Thursday, February 24, 2005

Call for a Framework Convention to Govern ICANN

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Milton Mueller writing on the CS-Plenary list:

Regarding the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) within ICANN, a lot of people are thinking that it would be good to strengthen GAC and give it stronger powers with in ICANN. At the opening day of the Prepcom, I presented another idea.

What we need is not a stronger GAC within ICANN. We need, instead, a more carefully defined division of authority between governments and ICANN. Governments should supervise and hold ICANN accountable, according to explicit and well-defined, internationally agreed rules.
Governments should have the power to step in if ICANN abuses its powers. But governments should not be involved in the day to day coordination activities of the DNS or the IP address system.

What we need to do, therefore, is have governments negotiate a framework convention that sets the rules and responsibilities within which ICANN operates. Once that is accomplished, we should abolish GAC altogether. The creation of the GAC was a poorly thought-out, last-minute compromise. Further empowering GAC would just increase the confusion and muddle as to whether ICANN is intergovernmental or a private sector entity.

I note that within ICANN, GAC is currently the only entity that closes its meeting to the public. To increase the power of GAC means that more of its decisions would be less transparent. There is an important role for governments in Internet governance, but the GAC is not the proper
place for them.

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