07 September 2014

Enhancing ICANN Accountability, New Comment Period on Process

Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process - ICANN: "In response to community request, ICANN is opening a 21-day comment period on Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process posted on 14 August 2014. Community input after the posting highlighted that, given the importance of this issue, the community needs more time to ensure that as many stakeholders as possible can review proposals and post questions and comments. Comment Period6 Sep 2014 - 27 Sep 2014 23:59 UTC"

Apparently the ICANN community can not agree on an Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process. Various ICANN insiders a/k/a stakeholders (see list under "Background Materials" here) objected to the process developed by ICANN staff after public comments had been received twice--initially and then again after publishing a first draft of a proposed process. So, everything substantive is now on hold for another comment period open from September 6-27, 2014.

According to ICANN, the "decision to post this comment period is based on 3 factors:
  1. A request from the community for more time to discuss with their constituencies the process posted, allowing for a broader consideration of the process before moving ahead.
  2. The emphasis made by the U.S. government at ICANN's Town Hall Meeting at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul that the enhancement of ICANN's accountability mechanisms be narrowly focused on those related to the IANA Functions Stewardship Transition, that is reiterating its focus is on the changing historical contractual relationship with the US, and that both the transition and accountability processes be delivered simultaneously by September 2015 when the IANA contract expires.
  3. Consideration of recent questions submitted by ICANN community leaders, requesting clarification on several issues concerning the posted process."
Note that this "Comment Period" is not for substantive issues concerning ICANN Accountability--"issues and solutions are not under discussion here. The question for this public comment discussion is: Are there any final modifications or improvements needed to the Enhancing ICANN Accountability process design to allow for this discussion to proceed?" (source: ICANN)

We asked John Poole of Domain Mondo for his take on all this, here's what he had to say:

"I am not an 'ICANN insider' so I am not privy to 'all information,' but I heard Theresa Swinehart explain the process at the IGF Town Hall, and from her explanation [and given the reality that this will be an ICANN Board and US government driven process] I see it as a good process which reaches out to those outside ICANN in the wider global internet community, for both general input and expertise. As explained by Ms. Swinehart, the process allows anyone in the world to participate. What is wrong with that? Well, remember the insiders--their vested interests, viewpoints (some of which I am sure are valid), privileged positions, egos, etc., have somehow been slighted, they believe, and they are blaming the ICANN staff (who only did what staff are supposed to do). Apparently there is an on-going power struggle between various factions within ICANN, and frankly, I am now more fearful of some of the vested interest stakeholders within ICANN than any government or outside group. Some of the proposals I have seen circulated by some of these insiders are absolutely ridiculouse.g., ICANN should have two Boards of Directors; multi-stakeholders should have the power to discipline ICANN staff; Verisign should not only have an exclusive market-dominant monopoly on the .COM Registry in perpetuity, but be able to charge whatever it wants for registration and renewal fees (no wonder Warren Buffett is loading up on Verisign stock!). Where all of this is heading, I do not know, but in the end it may not matter. I believe we may be at a tipping point in Internet governance. It wouldn't take much--France, India, Russia, China, plus others in the developing world, may find the end results of the IANA transition or ICANN accountability processes unacceptable. In that case, all bets are off."

Enhancing Accountability (ICANN Search)
Enhancing Accountability Process--Comments Forum

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