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Supporting Organizations Marginalized in ICANN Accountability Proposal

Dissenting Opinion of ICANN's Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG)

The Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG-Accountability) make a number of helpful recommendations to improve organizational accountability at ICANN, however one aspect of the plan is deeply flawed: changing the role of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) from purely an "advisory" role to a "decision making" role over fundamental matters at ICANN, including its governance. Consequently the proposal marginalizes the role of Supporting Organizations (SO's) compared to today's ICANN governance structure. The degree of governmental empowerment over ICANN resulting from the proposal's community mechanism is dangerous to the success of the proposal's political acceptance as well as to its ultimate impact on a free and open Internet.

The creation of a community mechanism to hold ICANN accountable on key issues made a critical error by departing from the existing power balance between SO's and AC's as determined by relative board appointments. Instead, the proposed community mechanism elevates the AC's relative to the SO's compared with today's balance on ICANN's board of directors, which does not currently provide a decision making role to GAC, and which retains the primacy of the Supporting Organizations on key decisions, particularly those within the SO's mandate. The devaluing of the Supporting Organizations in ICANN's key decisions was a common theme in both previous public comment periods, however the recommendations not only failed to address this widespread concern, but went even further in devaluing SO's in the community mechanism in the 3rd report. The community mechanism failed to take into account the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the various SO's and AC's, and the dangers inherent in changing those roles with a "one size fits all" approach to critical decision making. These points were raised in NCSG's Public Comment submission of September 12, 2015.

Additionally, NCSG objects to the proposed departure from ICANN's typical 30-day public comment period on the 3rd report for CCWG-Accountability. The 3rd report's public comment only allows for 9 days of public comment after the language translations are scheduled to be published, which is far too short of a public comment period for a report of this significance and with so many important changes since previous drafts.

By Robin Gross, Founder and Executive Director of IP Justice – I am also former Chair of ICANN's Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG). Visit Page

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