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ICANN's Board Decisions in Nairobi Will Determine Its Credibility and Respect for Years to Come

Khaled Fattal

Today is the morning of the most revered Thursday in the ICANN meetings calendar — The public forum. It is tradition personified. It is the day when the show and the showcasing really begin. It is the stage and the choreography of the open microphone that can help influence ICANN decisions one way or another and make the supposed bottom up model appear at its best. Often, it serves to inform the board of issues they may have overlooked, other times it is a pre-planned, pre-arranged and choreographed in advance by proponents aiming to influence the board like a popularity contest. This special day precedes the Friday when the ICANN board makes its decisions, in public, adopting resolutions on many vital issues.

ICANN Nairobi carries serious expectations by the community of the ICANN Board to stand up and be counted. On the card are the .XXX fiasco, The Expression of Interest, which I and others have called the expression of "Special" Interest as well as on the New gTLDs implementation which is still littered with many unresolved overarching concerns, and not forgetting the Review mechanisms to oversee ICANN performance per the Affirmation of commitments, which may end up being loaded up with ICANN loyalists.

However, this Thursday and this Friday are unlike any of the previous years. They represent crossroads in ICANN's path that will determine its credibility that will shape its role and influence for years to come under the Beckstrom / Dungate Thrush leaderships. The resolutions ICANN do adopt this Friday or if it chooses to defer decisions on some instead of addressing them squarely will either boost ICANN's credibility or damage them irreparably.

By Friday 12pm Nairobi time we all should know if the ICANN board and its leadership possess the wisdom and far sightedness of a Solomon or a Joe Blog. Whether they are up to the task, challenge and responsibility bestowed on them by the Affirmation of commitments to rule over the entire global internet will also be known. By noon we will know if they have exhibited the needed leadership, diplomatic, and executive skills and the sincerity to show they can rule over the global internet in a fair, equitable and ubiquitous manner to all its stakeholders from Akron to Afghanistan, from DC to Damascus, from Beijing to Bangalore, delivering on its Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) mandate of ensuring accountability, transparency and the interests of all global Internet users as well as promoting competition, consumer trust and consumer choice.

Most important and most compelling of all other issues in Nairobi is .XXX . No matter how the board acts ICANN's credibility will be impacted. If the board instructs staff to execute the 2007 registry contract with ICM, ICANN indirectly admits it was wrong and creates a precedent that its board decisions will be questioned endlessly and can be reversed by an Independent Review panels in the future. If the board chooses not to instruct staff to execute the 2007 contract, it raises serious concerns over the seriousness of the AOC and the review mechanisms over ICANN and the New gTLDs. The board may defer some decisions to a later date citing some excuse in order to gauge a better result and prospect.

But this raises new questions I don't hear much in the ICANN corridors:

A – Does or doesn't ICANN consider itself as a "Global Public Service Provider" ?
B – Isn't ICANN a" Global Monopoly Public Service Provider?
C – As per the AOC, what if ICANN is seen to have failed based on the AOC review panelists?
D – What happens next?

In a competitive market if I am a customer of AT&T and they fail me I switch to sprint or Verizon, it is also called consumer choice. But where is the choice in the ICANN role and what happens if ICANN does fails. Does the community issue statements and press releases calling on ICANN once again to improve it like we have the last ten years. This is hardly choice or competition. ICANN needs to remember the difference between the internet world dealing with it because it respects it and sees it providing a great service as a global monopoly Versus being the only game in town ( the world actually). If ICANN was a service provider in a competitive market, I wonder how many would continue using the ICANN service based on its current levels of "Constituents Satisfaction" if another one can serve them better, faster, and cheaper. Are Google or Microsoft listening, or should ITU the only one aiming at this role?

Other bloggers / friends who are dissatisfied with ICANN wrote and what I add.

Jonathan Zuck: "But when the Chairman backed away from that stance earlier this week in Nairobi, it became clear that we should have held our breath a little bit longer".

I say to Jonathan: Stop holding your breath, no human can keep their breath that long, how long have the IDN communities been waiting for IDN gTLDs. ICANN's rational show a clear monopolistic style of management that knows there is nowhere for you to go and get the service you seek of ICANN anywhere else. Welcome to ICANN style of competition and choice.

Andrew Mack: "A Little Flexibility from ICANN and We Might Just Get IDNs… for Everyone"

I say to Andrew: The little flexibility you hope for in ICANN is like the short distance that appears between stars when you look up to the night sky. In reality these stars are light years apart. And so is ICANN on IDNs for everyone, I can speak on this matter as an expert on IDNs who has served on the ICANN President Advisory Committee on IDNs since its inception in 2005.

I will post my verdict after Friday 12pm Nairobi Time.

By Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, The Multilingual Internet Group
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In my view there's only one issue left Richard J Tindal  –  Mar 14, 2010 7:44 AM PST

Khaled,

I'm in favor of IDN gTLDs going forward.  The only thing holding them back is ICANN's Affirmation of Commitments with the US Government.  It effectively says ICANN can't implement new TLDs (IDN or ASCII) until the overarching issues are adequately addressed.

I believe the root zone scaling issue is adequately addressed and the trademark and malicious activity issues are very close to being adequately addressed.  The only overarching issue remaining is the cost/ benefit study.  That will be progressively addressed between March and July this year by the reports from Professors Rosston and Katz.

You said the process is still littered with unresolved overarching issues.  Which do you think are unresolved and why do you think that?

Best

Richard

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Promoted Post

Buying or Selling IPv4 Addresses?

Watch this video to discover how ACCELR/8, a transformative trading platform developed by industry veterans Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman, enables organizations to buy or sell IPv4 blocks as small as /20s.