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    WSIS WGIG Public Meeting considers Role of GAC in ICANN
    posted by Mueller on Thursday June 16 2005, @11:59AM

    The UN Working Group concluded its public consultations Wednesday and today the WGIG members secluded themselves in a chateau to mull over the results and engage in the final bargaining over the results. Transcripts of its morning and afternoon sessions are available.

    Two things are clear: 1) some kind of a new "multistakeholder" policy entity will be proposed, or at least put forward as an option, and 2) governments want a bigger role for themselves, though it is not clear how carefully that potentially dangerous option will be handled.

    In order to shed light on the latter question, this piece takes attitudes toward the ICANN's GAC as a useful indicator of how various players are positioning themselves on the question of governments in internet governance, and compiles comments from and leading up to the latest WGIG meeting.



    The first shot in the debate over the future of GAC was fired by the Internet Governance Project (disclosure: your reporter was a co-author of this piece). IGP called for the abolition of GAC, stating that "If governments want to supervise ICANN they have to get out of its day to day workings." As a replacement, IGP called for "a legally-binding international agreement narrowly defining ICANN’s powers and replacing US Government supervision with internationalized supervision" to replace the current US Dept. of Commerce oversight function of ICANN.

    Speaking for a group of African states, a representative from Ghana called for the creation of "AN ADDITIONAL BODY WHICH WOULD NOT ONLY SERVE AS A MULTISTAKEHOLDER DISCUSSION FORUM BUT ALSO PROFFER POLICY ADVICE IN A PARTICIPATORY MANNER. [snip] THIS BODY WOULD ADDRESS ALL ISSUES RELATING TO THE INTERNET WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE AVAILABLE EXPERTISE WHICH WOULD BE ANCHORED AT THE U.N." The African group agreed with IGP that this new oversight body obviated the need for a GAC: "THE GENERAL CONSENSUS WAS THAT THE PROPOSED NEW BODY SHOULD NOT ONLY TAKE OVER THE GOVERNMENTAL OVERSIGHT FUNCTIONS OF THE DNS AND ROOT SERVER SYSTEM ADMINISTRATION BUT ALSO OTHER AREAS OF ACTIVITY UNDER THE OVERSIGHT OF THE USG. THIS OVERSIGHT FUNCTION THROUGH THIS NEW BODY SHOULD NOT ONLY BE APPLICABLE TO ICANN AFTER THE TERMINATION OF THE MOU IN 2006 BUT ALSO POST 2006. THIS NEW BODY SHOULD ALSO REPLACE THE GOVERNMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE [OF ICANN] AND TAKE OVER ITS RESPONSIBILITIES AND ACTIVITIES." Editors note: all caps due to the transcription method of WGIG.

    The government of India made similar comments. "ON THE CURRENT DISPENSATION, IT DOES NOT APPEAR POSSIBLE TO ENVISAGE AN OVERSIGHT FUNCTION FOR GAC … (INAUDIBLE). THE ADVISORY FUNCTION FOR GAC, WHICH IT HAS SO FAR DISCHARGED ADMIRABLY, WOULD BE SUBSUMED BY THE PROPOSED ENTITY OF MULTIPLE STAKEHOLDERS MENTIONED ABOVE, ALBEIT WITH POWERS OF DECISION-MAKING AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION. THE SPECIFICITY OF SUCH FUNCTIONS WILL NEED TO BE FURTHER ELABORATED TO AVOID AMBIGUITY AND OVERLAP WITH OTHER AGENCIES. WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT WILL BE IN THE INTEREST OF ALL, AND PARTICULARLY FOR PROPER INTERNET GOVERNANCE, IF SUCH NEW MECHANISM CAN BE PUT IN PLACE EVEN BEFORE 2006."

    Interestingly, vested stakeholders in the current ICANN regime, such as the Number Resources Organization and the International Chamber of Commerce, called for continuing GAC's current position. Similarly, the Internet Governance Task Force of Japan, which consists of ISPs and Internet technical people, said "WE THINK THE CURRENT GAC SHOULD NOT BE TRANSFORMED AND TAKE ON OVERSIGHT FUNCTIONS. ACCORDING TO THE ICANN BYLAWS THE CURRENT GAC IS DESIGNED AS THE PART OF ICANN'S CONSENSUS DEVELOPMENT PROCESS AND THEREFORE IT HAS FUNCTIONED AS A PLACE FOR GOVERNMENT PARTICIPANTS TO EXCHANGE THEIR OPINIONS FREELY IN THE BOTTOM-UP ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE. WE FIND A GREAT VALUE IN THE CURRENT POSITION OF GAC, AND THUS IT SHOULD NOT BE TRANSFORMED TO TAKE ON OVERSIGHT FUNCTIONS. THIS IS IN LINE WITH ANSWERS TO NEXT QUESTIONS, SHOULD THE GAC BE REPLACED BY ANOTHER BODY. AGAIN, OUR ANSWER IS NO; WE THINK THE GAC FUNCTIONS WELL UNDER THE CURRENT ARRANGEMENTS."

    All of which raises an interesting question: which method limits and contains national governments' power and which methods further empowers governments - abolishing GAC and removing it from ICANN's day-to-day workings, but giving governments a higher, supervisory role, or Keeping GAC embeded within, and increasingly influential within, ICANN itself?

     
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    WGIG Public Meeting considers Role of GAC in ICANN | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 45 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re:The UN is Not Where One Wants to Hang Out
    by Danor on Saturday June 18 2005, @02:30AM (#15622)
    User #4148 Info
    Granted the UN isn't the most efect or fair-play organisation....

    What might happen if ICANN doesn't shape up?

    Ever considered that theITU [itu.int] might take over?
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:.COM Flag Day Coming July 4th - Year TBD
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Sunday June 19 2005, @11:46AM (#15628)
    User #2810 Info
    http://www.Digital.DNA

    Doesn't reply to my http request. You just make this stuff up and I'm the only one stupid enough to fall for it. -g

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:New U.S. Government Naming Policy From ICANN ?
    by Anonymous on Monday June 20 2005, @03:15AM (#15630)
    Pure Gibberish
    This category includes names which:

        * Consist of a string of letters which do not produce a pronounceable name (i.e. Asdfasdf, Jjxccm, Hvlldrm)

    XR8TED

    X-Rated ?
    or
    XRAY TED
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:the community does not need is any more half-ba
    by Anonymous on Tuesday June 21 2005, @04:50AM (#15649)
    Public Comment Forums

    Click here to read comments regarding New gTLD Implementation Strategy

    Forum Closed 15 Oct 2004
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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