ICANN: Stick to Technology, not Morality - Secretive ICANN
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ICANN had been widely lambasted for its lack of transparency. There were some transparency issues in this decision; many felt that ICANN didn’t properly address the points raised by its members and members of the Internet community who participated in the debate over the proposed .XXX gTLD. But there have been other cases in which ICANN has been less than open.
The most recent one I know of may seem small, but it is significant. Earlier this year, Edward Hasbrouck pointed out that the registry agreements for the .AERO, .COOP, and .MUSEUM domains had expired in December. Craig Schwartz, ICANN’s chief gTLD registry liaison, responded that “all three sTLD agreements are current through extensions that have been granted to afford time necessary to conclude negotiations.”
No big deal, right? Wrong. As Hasbrouck pointed out in a reply to Schwartz’s message, ICANN’s procedural bylaws call for transparency; they can’t just “grant” an extension without holding a public forum for discussion of the proposed amendments to the registries’ agreements. And the discussion is supposed to be available through ICANN’s web site. Hasbrouck naturally requested that ICANN reveal the “URL of the minutes and the reference number of the resolution of the Board of Directors” approving the amendments; the URL at which the amendments were “posted for public comment prior to the Board’s consideration of each proposal;” and all “records of ICANN’s consideration of these proposals.” Given ICANN’s record up to now, Hasbrouck may have a long wait.
ICANN seemed to be willing to take some steps toward improving its accountability and transparency at its latest public meeting in Puerto Rico. Still, it is ICANN’s habit of hiding its actions that we have to go on now, and that habit argues very strongly against allowing ICANN to consider censoring domains according to “legal norms relating to morality and public order,” as one ICANN working group’s recent report suggested. How would we know who or what was influencing ICANN’s censorship decisions?
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