View Steve DelBianco panel at 1:16
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
Do governments have too much potential power over ICANN, and do they need reining in before the US cuts itself loose?
It’s a question that’s emerging given the recent decision of the United States government to remove itself from stewardship of the domain name system root zone.
The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration may have no intention of allowing other governments to replace it as overseer of the IANA functions, but that doesn’t mean that governments won’t be able to abuse their powers in future under ICANN’s existing structures. Read more
Earlier this week, I posted from Singapore on the challenges we face in designing the transition of IANA functions from the US government to the global multistakeholder community. Now, let’s consider how a programmer would design new mechanisms to accomplish this transition…
It’s clear that the US government is intent on dropping its legacy contractual role for the IANA functions. Whatever your views on the wisdom or timing of that decision, the challenge now is to ensure that the transition leaves ICANN in the best possible position to succeed.
Arriving yesterday to the island nation of Singapore felt strangely appropriate. Over the past week I’ve been one of the lonely people in the ICANN community to express concern about the US government’s decision…
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