News Review: France Blasts IANA Proposal, Berkman to Assess ICANN

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Domain Mondo's review of the past week and look ahead--[pdf of this post here]--with major markets closed on Good Friday throughout much of the world (including the U.S.), the news cycle was shortened, and many were enjoying their three-day holiday weekend and spring weather in the northern hemisphere. Nevertheless, things continued to churn and turn in domain world:

This past week, the government of France did the world (and Congress) a favor and exposed the false narrative ICANN has been pushing since ICANN55 that 'all Chartering organizations approved the IANA Transition proposal'--#FALSE, GAC did not 'approve'--by blasting the IANA transition & ICANN accountability proposal. The office of French Secretary of State for Digital, Axelle Lemaire, issued a press release (pdf)--Google's English translation here--and the French press widely reported the French government's dissatisfaction with the proposal now being assessed by the US government (NTIA). The following excerpts are from French media (translated from the original French):
  • Le Figaro: Negotiations for a new Internet governance result in "unsatisfactory" solution, according to the [French] Ministry of Foreign Affairs ... Secretary of State for Digital, Axelle Lemaire, said Thursday the proposal "marginalized" the role of governments in ICANN, strengthening , ultimately, the U.S. stranglehold on the internet;
  • Le MondeFrance denounces IANA Transition Plan as a "privatization" of global Internet governance in favor of special interest lobbyists [full text English translation here];
  • Silicon.fr: "France calls on the US government, which must now examine this reform project, to give greater attention to the concerns expressed by many nations. It will also be particularly attentive to the continuing work to improve the accountability of ICANN as part of the "Work Stream 2", particularly on strengthening the geographical diversity and the fight against conflicts of interest." 
  • LesEchos.fr: For France, Internet governance is in the hands of GAFA* "... the Foreign Ministry is very disappointed with the turn of events. According to France, it is like giving control of the Internet to private actors ... Paris denounces the roles taken by lobbyists in the process in recent months and regrets that the role of governments is still reduced within ICANN ... the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) will have to vote unanimously. A complicated imperative to keep ... "The Americans gave with one hand, and took back with the other" concludes one in Paris ... Other problematic issues, starting with the diversity of ICANN as too Anglo-Saxon [that's a pejorative in France for American-British or English-speaking], its lack of transparency and difficult litigation procedures, lengthy, costly and favoring U.S. companies - ICANN is a California corporation and will remain so..."
*Note: The term "GAFA" (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) is also used loosely for what some call American cultural imperialism, particularly in the context of the U.S. government advancing the interests of Silicon Valley, i.e., U.S. technology companies--see, e.g., They Made Him a Moron | The Baffler, about Alec Ross, innovation adviser to (then) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton--"... This book by the State Department’s former innovation adviser merely attests to the intellectual bankruptcy of the term “innovation,” which in the hands of people like Ross has ceased to have any substantive meaning ... I soon became a critic of the U.S. government’s “Internet freedom agenda,” while Ross and his colleague and friend Jared Cohen (then on the policy planning staff of the State Department and now the head of Google Ideas) embarked on adventures so reckless and ridiculous, so obsequious to the interests of Silicon Valley and offensive to anyone well-versed in the diplomatic trade, that some career staffers at the State Department began to ridicule, anonymously, of course, their cluelessness on social media ..."

On Wednesday, March 23, the U.S. government published its award of a contract between the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society | Harvard University to provide an independent review and assessment of  ICANN "a non-profit corporate governance structure designed for a multistakeholder setting" in support of NTIA's broader evaluation and assessment of the proposal to enhance ICANN's accountability related to the IANA Stewardship Transition .... "This contract requires the contractor to have detailed knowledge and a thorough understanding of ICANN, a California-based, non-profit corporation that currently performs the IANA functions and manages these technical functions through a governance model in which a multistakeholder community--interested parties from all over the world and from multiple sectors and industries, including technical, government, business, and public-interest organizations--develop policies that support how the Internet DNS is operated ..." According to the notice, Congress mandated this review, which is to be completed by June 30, 2016, although the award is 'anticipated' to last for five months.

Berkman Center for Internet & Society | Harvard University also conducted the 2010 Independent Review of ICANN Accountability and Transparency, finding many problems within ICANN, and made recommendations, some of which were never implemented by ICANN.

Meanwhile, implementation work required by the IANA Transition & ICANN Accountability (WS1) Proposal proceeds at ICANN and within its "ICANN community." ICANN also posted on Friday, March 25, a Call for Volunteers: Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) Implementation and Work Stream 2 (WS2).

Below is the tentative timeline for the IANA transition and ICANN Accountability Work Stream 1 (WS1) work, going forward:
IANA Transition Tentative Timeline (source: Congressional Testimony)
Also this past week the GNSO's PDP (policy development process) to review all rights protection mechanisms (e.g., URS and UDRPs) in gTLDs began to organize--with the work divided into 2 phases:
"Phase One will focus on a review of all the RPMs that were developed for the New gTLD Program (i.e. the Trademark Clearinghouse and associated notification and sunrise mechanisms, the Uniform Rapid Suspension procedure, and the Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedures), and Phase Two will focus on a review of the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)." (source: ICANN, link added)
For more information see Call for Volunteers: New GNSO Policy Development Process Working Group to Review All Rights Protection Mechanisms in All gTLDs - ICANN (March 21, 2016), the Charter (pdf), the List of Members & Observers - Review of RPMs in all gTLDs PDP Working Group, and Review of all Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) in all gTLDs PDP Working Group webpage.

This past Thursday auDA, Australia's policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au top-level domain, published a brief note on its website, announcing longtime CEO, and prominent member of ICANN's Board of Directors, Chris Disspain, had been replaced by Jo Lim (current Chief Operations and Policy Officer) as interim CEO, while the Board undertakes an executive search for a new CEO:
"The Board of auDA (.au Domain Administration Ltd) announced today that it was ending the contract of CEO, Chris Disspain. Mr Disspain’s contract was due for renewal later this year, but the Board agreed new leadership was required to take the organisation forward. The Board acknowledged and thanked Mr. Disspain, as founding CEO of auDA, for the hard work and visionary leadership he has demonstrated throughout his tenure, helping to cement the organisation’s standing as a one of the world’s best practice ccTLD managers..." (source: auDA)
* * * * * * *
Five most popular posts/pages at DomainMondo.com this past week (# of pageviews Sun-Sat):
  1. News Review [March 20]: ICANN, IANA, NTIA, Congress, the American People (this post attracted, by far, the largest U.S. and global readership for most of the week); 
  2. Digital Currency and Blockchain Technology, Congressional Hearing Video
  3. Election2016 (our 'backpage' coverage of 2016 US Presidential politics in this year of the IANA Transition--edited by analyst @UnderMyPalm--opinions are his own);
  4. Fintech Startup Stash: Investment App for Millennials
  5. (tie) New gTLD AFRICA: DotConnectAfrica Trust vs ICANN, End of the Line? (to be updated after the April 4th hearing in LA); and Mobile Connectivity Explosion, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, IoT (video).

Have a great week!

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo


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