A New Low for the ICANN Multistakeholder Process

CircleID CircleID: ICANN’s dismissal of public comments submitted on the .COM Registry Amendment wasn’t surprising given that it recently dismissed the public comments on the .Org Renewal Agreement, but the speed and disdain which it demonstrated was.

Despite public pronouncements by ICANN President and CEO, Gören Marby and assurances from ICANN Board Chair, Maarten Botterman, that public comments were welcomed and that ICANN would take them seriously and undertake a deliberative process, the ICANN Board once again permitted ICANN Staff to rubber-stamp its own original decision despite what it acknowledged was “near unanimous opposition”. Moreover, ICANN Staff, in what can only be understood as a cynical disregard for stakeholders, made the decision to proceed less than 24 hours after the release of the Staff Report on the Public Comment. In other words, after receiving over 9000 comments, which were nearly unanimously opposed, ICANN rammed this through in a Friday afternoon in the middle of a pandemic. This represents a new low for the much-heralded ICANN bottom-up multistakeholder model of governance.

Furthermore, ICANN’s Staff Report conspicuously omitted two of the most important and substantive comments received. ICANN omitted any reference to the economic report submitted by Greg Rafert, which found inter alia, that there was no justification for a price increase and that any increased competition results in downward pressure on pricing, not upwards. ICANN also omitted any report or analysis of Mr. Arif Ali’s comment, which explained why it was ultimately up to ICANN to determine prices. These two comments, in particular, should have been front and center in ICANN’s Staff’s report to its Board. Instead, ICANN Staff used its report on the Public Comment primarily to justify its own original decision to allow Verisign to increase its prices for .com domain names.

As a result, we wrote a letter to ICANN highlighting these issues, and you can read the entire letter, here.

In our view, ICANN’s conduct has revealed the Public Comment process to be a charade and ICANN desperately needs to take a step back and take account of what has gone wrong with the way it oversees the DNS.
Written by Zak Muscovitch, General Counsel, Internet Commerce AssociationFollow CircleID on TwitterMore under: Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services

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