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ICANN Asked to Remake the Internet in Joseph Smith's Image?
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 19:15:02 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren () vortex com>
Date: March 18, 2009 6:11:17 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: ICANN Asked to Remake the Internet in Joseph Smith's Image?

         ICANN Asked to Remake the Internet in Joseph Smith's Image?


Greetings.  If there's one thing that scares the bejabbers out of me,
it's when organized religion -- either directly or via proxies --
attempts to nose its way into technology policy issues.

It appears that such a scenario is unfolding currently, with a
concerted new effort to fundamentally remake the Internet in a manner
befitting the sensibilities of top-down religious hierarchies.  An
Internet Pope?  The Spanish Inquisition?  Not exactly -- that's the
incorrect religion for this particular case.

"The Register" connects the dots of a rather sordid sequence of events
in an article posted today
( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/18/mormons_icann/ ).

Executive summary: It appears that mainly Utah-based Mormon anti-porn
crusaders, in league with Ralph J. Yarro III (SCO Group chairman) have
combined forces to petition ICANN toward the creation of a new
"Cybersafety Constituency" -- and are now reportedly using form
letters to dominate the brief period of time available for comments
( http://www.icann.org/en/public-comment/#cybersafety ).

To better understand how this all comes together and what such a
Cybersafety Constituency might be after, one must be aware that Cheryl
Preston, a key player for CP80 (headed by Yarro) is spearheading this
effort ( http://www.cp80.org ).

CP80, which has been around for a number of years, has been pushing a
radical and impractical (decorum prevents me from saying "loony" at
this juncture) plan for fundamental restructuring of Internet
architecture, along with associated new laws, to "channelize" the
Internet into the censorship advocates' dream machine.  These are
hard-core Internet content control zealots we're talking about, at
least judging from their own materials.

CP80 says that a whole slew of big name corporations, including Apple,
Toshiba, Wal-Mart, Sony, PetSmart, Office Depot, and on and on, are
"contribution partners" to their effort -- seeming to imply support for
the CP80 agenda ( http://www.cp80.org/getinvolved/sponsors ).  In
reality, it appears likely to me that these are merely purchase
affiliation links, and I wonder how many of these firms are aware of
the manner in which CP80 is using their names and logos.

While it's difficult to visualize CP80's radical agenda gaining much
traction in the short term, their entanglement with the new ICANN
petition and what appears to be a well orchestrated Mormon pressure
campaign certainly rate a "yellow shading toward orange" alert.

To be exceptionally clear about this, the key issue here isn't the
particular religion involved.  I'd say exactly the same thing about
any other organized religion that appeared to be involving
itself -- in my view -- inappropriately in technology policy matters.

Unfortunately, history teaches us that organized religion (a concept
that I've always considered to be utterly orthogonal to truly
meaningful questions of God, gods, and spirituality in general) is all
too often an instrument for societal control rather than

I consider it crucial that the Internet not be sucked into this
particular maelstrom.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren () vortex com
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
  - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, NNSquad
  - Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, GCTIP - Global Coalition
  for Transparent Internet Performance - http://www.gctip.org
Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com

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