Here are my comments (PDF) on the NTIA's recent Notice of Inquiry regarding ICANN's future.
I have been an active participant within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) process since its inception as an intellectual property lawyer and information technology specialist. Over the last ten years, I have served in a number of leadership positions within ICANN, including a three-year term on its Board of Directors (2003-2006). I applaud the NTIA for using the broad scope of this NOI to refocus the global Internet community on the original intent/focus of ICANN's MoU/JPA with the Department of Commerce (USG). Unfortunately, over the last few years, ICANN has strayed from its narrow mission as the technical coordinating body originally envisioned in the 1998 White Paper, and has instead become a quasi-monopolistic regulator accountable to no one but itself. This NOI provides the global Internet community the opportunity to deconstruct the current
"ICANN 2.0" governance model and refocus on a successor "ICANN 3.0" governance model. I submit that ICANN 3.0 needs to be a mix of getting "back to basics" (restoring ICANN's original mission) and implementing important "lessons learned" since ICANN's creation about how to make the organization more effective and accountable. I discuss four broad issues:
- ICANN's Periodic Review of its internal operations and supporting organizations has failed, and has become nothing more than a "perpetual motion machine of public comments and documentation producing no meaningful results." Only a second Evolution and Reform Process can solve ICANN's current deficiencies;
- ICANN must hardcode into its policies and its contracts the principle that its policies cannot supersede national laws;
- ICANN must cease any operational role in technical infrastructure as required by its bylaws and focus instead on its mission as a technical coordinator; and
- Congress must avoid "kicking the JPA can down the road" and instead provide much-needed leadership by creating a solid foundation for ICANN 3.0 in legislation after proper consultation with the Government Accountability Office.