[discuss] surveillance governance, was Re: [governance] NTIA statement

John Curran jcurran at istaff.org
Tue Mar 18 17:54:35 UTC 2014

On Mar 18, 2014, at 6:04 PM, Mike Roberts <mmr at darwin.ptvy.ca.us> wrote:
> ...
> But what about the existing NTIA role, you might ask.  In fact, as others have said, it is an empty role that was never envisaged as part of ICANN.  It is not mentioned in the 1998 NTIA White Paper, which contained the policy guidance for creating ICANN.  

Mike - 

Your are correct - the White Paper specified that the organization derive its legitimacy from
the participation of key stakeholders, which would be membership organizations in the areas 
of numbers, names and protocols, as well as the direct interests of Internet users.

It's likely that such a Board structure (and ICANN organization whose primary focus was on the 
coordination and oversight across that system rather than DNS policy development) would be
just fine and not require much discussion of external oversight mechanisms...  However, the 
organization described in the White Paper does not really resemble today's ICANN in the least,
given that both DNS policy development is actually done within ICANN (in addition to the DNS
policy implementation) rather than in a separate DNS membership body.

> But what about collusion or malfeasance on the Board, you might ask.  The process of selecting a majority of the voting members of the Board members has received much attention over the years, and is carefully constructed and controlled by a group of volunteers from the community separately from the Board.  It has been reviewed repeatedly.  If there is a robust and more equitable method out there, propose it.
> Finally, what about that old bugaboo, “capture” of ICANN and the root.  In the early years, perhaps, emphasize perhaps, that had some reality.  Today, we have a large, informed, engaged, and activist audience for ICANN policy making.  We are in the process of making that audience larger and of finding some way short of crude power politics to enfranchise new stakeholders.  Only the paranoid fringe can find traction for capture now.

Today, if a focused commercial entity decided to slowly but patiently seek to gain effective 
control of the ICANN Board (or if the ICANN Board itself decide over time consolidate its 
hold for purpose of personal gain), I believe that the present NTIA contract would provide
an effective option for putting things back on track (whether via the threat of non-renewal 
or via an actual rebidding process)

I actually have enormous faith in ICANN, both its Board and its processes, but do think that 
it's a reasonable question for the community to ask whether ICANN is structurally ready today 
to receive permanent and irrevocable authority for the Internet identifier system, as in many
ways this is effectively what occurs by default upon NTIA ceding the IANA function contract.

I am neither paranoid nor fringe, and would ask that you refrain from judging those in the 
community simply because they are asking questions about what are appropriate mechanism
for governance of the Internet identifier system.   As a fundamental principle, we encourage 
open and transparent discussion of such matters (even when the answers are perfectly 
obvious to those, such as yourself, who have far more experience.)


Disclaimers: My views alone.

More information about the discuss mailing list