Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

The New Independent ICANN

The US Department of Commerce has recently taken additional steps to establish an independent ICANN. Some have heralded this as a step away from undue U.S. influence over ICANN, and a step towards real independence.

But I must admit I'm skeptical that ICANN independence will result in realizing benefits from genuine market forces, as opposed to a power vacuum that Europeans and other officials will step into aggressively. But I haven't followed the specefic terms of their latest agreement. Comments?

Here's some more specefics about my concern: it seems to me that for an independent ICANN to realize market forces, it needs competition, or, barring that in the short run, some other kind of accounatability to the user community, particularly in the private sector. The voting and committees established early on don't seem to have gotten us there. A good many decisions were made by the board in closed sessions. But my information might simply be out of date... did they change something fundemental? If they didn't, I'm afraid that an independent ICANN will turn out to be a sort of international Post Office.

Another way of asking the same thing: if ICANN manages the domain system in a stupid way, what are the consequences for them? Bad press? Do they lose a customer? Does a product fail? Does someone get fired? Sued? Do they take a hit in their stock price? Revenues? Can ICANN go out of business? Eventually enough annoyed people get together and figure out an alternative to the domain name system? Search engines have somewhat diminished the importance of domain names, but how much pressure does this place on ICANN?

posted by Solveig Singleton @ 1:36 PM | E-commerce