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Reporters Without Borders: Keep the ICANN Status Quo

September 29, 2009affirmation of commitments, Domaining, Domainnamewire, icann, joint project agreement, Policy & Law, reporters without bordersComments Off on Reporters Without Borders: Keep the ICANN Status Quo

Press freedom advocate opposed to ICANN governance changes.

Reporters without BordersReporters Without Borders, an organization that pushes for freedom of the press, is urging the U.S. government to keep the status quo of internet governance. In an article on its web site, it suggests not handing any control of ICANN over to other governments.

No one underestimates the risks of maintaining an Internet governance system controlled by a single entity,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “But, given the current lack of a better solution, we think it would be better not to meddle with this mechanism. The EU proposal to create a sort of Internet G12 strikes us as dangerous. If it were implemented, nothing would stop countries that censor the Internet domestically, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Burma, from doing everything possible to restrict online access at the world level.”

Julliard added: “It is out of the question that governments that prevent their citizens from having unrestricted Internet access should tomorrow become the big shots in a worldwide Internet system. We prefer the current system which, despite its faults and weaknesses, has never threatened the free flow of online information. We therefore urge President Barack Obama not to rush into any decision that could do considerable harm to everyone’s right to unrestricted access to online information. The utmost prudence is required in this matter.

Reporters Without Borders, based in France, may be in for disappointment. The Economist has reported that ICANN is close to a deal with the U.S. government to enter a new phase of governance with more foreign government control.

The current agreement, dubbed the Joint Project Agreement, ends this month. Expect an official announcement on the future of the U.S.-ICANN relationship in the next 48 hours.

© 2009.

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Update: Lamar Smith and Howard Coble Letter to ICANN

September 17, 2009Domaining, Domainnamewire, icann, joint project agreement, Policy & Law, rod beckstromComments Off on Update: Lamar Smith and Howard Coble Letter to ICANN

Details of letter sent to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom.

Yesterday DNW wrote about a letter that House Judiciary Committee members Lamar Smith and Howard Coble sent to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom. This letter covers the roll out of new gTLDs and the expiration of ICANN’s joint project agreement with the U.S. Government.

Domain Name Wire has obtained a copy of the letter (pdf) and its detailed questions of ICANN. The letter is dated September 15, and requests a response by September 22. This tight deadline is probably due to the impending expiration of the JPA with ICANN at the end of this month.

In the letter, Smith and Coble discuss numerous issues:

Price Caps: “We note that the absence of price caps in the new registry agreements could mean that legitimate businesses with an established consumer base and Internet presence may be discriminated against and compelled to pay a premium for each new domain name they register or renew.”

Economic justification for new TLDs: “We also note that the record concerning the impact this proposed expansion will have on competition is woefully inadequate. To our knowledge, the only economic justification put forth thus far has been an ICANN-commissioned report that has been widely criticized for failing to include empirical data or analysis in support of its conclusion that the unrestricted expansion of gTLDS will result in net consumer benefits”

Policy development process, transparency, and accountability: “…we note with disappointment that serious consideration of these [intellectual property] interests did not occur in the normal course of ICANN’s policy development process, and the IRT was formed only after considerable public outcry arose from the business and intellectual property communities.” The letter further notes that decisions on IRT’s proposals haven’t been announced and aren’t planned to be announced prior to the expiration of the JPA. The congressmen note, “This apparent time-line reinforces the perception that ICANN decision-marking processes lack critical transparency and accountability.”

ICANN’s track record: “Given the late consideration of intellectual property concerns, the lack of a credible independent analysis on competition issues in the context of proposals to expand gTLDs, as well as ICANN’s less-than-stellar track record on a variety of other issues (enforcement of registrar obligations, accuracy of publicly available Whois data), we have serious misgivings about the prospect of terminating the formal relationship between the U.S. Government and ICANN that is currently represented by the JPA.”

The letter then asks pointed questions about IRT’s recommendations, the launch of new gTLDs, and the JPA.

© 2009.

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