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ICANN Chair Elections Test Its Institutional Integrity

Ronald N. Andruff

The ICANN Board will soon be considering candidates for election to the position of ICANN Chairperson and Vice Chair, which compels me to remind both the Board and the ICANN community of the fact that one of the members pursuing the Chairmanship is the subject of an on-going Australian Freedom of Information Act, which was initiated by the irregularities that brought about this individuals dismissal from the .au Domain Administration. In pursuit of bringing the facts of the matter to light for all concerned, following receipt of the initial declination to release the requested information, on 07 March 2019 the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has "...concluded that aspects of the Department's decision to refuse access to the documents requested are incorrect. Consequently, [the Information Commissioner has] invited the Department to issue a revised decision pursuant to [section] 55G of the FOI Act or final submissions if it disagrees with [the Information Commissioner's] view by 14 March 2019."

Coupled with this notice from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is the fact that there is also an on-going police investigation into this matter, which in fact was the catalyst for the initiation of the Freedom of Information Act request in the first place.

Recently, I brought the ICANN Board's attention to something that the Board Governance Chair had been derelict in his duties, i.e., vetting all Board members through background checks, in the same manner as all Nominating Committee Board appointees, to ensure that the ICANN Board meets basic governance standards. To Chairman Chalaby's credit, the Board took swift action to ensure those Board members who had not been, were indeed properly vetted within the very week of that ICANN meeting.

In the same way — to protect the institution of ICANN — to ensure that ICANN is kept separate and apart from what may or may not prove to be a serious, avoidable, self-inflicted wound for an institution that so many have tirelessly dedicated countless hours and effort to establish — I call on the Chair and ICANN Board to ensure that no candidate who may be standing under a cloud of any type be considered for the highest position and authority within ICANN.

As we move forward to when the ICANN Board will vote on the next Board Chair and Vice Chair, I urge the members of the Board to respect the importance of having the utmost integrity within itself, and to respect the fact that the impact of any shadow — no matter how large or small — will impact the larger volunteer community that is ICANN.

Thus, for all candidates for Vice Chair and Chair, I ask that the Board ensure such individuals are held to the highest standards of integrity; anything less is unacceptable if ICANN is to be a true steward of the Internet. In today's world, perceptions matter.

When one is a leader at the Board level within ICANN, it is not only that the ICANN Community must have their faith and trust in our leaders be returned, but that trust must be validated. Any deleterious halo effect has a decidedly negative reflection on all of the hundreds of volunteers, and ultimately on the organization as a whole.

So I caution the Board that a mistake made here will dramatically harm the global perception of our (ICANN's) institutional integrity.

By Ronald N. Andruff, President & CEO, dotSport LLC
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