ICANN Critics Concerned About Review Panel Independence, Politics

Lora Bentley

Apparently, not everyone is as thrilled about the new agreement between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the U.S. Department of Commerce as it seemed when they first announced the Affirmation of Committments this week.


The U.S. has loosened its grip on the organization, which many believe was necessary, but the Internet Governance Project doesn't think the three-year review panels created under the new agreement are independent enough of ICANN to be effective. Brenden Kuerbis, the project's operations director, told PCWorld.com:

The review panels are not external to ICANN. They're selected by the very people responsible for what ICANN does. They're likely to produce the politics that already exist within ICANN.


ICANN Vice President Paul Levins undoubtedly disagrees with that assessment. He points out that the public will comment on the makeup of the review panels, and that ICANN in fact does not control the Governmental Affairs Committee.


The first wave of critics wanted ICANN to be independent of U.S. control. They wanted ICANN to be privately governed. This group of critics now says the review panels should be more independent of ICANN itself. I understand the arguments, but aren't politics at some level unavoidable -- in any kind of organization? No organization can please everybody, and any organization that tries won't get anything done. The best those that govern ICANN can do is to listen to all the objections, criticisms and suggestions. If any of them further the organization's purposes and can be implemented effectively, great. If not, that has to be ok, too.

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