ICANN Hearing Reactions
Date: Thursday June 13 2002, @04:17AM
Topic: USA Goverment Relations

Early reactions to yesterday's hearing are trickling in. The Washington Post leads with Sen. Burns backing off his threat to introduce legislation about ICANN -- for now. Personally, I'm not sure how significant this dance is, since given the legislative calendar there was about zero chance of a bill introduced now becoming law this session. Burn's threat to introduce it was fairly empty, and the retreat to wait-and-see reflects reality.

Reuters saw the hearing more or less like I did: the news is that Congress is upping the ante on oversight, and agrees with the GAO that the Dept. of Commerce needs to engage in more formal, and more open, oversight of ICANN.

As for the renewal of the MoU, the Senators' view seems to be that, absent something odd in the reform process (about which they didn't seem that informed), ICANN probably gets another year. Nancy Victory, who gets to decide this, was duly non-committal. But the sense one gets is that no one in power is willing to spend much energy on thinking about ICANN substitutes, which seems like a very big and thankless job, before having seen what the 'reform' process brings.

Senators did not quite come out and serve notice that a 'reform' which cuts out the public voice would lead to ICANN having its wings clipped, but they hinted it pretty clearly. Remains to be seen if ICANN, run by a coalition of tone-deaf-to-Washington Californians who listen a lot to allergic-to-Washington industry and Eurocrats, will get the message.

Senators were solicitous to SnapNames Vice President and General Counsel Cameron Powell who, let it be said, put on a virtuoso performance, and soon had the committee eating out of his hand. Speakers from the GAO and CDT also made their points forcefully and clearly. Karl Auerbach's spoken testimony was not, on the whole, either as forceful or persuasive as his written submission.

On balance, I'd say it was a moderately good day for ICANN -- in the short run. Yes, it got beat up a bit, but not as much as it might have. ICANN dodged a bullet in the sense that the Senate doesn't seem motivated to act -- for now. But the sleeper here is the GAO's report. While I certainly don't think the GAO is infallible, it is very influential, especially on this sort of specialist issue. If the GAO says a government department hasn't been doing enough or the right sort of monitoring, odds are that department is going to up its game.

If you missed it, yesterday's ICANN hearing is available for a day or two as an .mp3 thanks to Bret Fausett; there's also (for now at least), an archived RealVideo at FedNet.

Update: Very thoughtful comments by Prof. Michael Geist, concluding that ICANN's failure to listen will result in the death of Internet self-regulation.

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International Investigation into ICANN
by ANNODOMINI2000 (reversethis-{KU.OC.OOHAY} {ta} {D0002DA}) on Thursday June 13 2002, @11:48AM (#7163)
User #3359 Info | http://www.ad2000d.co.uk/
I don't know how relevant it is but, here in the UK, the DTI (Dept. of Trade & Industry) is currently conducting an investigation into the workings and practices of ICANN.

There's a link to their feedback site, and others, at http://www.ad2000d.com/udrpreform.html
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UK DTI Seeks Last Minute Feedback for Investigatio
by ANNODOMINI2000 (reversethis-{KU.OC.OOHAY} {ta} {D0002DA}) on Friday June 14 2002, @02:42AM (#7169)
User #3359 Info | http://www.ad2000d.co.uk/

Read the rest of this comment...

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Re: ICANN Hearing Reactions
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Friday June 14 2002, @11:07AM (#7182)
User #2810 Info
Joe Sims responds, after a fashion, to Michael Geist (on the politech list of Declan McCullagh, who BTW has just announced he has left WiReD for CNET). Sims response is his typical obfuscation. He begins by proposing to address the criticism of ICANN lack of transparency, then fails completely to address it at all, instead pointing out that as governments, unlike ICANN, have guns and armies, they are good friends to have. Sims response isn't entirely off target, governments are also old hands at lack of transparency. -g
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Re: ICANN Hearing Reactions
by michael (froomkin@lawUNSPAM.tm) on Thursday June 13 2002, @08:53AM (#7153)
User #4 Info | http://www.discourse.net/
Far too pessimistic. If Commerce does what the GAO suggests, it's a whole new ball game. ICANN will either shape up, or be history, within 2 years. But not next month.
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