Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Another request for independent review of ICANN in the works

My own travails with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) concerning the lack of transparency and accountability in its decision-making on travel-related domain names ".travel" and ".aero" are only one of the many strands of ongoing criticism of ICANN and its modus operandi . Almost all of ICANN's decisions concerning top-level Internet domain names (TLD's) have prompted controversy, and in many cases formal requests for reconsideration by ICANN's Board of Directors.

ICANN's latest TLD decision against the proposed creation of ".XXX" (for what is referred to by proponents and opponents respectively as either "adult entertainment" or "pornography") follows the same pattern, but with an additional kicker.

The would-be sponsor of the .XXX domain, ICM Registry , has filed a request for reconsideration (link is to the request as amended 20 May 2006).

Reconsideration is discretionary, but ICANN's Committee on Reconsideration is supposed to announce its decision on whether to act on the request within 30 days. The most recent reconsideration request, by a long-time ICANN insider, was decided (and denied) in a record 7 days, but my request of 16 May 2005 hasn't even been posted as required on the ICANN Web site, much less acted on, after more than a year -- despite written acknowledgement from ICANN's General Counsel John Jeffrey that it had been received and forwarded to the Reconsideration Committee, and despite my again calling it to the attention of ICANN's Board of Directors during their latest meeting.).

ICM Registry is also using the Freedom of Information Act to request USA government documents including correspondence with ICANN and various of ICANN's subsidiary bodies. Those documents should, of course, also be available from ICANN under ICANN's rules, and its Memorandum of Understanding with the USA, requiring that "ICANN and its constituent bodies shall operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness." But ICANN has never adopted any procedures or designated a point of contact for requests under its transparency bylaw for documents or records -- which is a major part of the basis for my request for independent review.

So what's the kicker in ICM registry's latest request for reconsideration? On page 3 of its amended request for reconsideration (page 2 of its original request), ICM Registry says:

ICM intends in the near future to submit a request for independent third-party review of the Board vote, as permitted under the Bylaws.

To date, ICANN has never allowed such a review. So far as I can tell, it has yet to designate the independent review provider or put in places procedures for independent review in accordance with the procedures in ICANN's bylaws for such a decision. ICANN claims to have designated an independent review provider (IRP), but hasn't provided any basis for that claim or responded to my questions about it, and the company ICANN claims to have designated told me they have never heard of ICANN and that in order to make a request I would need to provide a copy of a document which, if it exists (ICANN won't say, although I've asked), ICANN refuses to provide to me.

I'll be watching closely to see if ICM registry has any more success than I or the others who've requested independent review, and whether ICANN handles their request with the same contempt, evasion, and delay.

Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 07:16 ( 7:16 AM) | TrackBack (0)
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