08 June 2014

ICANN accountability, the public interest, new gTLD domain names

Recently our colleague, John Poole at Domain Mondo, submitted his input to the ICANN enchancing accountability process. In his email, he addressed fundamental issues facing ICANN --

"ICANN asks:
  • What issues does the community identify as being core to strengthening ICANN's overall accountability in the absence of its historical contractual relationship to the U.S. Government?
  • What should be the guiding principles to ensure that the notion of accountability is understood and accepted globally? What are the consequences if the ICANN Board is not being accountable to the community? Is there anything that should be added to the Working Group's mandate?
  • Do the Affirmation of Commitments and the values expressed therein need to evolve to support global acceptance of ICANN's accountability and so, how?
  • What are the means by which the Community is assured that ICANN is meeting its accountability commitments?
  • Are there other mechanisms that would better ensure that ICANN lives up to its commitments?
  • What additional comments would you like to share that could be of use to the ICANN Accountability Working Group?
"Where to start? The central issue and problem at ICANN is how the public interest is so disregarded. Time, and time again, we see examples of this. ICANN's multistakeholder model only contributes to this -- see: http://www.domainmondo.com/2014/05/the-real-problem-with-icann.html . What can ICANN begin to do better? Increase representation of 1) domain name registrants and 2) internet users (often referred to as "consumers") within ICANN, and diminish the presence and voices of those with profit-motives at stake in ICANN decisions, workings and outcomes.

"A real living example of how this plays out within ICANN:

"Is It ICANN's Job To Market New gTLD Domain Names? (go to the foregoing link for the full posting, excerpt follows) --

".... I think it is now clear why the public interest was so disregarded in ICANN's new gTLDs program--

“'The public at large, consumers and businesses, would be better served by no expansion or less expansion' of domains" said Jon Leibowitz, former chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission in the New York Times."

""I really can’t see a legitimate upside where new benefits [of the new gTLDS] outweigh costs, and everyone I mention this to feels the same way. People just shake their heads. It’s all about the money. They [ICANN] are creating these extensions because they can." University of Pennsylvania Wharton School marketing professor Peter Fader, co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative. (source: Knowledge@Wharton, emphasis added)

"Esther Dyson On New Top-Level Domains: “There Are Huge Trademark Issues” | TechCrunch: "... we are not running out of domains. This is a “way for registries and registrars to make money,” says Dyson. She also points out that “there are huge trademark issues. I just think it is offensive... It will create a lot of litigation.”" [see: Esther Dyson Told ICANN new gTLDs were a mistake in 2011 (video)]

"Tim Berners-Lee: "....when a decision is taken about a possible new top-level domain, ICANN's job is to work out, in a transparent and accountable manner, whether it is really in the best interest of the world as a whole, not just of those launching the new domain. It also means that ICANN's use of the funds should be spent in a beneficent way..."...."

What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to leave comments below.

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