Julia Powles on ICANN and Internet Governance in The Guardian

Julia Powles @juliapowles, a researcher in law and technology at the University of Cambridge, has written an insightful article on ICANN and internet governance, published in The Guardian, excerpts follow (emphasis added) with a link to full article below:

What exactly do governments speak for, if not the public interest? And what does ICANN offer instead? Its hardly pacifying alternative is an unelected, self-interested, self-legitimised corporate board, answerable, when it really comes down to it, only to itself and the attorney general of California.

ICANN isn’t a corporation competing with others for a share of its market. Instead, it’s a centralised, monopolistic, hardly accountable private organisation that exercises public authority and power. At the same time that it’s providing services to the domain name industry, it is also trying to regulate it. On top of that, it claims to be “dedicated to keeping the internet secure, stable and interoperable.”

We know from history and economics that monopolies in private hands never act in the public interest. ICANN, however, masterfully avoids this topic by appealing to amorphous, unenforceable notions of accountability to the “global community”; something they try to capture with the ugly term “multistakeholderism”. The real problem with this poorly defined notion is that, in practice, it serves powerful incumbents...  diffusing talk of any genuinely representative global alternative for policy-making and oversight.

At the very least ICANN shouldn’t be both policy-maker and implementer when it comes to root zone file management. Both these functions and root server oversight require independence from political and economic influence.

Read more here: The byzantine, meandering discussion on the future of the internet | Technology | theguardian.com

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