Members of the House rip into ICANN over pricing, transparency, and security.
It wasn’t pretty.
For better than two hours today, members of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet took turns ripping into Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and its President/CEO Paul Twomey. If nothing else, ICANN’s experience on Capitol Hill today will give it all the more reason to try to get out of U.S. oversight. In addition to discussing the Joint Project Agreement, members also discussed the introduction of new top level domain names.
The hearings started with committee members spending two minutes on opening remarks. You can generally divide the members’ into three categories:
1. Well informed about subject matter
2. Didn’t know subject matter and admitted it
3. Didn’t know subject matter but read their staff notes and pretended like they knew about it
Almost all representatives were in favor of extending the Joint Project Agreement with ICANN, which they believe will provide more U.S. control in the internet’s naming system. Here are a few of their comments:
Rep. Cliff Stearns, (R – FL), seemed to focus on ICANN’s financial interests. He sharply questioned Twomey on ICANN’s reserve fund, Twomey’s salary, and even how much Twomey worked in the California office. Stearns repeatedly referred to ICANN as “I-CON” by accident in his opening remarks.
Rep. Mike Doyle (D – PA) questioned ICANN’s $4.5 million in stock losses. “I’m afraid ICANN seems better at furthering its own interests” than those of internet constituents, said Doyle. He also questioned the introduction of new top level domain names.
Rep. Lee Terry (R – NE) said control of the internet’s naming system “could be a matter of national security”. He also said the United States Government created the internet and needs to be in charge.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D – CA) said she’s against cutting ICANN loose because countries that try to stifle freedom of speech may get control.
Rep. John Dingell (D – MI) was particularly harsh, saying ICANN was hardly a good model of governance and that it would be “wholly unwise to reduce further participation” by the U.S. Government. He also said ICANN’s contracting process with .com registry VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) had a “deplorable lack of transparency”.