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Re: Competition; was Re: [Membership] ICANN: The Issue of Membership---

Esther Dyson a écrit:
> Excuse me. In every market I know where telecom has been privatized and
> rendered competitive, prices have gone down.  And generally, service has
> even improved!
> THe countries I know well are the US, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary,
> Russia...... Which ones are *you* referring to?

Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia. I don't think the US is a
very good example for descending prices, is it? Long distance rates have
gone down, but that's due to a change in technology and probably would have
occurred anyway. Basic line service has risen. And I believe the same is
true in England. As to the East European countries, I'm surprised to learn
that capitalism has brought lower rates for former public services like the
telephone. Certainly the costs of health services and education have risen
dramatically in those countries that have undergone forced privatization,
and have even been the cause for experiments in a return to a centralized
economy, for example in Hungary.

I'm not arguing for centralized economy here. Far from it. But
self-regulation of privatized public services doesn't work unless the
self-regulatory agencies are composed of a large number of consumer
interests. The US financial services business is a prime example, in which
self-regulation has brought with it an unprecedented number of arbitrations
and lawsuits against brokers, who no longer have to face the full effect of
the SEC laws and can elude responsibility for their actions through
arbitration schemes run by agencies that they dominate.

As a matter of fact, industry self-regulation has been demonstrated to be a
disaster when it hasn't a large component of public input. There are many
studies to this effect. Price-fixing is only one of the counter-productive
consequences of uncontrolled privatization and the cartelization that it
engenders; others include the suppression of new technologies (the
automobile industry), and practices even endangering the lives of citizens
(the dangerous materials waste disposal industry).

There may be a short period of reduced initial costs for domain names if the
registrars (and registries?) become de-centralized. But if the new ones are
run strictly as businesses whose bottom line is all that matters to them,
they'll soon find ways of jacking up the price. I've already heard arguments
that individuals shouldn't get SLDs, since they can get email and
webservices without them, and that SLDs should be reserved for businesses
and organizations. This means "businesses and organizations who can pay well
for them". The registries, root servers, and even IETF would be delighted
with this, since it would relieve the pressure on them to upscale
technology, without diminishing returns. This will destroy all the small ISP
businesses, of course, but who cares about small ISPs except small ISPs and
their small customers?

It's not competition alone that's going to prolong the free development of
the Internet, but competition together with a truly free market, which
probably will mean shared registries, and that's something that would have
to be required by law and maintained through public surveillance.