At a recent meeting in Nairobi, the ICANN Board decided not to press ahead with a process to allow people to pre-apply for new Internet extensions.
This process was called “Expressions of Interest”, which was sadly but inevitably shortened to EOI within hours of being out for discussion.
Ultimately the Board decided that there wasn’t sufficient consensus in the community about allowing people to pre-apply before the full process for decided new “top-level domains” is finalized: an EOI process would use up valuable time and resources, better spent finishing up the remaining issues; and it was not certain what the process would achieve. So, prodded by many to make a decision, the Board did so – and said No.
Most people think this was the smart move – it didn’t create a new process, a clear decision was made, we can move forward.
I, on the other hand, think that the decision is the reflection of a much bigger problem: ICANN doesn’t learn its own lessons. And if the organization as a whole doesn’t start reflecting on what it has learnt over 10 years of activity – and start applying what it learns – then it is going to continue to waste time and energy and resources, to the detriment of itself and the Internet.
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The ICANN Board has stuck discussion of the dot-xxx Internet extension on the agenda for its public meeting on 12 March – a good but brave move.
As covered last week, ICANN came off pretty badly following an independent review of the Board’s decision to reject dot-xxx back in 2007. A three-judge panel decided that the decision wasn’t justified and that the decision was “not consistent with the application of neutral, objective, and fair documented policy”.
This has lead the company behind dot-xxx, ICM Registry, to call on ICANN to sign the contract it had negotiated over the course of two years (2005-2007) and add dot-xxx to the Internet’s “root”. The Board agenda lists “Consideration of the Independent Review Panel Declaration ICM Registry v. ICANN” as one of its 11 topics for the public Board meeting.
This is a good move, and it’s the right move. But it is also a brave move because the dot-xxx controversy still creates a lot of heat and light in the ICANN community. The Board will effectively be deciding whether it agrees that an earlier incarnation of the Board got things wrong while sitting in exactly the same position, on the same stage, three years earlier. The community will want blood or some kind. And the Board will have to balance how to adequately deal with the criticism, while also appeasing both those who were strongly against dot-xxx (including governments) and those who feel that the Board did a major disservice to the organisation by ruling against dot-xxx.
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