Choosing the Right Path to a Permanent Accountability Framework for ICANN

Michael Palage

The Progress & Freedom Foundation

Berin Michael Szoka


August 26, 2009

Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 21, August 2009

Over the next month, the ICANN Board will consider its options for ensuring that some framework is in place to ensure ICANN’s accountability to the global Internet community after the approaching expiration of the its Memorandum of Understanding and Joint Project Agreement (MOU/JPA) with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Board ought to allow the time necessary for the development of a permanent accountability framework in consultation with the global Internet community, as required by ICANN’s Bylaws, however should should avoid rubber-stamping a recent proposal to essentially make the MoU/JPA a permanent instrument as inadequate to ensure ICANN’s long-term accountability. The alternative, simply ending ICANN’s relationship with the U.S. Government, would raise serious legal questions concerning ICANN’s ability to collect fees from registrars and registries and the transfer of property rights underlying the domain name system.

ICANN’s new CEO Rod Rod Beckstrom should exercise the kind of leadership he advocated in his 2005 book, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, which explains the advantages of decentralized managerial “nervous systems” (“starfish”) over top-down hierarchies (“spiders”). “Instead of focusing on ‘spider’-esque permanent instruments with a single government, Beckstrom and the ICANN Board should focus on more ‘starfish’-like solutions that both continue the USG’s stewardship role and involve more governments that want to participate in the unique private-public partnership known as ICANN - without compromising ICANN’s guiding principles and commitment to private sector leadership," the authors conclude. "Only this outcome will ensure the long-term viability of ICANN as a global trustee of the Internet’s unique identifiers.”

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: Internet, global, Congress, registry, Bylaws, antitrust, jpa, registrar, iana, icann, NTIA, domain name, Berin Szoka, henry waxman, internet governance, publicprivate partnership, gtld, department of commerce, michael palage, paul twomey, memorandum of understanding, dnssec, accountability framework

JEL Classification: D23, D45, D73, D79, D8, K1, K2, K11, L82, L86, L96, O34, O39, O3

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Date posted: August 31, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Palage, Michael and Szoka, Berin Michael, Choosing the Right Path to a Permanent Accountability Framework for ICANN (August 26, 2009). Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 21, August 2009 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1463002 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1463002

Contact Information

Michael Palage (Contact Author)
The Progress & Freedom Foundation ( email )
1444 Eye Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
United States
Berin Michael Szoka
TechFreedom ( email )
1899 L ST NW
12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States
HOME PAGE: http://techfreedom.org
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