WASHINGTON — In calling for greater accountability from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), European Union Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding today echoed the concerns of many committed ICANN stakeholders. But in calling for increased government control, she threatens to steer ICANN away from the private sector leadership that made the Internet what it is today, NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said today.
“ICANN plans to let its transition agreement with the U.S. Government expire in September, which has triggered many well-meaning questions and concerns from governments, businesses, and organizations concerned about the future of the Internet,” DelBianco said. “While we applaud Reding’s call to privatize ICANN and make it more accountable to stakeholders, we’re concerned that her proposals may cause new problems.”
Reding acknowledges that U.S. Government has played an important role in ensuring ICANNs accountability to the Internet community, and proposes a new accountability mechanism to replace the U.S. Government’s existing oversight role. To increase accountability, Reding wants to allow anyone to challenge ICANN decisions before a new international “tribunal.”
Additionally, Reding suggests the creation of a new multilateral bureaucracy — a “G12 for the Internet” — that would allow governments to vote on recommendations to ICANN where appropriate.
“We must respectfully disagree with Redings vision of a ‘fully privatized and independent ICANN’ that is beholden to a new multi-governmental entity. The goal for ICANN has always been to move toward private-sector leadership of the Domain Name System, not towards greater control by governments,” DelBianco said.
NetChoice applauded Reding’s original thinking on the idea of a third-party accountability mechanism for ICANN, but noted that it would hardly be possible to develop and test such a structure in the few months remaining before September.
“Its a good idea to improve ICANNs mechanisms for private sector accountability, but its going to take more than four months to do it,” DelBianco said. “If the goal is to create an effective, globally-accountable ICANN while upholding the security and stability of the Internet’s addressing system, it may be best to extend the current agreements with the U.S. Government until these new mechanisms can be put into place.”