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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
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    The Big Picture A Public Private Partnership
    posted by michael on Thursday February 19 2004, @09:36AM

    Anonymous writes "ICANN's web site now describes ICANN as a "public private partnership", and its staff seem to have started describing in this way too.

    Last time I looked ICANN was a non-profit private corporation. Exactly which public body or bodies is ICANN in partnership with? And do they know? The words partner and partnership is noticeably absent from the bylaws (apart from one mention in a different context), the MoU with the DoC, and the IANA agreement with the DoC. The latter describes ICANN (rather more accurately) as a contractor."


     
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    · Also by michael
     
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    A Public Private Partnership | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 17 comments | Search Discussion
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    ICANN is a private corporation
    by KarlAuerbach on Thursday February 19 2004, @11:03AM (#12994)
    User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
    I sued, and won, a case against a thing called ICANN - it was, and it remains, entirely a California corporation. It is privately owned, privately run, privately financed. It has jumped though enough hoops to claim tax protection as a 501(c)(3) corporation, but that doesn't make it any less a private entity.

    The US Department of Commerce has repeatedly assured the US Congress and others that ICANN is not attached to the government and is entirely a private actor.

    ICANN has never been consistent about its self-characterization. On Monday it assures Congress that it only does "technical coordination", but on Tuesday it assures the IETF that it does nothing that is technical at all.

    Many of us perceive ICANN as the hand attached to the US Department of Commerce's arm. It is amusing to watch the governmental arm assert that the hand is separate and independent while the hand can't seem to make up its mind.

    Here's what I said in one of my contributions to the ITU meeting next week: (See http://www.cavebear.com/cbblog/#functional [cavebear.com] (All the contributions are available at http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/forum/intgov04/contribu tions.html [itu.int])


    Third caveat: The phrase "public private partnership" has often been used in conjunction with internet governance. I have strong personal reservations about this concept because it implies the transfer of governmental powers (often ultra vires powers) into the hands of private actors without simultaneously imposing the obligations of due process, oversight, and accountability that are hallmarks of modern governments. In addition, no matter whether a governance body is private, public, or a blend, its role must be carefully defined and constrained lest it be captured by those it purports to oversee or by others who find the body to be a means to promote a private agenda. We have seen all of these problems arise within ICANN.

    A related question is what is the relationship between ICANN, the Dept of Commerce, and IANA - don't forget that ICANN's role in IANA is derived soleley and exclusively by virtue of its role as provider under a purchase order from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a branch of the US Dept of Commerce.) IANA services are hardly the kind of thing that absolutely positively must be sole source - so one should ask what happens if the DoC picks a different provider in the future. One should also ask what right the DoC has at all to perform IANA functions.

    For an organization that has so firmly slammed the door in the face of the public, with "public" in the sense of people who wish to have a meaningful say in how the internet is managed, it takes a lot of chutzpah to say that the organization is a has any partnership with the public at all.

    But then again, perhaps ICANN uses "public" in the sense of "governmental" - in which case one has to ask "which country's government?".
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Origin of that phrase
    by lextext on Thursday February 19 2004, @12:54PM (#12995)
    User #6 Info | http://www.lextext.com
    At its birth, ICANN was all about "private sector leadership." The "partnership" language came to the forefront in Dr. Lynn's Reform paper, I believe, as a response to GAC/government pressure for a greater role. It's hard to look at ICANN's new structure and bylaws though and not see that this is indeed a partnership; through the GAC, governments now have a great deal of influence over outcomes. The fact that ICANN is a non-profit corporation doesn't change the balance of power in the decision-making.

                        -- Bret
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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