ICANN Accountability, time to speak up!

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Can ICANN be made more accountable to its stakeholders? Tough question for a tough mission the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) on enhancing ICANN Accountability has been trying to complete over the past few months.

Everything started in Q1 2014 when the US government announced its wish to transition its stewardship of the IANA functions to the global multistakeholder community. This has been a long-awaited step at international level, but many may have underestimated the implication of such a step. Given that ICANN is going to be “less controlled”, but it is likely to remain the operator of the IANA function in the short to medium term, the ICANN community thought it was appropriate to assess and refine the existing mechanisms and provisions to make ICANN more accountable to its stakeholders. It was decided to divide the accountability review process into two work streams, the first one being “focused on mechanisms enhancing ICANN accountability that must be in place or committed to within the time frame of the IANA Stewardship Transition”.

The CCWG’s very first proposal is now out for public comment until 3 June. Fortunately, it is complemented by graphics which provide a nice summary that helps those unfamiliar with the acronyms and procedures have an immediate overview and subsequent grasp of the key elements regarding the recommendations. I would suggest you start reading the graphics rather than the document first. One could easily become concerned given the first draft fails to understand that the broader community is mainly involved in daily DNS business and therefore, less acquainted with swimming in an ocean of “legalese” papers.

It is crucial that the community provides feedback at this stage to ensure that the next draft – expected this summer – is eventually more focused, that the newly envisaged accountability procedures are the correct ones, that the “empowered community” body is the right organisational tool to improve ICANN performances. It is also crucial to prove that the DNS multistakeholder community is capable of delivering a complete proposal regarding ICANN accountability to accompany the IANA Stewardship Transition proposal. We should all remember that in his very first speech, ICANN’s present CEO stated that this was our season. It seems the harvest period has arrived. We need to demonstrate that it will be a good year.

The next ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires will begin earlier with a CCWG meeting to discuss the next draft after the closing of the public comment currently open. So, speak up and stay tuned!

Xplane graphics and the proposal are available here.

Giovanni Seppia
Extrenal Relations Manager
EURid, registry for the .eu top-level domain