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ICANN Writes US Government Requesting Independence 131

Posted by Zonk
from the very-polite-request dept.
Combat Wombat writes with word that IP address and domain name overseer ICANN has put in a request to the US government, asking to be freed from ties to the United States. A 'lengthy' report was sent to the US Dept. of Commerce, and covers the numerous steps the organization has already completed along the road to independence. The BBC reports that a meeting will be held soon in response to the report, a reaction to the expected end of US control. "The meeting marks the half-way point for the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) under which ICANN was tasked to comply with a series of 'responsibilities' deemed necessary for its release from official oversight. The JPA grew out of the original Memorandum of Understanding that established Icann and signalled the beginning of the end for US control."
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ICANN Writes US Government Requesting Independence

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday January 24, 2008 @09:45AM (#22165894)
    Dear ICANNN,

    No.

    Sincerely,
    George W. Bush

    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday January 24, 2008 @09:57AM (#22166016) Journal

      Ya know, as easy as it is to take potshots at Dubya, I think you've largely missed a legitimate concern.

      So ICANN wants to be released from oversight by the United States. Great. I bet that makes a lot of people around here happy. What's it going to be replaced with exactly? Do you really want an ICANN without any oversight?

      Say what you will about the United States and the current arrangement, but at least at the end of the day ICANN is responsible to SOMEONE. That 'someone' is in turn responsible to 300,000,000 Americans. While 300,000,000 != the whole population of Earth, it's a hellva lot better then ICANN being responsible to no one in my book.

      • by S.O.B. (136083)
        I agree. Until some international or "country neutral" form of oversight can be put in place it's not a good idea to arbitrarily remove the oversight that it currently has. Regardless of what the tinfoil hat people might think of the current arrangement.
        • U.N.

          Largest body of countries, International.

          Now, if you grew wary of the american policies concerning ICAAN, get ready for bitchslapping at a worldwide level.
        • it's not a good idea to arbitrarily remove the oversight that it currently has.

          Okay, I'll bite. I've been hearing this argument for a while, but nobody mentions what form this oversight really takes. It also begs another question: How useful is this oversight? Can it do anything about the US government and the telcos working hand in hand to wiretap the shit out of the internet? Can it do anything about the telco lobbies who want to bend network neutrality to their own profitable ends?

          If losing ICANN oversight is such a big deal, make your case. It seems like the internet's pretty much fucked either way, so how useful are they anyway?
          • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday January 24, 2008 @11:36AM (#22167624) Journal

            Can it do anything about the US government and the telcos working hand in hand to wiretap the shit out of the internet

            Exactly what would you have ICANN do about this? It's the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It's most important role is to manage the dns root and address allocations in such a way that the end users don't conflict with each other.

            What exactly is ICANN to do if AT&T decides to let the NSA splice into some fiber? Are you going to blame the ITU for wiretapping of the POTS network? Do you really think the United States is the only country that wiretaps on the internet?

            I'm probably making your point here, but the counter-argument is that if ICANN is so useless why are people in such an uproar about it? Somebody has to manage the dns root and ip address allocations. Beyond those two functions, pretty much any country that's connected to the internet can do whatever they want with the portions of it inside of their own borders.

            Let's assume the US did try and assert authority over the internet. How would it do that exactly?

            • Read my post again. I never asked ICANN to do anything. My point was, how precious and difficult is their oversight, exactly, when, as far as I (and, it seems, many here) can see, the problems and challenges facing the internet as we know it are completely unrelated to ICANN, and several orders of magnitude more important?
            • by rs79 (71822)
              " What exactly is ICANN to do if AT&T decides to let the NSA splice into some fiber? "

              Exactly.

              " Are you going to blame the ITU for wiretapping of the POTS network?

              Yeah, actually I'd expect Bob Shaw to be right there with a pair of side cutters.

              " Let's assume the US did try and assert authority over the internet. How would it do that exactly? "

              They'd do things like veto .XXX because Karl Rove promised this as a poltical favour to the Southern Baptist Convention. You know, stuff like that.
              • by Shakrai (717556) *

                They'd do things like veto .XXX because Karl Rove promised this as a poltical favour to the Southern Baptist Convention. You know, stuff like that.

                Yeah, cuz there were no other arguments against .xxx, it was all Karl Rove. The .xxx TLD is a dumbass idea for a variety of reasons. Like putting the domain registers in charge of policing content. Many in the adult industry are opposed to it because they feel it will regulate their product to an "online ghetto". Many in the religous community are likewise opposed because they think it will "legitimatize" pornography (what, it's somehow more ligitimate if it ends in .xxx instead of .com?). Who defin

          • by readin (838620)
            How useful is this oversight?

            Difficult to know until the oversight gets removed. If oversight were removed who knows what ICANN would try? And if you say the leadership wouldn't try anything too bad, who knows what people would try to replace that leadership because of the things they could try?

            US oversight seems good so far. 300 million Americans don't have much interest in doing weird things with ICANN, they just want their internet to work. That makes some issues easy to solve in a practical wa
      • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:34AM (#22166518) Homepage

        Ya know, as easy as it is to take potshots at Dubya...

        I don't think this is limited to him and I don't think it means the rest of the world hates the US. I do think it says the rest of the world no longer trusts the US. And in some ways that's worse than hatred. It's definitely sad testimony to what we've become in the eyes of the rest of the world. Instead of being trusted to work cooperatively with other sovereign nations we've pretty much declared, by our actions if not by words, that our pursuit of terrorism trumps every other concern, legitimate or not.

        And it's not just government actions. AT&T threatening to charge at both ends of the pipe and cooperating in warrant-less monitoring of internet and phone traffic on a massive scale. Several of the core ISP's threatening to block certain kinds of traffic. It could easily be a combination of corporate dickishness and the privacy insults we've foisted on the rest of the world and they're just tired of it.

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)

          I don't think this is limited to him and I don't think it means the rest of the world hates the US. I do think it says the rest of the world no longer trusts the US. And in some ways that's worse than hatred. It's definitely sad testimony to what we've become in the eyes of the rest of the world. Instead of being trusted to work cooperatively with other sovereign nations we've pretty much declared, by our actions if not by words, that our pursuit of terrorism trumps every other concern, legitimate or not.

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          It's definitely sad testimony to what we've become in the eyes of the rest of the world

          You'll brook no argument from me. It will take us decades to repair the damage that Bush's policies have wrought to our important alliances and friendships across the World. In less then eight years him and his neo-con cronies have managed to destroy 50 years of American foreign policy. 50 years of building cooperative alliances and institutions and now the rest of the World doesn't trust us.

          It's not even limited to "Old Europe" either. I find it depressing that a majority of Brits now think that th

          • by gr8scot (1172435)

            And I stand by my statements -- ICANN turned loose on the World with no accountability or oversight? Not a good idea....

            Also, the United States funded the development of the Internet in the first place. We should have the privilege of assigning ourselves more IP addresses per capita than we hand out to the rest of the world. Let them experience the joy of subnetting! ;-)

            To the rest of your comment, 'Megadittoez.' I have nothing to add to that; you've already said it.

        • Err, self-flagellation aside, you do know that every sovereign entity should not be trusted, by sheer dint of looking out for their own interests as top priority.

          The "eyes of the world" doesn't (and shouldn't) mean bupkis. In any social circle, when you try to please everyone else as your main priority, you usually end up getting screwed by the group. Most of the heads that "the eyes of the world" are attached to are merely seeking ways of maximizing their own power and success - often at the cost of some

        • s/pursuit of terrorism/corruption
      • I think the idea is that sooner or later, the ITU or some other group of powermongers is going to claim "jurisdiction" over the Internet on the basis that they are a true "international" organization, and Internet governance will fragment---or worse, people will follow them and Internet protocols will shift from their current (relative) simplicity to something more like OSI or telephony "standards", which are governed more by politics and patent-license-revenue-grabbing than by ease of implementation.

        Givi

      • by HiThere (15173)
        ICANN has, in the past, proven totally untrustworthy.

        They had a constitution that required that the board be publicly elected. They kept postponing the election until they got the US to step in and anoint them official without the need for election. They stonewalled FOI requests. They refused to accept public comment. The performed secretly when their charter required that they be open.

        I'm all in favor of an independent ICANN...but only with a totally new board of directors. And open election held the
    • ICANN has freedom?
  • Won't happen. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @09:46AM (#22165908) Homepage Journal
    As much as it might be good for the Internet, it will never happen. ICANN is considered a strategic U.S. asset. Everyone seems to be forgetting that the Internet started out as a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The government is not going to give up control that easily.
    • As long as everyone else plays ball. It looks like they're starting to ask why they're playing ball these days.

      OTOH I'm not sure freing ICANN from any nationality is as good an idea as scrapping it and creating a true multinational organisation from the ground up.
      • by Smidge204 (605297) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:25AM (#22166394) Journal
        I don't suppose you can elaborate on exactly WHY and HOW a multinational organization would be an improvement? ICANN is already run by a board of directors composed of people from all over the globe who represent their own international interests. It also takes advice both from a committee which represents even more governments from around the world and another committee that represents organizations and industries across the globe.

        On top of that, the US government has little or not actual control over ICANN's daily oerations. The cat is out of the bag, sort of speak, and there is no way the US government can effectively control the internet as a whole even if it wanted to, since the rest of the world is sufficiently set up to operate without it - with the exception of content services based in the US, which are privately controlled anyway.

        So other than the generic "USA sux" metality, what's the motivation for total globalization of ICANN's functions? What will this accomplish other than create another incompetent, ineffectual and political circle-jerk like the United Nations?
        =Smidge=
        • by daem0n1x (748565)

          another incompetent, ineffectual and political circle-jerk like the United Nations?

          Or, maybe like... your government?

          • by Smidge204 (605297)
            The government does not control ICANN.

            Read that a few times until it sinks in, then try answering my question.
            =Smidge=
        • by Nursie (632944)
          Fuck you, idiot, where did I say "USA sux"?

          Oh yeah right, fucking nowhere.

          I don't give a crap about boards of directors. What I care about is good policy agreed upon by the full international community, not some guys ina californian non profit.
          • by Smidge204 (605297)
            What constitutes a "full international community" ? Is a group of knowledgeable people from all over the world good enough? That's what the board of directors is.

            Is a committee of government representatives from all over the world good enough? They have that too.

            Is a committee of private sector and industry representatives from all over the world good enough? They have that too.

            At what point does it become a multinational organization? Also, answer my original question instead of throwing around profanitie
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by farkus888 (1103903)
      a long long time ago darpa was the only entity on the internet. then universities came on, and now its everybody. if you think darpa still has their mission critical systems on the internet you are mistaken. rolling out your own backbone has become simple and cheap enough that its worth it for them for the increased security that keeping their data out of the internet cloud provides.
      • ... at one of the major backbone facilities. One of the generals asked the guide - who later related this to a class I took at Interop - how the MILNet could be separated from the rest of the Internet in times of war.

        Before the guide could answer, another general replied:

        Explosive bolts.
      • if you think darpa still has their mission critical systems on the internet you are mistaken.
        I never said that. I just said that the U.S. government considers ICANN to be a strategic U.S. asset. The plan was always to relinquish complete government control of the Internet -- but I'm betting that they still don't want to give up their last vestiges of control -- ICANN.

      • Wasn't the entire point of DARPA's internet to be so massively redundant that no single strike, no matter how large, could disrupt communications? How could it possibly be affordable to roll out a SECOND, completely separate system; given that the current internet already relies on existing infrastructure (telephone and cable lines)? More likely they're just using non-interoperable protocols and standalone servers on current infrastructure (or was that what you meant, if so, sorry..)
        • Actually it was designed because their current networks were unreliable. While robustness as a defense against an attack was planned, it wasn't the main focus. The suvivability was but one of many needs.
        • take a look at alcatel-lucent's long haul microwave equipment. its not cheap, but there is a market for building your own high availability secure long distance wireless backbone. I personally know of 2 projects that have done just that. even if that weren't the case, one look at our defense budget in america should prove any "affordability" arguments are not really valid. I'm sure some general's minesweeper/email client at his desk is on the internet, but they are not sending the "big red button" codes ove
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slashidiot (1179447)
      Thing is, if it does not happen, countries will end up having their own ICANN equivalents, and therefore, the role now played by ICANN would be played by some kind of group or comitee, formed by every ICANN equivalent in the world... and you'll end up with a UN equivalent, and getting as good performance as with the UN.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by VGPowerlord (621254)
        I don't mean to sound rude, but do you actually understand where ICANN's power comes from? What ICANN inherited from IANA is this:
        1. Control of the IPv4 global distribution. IANA (now ICANN) assigns IP blocks to the 5 Regional Internet Registries: ARIN (North America), RIPE (Europe), APNIC (Asia and Australia), LACNIC (Central and South America), and AfriNIC (Africa).
        2. Control of the contents of the A root DNS server.

        The control of one is used to keep control of the other. ICANN equivalents wouldn't have eit

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Yeah, and PCs designs all come from IBM. So what ?
      Who controls the ICANN is really of very minor importance today. But if US government thinks it controls it, it is a huge mistake. It would be easy for ISPs to roll their own DNS registries decorrelated from ICANN's. They simply don't do it for the benefit of interoperability. But as soon as the ICANN will to control becomes more inconvenient than marginal interoperability problems, ICANN will become instantly irrelevant.
      • by gr8scot (1172435)
        Crappy as AOL always was, I think some of their early, more proprietary crap proves the general feasibility of that kind of thing. ... in a really, really general sense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 (702802)
      And if the USA ever decides to use ths asset agains someone, they instantly lose it. Europe is already immune; we could just switch over to ORSN and decide to ignore US standards on IP address usage. Other regions/countries can set up alternative DNS roots as well.

      ICANN is not much of an asset because the USA have to cooperate with everyone anyway, lest they want the internet to fragment.
    • by PinkyDead (862370)

      ICANN is considered a strategic U.S. asset.
      And that's where the problem lies.

      The strategic value of ICANN is right up there with the strategic value of a melting snowflake. If ever the US tried to leverage this value it would instantly disappear.

      However, as long as there is a perceived strategic value, we shall all dance this merry dance.

      The solution is to deal with the perception not the reality.
  • I will be surprised if this happens. I cannot see the US Government relinquishing control of a potential tool against terrorism, in other words, a way to gather info of people.
    • Then that would be a whitewash of their true intents. If there's any info to be gathered by DNS lookups, then it's not that hard to manually distribute an IP address instead.
    • by Shakrai (717556) *

      in other words, a way to gather info of people.

      Need some more tinfoil for that hat? Exactly what does ICANN do that would be useful in "gathering info" on people? Finding out which domains they own and which IP addressing space they have?

      You might have had a better point if you had said 'AT&T is a way to gather info on people'. ICANN itself is kind of useless in this regard.

  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @09:51AM (#22165964) Homepage Journal
    ICANN has put in a request to the US government, asking to be freed from ties to the United States.

    Yeah, like that's going to happen. The United Nations is supposedly meant to be independent from the US, but in reality is just a puppet organization held up by the US. Even organizations that aren't based in the US are inevitably tied to the goings-ons of the US from economic, trade, or cultural points of view, such as, say, the Bank of England. Given the US owns the largest swathes of IP address space, I can't see any official or semi-official ties (whether legal or cultural) with the US being cut any time soon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fifty Points (878668)
      The UN isn't controlled by the US. If it was, the US would not so often ignore it and dismiss it as irrelevant. (See: Invasion and Occupation of Iraq)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chris Mattern (191822)
      If the UN is supposed to be a US puppet organization, all I can say is the US should demand its money back.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        the US should demand its money back.

        Maybe they should do that if they were actually paying their bills in the first place. The USA owes well over a billion dollars to the UN.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      The United Nations is supposedly meant to be independent from the US

      Blame this [wikipedia.org] guy. Little known fact: The original idea behind the UN did not grant veto power to the "big five". The Allies agreed to allow it in order to convince the Soviet Union to join.

      but in reality is just a puppet organization held up by the US

      Really? Is that why the General Assembly applauded Hugo Chavez after his little tirade? Is that why we can't even stop resolutions like Zionism == racism? Hell, native New Yorker complaint time: Is that why the bastards think they are above local laws that apply to every other American citizen?

      Even organizations that aren't based in the US are inevitably tied to the goings-ons of the US from economic, trade, or cultural points of view, such as, say, the Bank of England

      And it's our fa

      • by KutuluWare (791333) <kutulu.kutulu@org> on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:44AM (#22166646) Homepage

        Nobody put a gun to the head of the teenagers of the World and made them listen to Britney Spears, wear blue jeans and drink Starbucks coffee. For whatever reason American culture seems to be popular in parts of the World. I fail to see why we should apologize for that.


        Well, if you won't, then please allow ME to personally apologize to the world for Britney Spears.

        --K
        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          Hey, I'm not a fan of her music either, but for some strange reason that completely escapes me lots of people (not just Americans) listen to that crap. For better or worse she is an undeniable part of American culture. I can't help but recall how when Bill Clinton went to Vietnam to re-establish relations he saw Vietnamese teenagers listening to Britney Spears and wearing blue jeans. Ten years of bombing the crap out of them and they still embraced our culture. I don't understand it but it's hardly a un

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Well, you should apologize for Britney Spears.
        • by gr8scot (1172435)
          I'd be more inclined to apologize for the paparazzi who publish her every move. Bad music on loud boom-boxes in public are a much more minor irritation than certain curmudgeonly audiophiles like to pretend. Being forced into a "high-speed chase" for no offense, just being famous, is unarguably* in far worse taste than any of the tunes to which BS sings & dances.

          * It's arguable, but I won't bother; I've considered the handful of arguments that I've heard dozens of times each, and that's my opinion
          • by Jesus_666 (702802)
            True. That part of her career easily managed to out-annoy the generic pop part.

            I think it's a bit of a feedback loop: Some celebrities have a hard time staying relevant (for example, Spears hasn't released anything in quite a while), thus they try to stay up by keeping themselves in the news. Paparazzi who gladly make stories out of every single misdemeanor reinforce this - if you screw up you appear in the news and thus are relevant. Every story is a good story. Unfortunately, forcing yourself into the s
    • Soory but he who pays the piper calls the tunes.

      Not that many in the US even like the UN. Most of us would be glad to wash our hands of it and use the extra tax money on something worth while like as hookers and blow, instead of pouring money into the pockets of leaches from every butt-crack country on the planet who in turn piss it all away on hookers and blow.

    • Yeah, like that's going to happen. The United Nations is supposedly meant to be independent from the US, but in reality is just a puppet organization held up by the US.

      The United States wields power and influence in the UN through sheer economic power. Without US support, the UN usually has no teeth. The same could apply to ICANN. Just look at the department currently in charge of overseeing ICANN. The US is clearly not the only country that has this kind of power though, so their total control of ICANN in its current incarnation is suspect. Given the diplomatic pressure of late, I don't believe the US has a choice in the matter. If the US wants their internet presence t

      • I think this is different from diplomacy problems, or rather, ICANN is only a very tiny bit of the problem. If the US spins off ICANN to smooth over diplomatic issues, it would be just a covering of a pattern of recalcitrance on the part of US diplomacy. I think it would be an insult to the world's diplomatic community to even think that letting ICANN go is enough to make up for that.

        ICANN is already an aloof organization, I don't see spinning it off to be independent is going to help.
    • If it's a US puppet, then why was the US reluctant to pay its dues?
      • If it wasn't a puppet, the US would pay its dues, fearing some sanction.

        • by newbish (909313)
          Who is going to enforce those sanctions? Seems to me like every time the UN does anything is ten's of thousands of Americans put in harms way. Not saying others don't help but to my knowledge Americans generally make up over half of the fighting force.
  • It's not going to (Score:3, Insightful)

    by techpawn (969834) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @09:55AM (#22165998) Journal
    But with China and Russia making their own ICANN of sorts it seems to make sense for ICANN to become a free and neutral international department. If it's going to be a WORLD WIDE WEB for much longer and not the US tubes, EURAsia tubes, Russia tubes, and China Tubes something has to give now.

    ICANN becoming their own international organization with no country has to be one of those things.
    • by Shakrai (717556) *

      f it's going to be a WORLD WIDE WEB for much longer and not the US tubes, EURAsia tubes, Russia tubes, and China Tubes something has to give now.

      And what exactly is the problem with each country asserting control over the internet within it's own borders? That's how the POTS network works. ICANN's role in this scenario is limited to delegating IP addresses and the DNS root in order to avoid conflicts. But what actually happens to the network itself within national borders should be the call of the country involved. Ya know, sovereignty and all that.

      ICANN becoming their own international organization with no country has to be one of those things.

      And responsible to whom? Themselves? That's a great idea....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cHiphead (17854)
        nd what exactly is the problem with each country asserting control over the internet within it's own borders?

        The internet is too goddamn important to allow each country to assert such stringent control to create an isolated DNS/IP/access control within its own borders. This is a worldwide phenomenon, isolationi leads to disagreement without conciliatory resolution leads to war.

        Note: I also think ICANN is a raging pile of crap, its corporate control instead of government, at least with a government agency
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While the U.S. Government has done a horrible job of keeping ICANNs policies fair to the average internet user, at least there was some level of oversite and someone who could take ICANN to task. If ICANN loses U.S. Government oversite who will take over? Who's to prevent them from adopting even worse policies that will screw us over even more and extort even more money out of "Joe the website owners" pockets?
    The U.N? The U.N. is a joke that has proven itself to be just as corrupt as any government on th
  • When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. ...
  • To what end? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joseph Vigneau (514) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:08AM (#22166160)
    If ICANN succeeds and gains "independence" from the US Dept. of Commerce, what would change? Has the US government imposed any restrictions on the activities of ICANN while under its wings? Most of the issues dealt with by the government involving the Internet are independent of ICANN's charter. Net neutrality and "protecting the children"/censorship, two of the hot Internet issues in Congress, don't really have much to do with ICANN's workings. Indeed, each nation sets their own policies right now about how their populace uses the global Internet (see: Great Firewall of China).

    The UN probably isn't the best shepherd for ICANN. The ISO seems to be a decent possibility.
  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:15AM (#22166250) Journal
    With all this time spent arguing about who should control the Internet and how everybody hates the US and how everybody loves the US and how the UN is corrupt and how the UN is not corrupt and how everyone except you is a communist and nobody's a communist and China is a big country and Europeans eat French food and Kim Jong Il wants to use the Internet to enslave all of mankind with sharks and laser beams; not once, not even one single time did anyone stop and ask ICANN what they wanted.

    Shame on you all!
  • Haha, for once the saying actually applies...literally. All your ICANN are belong to US.
  • Anyone find this ironic that ICANN has made this request around Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday?
  • What, exactly, do the people who want an "independent" ICANN want that they don't have now? And are their stated reasons the real ones? If they get their way, does the DNS system become even more chaotic than it is now?

    Bottom line is I don't trust any of these people to put the interests of the actual users of the Internet first. Of course, I don't really trust ICANN either. Maybe it's me...
  • Site finder 2?
  • When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary...

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