As we approach the deadline for filing comments on the expiration of ICANN's Joint Projects Agreement with the U.S. Commerce Department, do not forget about the .xxx Independent Review Process. In that proceeding, ICANN directly confronts issues related to its accountability.
ICANN is all for accountability and claims to be doing everything in its power to make itself accountable and responsive to YOU (it likes to use the second person). But in ICANN's official Response to the ICM's “Memorial on the Merits,” which was just posted a few days ago, ICANN sings a different tune. There seems to be a bit of a gap between what ICANN says about accountability in the abstract (it is all for it) and what it says when accountability really threatens to alter its behavior.
When ICANN passed a policy to create many new top level domains, both free expression advocates and trademark owners squawked (but for different reasons). ICANNs Board ignored the free expression advocates and rewarded the trademark owners by passing a resolution authorizing the formation of an Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT). IRT is an acronym for “second bite at the apple;” it gave one special interest group, ICANN's Intellectual Property Constituency, the exclusive right to draw up a wish list of their most fervently desired policies for protecting trademarks in an expanding domain name space. Today, the last day for public comment, ICANN veteran Kathy Kleiman, a lawyer who played a role in forging a multistakeholder agreement on the UDRP ten years ago, filed comments pointing out some alarming features of the IRT’s proposal.
ICANN’s Board meets tomorrow to discuss the charters of the new Stakeholder Groups that will make up the new, reformed GNSO. As we have explained in other posts, this reorganization is an important, long overdue reform. It has the potential to create a fairer, more balanced and more productive GNSO. It is still possible, however, for ICANN’s Board to fumble the ball. That is because there are groups who don’t want to fix the GNSO. Rather, they want to prolong or worsen its problems so that special interests can hang on to power and continue to play the obstructionist games that have made the GNSO an exercise in futility for so long.
Speaking at a Technology University of Delft conference on the internationalization of infrastructures, Professor Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger made some unique and provocative observations about the future of the ICANN tether to the U.S. government. Mayer-Schoenberger was trying to predict the position of the three main players: the EU, the US and China.
DHS will present its 2010 budget request before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today, including a reported $400 million to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks from attack. $11 million of this was requested to fund DHS's Information Infrastructure Security (IIS) Program and Secure Protocol Project, including work on securing the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) and routing infrastructure. Despite the relatively small amount of funding, SPP work is intended to, and if successful could, have far reaching impact on the Internet.
Nearly 80 participants attended the EU-sponsored hearing on internet governance Wednesday. The hearing was held the day before a private meeting of the EC’s High Level Internet Governance Group (HLIGG), as a way of gathering opinions and ideas. Participants who came eager to discuss and explore Commissioner Viviane Reding’s call for new forms of accountability and oversight of ICANN quickly learned that her proposal was off-limits. Reding’s paper, we learned, was her own personal initiative, not an official or vetted product of the EC. Members of the HLIGG were as surprised by it as the rest of us and did not want discussion of it to dominate the hearing.
With Washington cyberbuzzing from Congressional hearings and report releases over the past week – on topics from the power struggle over who should be the USG’s cyber tsar to how best to prepare the nation for what seems to be imminent “cyberattacks” from Russia or China – you’d think lawmakers are convinced that, unless someone “owns the problem” and the US provides stronger leadership, the Internet as we know it is doomed.
Fortunately, the experts over at Renesys have again published data suggesting that this is not necessarily the case – that the Internet’s infrastructure (in this case routing) is remarkably resilient in the face of constantly changing threats. Furthermore, their data seemingly indicates that there are high levels of largely uncoordinated (that’s right, leaderless) organizational responses occurring when incidents transpire.