[discuss] reality check

DAVID JOHNSON davidr.johnson at verizon.net
Fri Mar 21 03:29:57 UTC 2014

The entire idea of Icann, all of its powers, comes from its contracts with registries (and, up to now, the decision of root servers to view its decisions re the contents of the authoritative root as authoritative).

When it was formed, there was a deal.
Not only would NSI agree to the written contract with the newly formed ICANN..
It would agree to be bound by future policies.
But not any policy decreed by the ICANN board.
Only those supported by a consensus among affected parties -- and only those dealing with the operation of the domain name system. (not content or use of the net)
That was the deal.
A remarkable commitment for a public company to make.
(As ICANN's own lawyers might say, how could a board of directors turn it's duties over to some outside group?)
Not a commitment any of the ccTLDs (who already had their delegations) would make.

ICANN has systematically eroded this deal by imposing contracts not based on consensus ,and not dealing only with the sound operation of the domain name system, on new registries.
It has done so by using its power over what goes into the root -- based on deference from the USG.
But that is not a legitimate use of that power.
In effect, an abuse of the the IANA function.
The forces leading to this are easily understood. The need to resist them just as obvious.

The question is whether we will have a system in which all TLD registries agree, by contract, to follow ICANN policy rules.
If ICANN exists to make policies necessary to protect the net, "issues the uniform resolution of which are necessary to assure the stable and secure operation of the internet", how could they refuse?
And, if so, what will constrain the resulting power?
I only now one answer: (1) rules must be supported by consensus among affected  parties (to preserve subsidiarity, to give legitimacy, to foster compliance), (2) rules must only  be on topics where global agreement is necessary to protect the stable, secure operation of the net.
On other topics, there are to many divergent views -- global rules won't work and are not desirable.
Without consensus, minority views will be unfairly suppressed.
We can agree that there should be a global forum for forging consensus on policies that govern the domain name system, to make it work for everyone.
Let's focus on that.

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