15 July 2014

French Proposal to Reform "Malfunctioning" ICANN and Internet Governance

Graphic of French Proposal for World Governance of the Internet
French Proposal for World Governance of the Internet

"The reform of the governance of the Internet remains to be done, starting with ICANN, still a U.S. private monopoly, which is gaining power but not responsibility" -- excerpt from French Senate Report

French Senate Press Release - Internet: the [French] Senate wants to democratize Internet governance"The mission states that the European Union has a role to play today: a new model of Internet governance , respectful of human rights and freedoms and able to restore confidence in the Internetshaken by voluntary diminution of online security and malfunctions of ICANN..."

In a report published on July 9, 2014, the French Senate proposed a new form of internet governance (see graphic above). The French Proposal includes specifics to reform or replace ICANN with "WICANN -- World Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers" which "would be responsible for IANA functions assumed by the current ICANN" and would be overseen by GIC (see above) the Global Internet Council -- "leverage the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), ... to erect a World Council of Internet (Global Internet Council - GIC ), responsible for ensuring compliance with the principles of NETmundial [pdf] on behalf of the international community . This transformation could be done by the treaty already mentioned to establish the principles of NETmundial."

Excerpt from link providing further background information: EU internet governance: Franco-German alliance | EurActiv: ".... “Internet governance has become a geopolitical issue. It is a new global battleground,” said Senator Catherine Morin-Desailly... The [French] Senate wants to improve internet governance through “an international treaty open to all states and an online ratification process for internet users.” It also wants to transform the Internet Governance Forum into a World Internet Council, which would control the conformity of decisions regarding internet governance. The report also proposes to restructure the ICANN, a non-profit organisation that coordinates the Internet's global domain name system. It would become the World ICANN (WICANN), conform to international law instead of California law, and be accountable to the World Internet Council. An independent and accessible appeal mechanism would be set up to allow revision of WICANN decisions. On 26 June, the French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, Axelle Lemaire, took an assertive stance against ICANN. In a press release, she said that she did not see ICANN as “a suitable body to discuss internet governance...”

The entire French Senate report is here (pdf) -- 398 pages long -- in French. However, if you are using the Google Chrome browser you can access the report and other information at the links below, utilizing the Google translate function to read in English or other available languages (excerpts below):

1. Globalizing Internet governance on the basis of the principles of NETmundial

a) Formalize the existence of a speaker system for a distributed and transparent governance

b) Transform the World Council of IGF in the Internet, and legitimate global governance fora coordinator

2. Rebuilding ICANN to restore confidence in the system of domain names - "The reform of ICANN is now accepted as necessary by all parties, even those who are not considering global ecosystem evolution of Internet governance."

a) For a WICANN assuming the IANA functions under supervision World - For a WICANN assuming the IANA functions under World supervision - "Probably the IANA / ICANN / NTIA system has worked technically, but it is not tenable politically or institutionally. It creates distrust where there should be trust. This is to reinforce the satisfactory technical operation of the domain names while ensuring its long-term resilience, which involves considering the occurrence of events certainly rare but possible: internal fraud, conflict of people in the management, attempted takeover by stakeholders ...

"Your mission considers that the legal status of ICANN, a California corporation, unable to inspire a lasting confidence in the system of domain names and, by extension, throughout the Internet. In the Affirmation of Commitments that binds ICANN -- U.S. Department of Commerce is an obligation to it have its headquarters in the United States. This provision may not be included in the new statement of commitments.

"It could be envisaged to transform ICANN into an international organization: this requires an intergovernmental treaty, which can be written with the participation of stakeholders. The management of air or sea, global resources also has likewise been entrusted to international organizations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO)...
"Another solution could be to redesign ICANN on a hybrid legal basis, based on the model of the International Committee of the Red Cross: although under Swiss private law, the ICRC is accorded international legal personality as well as intergovernmental organizations under a statute often called sui generis... This "Swiss option" had also been considered by the President of ICANN... 

"This World Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on the Internet ( World ICANN or WICANN) would be responsible for IANA functions assumed by the current ICANN. It would retain a multi-functioning and "bottom up " comparable to ICANN today. As envisaged by one of the options considered by the working group of the UN Internet Governance in 2005, the role of states there would be twofold:

"-  a supervisory changes in the root, replacing the Department of Commerce of the Government of the United States. This role (veto or approval) would be attributed to an oversight committee whose members are appointed by the World Council of Internet among the representatives of the signatories of the Treaty establishing the principles of NETmundial, marking the critical nature of States to map the Internet that draws the DNS root file, or otherwise designated by the World Council of the Internet as a whole, provided a specific veto is recognized territory to which the geographical extension affected by the change. According to your mission, involving only signed treaty country supervision root file would be provided that would allow the United States to accept such a shared supervision of ICANN . Signatory governments could thus assert their sovereignty, provided that they do not undermine the principles enshrined in the NETmundial;

"-  an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors of this WICANN, comparable to the role of the GAC today... It is indeed important to implement the requirements set in Sao Paolo in accountability that WICANN "Independent checks and balances, as well as review and redress.""

b) Ensure accountability of WICANN and a real right of appeal [accountability and a real right of appeal -- both completely absent from ICANN today]

c) Avoid conflicts of interest [a very interesting read--this section of the French Senate Report acknowledges and points out many of the conflicts of interest rampant within ICANN, including its Board of Directors]

For a full list of all proposals within the French Senate Report, go to Domain Mondo's full list of all proposals.

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