VP of Policy cites six ways ICANN could be more accountable.
During the ICANN meeting in Durban in July, Verisign VP of Policy Chuck Gomes complained that ICANN’s number one priority seemed to be “protecting ICANN the corporation”, and that this came before serving the public interest.
ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade asked Gomes to provide a list of areas where ICANN could increase its accountability.
Gomes has formally responded, citing six items.
One of Gomes’ grievances is with ICANN requiring contracted parties to indemnify it while removing the contracted party’s ability to take action against ICANN. He points to the so-called unilateral right to amend clauses in new TLD agreements.
He also pointed out that ICANN has failed to address some risks of new TLDs despite knowing about them for many years. Gomes wrote:
We view ICANN’s refusal to address the well documented SSR issues as indicative of its lack of accountability. No accountable organization would ignore the advice that ICANN has ignored for four years. If my Board of Directors did so in a similar fashion, the Board would be voted out, or sued, or both. Did ICANN consider the consequences of prioritizing the rollout of new gTLDs over security and stability for the betterment of the organization?
Gomes also wrote that ICANN’s plans to mitigate potential name collisions may hurt .brand applicants. He called .brand top level domains “essentially a marketing campaign”.
Other examples are related to ICANN making decisions itself and pushing them on the community rather than appealing for bottom-up policy.
Gomes is correct that ICANN considers self-preservation a necessary goal. If it didn’t, it would have already told the Governmental Advisory Committee to stuff it over several issues. But that’s not necessarily wrong. Even as a non-profit, not destroying your entity must be a goal. Likewise, I don’t blame Verisign for running defense against new TLDs. It’s in its best interests to do so.