Less than a week after 87 percent of Net experts went out of their way to tell the US government that it needs to internationalise its role as overall authority for the Internet root, another shot has been fired over its boughs by two insiders.
A paper [pdf] put out by Becky Burr and Marilyn Cade pulls no punches when it states that it provides a “concrete pathway for eliminating one of the most sources of contention in the ICANN debate – the United States’ retain, exclusive and unilateral authority over the Internet’s authoritative root”.
In case you don’t know Becky Burr is the woman that originally wrote most of ICANN’s founding Memorandum of Understanding back in 1998 when she was a DoC lawyer. And Marilyn Cade has been a fundamental cog and powerbroker in ICANN since its inception to the extent that she is on Paul Twomey’s exclusive and secretive President’s Strategy Committee.
The paper makes four arguments which it “urges” the US government to follow. I will summarise them below, but do check out the paper itself here.
Speaking from a personal perspective, I have to give this paper some serious thought as to where the potential future problems could be, but my gut feeling is that it deals with everyone’s concerns and represents a pragmatic way out of the ever-looming problem of how the USG and ICANN work and interact.
Governments have to have a final-say role – but it has to kept specific and it has to be kept sharp (i.e. have no way to endlessly delay an issue). Something similar to the new model that is being touted for the UN’s Security Council. At the same time, private ownership has to be respected and strengthened because without that, the Internet would quickly descend into power politics and nothing would get done.
But ICANN can only be given this role if it is forced to build decent accountability and appeals processes, as well as allow more representation from everyday Internet users.
We shall see what everyone else makes of this, but I see that the Internet Governance Project is already smiling on it.