The same thing happens before every ICANN meeting. It starts raining. Not men, as the song goes, or droplets of H2O. It starts raining documents.
In the run-up to one of its three-a-year international meetings, ICANN goes into hyperdrive. And this time, days before the Prague meeting (from the 24th to the 29th), the usual downpour has turned into a veritable deluge.
Let's just take June 4th as an example. On that single day, ICANN has published the following:
Do the maths. That's at the very least 757 pages of stuff to read! Given those facts, any sane person can only have one reaction: that's no way to run an organisation! Especially one tasked with overseeing the technical well being of the Internet!!
Because I chair one of ICANN's major policy making bodies, the GNSO, I have been raising the alarm on this for a while now. But my cries of "stop, please stop… no more, we can't take anymore" have apparently fallen on deaf ears. In fact, as Prague shows, the trend is actually towards more and more, not less and less.
This puts Internet policy at risk.
ICANN works through volunteers. The 22-person GNSO Council is made-up of people giving up their free time. Same goes for the Board (although Board members are eligible for a small compensation), the other policy making bodies and the "advisory committees" that also participate in the ICANN process.
Volunteers all. Volunteers who have real jobs, real lives… and who will be tempted to just skim over just some of the documents that I have listed above. Yet most, if not all of the above are crucial to the policy decisions that ICANN makes.
The result, policies risk being drawn up by people who simply cannot process all the information that's thrown at them in the few days before an ICANN meeting.
And let's face it, the fact that ICANN cannot get itself organised to have a steady feed of documents throughout the year, rather than a major rush of them in the two weeks before an ICANN meeting, doesn't say much good about the organisation that's supposed to make sure the Internet's addressing and naming systems are a-ok.
It's time to fix ICANN's pre-meeting verbal diarrhoea. Before it makes the organisation as a whole, and not just the corps of volunteers that make it work, retch in permanent disgust.
By Stéphane Van Gelder, Milathan
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