ICANN Faces Scrutiny from Within

Independent accountability mechanism

There are many groups that operate under the umbrella of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) but one common concern united many of them at ICANN’s 50th meeting last month in London: accountability.

A joint statement in support of the creation of an independent accountability mechanism was read to those in attendance on the final day of the ICANN meeting June 26th during a session on the possible transition of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions. What made the statement unique from past calls for better accountability within ICANN is that the statement was endorsed unanimously by the different stakeholder and constituency groups that make up ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO).

The statement called for a mechanism “that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community”. While debate continues around the transition of the IANA functions away from US control, the statement appeared to be directed at accountability issues outside IANA decision making alone.

A copy of the GNSO statement can be found below. If you’d like more information, visit www.InternetCommerce.org.

"The entire GNSO join together today calling for the Board to support community creation of an independent accountability mechanism that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community.  This deserves the Board’s serious consideration – not only does it reflect an unprecedented level of consensus across the entire ICANN community, it is a necessary and integral element of the IANA transition.

True accountability does not mean ICANN is only accountable to itself, or to some vague definition of “the world,” nor does it mean that governments should have the ultimate say over community policy subject to the rule of law.  Rather, the Board’s decisions must be open to challenge and the Board cannot be in a position of reviewing and certifying its own decisions.  We need an independent accountability structure that holds the ICANN Board, Staff, and various stakeholder groups accountable under ICANN’s governing documents, serves as an ultimate review of Board/Staff decisions, and through the creation of precedent, creates prospective guidance for the board, the staff, and the entire community.

As part of the IANA transition, the multi-stakeholder community has the opportunity and responsibility to propose meaningful accountability structures that go beyond just the IANA-specific accountability issues.  We are committed to coming together and developing recommendations for creation of these mechanisms.  We ask the ICANN Board and Staff to fulfill their obligations and support this community driven, multi-stakeholder initiative."