02 December, 2010

NTIA sends a warning shot across ICANN's bow

You can almost feel the rage behind the pen in the letter sent by the NTIA to Rod Beckstrom.  No mere note sent by some administrative assistant, this correspondence is straight from the top, direct from Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The letter states:
  • I am writing to express my concern regarding the apparent failure of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to carry out its obligations as specified in the Affirmation of Commitments (Affirmation). 
  • You and I have discussed the importance of performing this comprehensive economic analysis on more than one occasion since we signed the Affirmation.  Nonetheless, it appears that ICANN has not completed this important analysis.
  • In addition, ICANN agreed in the Affirmation "to provide a thorough and reasoned explanation of decisions taken, the rationale thereof and the sources of data and information on which ICANN relied."  In the context of the new gTLD program, ICANN is failing to meet this commitment.
  • As a signatory to the Affirmation, my expectation was that ICANN would make significant improvements in its operations to meet the obligations identified in the Affirmation (e.g., transparency, accountability, fact-based policy development).  Over a year later, I am concerned that those improvements have yet to be seen.  As such, I urge you to carefully consider the next steps of the new gTLD program and ensure that ICANN meets its obligations as contained in the Affirmation prior to implementation.

UPDATE:  from the ICANN blog:

US Government Opposes Launch of New gTLD Program in Cartagena

by Rod Beckstrom on December 2, 2010

We appreciate the many comments received so far on the draft Applicant Guidebook in its five full versions. We thank the community and all who contributed for their engagement, thoughts and opinions during the course of this process.

One of the most recent comments we have received is a letter today from the US Department of Commerce (DoC).

ICANN’s success and legitimacy derive from the multistakeholder model, the basis on which new gTLD policy was developed. The policy process decision to undertake this program was approved by the GNSO Council in 2007 and adopted by ICANN’s board of directors in 2008.

In the Affirmation of Commitments, the US government and ICANN reconfirmed our mutual commitment to the multistakeholder model. ICANN confirmed our commitment to solicit public comment and to hear all voices.

As with all contributions, ICANN will give DoC’s comments careful consideration as part of the implementation of the GNSO policy.

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