Icann : freeze !

August 28, 2014


Every year during the summer holidays, I drop out. No email, no phone calls at the office, no Twitter. Just SMS for emergencies. I didn’t miss my rehab this year either. 

One of the side effects of the cutoff when I came back was the different perspective it gave me of certain events. Certain trends that would have gone unnoticed during business as usual clearly emerge when you take a look at what has happened over the past three weeks. What struck me this year is the incredible complexity and inconsistency of Icann! 

I know: it's no surprise. But they impressed me this year! 

Take a look at what has happened in three short weeks, in a context where, if I recall, ICANN governance was the subject of discussion and even controversy, precisely when they have been trying to prove their reliability with the announced withdrawal of US Department of Commerce from oversight of the IANA function. 

At this key point in time, just when Icann is saying "trust us", in quick succession: 

  • The Icann board members have decided to increase their pay. Reminder: in the absence of a general assembly, the Board decides its own remuneration. It’s a fact worth recalling when the topic of "accountability" is on the table!
  • The operating charter of the IANA stewardship transition coordination group was published on August 8 with a call for community feedback by August 15 at the latest! Even though, after reading it carefully, the document does not seem to pose any major problem, it concerns the operation of a new body that will still have the task of transmitting to the American government an alternative proposal to the supervision that it exerts over the Internet root zone. But that wasn’t the final straw, even though it required no more than 7 days of reflection in the middle of August – an ideal situation for raising fears about being put under government control... 
  • The accountability process work plan was also published in mid-August. The chart below (click for details) should be enough to convince you of its complexity. One subject, three groups, two liaisons, twenty people in the coordination group... And to top it all, the names of the groups (I'll spare you the acronyms) are similar to the names of other groups on a related topic... Help!

I confess. I cracked. I submitted a slightly harsh comment on the last report. 

I know that behind the work there are people who are committed, motivated, intelligent, and want to do well. But all these initiatives lack oversight, overview and a sense of timing! As I said in my contribution on Nomcom, stop everything! Don’t move! Let’s focus on the two fundamental issues of accountability and IANA, and spare the rest of the effort! 

I will no doubt soon come back to the issue of ICANN governance and accountability, because I intend to take a close look at both in the coming months. That’s also what holidays are for: coming back to work with good resolutions, and the wish to make things better! 

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