Department of Commerce says ICANN board should not approve guidebook next week.
In a scathing letter published today on ICANN’s web site, The United States Department of Commerce asked ICANN to not approve the launch of new TLDs during its meeting in Cartagena next week.
The letter, signed by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling, says that ICANN is not living up to its agreements in the Affirmation of Commitments.
Strickling reminds ICANN that one of its core responsibilities discussed during the negotiation of the Affirmation of Commitments (AOC) was to undertake an economic study regarding the release of new TLDs. He notes that the most recent study says this process is far from complete.
Secondly, Strickling says that a key part of the AOC was to “provide a thorough and reasoned explanation of the decisions taken, the rationale thereof…” with regards to its decisions. He notes that ICANN changed from a March declaration that there should be no cross ownership between registrars and registries to a May staff proposal of 2% ownership to a November decision allowing full cross-ownership.
Strickling writes, “While I’m aware of the desire of some to move forward, the suggestion that the ICANN Board could make an informed decision regarding the timing of the new gTLD program in Cartagena is unrealistic.”
He parts with a harsh critique of ICANN’s progress over the past year regarding improvements to accountability, transparency, and fact-based policy development.
In response to the letter, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom blogged:
In the Affirmation of Commitments, the US government and ICANN reconfirmed our mutual commitment to the multistakeholder model. ICANN confirmed our commitment to solicit public comment and to hear all voices.
As with all contributions, ICANN will give DoC’s comments careful consideration as part of the implementation of the GNSO policy.