Poker players say if you can’t spot the fish within your first 15 minutes at the table, you’re the fish. With that in mind, I’m tempted to ask ICANN President Fadi Chehade who’s the fish in the high-stakes game of global Internet governance we’re now playing.
Argentines use the word “quilombo” to describe “a real mess”, which is what I feared was awaiting us at the outset of ICANN’s meeting in Buenos Aires this week. Since then, ICANN President Fadi Chehade has done a good job cleaning-up the internal process quilombo he and the board created.
Under the leadership of Fadi Chehade and Steve Crocker, ICANN finally runs like an organization that has grown up. When it comes to process, accountability, and transparency, this is excellent news for the Internet. But it also raises a new question: how far will we let ICANN grow “out” of the limited technical mission for which it was created?
In his opening remarks here in Durban, Chehade announced the expansion of local engagement centers and significant expansion of ICANN staff — for the second straight year.
One can understand such dynamic expansion if ICANN is, as Chehade called it, “the greatest governance engine in the transnational sphere today.” But one can’t help but wonder whether it may be overkill for the humble technical manager of the DNS. Read more
Mandarin is a tricky language, but ICANN may want to learn the expression chóngfù before leaving the Beijing meeting. Chóngfù means “do-over” and that’s what ICANN needs to forestall an entirely preventable disaster in the delegation of new top-level domains (TLDs).
The issue of “string similarity” seems straightforward. Nobody inside ICANN or out there in the real world wants Internet users to be confused by new TLDs that are confusingly similar. Imagine hearing an ad offering low rates at car.loans but you encounter something completely different at car.loan instead? And what would stop somebody from launching a new TLD by just tacking an “s” onto popular domains like .com or .org?
The Government Advisory Committee (GAC) is catching a lot of flack for it’s Beijing Communiqué, but one thing the GAC got right was its advice that singular/plural strings are confusingly similar.
So how did we get to a point where ICANN inexplicably failed to find confusing similarity for 24 pairs of singular and plural forms of the same words, including .web /.webs, .game/.games, and .hotel/.hotels? More important, how do we fix this? Read more
The latter half of 2012 is one of the heaviest periods of Internet governance activity ever, with three critical events that could change the course of the next decade. So it’s important to take a step back from the catchall phrase “Internet governance,” and ask what it even means… and why it really matters.
It started earlier this month in Toronto with the 45th meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and continues through the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, Azerbaijan in November. (NetChoice was a prominent actor at the ICANN meetings and will attend the IGF next week, too.) Then, December brings us the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. Taken together, these events present a series of critical decision points for the Internet’s future. Read more
Last week in Prague, the GAC (Government Advisory Committee) relentlessly hammered ICANN over a range of issues relating to the new gTLD program. And while their criticisms were legitimate, one has to wonder to what extent governments were punishing ICANN for past offenses.
At the same time, the ICANN board and management seem to have finally — much belatedly — figured out how important it is to maintain a constructive and positive relationship with governments. ICANN representatives approached the GAC deferentially during Prague meetings, explaining issues with new gTLDs and being flexible about timing for objections to new gTLD applications. Read more
Dear Mr. Chehadé,
Congratulations on your appointment as the next CEO of ICANN, and welcome to our little rogues’ gallery. Some denizens of this domain (your humble author included) may strike you as a little odd at first, but we’re mostly harmless.
We usually steer first-timers onto the Newcomers track, but in your case, that may be… inadequate. And while we would never presume to tell you how to do your job — which may be one of the world’s hardest — we thought we might offer a few pieces of friendly advice, based on our time here. Read more
Today a key committee in the US Congress approved a resolution opposing United Nations “control over the Internet.” While some in the Internet community have dismissed the bipartisan effort as mere political grandstanding, recent actions by some UN Member States show that lawmakers have good reason to be worried.
Last month, UN voting member Ethiopia made it a crime — punishable by 15 years in prison — to make calls over the Internet. The Ethiopian government cited national security concerns, but also made it clear that it wants to protect the revenues of the state-owned telecom monopoly. (those guys really hate it when people use free Internet calling services like Skype and Google Talk)
The news out of Ethiopia is just the latest indication that many UN members don’t think too highly of the free and open Internet, or of its multi-stakeholder governance model. Read more
There’s a peaceful feeling in the air at ICANN‘s meeting this week, and I think it has something to do with being here in Costa Rica.
Speaking at today’s opening ceremony, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla described how, back in 1948, her country became the first to willingly go without any kind of armed forces for national defense. In that respect, Costa Rica is a lot like ICANN: alone in a hostile world with only its constituents and allies for protection.
Costa Rica has proven that this nonviolent approach can work, but only if you keep your own house in order. If ICANN takes nothing else away from this week’s meeting, we can at least hope it takes a page from its host nation’s playbook.
Everyone here at ICANN 43 has heard the mounting calls by governments and the United Nations to assert more power over the Internet, and by extension, ICANN itself. Read more
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