Category Archives: ICANN

ICANN Is Up to Its Old Tricks

Must read: Kieren McCarthy, ICANN’s leaving the nest, so when will it grow up? The org that will run the internet still acts like a teenager.

Protected by its important father, the US government, ICANN has become a surly, entitled, and vain figure. It will want for nothing. It will listen to no one. It is always right. …

Unfortunately, the real ICANN has a visceral loathing of anything decided by its “community” – the people it is supposed to be serving. …

Despite ostensibly being a community organization, at its thrice-yearly conferences ICANN corporate tightly controls the agenda. There are no “unconferences” or even community-led sessions. All sessions – and frequently panelists – are chosen and controlled by the staff. Sessions are added and removed according to whim.

Just as ICANN was showing real signs of maturity, it lapsed. Rather than using its greater autonomy to step up to the plate, the prevailing atmosphere within the organization was that it couldn’t believe its luck. And then, with the arrival of a new CEO and the approval of the money-minting new gTLD program, ICANN more than quadrupled its own budget. It’s now a child with both fewer constraints and more money to spend.

Now in 2016, with the transitioning of the IANA contract, ICANN is finally coming of age and the US government can no longer expect to keep it in its house. Rather than sending forth a well-prepared and mature young adult, however, we’re letting loose a know-it-all teenager with a chip on its shoulder and a determined belief that it doesn’t have to listen to anyone.

Milton Mueller’s ICANN Accountability – Present, Future and Past is good too, but more polite. (Which, if you know Milton, is quite an amazing thing to be writing!)

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Plus Ça Change (ICANN edition)

ICANN staff are trying to sabotage the IANA transition process in order to maintain ICANN’s monopoly over the DNS in perpetuity, reports Milton Mueller in ICANN wants an IANA functions monopoly – will it wreck the transition process to get it?.

This sounds awfully familiar…

Staff shenanigans like this seem to be part of ICANN’s DNA. It’s a real shame.

I don’t write about ICANN anymore, but some relevant past papers include Almost Free: An Analysis of ICANN’s ‘Affirmation of Commitments’, ICANN 2.0: Meet the New Boss, ICANN’s UDRP: Its Causes and (Partial) Cures, Internet Governance: The ICANN Experiment (Or, Three Paradoxes in Search of a Paradigm), and especially Wrong Turn in Cyberspace: Using ICANN to Route Around the APA and the Constitution and the related Form and Substance in Cyberspace.

And then of course there was ICANNWatch.

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Quoted on WSJ Editorial Page

pig-flyThis doesn’t happen very often — well, ever, actually — a staff writer on the Wall Street Journal Editorial page just quoted favorably from one of my articles.

Lest the quote make me sound like more of a jingo than I actually am, let me explain the context. The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has been gradually extricating itself from management of the Internet domain name system (DNS). Until a few weeks ago, the major recent step in that distancing process was the so-called “Affirmation of Commitments” between the DoC and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which I wrote about in Almost Free: An Analysis of ICANN’s ‘Affirmation of Commitments’, 9 J. Telecom. & High Tech. Law 187 (2011). That paper updated my original ICANN paper, Wrong Turn in Cyberspace: Using ICANN to Route Around the APA and the Constitution, 50 DUKE L.J. 17 (2000), in which I explained the complicated web of relationships between DoC, ICANN, and other major players.

But ten days ago, everything changed again — sort of. In response to international political pressure that intensified after the Snowden revelations, the DoC announced that it planned to let go of its major remaining lever over ICANN, control of the so-called IANA function, as soon as the international community could craft a suitable transition plan. ICANN of course rushed to suggest that the transition should be to ICANN, but DoC (via the NTIA) has quite properly suggested that this isn’t quite what it had in mind.

Governments around the world are thought to prefer a system like the ITU or the UN (although not those bodies themselves) which are primarily controlled by governments on a one-sovereignty, one-vote system. And now we come to the part of this which I oppose. As accurately quoted by the WSJ, I believe it would be a mistake to give despots a say over the communications of democracies. Thus a fully world-wide international body dominated by governments seems like the wrong tool to me. It could be international but non-governmental. It could be run by a committee of democracies. We could give the whole thing to Canada (my favorite, but alas unlikely solution). Fortunately the US government has clarified its original remarks by saying it isn’t signing a blank check, and there are also ambiguities in what exactly got promised. So everything remains to be decided. But there are many interest groups that want this to happen as quickly as possible — before the US changes its mind, and before opposition groups wanting structural separation from ICANN or more accountability get organized. So we could be in for a wild ride.

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I Was on NPR Today

I was interviewed on the Takeaway recently, and they played the sequence today. The subject was ICANN’s expansion of the gTLD space. The other speaker was Cyrus Namazi, vice president of Domain Name System Services at ICANN.

For some reason I sounded really hoarse….

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Is .kosher Kosher?

Harold Feld is always worth reading. Usually he posts on telecoms; today he has a great read on the issues surrounding the application to ICANN for .kosher. Surprisingly, the issues include the role of he US government in bringing concerns to ICANN, and whether objections to .kosher will get the same hearing as objections to .halal.

See Is Sauce for the .Halal Goose Sauce for the .Kosher Gander At The ICANN Meeting In Durban? for the full scoop.

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