The MOU between the Department of Commerce and ICANN includes a series of specific milestones that the corporation is required to accomplish by certain specified dates. One of the specific requirements placed on ICANN by the agency is to define "a predictable strategy for selecting new TLDs using straightforward, transparent, and objective procedures that preserve the stability of the Internet...." The MOU goes on to state that "(strategy development to be completed by September 30, 2004 and implementation to commence by December 31, 2004)."
ICANN did produce a "strategy document" by the end of September. Christopher Ambler, who has served in numerous internet governance-related duties, often in a leadership capacity, with organizations including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the International Forum on the White Paper (IFWP), the Open Root Server Confederation (ORSC), ICANN, and ICANN's Domain Name Supporting Organization (ICANN DNSO), had a rather pungent commentary on the ICANN document. Specifically, Mr. Ambler made the following statememts concerning the ICANN TLD plan:
1. "ICANN wasn't ready. This is a rush job to meet a deadline."
2. "The Department of Commerce should reject this document as completely insufficient. This is like having a term paper due, and submitting just the bibliography."
3. "This suggests to me that ICANN has no plan, and would like nothing more than to continue to delay."
4. "I cannot imagine how ICANN could put a plan into operation by 31 December, when there isn't even a plan."
However, what is most interesting about the situation is not Mr. Ambler's views of the ICANN plan nor even NTIA's views of the ICANN document. Instead, what it is of greatest importance is how NTIA described ICANN's progress in meeting their duties under the MOU to the U.S. Senate.
With respect to ICANN's progress to meeting their duties under the MOU to define and implement a new strategy for selecting new TLDs, an NTIA official testified before the United States Senate's Subcommittee on Communications of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and stated that "the Department will be expecting ICANN to: ... complete and implement a predictable strategy for selecting new TLDs by December 31, 2004..."
Thus, the NTIA official completely omitted from their testimony the fact that ICANN was already supposed to have "defined" such a strategy and that some type of strategy document had already been made available to the agency by ICANN. Instead, the NTIA official appeared to give the impression that there was a single end-of-year date by which a new TLD selection strategy was to be defined and implemented.
One theoretical advantage for NTIA from their presentation to the Senate Subcommittee is that they were not in a position to comment on or answer any questions regarding the strategy document that they received from ICANN.
To survive in its present format, ICANN needs to earn and maintain the trust of numerous stakeholders, including the Department of Commerce, the United Stated Congress and innumerable internet users around the globe. Development and maintenance of such trust is the responsibility of many stakeholders including NTIA, ICANN's accountants and various internet watchdog organizations and blogs. In the long run, NTIA could have benefited by directly addressing the concerns raised by Mr. Ambler regarding ICANN's TLD strategy plan before the Senate Subcommittee.
By Bruce Levinson, SVP, Regulatory Intervention - Center for Regulatory Effectiveness
|Cybersquatting||Policy & Regulation|
|DNS Security||Registry Services|
|IP Addressing||White Space|
Minds + Machines