A fledgling attempt to create a new global Internet governance clearinghouse has run into trouble as leading business and civil organizations said they are not yet prepared to participate in the NETmundial Initiative (NMI) championed by ICANN President Fadi Chehade.
In highlighting that there remain several unanswered questions, the Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-BASIS) raised serious concerns about whether NMI, which sought to empanel a council to direct global Internet governance initiatives, was consistent with its core principles of openness and accountability among multiple stakeholders.
As we arrived in Hollywood — the land of happy endings — ICANN had just given us cause to hope that the ICANN accountability process might get its own Hollywood ending, despite a fitful start.
As one who’s been critical of ICANN management’s heavy-handed attempts to control the accountability process, it’s only appropriate to give credit where credit is due. In accepting the community’s strenuous — and nearly unanimous — calls for a cross-community working group to lead the process of improving ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, ICANN management says it’s now prepared to follow the community’s lead, rather than dictating and constraining it.
View Steve DelBianco panel at 1:16
It was 20 years earlier than ICANN, and 25 years ahead of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that Woody Allen said “80 percent of life is just showing up,” but he could have just as easily been talking about our current multistakeholder policy situation.
The emergence of powerful multistakeholder governance and engagement models has fundamentally changed the way we do Internet policy, and the roles that companies, organizations and individuals play in the process. The days when business, for instance, could sit on the sidelines and intercede only when policy reached an inflection point, are long gone.
To succeed in today’s landscape, industry has to show up early, often, and in force. The IGF-USA takes place in Washington DC July 16th, and my message to business colleagues can be described in two words: Show up.
Two miles (and a short Tube ride) from where ICANN is gathering in London, rests an original copy of the Magna Carta, which introduced the concept of imposing limits on the powers of the king. I’m taking the proximity of this icon of constitutional history as a good omen for our task: to create a charter to limit ICANN’s powers and enhance its accountability, in the wake of the U.S. Government’s decision to terminate its legacy role.
ICANN management has only recently — and reluctantly — acknowledged the need for enhanced accountability mechanisms to replace the leverage the US government wields through its ability to withhold the IANA contract from ICANN’s custody. It now falls to the broader Internet community to create a permanent mechanism by which to review (and potentially reverse) actions of the ICANN the corporation.
ICANN President Fadi Chehade gave Internet stakeholders a welcome surprise last week when he announced ICANN would launch a community-driven process to strengthen its accountability, and that this process would be “interdependent” with the transition of IANA functions away from U.S. Government oversight.
They say that the Inuit language can be daunting to outsiders, because they have dozens of different words for “snow”. In the language of Internet governance we have the opposite challenge, where one word can have dozens of different – often contradictory – meanings.
This dynamic was on full display during the first day of the NETmundial in Sao Paolo, Brazil yesterday. Words like “governance” and “multistakeholder” were repeated by the widest range of stakeholders, from governments to civil society to technologists to business. But their meanings diverged widely. Read more