Will ICANN Lose Its Power Over The New gTLD Program?
According to several reports the GAC/ICANN meeting is Brussels went so poorly, ICANN’s entire existence may be in jeopardy.
Cnet.com was the latest to write about the possibility that ICANN may lose its power when its contract comes up for renewal in September and if so the catalyst will be the whole new gTLD program.
“The dynamics of watching it in person are a lot like this–a couple in an arranged marriage who grudgingly realize that they have to work as equals or watch their whole family and fortune be a ward of the United Nations,” says Steve DelBianco, executive director of the NetChoice coalition, whose members include AOL, eBay, Oracle, VeriSign, and Yahoo.”"That’s a reference to a push by some governments to divest ICANN of domain name authority and instead hand it to a United Nations agency, most likely the International Telecommunication Union.”
“Last year, China and its allies objected to the fact that “unilateral control of critical Internet resources” had been given to ICANN, suggesting instead that the U.N. would be a better fit. According to a transcript (PDF) of last week’s Brussels meeting, Kenya’s representative threatened that, without some changes, developing countries “will take another direction–and I can tell you they will just go to the ITU.”
Last week the Washignton Post wrote in a story last week which also pointed out a movement afoot to take ICANN’s power away and give it to the UN:
“The California nonprofit organization that operates the Internet’s levers has always been a target for such global heavies as Russia and China that prefer the United Nations to be in charge of the Web. But these days, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is fending off attacks from a seemingly unlikely source: the Obama administration.”
“Concerned about the growing movement to cede oversight to the U.N., the U.S. government, which helped create ICANN in 1998, has been reprimanding the nonprofit group to give foreign nations more say over the Web’s operations.”
“There’s a deeper question of how the world is reacting to a small company – even a nonprofit – completely in charge of a key part of the Internet. Is that acceptable? There’s no 100 percent comfortable solution here,” said Steve Crocker, ICANN’s vice chairman, who lives in Bethesda and is the chief executive of Shinkuro, a technology company.”"The tiny nonprofit group can be especially provocative for a trade press that covers its every move, and for a rival U.N. agency, the International Telecommunications Union. When the ITU, a 145-year-old agency of nearly 200 nations and territories, held its annual meeting in October in Mexico, a Syrian emissary representing Arab states raged against ICANN as if it were an enemy nation.”
“Other nations have been mobilizing against ICANN. China, which monitors dissident activity on the Web, has been leading a campaign among dozens of developing nations to lobby the U.N. for oversight over ICANN, according to former and current ICANN officials. And a coalition of former Soviet states led by a Russian minister has been pushing the U.N. to obtain veto power over ICANN.”
As I have spoken about before, undoubtedly trademark groups have been very successful in getting governments around the world to adopt their position that the new gTLD program should be greatly modified to protect their rights even further.
The ICANN meeting starting this weekend in San Francisco will feature two meetings between the ICANN and the GAC and ICANN’s future existence may well depend on how those meeting go.