts is far from protecting the Human Rights of its people, doesn't piss on the international declaration of Human Rights (WHICH THE US WAS A SIGNATORY TO) as much in many matters as the US has in this so-called "War On Terror".

    Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, this War On Terror has in many respects turned American civil liberties into something that not even Stalin could have thought up.
  • by maggern (597586) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @08:43PM (#14181194) Journal
    Generally, we say what we mean and we don't disguise it in a bunch of niceties or doublespeak.

    Yeah, like the americans did when argumenting for an attack at Iraq.
    "Directness" of communication has been discussed in the book "Riding the waves of culture", in which it is 1 of 10 culturals "dimensions". As far as I can remember, Europe and USA is much more direct in their way of communication, then most parts of e.g. Asia. (where reading between the lines, and noticing facial expressions are given more attention) Further, I also seem to remember that the nordic countries are the most "direct" of them all. The book is available at amazon, and is one of the best I've read.
  • by spindizzy (34680) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:58AM (#14183254)
    The Japanese do the same thing, they'll greet each other with 'Genki desu ka?' or just 'Genki?' with people they already know with some degree of familiarity. The normal polite answer would be simply 'Genki.' in return. It's a world wide thing not an American thing at all. It's common here in Australia as well.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb