So, Why not the ITU?
Date: Tuesday August 13 2002, @07:00PM
Topic: The Big Picture

rfassett writes "As part of the ICANN request for comment on reform, the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) has offered [link fixed 8/14/02] to explore ways to increase its cooperation with ICANN. If it can be concluded that ICANN functions are largely broken down to “operational” and “policy”, it seems fairly reasonable to conclude that where ICANN has failed to achieve legitimacy in its policy making, the ITU-T has produced a proven model consisting of both boundary and scope in its processes."

The ITU-T is an intergovernmental organization that enjoys sovereign immunity outside of U.S. jurisdiction. This is favorable in today’s global climate including issues relative to IP address block allocation. It has utilized its entrusted powers to achieve membership of over 180 countries and 450 private industry players. It carries no “hammer” or directly operates any network. Yet, it achieves funding by way of country contributions and membership fees. Its role, expanding over 100 years, has been to protect the public interest by way of its membership. The ITU-T has offered to explore with ICANN how user groups consisting of the general community can be formally added towards achieving greater public participation (not that this is meant as a replacement to ICANN public board member elections).

The ITU-T is not a regulator but produces recommendations based upon mature practices where boundary and scope are absolutely integral to its processes. Determining such boundary and scope are based upon ongoing open and transparent processes fully viewable to the general public. The ITU-T itself appears to be a very mature entity capable of great assistance towards ICANN defining an internationally agreed restatement and description of the boundaries for ICANN’s policy making mission, something the ICANN entity is sorely in need of.

These are my personal thoughts in evaluating the role the ITU-T can play in a reformed ICANN. I have not seen a formal response from ICANN as a result of this offer by the ITU-T. Why is this? Clearly, I am favoring ITU-T involvement in this writing but I am no expert in global policy making nor do I care to be. I just want to see some defined boundary and scope to ICANN policy processes and the ITU certainly seems a viable and legitimate candidate with a proven history and credentials in a global arena that have greatly eluded ICANN to date. Based upon ICANN successes in achieving certain benchmark measures such as legitimacy and trust (largely tied to its ambiguous scope and boundary in policy making), can anyone explain to me what the negatives are? What am I missing?

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Re: So, Why not the ITU?
by fnord ( on Wednesday August 14 2002, @02:25AM (#8472)
User #2810 Info
RFassett writes:
Yet, it achieves funding by way of country contributions...
It is interesting to compare and contrast this with the previous ICANNWatch article regarding the GAC bailout. As Dan Steinberg says, they are voting with their checkbooks. -g
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: So, Why not the ITU?
by RFassett on Wednesday August 14 2002, @04:36AM (#8476)
User #3226 Info |
"Other than that, it's a fine idea."

The points you raise are meaningful to my question of "what am I missing?" and I am glad to see Richard Hill has responded as I am not an expert on the ITU processes nor pretend to be.

Mostly, I am citing the fact that the ITU has made an "offer". My point is about addressing boundary and scope to ICANN policy making decisions as part of this reform process. And whether the ITU - an entity that has achieved high credibility in this regard in the global arena - can assist as it has offered to do. This is not the same as saying that ICANN should adopt ITU processes or delegate policy decisions directly to the ITU entity.

Should the ITU offer to "work more closely" be completely dismissed (for many of the reasons you state) at a point in time where boundary and scope MUST be made part of the ICANN policy making processes (towards the goal of this private entity achieving some sort of legitimacy and credibility)?

Is the community better off with "ambiguity by design" as stated by Ira Magaziner at the CATO conference or with the "back room negotiations is the reality" as inferred by Mike Roberts at this same conference?

If the ITU offer is going to be completely dismissed, then what other mechanisms have been made available as part of the reform process towards the goal of incorporating boundary and scope to ICANN policy decision processes? Even if not deemd the most optimal option in the end, should not ICANN be exploring all viable opportunities towards achieving boundary and scope in policy processes as part of this reform? Is ICANN's lack of recognizing the ITU's offer to assist show its continued neglect towards achieving boundary and scope once reformed even though stated as a goal in the Blueprint?

I understand your points regarding the ITU and these may indeed be largely correct. But right now and assuming the current regime is going to remain in place - I would favor exploring ANY viable option
towards achieving boundary and scope to ICANN decision making....and, given its track record, ICANN is no position to be dismissing all viable offers of assistance in this regard (in my opinion). At least we should know on what basis it has chosen to do so.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: So, Why not the ITU?
by RFassett on Wednesday August 14 2002, @10:56AM (#8478)
User #3226 Info |
I am not so sure of this. There are two developments over the past 4 years that lead me to believe that, for reasons of national security, the U.S.Government feels its interests are maintained as this relates to ICANN:

1) DoC has formally testified that it will retain control of the "A" root server indefinitely.

2) ICANN is entrenched as a U.S. based entity formally recognized under U.S. jurisdiction.

Other than these two considerations, I am not sure that much else about ICANN hits the radar screen of the U.S. Congress. Now that these 2 parameters indeed exist, would the U.S. Government stand in the way of ITU involvement should ICANN request its assistance in defining an internationally agreed restatement and description of the boundaries for ICANN’s policy making mission? Given the parameters that exist today, I am not so sure. A formal response by ICANN to the ITU offer (made on behalf of over 180 countries) is called for and would likely address the very legitimate point you are raising.
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Re: So, Why not the ITU?
by fnord ( on Thursday August 15 2002, @08:40AM (#8503)
User #2810 Info
I'm not so sure that the membership of Cisco, Sun, AOL, Worldcom, should be used as a selling feature. All have to some extent had their financial affairs questioned recently, here is today's on AOL, for example. ICANN's financial affairs have also been questioned. Replacing one group of ethically challenged individuals and companies with another doesn't solve anything. -g
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