Suggestive blueprint for the future oversight of ICANN?

Written by For internetgovernance.org

The reaction to last weeks announcement from the leaders of the “I* organizations” (ICANN, the RIRs, IETF, IAB, W3C and ISOC) on the future of Internet governance has been overwhelming.  Judging from the 90,000+ visits to the IGP blog’s brief analysis of the situation, there is a global groundswell of interest in its implications.

We suggested last week that the USG has lost its chance to lead the transition away from its unilateral oversight of ICANN.  The I* orgs, in alliance with at least one like-minded government (Brazil), have shrewdly positioned themselves to do so. However, the details about how such a transition would occur are absent. What would a newly independent ICANN look like? How would it be held accountable to its stakeholders? How will we get there? It is these details which should be on the agenda of the highly anticipated meeting in Rio this coming spring.

An international agreement along these lines should have the following elements:

  • The nongovernmental status of ICANN should be affirmed and formalized, as a protection against takeover by governments.
  • The sovereignty of national governments over ccTLDs should be formally recognized, and authority over their delegation ceded from ICANN to national governments using a formal, secure and verifiable process. However, the instrument should also recognize the right of Internet users to access and register under global TLDs so as to avoid monopoly.
  • There should be a prohibition on using ICANN for content regulation or other violations of the right to freedom of expression; the instrument should also create a right of private parties to initiate legal challenges to ICANN actions on these grounds.
  • The agreement should ensure the consistency of economic regulation of DNS and IP addressing with antitrust and nondiscriminatory trade principles (consistent with its current mandate to increase competition); here again, there should be a right of private parties to initiate legal challenges on these grounds.
  • Selection of an appropriate body of national law under which ICANN should operate. If California Nonprofit Public Benefit corporation is deemed the best option, then its membership provisions need to be rethought and reapplied to ICANN in a way that does not permit it to evade accountability and substitute open ended “participation” for binding rights and obligations vis-à-vis its members.
  • The GAC should be dissolved and ICANN’s Supporting Organizations opened to participation by individuals from governments and their agencies.
  • Providing a legal foundation for ICANN as described above would allow for the dissolution of the existing IANA contract when appropriate.

We invite serious comment on the feasibility of this framework. We would encourage civil society actors in particular to converge on a common approach to the transition. Read more from the original post here

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