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Mubarak, Ben Ali, Kaddafi, ICANN: What They Have in Common Is Scary. Will They Share the Same Fate?

Khaled Fattal

Will current failed ICANN direction on the New generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) doom its Regime to follow the fate of Mubarak, Ben Ali, and soon Kaddafi's?

The whirlwinds of change we all have witnessed that started blowing in Tunisia, moved to Egypt and is now engulfing Libya, Yemen, Jordan and soon many others, have signaled a revolutionary way of thinking not just at local or regional levels but I believe on global levels too.

This, I believe will force the recalculation of many old formulas and dispel conventional thinking of "Special Interest" ushering the way to "People Power Interest”. Those who learn and adapt fast will survive those who don't or resist it will wither into thin air and insignificance. This pertains to everything.

After 23 years in Tunisia, 30 years in Egypt and 42 in Libya their peoples were so fed up they decided enough was enough. They marched to the street in their millions calling for regime change convinced that they can no longer continue to live in despair.

Deposed Mubarak, Ben Ali, and soon to be deposed Kaddafi had failed to deliver to their peoples on their most basic of aspirations.

How does that relate to ICANN you might ask?

People in the Global Internet and the ICANN community continue to live in great despair waiting and anticipating something positive on the New gTLDs, none more than the IDN communities who seldom had loud voices or deep pockets.

Many had hoped ICANN San Francisco (Silicon Valley) will be the proclamation for the launch of these New gTLDs. While I, to my despair, predicated it wouldn't be many moons ago, we now all know it won't be, as ICANN continues to mismanage this space royally.

Many have written about ICANN's failures that are causing this despair. On his blog "Broken deadlines, broken bylaws, broken ICANN?" Kieren Mccarthy lists other numerous ICANN failures, as it seems ICANN has broken its own bylaws as well. Kieren and many others have publicly raised serious and valid questions over the ICANN board's dysfunction over the executive leadership and at ICANN's direction that seems to be failing almost everybody. So clearly I am not alone in my despair.

But if you are still wondering what The Three Despots (TTD), Mubarak (M), Ben Ali (B) and Kaddafi (K), "MBK" and ICANN have in common in great detail you will need to wait until my next post after the Brussels meeting. But I will wet your appetite with this commonality they all share for you to consider.

A white elephant they all cannot see:

MBK – Mubarak, Ben Ali and Kaddafi lived in delusional worlds, all claimed to be listening and be loved by their people. All claimed their system was a model the world should emulate in their democracy (sounds familiar?). Many of us knew differently, everyone now knows it too. This was their white elephant as they failed to see the despair in their people. As a result, their people marched and demanded regime change and toppled two with the third on the way, but in the most unpredictable way ever.

ICANN – ICANN on the other hand and its GAC — Board Brussels meeting next week has chosen NOT to put the matter of only US laws, its OFAC and SDN in screening all applicants for New gTLDs and IDN gTLDs to their discussion items. We alerted ICANN on many occasion, on December 9, 2010, then formally on December 10th, 2010, and again February 18, 2011 to relieve our conscience and put the grave expected consequences on record.

Both Rod Beckstrom and Board Member Jean Jacques Subrenat acknowledged my concerns during the Cartagena public forum after my public intervention on this subject, Rod added that ICANN is addressing it. Since then, the silence from ICANN on this has been defeating.

Well, perhaps the USG will make Rod's behind the curtains efforts come true and grant ICANN a special exemption like that the UN enjoys. However, I am willing to concede that the US despite many of its previous mistakes is wise enough not to empower the current ICANN management such powers and authority to continue mismanaging in their name.

So, will this white elephant prove to be ICANN's defining moment that will signal the end of the single root of the Internet, and ICANN's ethos of "One world, One Internet? I say hold that thought till next week.

If you are wondering whether the current despair in the ICANN community is enough to cause the ICANN regime to meet the same fate as Mubarak's, Ben Ali's and soon Kaddafi's? Or how this may take place? Better still, what would "People Power" in the ICANN community even look like? Where would they march to? Or, if "People Power" inside ICANN even exists? Well, you will know next week - but by wondering you are doing the right thing, you are thinking and considering what you may not have considered before.

But until next week, ponder this thought: How can the USG act to ensure a "smooth transition" like it did in Tunisia and Egypt, and hoping to in Libya? Look out for my post after the GAC-Board Brussels meeting.

By Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, The Multilingual Internet Group. More blog posts from Khaled Fattal can also be read here.

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Multilinguism, Top-Level Domains


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Beyond Offensive David Conrad  –  Feb 25, 2011 8:04 PM PDT

Attempting to draw a parallel between events in which people have been (and continue to be) beaten, tortured, and killed and anything related to ICANN is beyond offensive.  Could you actually make this parallel to the faces of people and families of people who have been hurt by their governments?


your corocodile tears about my people Khaled Fattal  –  Feb 25, 2011 11:37 PM PDT

The people you are shedding your crocodile tears over to divert from ICANN's failures happen to be MY PEOPLE. So please play that card with someone else but not me. I know more than most what it is like to live in a war torn country and see death and destruction you all see on television and in movies. I lived and watched the bloodshed of my people. But if your tears are sincere about my tortured, beaten and killed people, where were you when your government was selling arms to these butchers, where was your voice of dissent to propping up these dictators who served you cheap oil and their Special Interest against the interest and freedom of my people for 40+ years. Your crocodile tears over my people make you sound like Ariel Sharon expressing regret over the loss of civilian lives after indiscriminately bombing Palestinians to smithereens. However, maybe you are not in despair from ICANN or you think Nomcom model is more democratic than Mubarak's single party rule.

Concur with David Peter Thimmesch  –  Feb 28, 2011 7:58 PM PDT

I too was awestruck at the proposed parallel between several despotic regimes and ICANN. Then to attack in writing his sincere response to an "unbelievable" (more like "unreasonable") editorial which may be the single most offensive posting I've read within the community's numerous publishing forums, was too much to ignore.

@ David, I concur with your reaction. Well chosen, actually restrained, words of caution and reason.

Analogy and metaphor Nigel Roberts  –  Feb 26, 2011 5:32 AM PDT

David, surely the use of analogy and metaphor is entirely valid to discuss the breakdown of an ideological system!

Or must we wait a while before a metaphor is politically correct to use.

The fall of communism in 1989-90 (this affected /my/ people so maybe I could use that one, but perhaps people are still sensitive 20 years later?).

Maybe the Fall of the Roman Empire has sufficient distance by now?

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